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Southern Spars

An update from Gryphonsolo2's Joe Harris

by Joe Harris on 5 Oct 2013
. .
Gryphonsolo2's Joe Harris updates us on progress and the lead up to 'Sail for Hope'.

It has been a while since my last correspondence and I have been remiss in communicating- my apologies. I think we left off in the aborted Bermuda 1-2... since then I have done the Ida Lewis Race, where we ran out of wind and then the Whalers Race, which was a 106 mile rip around Buzzards Bay and Block Island Sound, where we won the small double-handed class. Woo- hoo.

Yesterday I drove down to Jamestown, RI from my home in Hamilton Ma to see off my friend Dave Rearick, who left on an around-the-world solo voyage aboard his Class 40 Bodacious Dream. Dave and I have become friends over the last three years of first building and then competing in our respective Class 40's in various races. Dave's intention (like mine) was to compete in the 2013/14 Global Ocean Race solo around the world, however the race was postponed for a year. Dave and the folks backing him decided since they were 'all dressed up and nowhere to go' as they say, to proceed with an around the world voyage, but instead of it being a race, it became more of an exploratory voyage with an environmental theme.

So Dave headed off yesterday in his typical low-key manner to his first destination- Bermuda. I came down to the dock and gave him a few gifts that a solo sailor would appreciate- a bucket, a sponge, some books, some chocolate and some whisky for Irish coffee on night watch. I then drove around from Jamestown to Newport and got on my boat to accompany Dave and BD out the Bay. We tacked out together past Castle Hill light with photographer Billy Black capturing the moment for posterity. We then sailed past the J-22 National Championship fleet of about 100 boats that I am very glad we did not get in the middle of.

After accompanying Dave for about five miles in a building southwesterly breeze, I turned back to let him proceed along at about 10 knots towards Bermuda. I wished I could keep going as it was a beautiful day with a great breeze and we were clipping along nicely. Alas, responsibilities at home drew me back, but I decided that since it was such a nice afternoon I would sail around Jamestown Island before returning to my mooring in Breton Cove in Newport.

I sailed past Beavertail Light at the southern end of Jamestown island and headed north up the narrow passage towards the Jamestown Bridge. The wind was oscillating in both strength and direction from the WSW and the true wind angle was about 120 degrees, almost enough to fly my A6 fractional spinnaker. So even though I was by myself and in tight quarters, I decided to give the kite a try. I rigged up the sheets, but one sheet would not go through a turning block that was lashed to the deck so I took out my marlin spike to pull it through and accidentally stabbed myself in the butt of my left hand, just below my thumb.

The spike went in pretty deep and I must have struck an artery or something because the blood began gushing out all over the deck. I ran below and grabbed some paper towel and compressed the wound and held my hand above my head for a while until the bleeding stopped. I taped some paper towel over the cut with rigging tape and found a bucket and washed off the blood with sea water and sat down for a moment. 'Only a flesh wound', I thought.

However, the wind had lightened and gone aft, so I felt the need to get the spinnaker up, despite my throbbing hand. In retrospect, this was a foolish urge.

Anyway, I went forward and rigged up the kite and hoisted it in its sock and then pulled the sock up to set the sail. It must have been the stress of pulling on all the lines that caused the cut to rupture again and blood came spurting out again all over the sail and the deck. I felt like the Monty Python guy with his limbs lopped off. At the same time, the wind came forward 30 degrees and increased up to about 20 knots. Now I'm in trouble. The spinnaker is flapping madly in the wind, I'm approaching the Jamestown bridge so can't run off downwind, and my hand is bleeding profusely. Calgon- take me away.

The word 'triage' springs to mind- address the worst problem first- so I dive below for the med kit, which spills out over the cabin floor and find some bandages and gauze and wrap my hand. I rush back on deck and go forward to pull down the sock over the spinnaker but it is blowing too hard and won't come down. I sail under the bridge with the kite making a big ruckus and turn the boat downwind and barely get the sail down before sailing into moored boats near the shore. Gulp. Deep breaths. No more spinnaker today for Joey.

The wind dies off about 15 minutes later... of course... and I have a leisurely sail back to Newport. Actually a lovely afternoon punctuated only briefly be a severe adrenaline rush and some bloody clean-up. That's what makes sailing interesting... you never know what you are going to get from mother nature so you have to be ready for anything. Hopefully Dave's afternoon went smoother than mine.

One more race- the 'Sail for Hope' in Newport on Oct . 12th - and then we haul for the winter.

Thanks for Gryphonsolo2 website
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