June 20, 2009
This morning we reluctantly departed from Lastovo, bound for Polace on the island of Mljet. Everyone was excited since early morning indications were that we would have wind, apparently out of the northeast. After putting out, sure enough, winds were brisk, maybe 10 knots, but more out of the east rather than the northeast. This was unfortunate since our destination was almost due east, directly into the wind, which sailboats do not do well (not at all, actually). This necessitated that we zigzag (tack) into the wind always keeping about 45 degrees to the wind. This we proceeded to do. As we continued on this course, we noticed the winds and seas began to pick up increasing to 18 to 20 knots and 3 to 4 foot seas. On this course, we were bouncing around pretty good with frequent waves crashing over the bow onto the cabin’s windshield. For the most part, all of us were dealing with the bouncing and rolling, and the boat clipped along at a healthy 8 to 9 knots.
This continued for maybe 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Then, suddenly, we heard a very loud bang or pop, sounding much like a rifle shot. Looking around, we were distressed to see the mainsail fluttering loosely in the breeze, completely free of the boom, the lower bar that keeps the sail secured. A probably ¾” line (the out haul) had broken under the strain of now 20+ Knot winds, leaving us without a main sail.
Fortunately, there was a solution. By lowering the main by about 20 %, there is a second out haul line installed for situations when winds are too strong for the full main sail area. So that’s what we proceeded to do. John & I, clinging to whatever kept us vertical, made our way to the mast and began to lower the main, alternatively lowering the main and clinging to anything handy as wind and waves tossed the boat and us around. Eventually, we prevailed.
However, this experience gave us pause and we reassessed if we really wanted to proceed under these conditions. The answer was a fairly unanimous no. We changed course and made way for Lumbarda, on the island of Korcula. This course was more north-northeast, and was a much more “user-friendly” tack. We made to Lumbarda without further incident.