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Picture of Free Yacht Chapter 11: Dismasted!
Sailing along with 10 people aboard, dum de dum de dum. Suddenly, CRACK! CRASH! Sails all over us! The boom falls onto the cabin top right next to us! The mast crashes into the water! Cables everywhere!

Thanks to Cynthia Rauschert for the photos from that night.

continues the Free Yacht saga begun at How to Get a Free Yacht

Here's the table of contents of the whole saga:
Chapter 1: How to Get a Free Yacht
Chapter 2: Maiden Voyage of the Free Yacht
Chapter 3: Fix Broken Stix and other Trix
Chapter 4: Outboard Motor Mutilates Foot
Chapter 5: It's sinking and it's on Fire.
Chapter 6: How To Give Away a Free Yacht
Chapter 7: Get an Even Better One and Fabulize it.
Chapter 8: Celebrate Freedom
Chapter 9: Technicolor Dreamboat
Chapter 10: Privateer Knot
Chapter 11: Dismasted!
Chapter 12: Kiteboat!
Chapter 13: Mast Raising!

 
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Step 1: The View From the Cockpit

Picture of The View From the Cockpit
The mast is in the water, the boom fell to the deck. Shannon and I were sitting on the lee side talking about geopolitics and Cheez Whiz.. We had to crawl out from under the sail. Fortunately everyone else was on the windward side and no one was hit or tangled.
The sails in the water filled with water and slowly dragged more stuff over the side.
What a mess. How could all that crap do that and not hurt anyone? We got lucky.

Step 2: Gus' Narrative part 1

Picture of Gus' Narrative part 1
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photos: Gus, Dav and Tim out on the lee float trying to decipher tangled cables and unhook the sails.

Captain Gus Holcomb writes:
Subject: :(

Well, Last night didn't go well. Everyone is thankfully ok, but Solara was
demasted last night in the bay.

On the way back from a Red Rock sight seeing trip the wind picked up to
20-25. We were close hauled and heading to TI. We were sailing fast, but the
boat felt balanced. The starboard ama was skipping the surface of the water.
I didn't feel like we were overpowered; Modest weather-helm.

Not sure what happened first, but one of the stays pulled free and the mast
shattered about 1/4 of the way up.
Gus' email continues on next step...

Step 3: Gus' Narrative part 2

Picture of Gus' Narrative part 2
Gus: Everything blew off the deck and into the
drink. After that little surprise we anchored and assessed the situation.
Tim was pretty gungho to jump in the water and swim to shore, but we tied
him to the mizzen mast and got to work. We untied everything we could and
detached all of the stays except the headstay.

Tim: Here's the view to lee of the boat. Mast, sails, and a mess of cables in the water.
We're anchored but the mast won't swing aft. Something snagged on its broken butt won't let it swing.

Step 4: Gus' Narrative part 3

Picture of Gus' Narrative part 3
Gus: Everything was tangled up around the top half of the mast and half
under the boat, so after Tim pushed
all the sails back into the water, we managed to float the mast alongside
the boat and haul it onboard.

Tim: In this photo the mast is starting to swing aft. We've disconnected enough stuff to unsnag it but not enough to lose anything.

Step 5: Gus' Narrative part 4

Picture of Gus' Narrative part 4
IMG_8481.jpg
Gus: We pulled it all on deck and fished around
with the boat hook for loose lines.

After consolation budweisers all around we pull anchor and motored back to
the marina.

For such a catastrophic failure, it went more smoothly than I could have
hoped. No one was hurt, which is the most important thing, but everyone
remained calm and we worked together to get us back to shore safely.

But today is a new day and I heard mention of an aluminum mast stashed away.
I'm looking forward to working on her with you all and getting her ship
shape in time for a run to the farallones later on this summer.

gus

Tim: Here's everyone heaving the mast onto the deck and piling the sails together. As you can see, morale is high. Everyone on board was a good sport, and it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable (and memorable) cruises yet!

Step 6: The Next Morning...

