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A broken sail

September 22, 2009

It was 12am when I felt the ship lurch forward and then heard a loud bang and a ripping sound. I think the next words out of Jeff’s mouth were a series of expletives. Luckily he was awake just as I was about to go off watch and knew instinctively that the sail had torn (we were sailing through gusts of up to 35 knots or over 40mph which put enough pressure on the Spinnaker to tear it).

Captain Moore popped his head out from his bunk, which is around the corner from the helm, and shouted, “what happened?” When I told him the sail had torn we both scrambled to find life preservers while Jeff sounded the alarm to wake up Bonnie, Bill and Gwen.

By the time I had on a life preserver Jeff was already on the bow wrestling with the Spinnaker trying to pull it down as it flapped violently in the wind. He yelled for help and I ran over and started pulling in the sail though it quickly pulled back and I flew up against the front railing.

Over the next ten minutes we fought to pull it down, each time trying to keep the Spinnaker from catching more wind and yanking us off the ship.

Eventually Bonnie came out and sat on the sails with me so they wouldn’t blow away. Bill helped pull the last bit of the Spinnaker on board, which had ripped cleanly all the way down one edge and was dangling in the water.
After an hour it was all over. The Spinnaker is out of commission until Moore repairs it back in Long Beach and for now we’re relegated to using the main sail and the genoa.

We all slowly wandered back to bed; I lay awake most of the night-hearing the sails flapping sent me into a panic every once in a while.

This morning when I woke up the windows were covered with rain and the sky was a cloudy gray. Moore said we have two more days of rain before we reach the garbage patch. We’re all hyper-alert now, aware of how quickly the seas can change.

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