Day four of our trip and the wind is finally starting to free up, swinging round to the eastward allowing us to finally put some westing into our course. We can now head away from Morocco towards the Canary Islands and escape those dreadful fishing floats. This is what was forecast on the long range weather before we left and what we have been waiting for all the while.
It started to turn north east in the early morning, a good sign, but there wasn’t much of it. As the day progressed it continued to swing more east and build little by little. As we had been dying to head west for several days we turned for our destination and let the wind follow us. By mid- morning there was just enough to stop the motor, hoist the spinnaker and keep it flying. Erik was a little in awe of the size of our ‘circus tent sail’; I think it looks a bit like a circus tent.
Even though there was still only about 8 or 9 knots of wind it was dragging us along nicely at 4.5 or 5 knots in the little gusts. I love the moment when the motor stops and all you hear is the slight flap of the sail as the top corner starts to turn and the sound of the water rushing past the hull. That’s what real sailing is about! As the day continued the wind kept coming eastwards little by little and was increasing in strength too. We were just finishing up lunch and were now horsing along. The wind was generally about 11or 12 knots with the odd burst of 15 though the 15’s were starting to be a little more frequent and Steve said “I think we should take in the Spinnaker it’s starting to get windy” I think, I said something like lets hang on a minute it’s only the odd 15 and it probably will die off in a minute.
Next minute there was a small pop. I thought Steve had let the jammer go on the halyard to take it down as the sail was starting to gently lower into the water. We dived onto the foredeck and started to pull the mountains of wet fabric onto the deck. That pop was our favourite sail ripping all across the top and down both sides of the luff OOOOOOOOps!
If you are thinking about reefing, get reefing! Its probably already too late!!
We continued with just the main and foresail but it was much slower than with the spinnaker and instead of arriving that evening as planned, it took us till the early hours of the morning to arrive, almost exactly to the minute 5 days after we had departed from La Linea.
After checking in and a few hours well needed kip we headed into town with our granny trolley loaded with the spinnaker in search of the sailmaker. We found him easy enough, but it wasn’t good news. With the height of Atlantic crossing season fast approaching he was absolutely snowed under. He said he couldn’t even look at it for 10 days and then he estimated it would cost about €1000 to fix. That was much longer than we wanted to stay and a lot more money than we wanted to spend. That sail is 11 years old and has had a hard life. It has done two Atlantic crossings already where it flew for much of the way and a lot of Med sailing as well. It’s looking a bit worn and tired and a grand for a patch seems like a lot of money to spend with no guarantees the next thin bit won’t give way next time we fly it. A grand is also a very good start towards a new one if it comes to it. So we bought some rip stop fabric and a ton of sail repair tape off the fellow and trundled off back to the boat.
We’ve never fixed a spinnaker before beyond the odd small sticky patch, but we have a sewing machine on-board and we took some tips off the sailmaker and we’ll have to learn to be our own experts at this too. Cruising life requires you to become “Jacksperts” jack of all trades, expert at everything. In the middle of the ocean with no help around you have to read the books and the manuals and become experts at just about everything from fixing the heads to mending your sails and everything in between. No time for the grey matter to dwindle here, too busy becoming “Jacksperts”.