Lisa Blair's blog – chafing issues on the reefing lines

Lisa Blair is now 35% of the way into her journey around Antarctica. Check her progress here. She continues to send interesting and informative blogs on a daily basis:

February 26, 2017 – Reefing lines chafing

Evening All,

Well after such a long day yesterday the night was quite uneventful.  The winds maintained 25 knots gusting 30 knots from the S to the SSE but by 7.30 in the morning the winds were getting up around the 35 knots range so I put the third reef in the main sail.  The boat was still handling the conditions well but I didn’t want to put more pressure on the sails, The Storm Jib has been working a charm even though I have been sailing upwind all night.

The swell through the night has continued to build to around 4 meters witch isn’t much however they are short sharp waves with a really nasty cross swell. The boat has had a couple of waves hit just right to dump a huge amount of water over the boat.  I wasn’t taking any chances with another wet bunk so I have been keeping the main companionway hatch firmly closed.

At lunch time the barometer had begun to rise and the clouds had shifted from the dark and nasty looking storm clouds to the nice inviting white fluffy Cumulus clouds indicating that I was exiting the storm.  I had been sailing mostly on a course of 200 through the night so SSW with the storm moving over me to the east so as soon as it pushed me out the back I tacked the boat over and am now sailing east again……………Yahoo!

The winds maintained between 30-35 knots for most of the day from the SE occasionally dropping below 25 knots in the lulls but by sunset the winds were only occasionally touching 30 knots so I felt that it was okay to shake a reef out of the main sail.  I got on deck only to realize that the weather has got so cold that I should take a minute to get some gloves on…….  I didn’t.  I was thinking to myself that I will be quick but the whole time I was on deck my hands were on fire from the cold burn.

When I first sailed the boat over to Albany from Sydney I found there were some rather large chafe issues found due to how I use my reefing lines.  I didn’t want to have to go forward to the mast for every reef as I felt in rough conditions this was an additional risk that wasn’t needed.  I had set up the reefing lines so that I have one line to pull down the front of the sail and another to pull down the back of the sail and both lines can be controlled from the cockpit.  With the chafe issue, I still use the clutches in the boom that are designed to hold the outboard end of the reefing line.  What I do is complete the whole reef from the cockpit and then when it’s safe I walk forward and shut the clutch on the boom, back in the cockpit I transfer the load on to the recently closed boom clutch. I have found that I have had little chafe issues until now.

So this afternoon after I shook out the reef I went forward to close the clutch only to notice that I have stripped the cover off the no 2 reefing line…  The cover is what gives the line its 'grip' so to speak to hold in the clutch.  Without the cover it would continue to slip on the clutch.  One option for me was to keep the reefing line on the winch in the cockpit however I was worried that the exposed core of the line would chafe even quicker and I might snap a reefing line in the boom. This would cause a whole world of trouble and I wasn’t prepared to take the chance. So, I went with option no 2.  I put the third reef back in… It is such a bummer. I am now going much slower than I need to and I have been sailing backwards for a day so. I was keen to make some time up but it was already dark when I noticed the issue. I will wait until tomorrow to replace the line.
 I think I may replace them all as the other two lines are also showing signs of chaffing from this last month and a bit of use.  I am actually surprised that I haven’t had more issues with them so far. It was very lucky to have noticed the problem before I snapped the line.

Another issue that has identified itself today is the generator is once again not turning on.  It is showing all the same signs as last time indicating that it is a solenoid issue. I will take a closer look tomorrow after I fix the reefing lines and hope for now that it is an easy fix.

Also today is officially the end of my 5th week at sea so another milestone of the trip with the next one being Point Nemo in a few days.  Point Nemo is the point in the ocean that is the furthest from land in the world and I get to sail past it this week.  I will be more than 2000 nm from land on either side and right in the middle of the south Pacific Ocean…….

February 27 – a fix-it day

In the messy swell of last night the winds started to abate from that storm and started dropping off to 25 knots from the South then 20 knots and when it started showing 15 knots and I was still with three reefs in the main I got so frustrated at the low speeds and decided to do something about it.

As you may remember, I noticed that my no 2 reefing line was chafed through on the cover making it likely that it would snap if I used it.  At the time that I was trying to use it the winds were still above 25 knots so the boat was trucking along still at 7 knots even with three reefs in the main.  When my boat speed dropped to below 4 knots I needed to do something about it.  At the time the winds were still too heavy to have the main up with only one reef.

So it was at 2am this morning I found myself on a cold dark deck lashing the no 2 reefing Kringle to the boom.  The required that I trip the sail in so tight that it was close enough for me to reach the boom.  In 20 knots of wind with the water rushing past, clipped on I was leaning out over the rails and stretched up to my awesome full height of 5 foot 2 only just reaching the boom.  I got the lashing on and secured while the boat still had the third reef in to make things a bit easier.  Once completed I shook out to reef 2 following normal procedure but instead of leaving the load on the clutch in the boom I transferred that load to my lashing at the back of the boom.  At least that was my intention until I noticed something silly…

In my sleepy state I had lashed down reef 1's kringle instead of reef 2's kringle…  Bugger.  I was too tired to bother putting in reef 3 again just so that I could change the lashing only to shake it out again straight after.  It takes quite a bit of energy to shake out the reefs as there is simply so much sail to winch up……. putting them in is far easier.

Instead I winched in the sail again so that it was in the middle of the boat and undid the lashing on the wrong kringle and slightly hanging out of the boat I lashed the right kringle.  This was no easy task. In the messy sea way I needed to wedge my arm under the main sheet to keep my balance and make sure that the boat remained the only floating object for thousands of miles….. Success…. I transferred the pressure of the line over to my new lashing on the right reefing point and wondered to myself why I didn’t think of this earlier…… like in the daylight. Following that and given that it was past 2am I crawled into bed. 

The winds kept easing and by midday I was able to shake out to reef 1 and start making my replacement reefing line for the chafed reef 2.  Job completed. I also got to work on the genset. I was unable to get it to work initially.  By listening to how it started it sounded exactly like what happened last time with the wire breaking off the solenoid but when I crawled into the back of the boat to look the wires were intact.  I then thought that I might have a sticky solenoid and gently tapped it with my knife.  I went back into the main cabin to test it.  No joy. It still wasn’t working.

As that was the extent of my mechanical skills I used my phone a friend card again and called Chris from SLR for some support.  Once he was on the line I fired up the genset again just so he could listen to the sounds and what do you know it worked…  So, it looks like my solenoid was sticking and it just took more than one go to get it running again…  I will remember that one for next time.

I have also had some trouble with my water maker. While I am in a fix-it kind of mood I had a go at trying to get that up and running.  After some poking around I noticed that one of the valves for the salt water intake was half off…  This must have been just enough for it not to get the water through. Relief at another easy fix.  I did have enough water to finish the trip with however it is nice to know that I don’t need to be on water rations for the next 8 weeks…

And now it is nearing midnight my time and I have 5-7 knots of wind coming from the S to SE as it shifts around.  I have the No 1 Jib out for the light weather but I still have that one reef in the main as the winds will hopefully fill in through the night.  I am expecting the winds to veer to the west and fill in towards the early morning but for now the boat is making a grand speed of 4 knots. At least the swell is down so I am not rolling all over the place.

Well, it’s off to bed for me, as I expect that I will be up and down quite a bit throughout the night tonight.


Sun Odyssey 380
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M.O.S.S Australia
Lagoon 51