Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad/Oracle Supplier

Going it Alone- Failure and Self Reliance at Sea

by Daniel Johnston on 1 Jun 2011
Lee sailing - Going it Alone Lee Winters
Lee Winters, solo sailor and campaigner for SOS childrens villages provides an insight into solo-sailing:

Keep the standing rig up and the water out. It is a simple mantra but is the essence of sailing solo. I am not a racer. I don’t maintain a strict travel schedule. My boat epitomizes classic plastic, but she is seaworthy. That is until 9000 nautical miles into my singlehanded circumnavigation my forestay parted in the South Pacific.

I set sail alone over two years ago from the small Texas town of Kemah situated in Galveston Bay on Texas’ Gulf Coast. The day I left I’d never gone offshore, overnight alone before.

My boat and I were both untested. The only thing I had going for me was a wealth of knowledge gleaned from every sailing book I’d thumbed and a cache of determination that bordered on lunacy. Fear and naysayers be damned, I was going to sail around the world.

Some 20 months later I was working my way North from Rarotonga to Palmerston Atoll when disaster struck. Winds were moderate and the sea was just easing after a week of strong winds. I’d just woken and was putting a pot of coffee on when I felt the bow shudder.

Running on deck I saw the jib fill, raise the furling drum over the lifelines, and drop into the sea. Nothing but the jib sheets and furling drum line held the mangled mass of sail and aluminum furling foils to the boat.

I wish I could tell you that the first thing I did was run forward, grab the spinnaker halyard, and secure it to the bow stem. That was my second action. At 20* S latitude in September it is hot. Birthday suit hot. My eyes caught the end of that broken forestay and saw a razor sharp, stainless steel cat of 19 tails. Pants. I put pants on first.

The forestay parted two centimeters above the lower sta-loc fitting. I lashed the end of the broken stay to the mast pulpit and turned my attention to the wreckage hanging off my port side. When the furler hit the water the foils broke into four sections now cutting and gouging my jib.

I grabbed the jib sheets and on pure adrenalin began heaving the tangle from the sea. Eventually the foils followed the sail onto the side deck. As I turned to find ties to lash them to the deck another roll of the boat dumped the lot back into the Pacific. Watching the sail fill with water I was gutted.

Adrenalin gone and sail ties in hand I began working smarter. With each roll of the boat I took up slack on the sheets and let the opposite roll bring up the shattered remnants. An hour later everything was secured on deck and I began taking stock.The wreckage was such that there was no salvaging the roller furling unit. The system was antiquated at best at over 25 years old. My jib however had only been commissioned three years prior.

To salvage the sail I was forced to cut the luff tape off with a sharp knife freeing the sail from the furler foils.

Cleared of sail I began throwing the 3 and 4 meter sections of aluminum overboard like harpoons. Getting the sail down below and the deck cleared of debris I started searching my mind for forestay options.

Jury rig number one was an ugly solution. I was committed to continuing on to Palmerston Atoll some 200 nm to the Northwest. I was lucky that the stay broke just above the deck fitting. 1 x 19 rigging wire doesn’t bend without deformation, but in that moment I didn’t care. With no small amount of anger I doubled the end of the wire over on itself. Using several cable clamps I secured a very ugly eye in the stay.

Digging through every shackle on board I gathered an extra turnbuckle, two anchor shackles, and a chain link connector and began filling the gap between the stem head fitting and the eye in the broken forestay. Using the full throw of both turnbuckles the rig came under tension and I limped onto the mooring at Palmerston a few days later.

Lee eventually cobbled together a temporary fix and made it all the way to the Whangarei Basin, Northland, New Zealand. We thought it only fitting that after his plight and given the good work that he is doing for promoting SOS villages a cost price Harken furler might come in handy.

Follow Lee as he makes his way back home here: www.sailingforsos.com




North Technology - Southern SparsAncasta Ker 40+ 660x82Mackay Boats

Related Articles

Iain Jensen wins MS Amlin 'Dash for Cash'
Some crashes were spectacular, with the skipper being launched from the boat in a cloud of spray. Jensen is the longtime crew for Nathan Outteridge, the helmsman for Artemis Racing. As a team they won the Olympic Gold medal in the 49er Class at the 2012 London Olympics.
Posted on 3 Dec
Hotting up at the Star Sailors League Finals
Three light airs races were held for the penultimate day of the Qualifying Rounds in Montagu Bay Nassau. Three light airs races were held for the penultimate day of the Qualifying Rounds in Montagu Bay Nassau. Getting a good start and having the boat speed to hold a lane was paramount today.
Posted on 2 Dec
MS Amlin International Moth Regatta attracts podium finishers
A fleet of 52 sailors, including two of the top three from last regatta, is set to contest the second annual regatta. Last year Rob Greenhalgh and Paul Goodison made British sailing proud when they finished first and third. Greenhalgh trailed by one point heading into the final day and then went out and won all three races in dominant fashion to stamp an eight-point victory. Goodison, a member of Artemis Racing for the America’s Cup, placed third.
Posted on 1 Dec
Sailing World Cup Final brings the best to St Kilda
Thirty-six nations have registered sailors across a combined 22 Olympic and Invited classes for next week’s World Cup Competitor numbers are predicted to reach 800 across the two competitions - the final stage of the international body World Sailing’s six-part Olympic class international circuit that will come to a head at St Kilda for the 11 classes, and the 11 Invited classes.
Posted on 1 Dec
Bid process reopened for new venue for the 2017 Youth Worlds
The Bid process has been reopened after the Israel Sailing Assoc withdrew from hosting the 2017 Youth Sailing World The Bid process has been reopened after the Israel Sailing Association (ISA) withdrew from hosting the 2017 Youth Sailing World Championships which were due to take place in Akko, Israel in July 2017. World Sailing will accept bids from MNAs interested in hosting the event in July or December of 2017.
Posted on 30 Nov
Battle commences at Star Sailors League Finals
The early exchanges confirmed the amazing quality and depth in fleet, which contains no less than 16 Olympic medallist The early exchanges confirmed the amazing quality and depth in the fleet, which contains no less than 16 Olympic medallist among the skippers alone.
Posted on 30 Nov
World Sailing lead the conversation at the Yacht Racing Forum
Sailing - sport, technology and nature in perfect harmony was the message delivered by World Sailing CEO Andy Hunt Sailing - sport, technology and nature in perfect harmony. This was the message delivered by World Sailing CEO Andy Hunt at the opening session of the Yacht Racing Forum in Valletta, Malta that provided the backbone to much of the day's conversations and presentations.
Posted on 29 Nov
Star Sailors League Finals – Opening ceremony at Bahamas
The curtains are about to be unveiled, with the grand Opening Ceremony at Government House of the Bahamas in Nassau The curtains are about to be unveiled, with the grand Opening Ceremony at Government House of the Bahamas in Nassau at the presence of Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Matilda Pindling
Posted on 28 Nov
Alonso Collantes of Peru wins Sunfish World Championship in Cartagena
What most of these sailors experienced in Cartagena was very different from anything they’ve ever sailed in before. What most of these champion sailors experienced in Cartagena was very different from anything they’ve ever sailed in before.
Posted on 28 Nov
Delta Lloyd Regatta 2017 – Save the date
We have decided to offer disabled sailors a chance to take part in our event by adding the 2.4 mR class. After the Rio Olympic Games 2016 we are looking into new ways of developing the sport of sailing in terms of formats to offer the highest quality to world class sailors.
Posted on 24 Nov