3 strikes for the Wee Armada

Bahia Honda from the top of the mast

Another glorious day in the Keys. Sunny, warm, East winds 10-15 knots. A perfect day to go out sailing! Gemini Dreams and Wee Happy were headed for Key West to get ready to launch to the Dry Tortugas, and Earendil was headed towards Loo Key to go snorkeling.
We got out of the harbor to discover big ocean swells coming out of the southeast, and since we had to go slightly downwind, we got uncomfortably rocked in the swells. The wind wasn’t that strong, but the swells were really large. That combination is tricky– we couldn’t keep the sails full when the boat was rocked so strongly and sails would occasionally snap violently with the rocking of the boat. Cap’t K. was commenting on how bad that is for the rigging, and we were exploring other points of sail to make it more comfortable, when we looked up and saw our genoa coming down! The snap shackle that connects the sail to the top of the mast had come loose and dropped our sail! We caught it before it went in the water and stuffed it in the V-berth and managed to successfully heave to while we pondered our options. We were only a few miles out from Bahia Honda, and so we decided to turn around and go back to fix our sail.

Meanwhile, Sara and Trevor were also getting rocked like a bucking horse and were having major engine problems. They too turned around and came back.
Wes was doing fine, but decided to come back with us since we were forming a traveling team, and so he also turned around. But as he was tacking back towards the harbor, the violent rocking of the boat and the snapping of the sails tore his genoa sail in multiple places and he too, limped back into the harbor!!
Right after we anchored we noticed another boat stumbling back in from the giant swells also with a torn genoa sail! A dangerous day to be out considering it seemed like such a nice day!
So we are all “stuck” here in paradise for another day.

Luckily, we only had a small part to replace and suffered no major damage. Wes was not so lucky as he has to have major sail repair done now. Earendil had a spare part we were able to use to reattach our sail to the boat. But doing so meant someone had to climb to the top of the mast to retrieve the broken snap shackle. Cap’t K. was not feeling his normal superhuman self today because he pulled a muscle in his shoulder and has been in pain all day with minimal range of movement. So guess whose turn it was to climb the mast?! Yes, I faced a great fear today and did my sailor’s duty of climbing to the top of the mast! I’m not fond of heights, and I was pretty scared going up. Our friend Kurt has a bosun chair (a.k.a. climbing harness) that we used to hoist me up with the mainsail line. With Kurt and Cap’t K. pulling the lines, I was lifted high, high, up above the water. About halfway up I started freaking out and panicking, but then I realized that I actually was pretty stable in the harness and that it was beautifully awesome up there, and I ended up doing better than I thought I would. I even managed to snap a few photos from the air:
Wee Happy from above!

Can you spot Cap't K?

All’s well that ends well. We’ll try again tomorrow!

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