Bora Bora to Samoa, or In Which Everything Breaks

Our first day of sailing was lovely. We had the spinnaker up in light-moderate wind, and we were cruising along making great time in reasonably low waves. Paradise, exactly what we wanted.

Sadly, these ideal conditions did not last. Almost exactly at the end of Jazz’s night shift, without any noticeable increase in the wind, the spinnaker halyard snapped. At this point, Andrew was waking up almost naturally, and Jazz had been up nearly 24 hours and was very ready to go to bed. As we watched, the sail went billowing forward and down, and as Villa’s momentum carried her forward, the sail wrapped itself under the boat. Sometimes the only way out is through, so we released the line holding the front of the sail, let it drift to the back of the boat, and pulled it out of the water from behind. Andrew’s stylish outfit for this activity is underwear and a lifevest, because safety first. We put up the jib for the night, and in the morning we emptied one of our food-storage containers and used it to give the sail a salt-removing bath.

When it was clean, we stretched it out on the deck to dry it off and assess the damage. It turned out not to be too bad, just some small cuts, presumably due to the barnacles we hadn’t knocked off before departing.

The culprit turned out to be the masthead block, which had seized up, turned into a knife, and sliced right through the halyard. The part of the halyard that broke is normally at deck level, where we would have seen any chaffing; that means that the damage all happened during this sail.

So the rest of the sail would be with the main and jib. This is unfortunate, because aside from some squalls, we had perfect spinnaker weather.

The squalls dropped a little rain on us, but not a ton. The bigger effect was that they distort the wind all around them, so you might see wind like this: here’s a graph of the wind direction, suddenly swinging all the way around, 360 degrees, and the wind speed jumping sharply up and down.

The jib, by the way, was also not at peak performance. The furler started spitting out ball bearings, never a good sign, so we started doing our furling from up front for the extra leverage. We also put out the downwind pole to buy a little extra stability, and keep the sail from flogging in the light winds.

So that’s how we sailed the rest of the trip. There were a number of excellent sunsets…

And some lovely moonrises.

When the weather was good, we hung out together in the cockpit and listened to our audiobook.

We also tried to get some projects done. Here’s Andrew painting polyurethane varnish on our new 2×4 laundry wringer support beam, the goal being to keep it from rotting onto the laundry.

Speaking of laundry, Jazz found some dampness in her closet, and on further investigation, discovered that there was a substantial amount of water on her clothes. It turned out that we have a bit of a leak that will need taking care of. Here are some of her dresses, hanging in the breeze in a futile effort to stave off having to wash everything.

The light wind meant small waves, so we were reasonably comfortable, if slow, and we got to make some very delicious meals. Pictured: fajitas, pizza, lentils, and Japanese curry.

Andrew had a reasonably good voyage, but Jazz started to get sick around day 4, and spent several days getting worse before getting better. We suspect that she had COVID, as her sense of smell went away briefly, but we can’t prove it because we both tested negative on both ends of the trip. Anyway, she ended up spending a lot more time on the couch, cuddled up with her box of tissues. She still managed input into our daily updates, but she wasn’t up for much more than that.

So when the time came to clean out the kitchen cabinet, that was on Andrew. (He found a can of crema media that had, we’ll say, passed its 2019 expiration date.)

All told, the passage we’d expected to take 8 days took 11. Probably one day of that was due to our later-than-expected departure, as our two-day checkout process ate into the better weather window. The rest was due to moving slower than expected with the big sail out of commission. But in the end, we made it, and that’s the really important thing.

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