“Equipment Failure DNS”

June 29, 2014

That’s BackBeat’s position report from the Yellowbrick tracker this morning.  Looks like 2014 won’t be my year.

The short version of this story is that I had a pretty rough delivery to San Francisco. Three autopilots burned out, I shredded a nice new Elliott Pattison spinnaker, and my boom snapped like a twig. I have a spare spinnaker, and I bought a new boom extrusion and autopilot Monday and Tuesday, but Tuesday evening I found a broken keel bolt.  I’d had water in the bilge since Port Angeles and was concerned, so I was checking them all for torque.  Seeing a broken keel bolt made me catch my breath.  It’s the forward bolt.  One other bolt felt kind of funky when I torqued it.  No wonder I had water in the bilge.  The keel was down there flexing all the way from Port Angeles.  That’s really dangerous, and a show stopper if I couldn’t get it repaired before the race.  I was up most of Tuesday night drilling holes to sister in two new keel bolts. Wednesday a 3/4 inch tap broke off in one of the 10″ deep holes I’d drilled.  I sat back, took a deep breath, and managed somehow not to cry.  After finding a new boom and dealing with the autopilot situation, I knew this was the end of the line for me. I flew home last night to get my trailer. I’ll have to haul the boat out and drop the keel to make a seaworthy repair.  This is not a DIY job unless I have the luxury of time in my own yard.

Of course I’m disappointed.  Julie met me at the marina Wednesday night, though, so the trip officially became a vacation.  We went out yesterday on Red Sky, Brian Boschma’s Olson 34, to see the fleet off in 15-18 knots of wind and sunny skies.  It was a little painful to watch everyone head for the Golden Gate Bridge while I rode a coaming on the chase boat, but sailing to Hawaii–and back–with questionable keel issues crossed a safety threshold that I didn’t want to tempt.

I’ll post more later, with all the gory details, so stay tuned.

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