A2 Gone, but maybe that’s a good thing

I wanted an adventure, looks like I’m getting it. Reader’s Digest version: spinnaker wrap and my own ineptitude resulted in spinnaker in water & I had to cut it away. Jumped in water complete with knife to clear saildrive & rudder.

Long version: I spent about 2 hours getting the Code 0 down and the A2 up, perfect for the running conditions here in the Tradewinds. While enjoying the 10 knot ride, I went below to make some well deserved lunch. While eating I looked up and saw some ugly wraps around the inner stay. The old me would have jumped up and attended to it right away, but I decided I needed fuel and kept eating. Maybe a little faster, but kept eating.

Once on deck I performed the magic trick: just gybe the main over and watch the spinnaker unwrap. Part of the trick is to go below for tea for 15 minutes, then come back on deck to magically find the spinnaker unwrapped. In this case, just having lunch I stayed on deck to observe the proceedings. It did magically unwrap itself from the inner stay, but refused to go further. With maybe 10 wraps to go to unravel itself, it decided to stop no matter which gybe I was on, or sailing angle. I quickly found the sock to be useless as it wraps itself up also and can’t be pulled down over the spinnaker, so now I’m left to drop the thing on deck.

Here we go. The singlehander attempts to drop a 2400 sq ft sail & get it down the hatch before it makes mischief. I bear off down to 170 degrees off the wind. Spinnaker halyard tossed overboard and trailing behind, I then grab the halyard in my left hand and go forward. I open the hatch and gather in the foot to the clue & stuff it in the hatch and start to run the halyard through my hand. Wind catches the sail and it gets in the water and it’s over. I run back to raise the halyard and the 20 year old sail starts to rip. I try pulling on the clue but that only results in more water and ripping. I realize I just have to let it go and cut the lazy sheet, then the sheet and watch it trail off the stern. I go below for the dive fins, mask, a spare line and knife to cut it free from Sparrow. Donning my gear and tying the rope around my waist, I jump in off the stern, knife in hand. Swimming forward, luckily it was only caught on the saildrive and easily freed. I can also report no kelp!

Good to know the stern is easily boarded using the hydrogenerator bracket. Back onboard, refreshed from my swim but exhausted, I can’t say I was grieving. In some ways a relief as the sail’s lack of manageability was trouble looking for a moment. It only took 4 hours to find one, and thankfully in benign conditions with warm water!

So now I only have sails that furl or hank. I’m very good with that. I will go 1 or 2 knots slower in some conditions – such as the moderate air run to Hawaii, but I will get around in control. Definitely cruising mode, and should have time for my reading list.

As punishment for my ineptitude with the A2, Poseidon has taken another swipe at me. The active radar reflector mount is bent, no doubt occurring when I was attempting to bring down the sock. So now I have to go aloft to the 2nd spreader to address this. It will be my first mast climb at sea. Maybe I will wait for the doldrums.

In other news, before I started playing with spinnakers, yesterday I reprogrammed the hydrogenerator controller. It stopped charging, apparently thinking the batteries were fully charged. Going into the software, it looks like it just dropped the earlier programmed absorption voltage levels. For those wondering why I don’t just use the factory defaults, it’s because my battery has LiFePO4 chemistry and they only have lead acid options. Anyway, it’s been restored and charging away.

In sum, not a great day yesterday as I will be slowed down (hopefully for only a few days), but I have reliable water, power, and plenty of food so things are actually looking pretty good. I am learning more about Sparrow and how to manage her. In the moments I catch my breath and take in the experience, I find Sparrow to be an amazing boat with smooth motion and reasonably fast so as to be a real joy to sail. I take in the continuous light show that is the Sea, and what a privilege it is to be out here to experience all this. In a few days I will reach a “bail-out” decision point as I approach Hilo. As things look now, I will keep Hawaii to port and head for the Horn.

1,000 miles to Hawaii.

3 thoughts on “A2 Gone, but maybe that’s a good thing

  1. Hi Whitall, that was very well written, these incidents happen every once a while, just to remind us to stay alert and underestimate the the adventure 🙂. Question: how did you manage to drop the A2 when it was still wrapped around the head stay?
    Stay safe,


  2. Your mid-pacific dip gives me the heebie-jeebies.
    Was wondering similar to Henry regarding ability to lower A2 while still wrapped??
    Are you now wing on wing with poled out headsail with staysail under the main? This configuration worked well on run RIIIs run to Kauai this past summer, plenty fast enough and very well balanced. Stay rested to make best decisions.


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