Saturday, April 30, 2022

Code Zero Saga

Hearing a loud sound on a sailboat is rarely a good thing, and this time was no exception. The winds have been inconsistent, and causing the sails to "flog" or whip back and forth against themselves making a loud "thwapping" noise (particularly annoying during a night watch). The sound we heard was louder than the normal thwap. Bob looked up and our large Code Zero sail was no longer flying proud. Had it gone overboard? Was it wrapped around anything? Had it broken free? It didn't take long to see it trailing alongside Rhapsody, fully in the water.
 What is a Code Zero sail? It is the largest of our sails and we use it in place of our genoa sail, which is the sail we usually fly in front of the mainsail. The Code Zero flies similarly to a spinnaker, catches a lot of wind and can propel us along nicely in light to medium strength winds, which is what we have been having. It is a great sail for the passage that we are currently making, 3000 miles from the Galapagos to French Polynesia, mostly all downwind and mostly in light to medium winds. And now the Code Zero was in the water, not doing its job, and certainly not where it was supposed to be.

The first job was to get the sail back on deck. We started pulling it up, and fortunately it came up easier than expected. The lightweight nylon material did not absorb any water to make it heavier, and if we pulled correctly and water trapped in the folds easily dripped out. Once we had it piled back up on deck, now what? We can't put it back up the mast because a) the line holding it up had snapped and b) the necessary end was somewhere in the mast, to be retrieved at a later date. We can't put it away because it is wet and will mold and mildew if we don't wait for it to dry. We can't leave it on deck because it will do what it does best, catch the wind and potentially end up overboard again.

We began the process of drying out the sail. First we stretched it out on deck as best we could, wrapping lines around it to reduce it's opportunity to catch the wind. After a while we moved it into the cockpit where it took up most of the space with its billowing whiteness. Finally we moved it downstairs in stages as it dried, in the hopes that tomorrow we can figure out how to stow it away without having the space to roll it or fold it.

Now we are faced with making the remainder of our journey without the best sail for the job. Fortunately our other sails are only slightly less efficient and we are not experiencing too much loss of speed. We didn't expect to sail 20+ days over open ocean without any problems, and this one happened in the daylight with reasonably calm conditions... let's hope our next problems are dealt with as easily.

Nine days into the passage and 1800 miles to go. Onward and westward!

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

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