David Scully with the most recent 'near disaster' story aboard Cheyenne
With the wind having filled in, the skies cleared, and the last squall drawing its curtain of rain from the horizon, we were at last bucking and slamming upwind in the Northeast Trades. Stars glittered overhead, and the waypoint at Ushant was a mere 3,000 miles away. Still, it all could have ended there, but for Jacques’ bowels.
Sitting on the head in the middle of the night, he heard an unfamiliar noise, and upon going to investigate, discovered that the huge pin which holds the front beam to the port hull had started to back out of its hole. The carbonfibre pin had actually ripped in half, and had it been allowed to part company with the boat, it would have been followed shortly by the front beam itself, the forestay, the rig, sails, and possibly the bows as well.
In a bit of panic engineering, we bashed it back in as far as it would go, about 35 mm short of its designed location, and secured it against further egress with some hastily tapped bolts. Now, the question was, how far could we push the partial repair?
Just to complicate things further, in the course of the excitement, I managed to rub a solution of carbon dust and grease into my eye, and am now sporting a duct tape eye patch of which a James Bond villain would be proud. We concluded that we could sail the boat in this configuration, but that the consequences of getting it wrong were unthinkable. We needed a safety factor. Mike Beasley retired into the bow with some cut lengths of spare batten and began work on the Mighty Pinnamoose.
He spent the next day squatting like a samurai over his cloth and glue pots, in an atmosphere that would make a dry cleaner retch, but when he emerged, he bore the most confidence inspiring piece of onboard composite engineering I have ever seen, the Mighty Pin of Moose.
A bundle of solid pultruded glass battens had been bound together with carbonfibre bands, sized to slot exactly into the holes in the existing pin. We attempted a dry fit last night, and after a little precision dusting from his grinder, rammed it home this morning. We are very fortunate to have such a group of talented and determined people on our crew.
Blasting north again under full sail, we expect to rendezvous with a low pressure system at sometime today. This could be the last ticket we have to buy to get us home. Talk is now turning to those ashore, to hotel reservations, and what happens next. I am sure that the remaining 2,500 miles could still produce an adventure or two.