Saturday, 1 July 2017

Day 5: When Sea Billows Roll

The Lady Jayne, second from the left. 

Today we recognize Canada's 150th Birthday.

It was also the 28th Annual Malaspina Regatta held in the Malaspina Straight which runs between Pender Harbour on the Sunshine Coast and Texada Island which is just south of Powell River. This event is graciously hosted by the Garden Bay Sailing Club.

If you are not into the tack-by-tack account skip down to the next heading :). 

With a field of 30 boats and steady winds from the south (15-20 knots) we anticipated a challenging and technical start.  Unfortunately, many, including us, did not hear the 6 and 5 minute horns and only noticed the white flag part way through the countdown.  All were alerted with 30s to the start horn which meant we were ill placed, 2-3 minutes off the line.  In the end, we had a delightful position at the advantageous end of the start line moving swiftly on a close haul towards the first mark. This somewhat confused start meant that there were no 'tight' moments at the line which really was a blessing in disguise as this is where accidents happen.  The Lady Jayne sits very low to the water and is very vulnerable in the event of an untimely collision. We put that behind us and kept our eye on the prize.

With the brisk wind and sea swell we were happily showered with ocean spray on this entire leg; hence no pictures.  We rounded the first mark and set ourselves wing-on-wing for the downwind second leg.  The large swell and winds from behind made steering a challenge; however, surfing with the waves is a sailor's delight. There is no real opportunity to relax though as this can be a precarious point of sail.  We have a rope arranged on the boom, a 'keeper', to help prevent the boom from swinging back across the cockpit.  We did experience a tense moment when the keeper was put to the test as we encountered back wind.  In this point of sail our boom is extended out almost 90 degrees from the hull. If that gets wind from behind it will send this heavy boom swinging back through the cockpit at a very low angle in the blink of any eye. We hit the floor, the keeper and cleat creaked and groaned BUT it held.  Once under control again, we sat up. Phew. OK, I guess it is time to put the camera way!

Approaching the second mark we nicely forced another boat to fall off and go behind us due to our positioning at the mark.  It is not nice to make others take a longer course; however, this is a race after all.

Rounding the mark we hugged the coast tightly for a while but found that while travelling in a good direction we were sacrificing speed.  So, we tacked out into the straight. This was a good upwind line that once again sent spray over the deck and into our happy faces the entire time. The winds were getting stronger and we felt we could now make one final tack and make a shot for the line which was about 45 minutes away. Great turn, close hauled again, nice line. After 20 minutes, "You know, Dad, those sails in the distance are getting closer. There's the marker at Nelson Island, we are getting there!"

"Committee Boat this is the Lady Jayne. Over."

As Dad admired the bend in the mast and I had my eyes trained on the horizon there was a muted snapping sound followed by a whooshing and flapping of sails.

Dad saw the mast fail - I thought the spreader broke as it did in very similar circumstances during the race 4 years ago.  No, there is no sail where the sail should be.  The mast has snapped.

After a quick assessment we determined that we were uninjured. Praise God! I grabbed the radio and alerted our Committee Boat.  The local volunteer Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 61 (RCM-SAR 61) had been out training and monitoring our race this year.  Another sailer told us at the evening BBQ that they saw the RCM-SAR boat responding to the call before the committee boat relayed our distress. We were very grateful.

Now wallowing in the heavy seas the Lady Jayne was a very sad sight.  At this point, I think we were somewhat in shock and disbelief that we had been de-masted. But, we were safe and help was all around us. A local motor boat came by right away and other sailors ventured close to ensure we were well.

The RCM-SAR 61 arrived within minutes to help us assess the situation and gently tow our sorry selves safely back into the harbour.

It was fitting that a member of the RCM-SAR 61 team won a lovely bottle of aged whiskey as a draw prize at the evening BBQ.

Despite the very keen sense of loss, the mast can be rebuilt so 'it is well, it is well with our soul'.

Morning time.

Happy Birthday, Canada.

Dad has the pleasure of mooring at Mr. Charlie Park's home in Pender Harbour this year. The Lady Jayne rests nicely in her green cover on the left. 

We get a pre-race selfie in as we motor out of the harbour. As the winds are rising (yippee) and we only have two on board there will be little opportunity for photos later.

We are getting excited as we join the parade of vessels scurrying out of the harbour.

Everyone gathers in front of Mom and Dad's cabin to enjoy the start of the race.

We are the small brown boat, second from the left.

We are the sail at the very left tucked up against Lady Bug Island.

We are second from the left. This is still before the race is under way. 

We are in the centre, just to the right of the motor boat timing our run to the start line.

We are at the left, again, timing our run to the start line.
And, they're off!

Here we have rounded the first mark and are enjoying a short moment of calm on the down wind leg. 

Yes, we are pretty 'jacked-up' with the heavy winds which favour the Lady Jayne in a race such as this.

Here we are wing-on-wing. The front sail is propped to port side with the whisker pole and the boom is over the starboard side and 'kept' with that single rope slightly left of centre in this picture.

We text this picture to Mom. Family and friends anticipating us rounding the headland are puzzled at how 'wrong' this picture looks.  Something is not right there. . .. .

On our slow and quiet ride home the realization dawns that after only 1.5 sails this year Dad's season is over.  Crafting a new mast will take months and first a 34 foot length of White Spruce must be acquired and trucked to the Sunshine Coast.  Best not to think about that right now.

Half-way through our tow the pulpit, the wooden housing at the base of the mast, fails and the final bit of mast tips forward on to the deck. We stop to lash it all down and carry on. 

Approaching the harbour nearby boats are staring. It is not a good feeling.

It is tradition to have an after race picture so we put on a brave smile.

Back at the camp, life goes on.  Mark has found his happy place in turtle corner. 

There is much commiseration at the wrap up BBQ.  The food was delicious and the company warm.

Renata enables my learned 'fire starting' helplessness by starting a fire for me :). 


  1. Jammer het zeilseizoen is over voor je vader.

  2. Yes, this is true; however, we are grateful for no injuries. The possibilities for getting struck or tangled in a shroud were very real. Dad will not lack for a woodworking project this year.