It sucks, but it happens

If someone told me that we would need to return from our Puddle Jump to repair a part I didn’t have spares for, or didn’t know how to fix, I would imagine I would be furious for it.

Well, here we are. And, as disappointing as it has been, I am not furious (and that is a surprise for me!).

Things break on boats all the time, this is a fact. And having the appropriate spares, the right tools, and the know-how to fix stuff goes a long way.

I do have the tools, I still have a lot to learn of all the systems onboard Pesto, and as for the spares … gosh, we carry a lot, but one can’t possibly carry spares for every single thing onboard … It’s what I call the Spares Lottery. You spend money buying spares for what you suppose is going to break, and hope for the better.

Two days ago, there we were blasting along our way to the Marquesas, already 200 miles away from Mexico’s coast. It was champagne sailing indeed, and we were feeling good. Until I noticed a big sag on our Genoa (the forward sail). It didn’t take long to diagnose the problem – a hydraulic fitting on our backstay had failed, setting the stay loose. Our mast was flexing. Not only were the sails’ forms compromised as a result, but proceeding that way could have caused serious damage to the rigging, including the mast – one of our most important assets onboard. No !

The way back felt like forever, bashing against the wind and seas that were pushing us so well on the opposite way. And, surprisingly, as I wrote above, I did’t have a nervous breakdown in the process. When I realized the breakdown was on a system I wasn’t prepared to fix by myself while underway, the decision to go back was in fact a non-issue. I could have fixed a workaround which would have taken us to the Marquesas (in fact, I put that in place on the way back to protect the mast). But we were still close enough to Mexico to warrant a return and have a proper repair done. After all, we deserve a wholesome passage – that’s what I think.

Anyway, so here we are now in La Cruz. We are surrounded by a community rich in knowledge, willingness to help and positive energy, and I believe we may have a quick fix on the way. But it’s also a difficult week, with shops and service providers working reduced hours because of Easter festivities.

There is a weather window coming up this Wednesday, and some friends of ours are departing with it. It makes us itch to go. But the repair needs to be done properly before that.

I was going to write that I wish we were still sailing and reaching the Trade Winds by now. But that’s water under the bridge already and I won’t waste a wish on that. What I REALLY wish for now, is that we can fix this hydraulic quickly, and that we have a great passage to the Marquesas, without new breakages.

So, let’s see. Tomorrow I shall have a better appreciation of how long it will take for the repair to be fully accomplished.

Friends’ farewell on the moments preceding our departure from Barra de Navidad:


Great sailing, blasting toward the Equator:


What about this fantastic moonset ?


Enter the broken hydraulic ram, and our plans were upside down instantly (notice the hydraulic fluid on the teak to the right of the ram):


Luckily the problem was with the ram’s seals – and apparently it’s not that difficult to replace them (finding them in short notice will be the challenge here):


With the backstay loose, the head stay also forms a catenary, sagging the genoa (not to mention the excessive flexing of the mast)

DSC_0028We rigged 3 redundant jury rigging to prevent the mast from flexing as we motored back to La Cruz:


Two hours after arrival today, I already had the ram removed and ready for the surgeon’s knife tomorrow


6 Replies to “It sucks, but it happens”

  1. Alex! Good call, since you weren’t far yet. When we were in the Bahamas the hydraulic rams (Akimbo has two) on the backstay did the same thing! We made the windy upwind passage from the Bahamas to Puerto Rico with a good jury rig (replaced the rams with the blocks and tackles from the running back stays) and the next crew arrived with the spares. A mechanic i was having replace seals on the watermaker was nearby if i needed help…but told me i could probably do it myself. With him as my “security,” i did. Oh, the details and the skills we never knew we would learn. I almost wish i were there to play too.
    By the way, my guess is that after the first week out there your body will adjust and that sea-sickness will go away.
    Hoping for the best for you all,

  2. Hi Jon, it does look like the ram isn’t too difficult to fix, given the right parts. Tomorrow I will take it to a Navtec mechanic to see if he has the parts available.
    As for seasickness, for this passage I took Sturgeron, and it has worked perfectly on me. For the first time EVER i enjoyed a passage fully, without the discomfort of seasickness 🙂

  3. Bet the kids loved having you meet up with Noah and Horatio again! Hope you guys are getting ready and provisioned to go again. We heard s/v ENOUGH was looking for the window of weather. Look forward to hearing the continuing adventure!

  4. Hi Catherine, Phill – the kids are indeed making the most out of our unexpected stay here in La Cruz. And in many ways, so are we 🙂
    We are already waiting for the next window and soon, very soon, shall be leaving to the Sea again.

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