Pacific Ocean Passage Log – When Things Break – by Skipper Harry Blazeby.

Hi All,

Day six sees us still in moderate Tradewind conditions, and bang on
course for the islands. The beauty of the South Pacific Trades is that
they give a really nice broad reaching angle, meaning fast and stable
conditions. The boat stays powered up and there is no rolling. Ideal
for a boat like Ipixuna which isn’t set up for dead running. Her
enormous spinnaker pole was removed years ago. So yesterday was our
best run so far (and my best ever) a 24 hour run of 265 nm! That’s an
average of 11 knots.  Top speed held by Chloe who clocked up 19 knots
boat speed at the end of an epic surf…

However progress was halted after a discovery on my morning deck
checks. Daily gear checks are critical on an ocean passage, I try to
go aloft whenever conditions allow but there’s plenty to inspect at
deck level too. There are often a few things lying on the deck after a
night thundering along in the trades. Flying fish and squid are
common, but half a sheared stainless bolt is slightly more worrying.

It didn’t take long to track down the culprit. Our newly repaired boom
vang fitting (connects the hydraulic vang to the boom) had failed.
Closer inspection showed the entire stainless steel fitting shifting
with the boat’s movement and two of the bolts finger loose. This was
completely rebuilt in Antigua, how could this happen after only three
months? We had to get the main down and the boom secure before the
heavy hydraulic ram parted company with the boom, which was imminent.
Everyone up to haul down the mainsail in windy conditions.

Main stowed, boom secure, Phew! Right, what next? We decided to remove
the vang from the boom and see how bad it was. Once the vang was
removed we started backing out the bolts that attached the fitting to
the boom. Four out of six were broken and the two surviving ones were
mangled. Impossible to repair at sea without the correct bolts
onboard. After a bit of head scratching, the obvious solution: Why
can’t we sail without the vang? So a topping lift on the boom and a
downhaul rigged up to keep the boom level and we were ready to re
hoist the mainsail. Four hours later and we’re back up to full speed.
Just a large hydraulic ram lashed to the coachroof…

Position: 7 degs 16 S, 110 degs 38 W.
Wind: 15 kts from 130 degs.
Sails: Full mainsail and jib
Speed: 10.5 knots
1,760 miles to Nuku Hiva, half way party tomorrow!!

Harry Blazeby