Alli and I went out for what turned out to be a long sail. We haven't really taken the boat too far down the bay, though we have gone for long day sails. I like the idea of traveling down the bay, say, to Oakdale or Sayville. So when we got the chance to broad reach down the bay we took it. It was a windy day though nothing out of the ordinary, and we decided to go with just the jib. Seems like a lot of other people made that decision because none of the other sailboats we saw had their mainsails up either.
As we got down near Nicoll Point we caught up with Sea Fox, a beautiful boat that looks very much like the Redwing.
It got windier as we sailed and by the time we turned around the whitecaps were jumping at the boat.
We were close-hauled, or nearly so, all the way home and as we got close to the bridge, somewhere north of Red 6, - WHANG! - the clew blew out of the jib! For the non-sailors, this is the corner of the sail that is attached to the boat by the lines (ropes, to you lubbers), or jib sheets. (Pull in on the jib sheets to tighten the sail, let some go to ease out the sail.) So one second we were cruising along trying to line up for the bridge opening, and the next we were without power on a windy day.
So, what to do? I quickly rolled the sail up (praise be to the sea gods for roller furling!) and secured it with a bungie cord. So that gave us a quiet opportunity to think, albeit a short one.
And of course, because these things seem to happen when we are least prepared, we still had the main cover on! So we quickly took that off, flaked out the lines, and hoisted the main. Unfortunately there was no way the main was going to get us home by itself. We had to point to get through the bridge opening (the damn bridge, always that damn bridge!), and we needed a jib.
I guess now is a good time to admit a very UN-seaman like thing that I did. I left the dock with the gas gauge needle right on E. This was a very dumb thing to do and I assure you it will not happen again. The boat slip is very close to the mouth of the creek, and so we hardly use the engine at all - just in and out of the creek, so less than ten minutes out to the cove while we put up the main and then ten minutes or so after we put the sails away in the cove. I figured we had enough gas to do that for the day, never expecting to have to motor home from Bay Shore. No excuse! Pay attention, man!
So we found ourselves on the wrong side of the bridge, with no headsail, unable to use our engine for fear we would run out of gas. Beauty!
Fortunately I had the tool box and all of the racing sails on board, so this is what we did:
1. Anchored the boat
2. Took off the roller furling gear (no easy feat in the chop)
3. Put up racing headsail #3, the smallest
4. Hauled up the anchor
And then we had an uneventful sail back to the dock which I appreciated.
Allison was excellent crew throughout the entire blowout and recovery: she was super helpful with the pulling down the big cruising jib, removing the roller furling, and putting up the racing sail (which doesn't roll up), and getting us back to the dock safely. I think the biggest help was her calm, helpful self. No panic - just steady. I was stressing hard, jumping around like a spider monkey, headed in five different directions at once, trying to make sure we didn't drift too far north, or that we stayed out of trouble with other boats.
So I'll take the sail to Jim at Sailor's Choice and ask him to patch it back together. I was hoping to get the rest of the season out of it, about 5 or 6 more weeks (more on winter plans soon), but alas, it's not to be. Jim's great and if you need some sail work done I strongly recommend him.