Picture of The Next Morning...
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In the bright sunlight of May the 14th, here's the mess we had on deck. Everything was snarled with everything else. The jagged stub of the mast stabbed through our new jib when it fell. There was a big rip in the main and all the battens were broken.

Step 7: Cleaner and Lighter

Picture of Cleaner and Lighter
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It took some doing to straighten out all that stuff and haul it off the boat.
Afterward the boat floated a LOT higher. All that hardware and cloth is pretty heavy.
Notice our new waterlines.

Step 8: Now We've Got a Kiteboat

Picture of Now We've Got a Kiteboat
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Now that the decks are clear, we thought we'd try kite power!
Here we are sailing with Pete Lynn's 16 sq. meter nasawing kite. We had about 40 sq. meters of sail area before the dismasting. Considering the reduction in area and the fact that this kite's lift to drag ratio isn't great, it's surprising how well it works. When we're in dirty or light wind, Pete controls the leading edge of the kite with a fishing pole. With no mast, sail, and rigging in the way, the boat is spacious and uncluttered.

Time to try a much bigger kite!

The Free Yacht Saga continues at Chapter 12: Kiteboat!

Here's the table of contents of the whole saga:
Chapter 1: How to Get a Free Yacht
Chapter 2: Maiden Voyage of the Free Yacht
Chapter 3: Fix Broken Stix and other Trix
Chapter 4: Outboard Motor Mutilates Foot
Chapter 5: It's sinking and it's on Fire.
Chapter 6: How To Give Away a Free Yacht
Chapter 7: Get an Even Better One and Fabulize it.
Chapter 8: Celebrate Freedom
Chapter 9: Technicolor Dreamboat
Chapter 10: Privateer Knot
Chapter 11: Dismasted!
Chapter 12: Kiteboat!
Chapter 13: Mast Raising

ex_mo6 years ago
you guys really know how to keep your cool.
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dacarls ex_mo6 years ago
Please tell us why the demasting ocurred. Usually the sidestays pull out, if they have had no attention. ( Very likely on this rig?) I have even seen heavy stainless steel stantions for sidestays corrode OFF below the deck.
TimAnderson (author)  dacarls6 years ago
We don't know why it happened. The break was pretty low on the mast, just below where the cables from the diamond spreaders attach. Two passengers said they saw a big crack there before it fell but they thought that was normal (!). There doesn't seem to be any damage to cables or chainplates. After it fell multiple people were disconnecting cables and not counting them, maybe a pin could have wiggled out. The cable ends all look good. I think the mast broke first, then fell over.
TruthHunter4 years ago
Free Yacht Chapter 11 Dismasted

When I first read the title, I thought you went bankrupt!
Excellent coverage of all the things to encounter owning a Yacht.  I have thought of it for a while and see what I am in for.  I also was glad to see no one was hurt since I enjoy all the experiences you all have!!
Whales5 years ago
In the picture it looks like the city is burning behind you.
ex_mo6 years ago
this is a bummer dude!
kc4zvw6 years ago
Could you re-build the mast with new wood and transfer the hardware off the old one.
lol i have read all of these... i feel like if i ever saw the solara i would know everyone on board.
Ditto. Makes me wish there was an RSS so I could track updates. Finally checked back since I read them and there's 2 more chapters!! Why wasn't I informed?
trebuchet036 years ago
Oh No! Glad to hear everyone was safe.

So will the Solara have a traditional mast? Or will we be seeing something more like this nearby Kite Boat
http://www.flickr.com/photos/laughingsquid/2410795705/
?
woodyardboy6 years ago
I always wondered what "shiver me timbers" and "heave ho me hearties" was all about, and now I know :)
Del6 years ago
Any more theories on why the mast failed? Signs of rot? Was the wind stronger than you expected (you could review conditions recorded by some local weather station(s))? Congrats on a collective cool head and safe return.
That gives me an idea for my old parachute...
gub20006 years ago
I'm in awe that no one was hurt.
Stew26 years ago
Wow! Amazing (and most fortunate!) that no one got hurt!
fwjs286 years ago
great series...i'd love to see it continued...maybe a trip to someplace for a vacation...