First time with the spinnaker

As I shared yesterday I went out to try out one of the two spinnakers. The hull had just received a clean up job, so we were pretty as could be, Changabang and I. She’s been in much more competent hands before, so I hope she’s all right with my foolish beginnings!

Getting ready for a hoist!

And so, I hooked up the main halyard, started the engine, slipped in reverse to spring off the docks, then powering forward. I raised the mainsail as we passed green buoy #3. Every time I raise that mainsail, and it has to slide just right between the lazy jacks lines and the running backstays, I wonder what it’ll be like if one day I have to raise it without the engine.

Getting ready

Changabang came with two spinnakers: a light one and a heavy one (reef-able). A few days ago I got the heavy one out of the bag and hoisted it in its sock to see what it looked like: it was reefed. I got the spinnaker sheets out as well, and started rigging the whole thing:

  • Rig the sheets (I passed them through the eye of the block instead of the sheave!);
  • Attach the tack line, the sheets and the halyard to the spinnaker;
  • Secure tack to the end of the bowsprit;
  • Trim the active sheet all the way in and the lazy one loose.

It looked like everything was ready for the show. And so I proceeded. I went back to the cockpit to start hoisting the spinnaker, only to find out that the sock got stuck in the shrouds. So I move to the mast to guide the sock as I hoist it up. As I was doing so … The sock’s bucket started going up too. I had forgotten about the sock halyard: it was still all bundled up and going up with the bucket. So now there was no way to get the sock down and, more troublesome, no way to stop it from going up!

Drama unfolds

I’m now at the mast with a spinnaker 2/3 up and half out of the sock. I’m still holding onto the halyard. Although this spinnaker is as small as can be and it’s only blowing 8-10 kts, it soon proves too much and the halyard starts slipping from my hand. On my bottom I move back to the halyard’s clutch, while the line keeps on slipping from my hand. Finally I manage to secure the halyard: the spinnaker’s foot is dragging in the water but we’re fine.

Puree de pois!


Ok, so time to finish the hoist. Man, winching these lines is a lot of work! Like I wrote last week … the skipper’s physique is not up to the task! We’ll figure out dousing this sail later on. Let’s put it to work. Ease the sheet; come up a little (we were sailing for the Half Moon Bay beach!): ah, the boat starts powering up, nice! But … Better get this puppy down now quickly! The forecast was calling for >15 kts. Just like the code 0 it didn’t fly much.


I figured I might as well try a letterbox drop. I trim the sheet back in tight and blow the tack. That’s when the magic of gravity happened! The sock, under the spell of the bucket’s weight, came back down. Oh, oh, maybe we can try this again! And try we did: secure the tack and hoist the bucket the proper way. Come up a little, apparent wind forward, we start heeling. Good stuff! But what’s this, the wind is climbing past 11 kts. As the forecast was calling for >15 kts, I decide to take no risk and to douse for good. Trim the sheet tight, blanket the spinnaker behind the mainsail, blow the tack, pull the bucket down. Ouch, it gets stuck in the shrouds up there. That wouldn’t be good. A bit of puzzling around and finally it comes down. Halyard down, and the spinnaker goes back into the bag.

Home run

During all that time I had the engine on, just in case. I turned around, got the solent out of the bag and sailed back up to port. As a thick fog settles in, the promise of 15 kts evaporates; the wind dwindles to 6 kts, 4, then 2. All the sails come down, and I’m back on the iron genny. Practicing is not only about sailing: I go down to cook some food (i.e. boil water and pour it down a bag). Lunch time is:

From our friends at Backpacker’s Pantry!

Docking back into port went well. So next I tidy up the boat, and back home it is. Here’s a little movie to close:

Spinnaker up

On other fronts

I think I may have the satellite communication sorted out. Changabang came with a handheld sat phone (Iridium 9555), which I’ve tested to work. There’s also a fixed sat terminal (BEAM RST100), which also works. It has an external antenna. I bought a used Iridium GO on eBay. That also tested positively; with a cable adapter I hooked it up to the external antenna: I then was able to download a small (tiny, 0.6 KB) grib file. Hurray: that was one big ticket on the list. I’m now pondering whether I should sell the BEAM RST100 for another Iridum GO. I’m being advised to keep the handheld for the ditch bag.

The one piece of puzzle is the SIM card. They rarely fail but it’s a risk; the only back up here is having a few other SIM cards. This also means that I would need to be able to activate it while at sea. So basically, I need to leave with two active SIM cards!

There were other small jobs I took care of, such as doing winch maintenance (2 down, 3 to go), refueling, figuring out a bracket for the hydrogenerators (work in progress), etc.

What’s next you ask?

Author: Skipper

Wannabe circumnavigator.

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