Sail Mail - March 26, 2015

Location: 6.13.1N - 141.28.2W - 920nm North of Nuka-Hiva - 1100nm SW of Hilo HI
Course: 0
Sea: 5ft
Wind: 11kts from SE

Last Port: Nuka-Hiva
Destination Port: Hilo HI

Less than fantastic news. We found a rip from luff to leach in the main sail today about 4/5 of the way up. At this point in the passage we are about as isolated as we are going to be as well, being 1000 miles away from Hawaii, the Line Islands, and the Marquesas.

The rip looks like it began in a dacron panel near the luff (mast edge) of the sail. The rip in the dacron runs vertically for 24 inches before arriving at one of the horizontal seams between dacron panels. The rip then runs the full length of the horizontal sail from luff to leach along a sewn seam (8ft or so). Luckily, the larger 8ft section of the rip is just torn threading, not torn dacron.

As far as why the rip happened, there appears to be two reasons. The first is the light winds and cross swell we are in. It was causing the sail to fill then luff as the boats rocking created enough wind to dominate the apparent wind at times. The second reason; the battens attach to the main sail using threaded attachments to the mast cars. They all appear to have been backing out with one of the battens very near the rip having fully backed out. This would have created a stress concentration near the rip.

The good news is that we've found enough material and tools onboard to make a solid effort at repairing the sail. Our bounty includes 3 sail needles, wax coated thread, scraps of extra dacron, double sides tape, and a leather sewing glove. We spent 12 hours today sewing a repair patch over the dacron tear. We'll need to spend another 12 hours tomorrow repairing the horizontal seam and reinforcing it with nylon webbing.

The other good news is that it looks like we'll have good weather for making repairs for another day or two. Progress wasn't bad yesterday at 148nm.

As a backup option, between our two primary head sails: the jib and the gennaker, we are able to sail pretty fast when the wind is right. Under the gennaker with 10-15kts of wind, we are able to sail at over 7kts. The jib gets us moving in light air but we'll see how it does in the NE trades. We sure as hell can't point but we don't really need to for getting all the way to Hawaii.