Transat, leg one-a bit shorter than planned

We left Charleston on Thursday, July 14th, with an intended destination of probably Halifax, but maybe all the way to Newfoundland if the weather looked good.

Our friend Tim joined us on Wednesday, we took care of some final boat chores, and got out of the 98 degree heat of Charleston just as soon as we could. Rocket Science has no AC, and life there in July is truly miserable.

The trip started out with some pretty good sailing. The first 24 hours saw us cover about 210 miles. Day 2 had some lighter conditions, so we dug out our smaller reaching spinnaker and picked up a bit of speed with it, for a little while, anyway. Jenny and I were down below when there was an unusual ‘boom’ up on deck, and we popped out to find the tack of the sail flying out over the water, no longer attached to the boat. This is usually a parted tack line, but in this case, the stainless ring on the corner of the sail had failed. None of us had seen this particular failure before. The soft bits generally are much quicker to go. But, the sail was undamaged. It did cause me to make the decision to make a pit stop in Halifax in order to have the loft there sew in a new ring. There is little if any service beyond there, after all. Oh well, these things happen.

Later this same day, we set the used racing code zero sail that I’d been boasting endlessly about, having scored a $10,000 sail for a mere $800. It lasted about 20 minutes and promptly ripped in half. Shit. We have 3 spinnakers, but this is the only zero we have, and I happen to really like the sail.

Jenny gleefully reminded me that there usually isn’t such a thing as a bargain when it comes to boat items (after all, BARGAIN contains almost all the letters to spell GARBAGE…). I concede that I might have let optimism triumph over experience in this case.

So, it was 1 sail toast, another in need of a minor repair. No biggie. Onward to Halifax!

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Finally, on the night of day 3, our new, high-dollar autopilot melted down. This was getting really tiresome, we are not really accustomed to a string of gear failures like this.

Anyway, we were 180 miles offshore, but straight south of Newport. It happens that the only dealer in North America for this particular French pilot is in Newport, so I made the very easy decision to divert north. I sent an email to them over our inmarsat straight away, and got a quick response that they had everything we needed in stock. What a relief. Being down a sail that we don’t really need is one thing, but being down our primary autopilot is entirely another. We have a spare unit too, but it doesn’t work as well as the newer one.

I’m thrilled to report that when we arrived in Newport harbor, we got buzzed by a friendly looking guy in a big skiff, and once he identified who we were, he came alongside to introduce himself as the rep for the pilot manufacturer!

Now, I’m sure that he wasn’t floating around out there just for us, but it was still pretty cool to have that kind of attention.

So, we’re here for a couple of days, getting our issues squared away, and getting some welcome rest to boot. Hopefully the pilot issue is as simple as I think, and we’ll be up and running quickly.

More later.

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