August 22, 2011

On a Wing and a Prayer--into Fiji

There are three of us closing on Savu Savu this morning (with 25 knots from astern) and between us we are down a rudder, an engine, a lower shroud, a wind generator and a solar panel.
Mamalu, who we've been with since Aitutaki, is in one piece. But Java (with Evan and Donna aboard) who we've known since our early Mexico days has taken the big hit. His cat lost a rudder, and an engine and then the wind generator toppled and took out a solar panel.
Which leaves the lower shroud, and us.
We were making great way under a full main and spinnaker when I heard a big crack and smelled a struck-match smell. Before the shroud landed on deck I knew what it was and we were out on deck--changing tacks, dropping the main, pulling in the spinnaker. We lost the same shroud we did 18 months ago--but this time (maybe because we we're completely rerigged or because the wind was lighter) the mast didn't start pumping and we never feared losing the rest of the rig.

It took Evan about 15 minutes to juryrig a spectra shroud--the practice from our last loss paid off. Within an half hour we were back underway under a full genoa and no main. Fortunately the wind has stayed from behind and we've kept the strain off the lower shrouds. We're curious and concerned that we've lost another shroud (the rod sheered through at the mast fitting)--especially because we switched to rod rigging to deal with the high fatigue loads these short shrouds experience.

This morning the three boats are a few miles apart and are in constant radio contact. Java is having trouble steering and is worried about rounding the point into the channel--a tricky maneuver in our current conditions. We're confident our mast will hold but Mamalu is standing by to assist either of us, should we need it.

Meanwhile we heard our friends on Connect 4 are in terrible weather on their way to Tonga. They've just blown out their main sail and their eta is several days off--with several more days of bad weather ahead. It seems unfair--they were due to get underway several days before they did but they delayed their departure to assist when Ri-Ri went up on the reef at Palmerston. It's not clear what happened (Connect 4 was the only other boat there) but sometime during the night Ri-Ri broke off their mooring or anchor and was lost on the reef--Henry and ? were okay and Connect 4 and the villagers did all they could to salvage their things, but the boat was lost.

Each safe landfall is a gift.
S 16 59
East 179 30
We've gone so far west, we are now in the east.

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boatbaby said...

oy you guys, stay safe!

The Crew of Savannah said...

Glad to hear you were able to get everything worked out and are safe. I hate to hear that about Evan and Donna...hopefully they'll get everything fixed as well. Stay in touch!