What a productive day, up at 6:30, just as it was light, but feeling tired I decided I could sleep another hour, but I quickly checked the weather grib for today. It showed me that we could expect 20 knt winds for several days, and that right now we are in the middle of a depression. That meant I needed to take advantage of the current calm wind, so up and out I went.
First off I needed to get the headsail off, I pulled the sail out, let go of the halyard, and it shot down, just a little too quickly, I think it might have been better to leave the pulpit on for this, as some of the luff shot over the side and just dipped into the sea. Still it was raining anyway, so no big deal. I rolled up the sail on the pontoon, I hadn’t realised that the wet teak pontoon would leave marks on the sail, I’m hoping they will wash out.
Next up I needed to haul the mainsail up so I could check the boom angle for the sailmaker. I also wanted some pictures of it. That went very well and I could haul the sail nearly all the way up without the winch. I think my shoulder is healing well now.

Down with the mainsail and flaked ready to slide out of the boom bag and into a sail bag. Next was the bit I dreaded, getting the furling gear/stays off. I slackened the backstay and rear intermediaries (the ones that support the staysail stay), Then I took the spinnaker halyard and tied it to the end of the bowsprit and winched it very tight. Then the forestay was slack enough to remove from the cranse iron (The metal thing at the front of the bowsprit where all the stays connect). The furler was carefully moved along side the boat and secured.

The Staysail stay/furler was next and this was even easier. I tied this on the other side of the boat. Next the whisker and bobstays all came off. I tied them all together with a bit of rope which I brought back to the Samson post, just to keep the stays out of the water. Now all we had left was the metal plate holding the sprit down, this came off a relatively easily, but did require Kathy to go into the chain locker and hold a spanner on the nuts underneath. Together we managed to undo all 4 bolts, I had to tape the spanner to a length of wood so Kathy could reach the nuts, and a couple of the nuts are somewhere amongst the rope and chain in the locker, and need retrieving later.
Finally the sprit was free to come out, however I expected it to be glued down to the deck with the 3M sealant used liberally on these boats during production. I increased the tension on the spinnaker halyard and was amazed to see the sprit lift clear of the deck.  Jumping ashore I was able to wiggle the sprit out of the Samson post, I did try to lift it ashore but got half way there and realised it was too heavy, this was the only awkward point, I’m holding the bowsprit on the dock, it’s no longer connect to the boat and I’m struggling to stop it sliding into the sea. I had attached a line to it just in case it fell over. Over the years, with the help of Davey Jones, I have learnt to tie a line to anything I value when working on the boat. Despite this, I have lost two split pins and a small spanner to the aforesaid mans locker since yesterday.

I managed to push the bowsprit back onto the boat and then I could lower it onto the pontoon over the side.

Next was the moment of truth, how bad was the rot, I expected it to be worse underneath, which had previously been hidden. Flipping the sprit over I could see that all the soft wood was rotted, I haven’t inspected it too closely, as it was now pouring down, but I could see enough damage to satisfy me that this exercise was worth it.

I suspect the sprit might have been strong enough for some time, but I will sell this boat one day and will need to have the sprit replaced before then, so while here, it seems sensible to get it sorted now. It’s now 4PM and I have cleaned up, washed the sprit and the deck down and called the carpenter to make sure they come early to take the sprit away.
Most of all I’m very pleased at how easy it all went, I’m reminded that even the most daunting tasks are quite manageable if you take a bit of time planning and thinking it all through.

On another note, I’m shocked at how quickly things rust out here. I think perhaps the reduced ventilation while we have been away may have helped, but for example, just look at our oven lighter after just 4 weeks

We need to go shopping today, meals so far have been comprised mainly of a loaf we bought in Cologne airport, a healthy branny thing that was hard as rocks when we bought it, and hasn’t changed much since ;-), just need the rain to abate a little.

Paul Collister