Lets rewind a few months back… while sailing a new to me Sabre
34T from Annapolis
to Wilmington I found a loose stainless screw by the tow rail. It was a small screw that I first thought belonged to one of the stanchions. I looked and looked, but didn't find where it could of come from. Well, its a small screw - not going to sink the ship. I tossed it in the spares bin.
Fast forward to yesterday. My girlfriend and I were out sailing on Lake Lanier in 20 - 30 knot
winds that hurricane
Michael brought to Atlanta. Was not going to reef the main, but the oversize Genoa
was going to be reefed at about half point maybe less. Well, that was the plan as I carefully eased out the furling
line. Tied it off, and was ready to roll.
To my great surprise the Genoa
all of a sudden rolls out fully. I get confused with the sail numbers, but its a large sail with lots of overlap with main. Crap, that is not going to be good. I reach for the furling
line to see if I can quickly bring the sail in. Crap again, it didn't come loose on the cleat as I assumed, and it was all the way out. Nothing on the furler
drum to quickly bring in the sail.
Not good again, as things are now getting a bit dodgy. Gusts are really heeling the boat
. Anna is way past her comfort level behind the helm
. We don't even have life vests on, or teathers, or jacklines
since this was going to be an easy lake cruise
Genoa sail is either flapping violently with 1" sheets
beating things up, or healing "Hobo" way over. Crap, I though again, as I heard the sound of toaster oven
hit the floor in the galley
. With a bunch of other semi secured items below. First thought was not to panic, we are on a local lake, not out in the open ocean, but still it wasn't very good to have a stuck oversize Genny catch wind
in 30 knot
gusts. This was suppose to be a pleasant sail with my girlfriend, not this f@cking debauchary.
It was time to formulate a plan so I can save face in front of the woman. Lets start with safety
items, and put on life vests that I asked Anna to retrieve from below. Heave to for a minute to catch my breath and calm things down. I haven't practiced that move often enough, but it worked.
So, I am on a lee side of the lake with a shallow spot on my port side. This is not hurricane
winds, but it doesn't feel very good either. Either way, I need to bring the Genoa in.
Not sure if there was a better way to handle this (open to ideas), First, I cranked up the motor
for more control. Headed towards the opposite side of the lake balancing gust of wind
and sail luffing, just at that fine edge where things were manageable. Hid behind one of the islands, turned the boat
around to run with the wind direction, which felt much calmer by the way. Went to the bow and hand rolled the sail. Rest was easy money
at the dock
revealed that the loose screw from a few month before was one of three screws that connect furler
drum to the rest of the furler mechanism. Once the other two screws came loose there was nothing to stop the sail from unfurling out. Easy fix, and it is all now repaired.
A. Wear life vests, never know what can go wrong.
B. Relying on a reefed furler sail is for sure convenient. But things can go wrong. Next time in moderate winds I am taking down the oversize Genoa for a smaller Jib
C. When **** hits the fan, take a pause and don’t rush things.
P.S. I did manage to impress Anna by staying calm. Not sure how I pulled that off, thinsg were past my comfort zone.