Gear Failure!

We had a frustrating start to our short passage from Mauritius to Réunion, but it got even worse. We left on a nice sunny day, with flat seas on the west side of the island. The breeze was very light and shifty at the start. The shifts appeared to be due to the land verses sea breeze effect near the island. Once we got further out, I hoped we would get the east wind that was forecasted. Instead, we had a WSW wind of about 10 knots for the next 2 to 3 hours – which was the direction we were going! The forecast appeared to be dead wrong.

Broken Block

Broken Block

Once we got about 30 miles away from Port Louis, and well past the southern end of the island, the winds finally started coming from the SSE. This meant we could raise our sails, so we did. I had just tweaked the mainsail for a close reach by letting off the topping lift for the boom, and tightening the main sheet to flatten the sail. We had some sloppy seas at this point and suddenly the boat lurched and the boom got tossed a bit. Then “Bang!” and the mainsail came down in a flash. After I shouted a four-letter word, I looked and saw that the block that attaches to the head of the sail had broken and the halyard was now left at the top of the mast (not broken). See the picture to the right of the broken block.

Apparently the sun had created some wear and tear on the plastic sheave, and it cracked when we tightened the sail with the winches, and the boom smack just finished the job.

The rest of the trip we just motor sailed with the jib. It was light winds anyway, so we just got there a few hours faster than we would have if we had sailed part of the way (and a bit poorer thanks to the extra 15+ gallons of fuel we spent). We were just glad this happened on this short 140 miles trip, and not at the beginning of the 2000 mile trip from Cocos Keeling to Rodrigues!

Today I found the block we need at a US company and ordered it over the Internet to be delivered here as quick as possible. With any luck it’ll show up sometime next week while we’re doing sightseeing here in very beautiful Réunion!

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