Humpty Dumpty Got Pulled Up the Mast

Sunday June 26, 2011

After a few weekends spent moving into our new place and spending Father’s Day with my dad who happened to be in town for the weekend on business, we were finally able to make it back to the boat.  It was a little strange going there for the first time since the move because after all the changes recently happening in my life (new home, new job, loss of my puppy) the boat was starting to feel like the only constant in my life.  Except Matt of course, but he’s become such a part of me that I forget to include him as a separate entity sometimes.

Waking up in the morning we were so excited to get out on the water and do some real sailing after being out of the game for a few weekends which was starting to feel like a lifetime.  Plus I’ve been reading up on my sailing books and and wanted to pay decent attention to the sail trim instead of falling into the pattern of Matt being the line handler and I the helmsman as we always do.  Motoring out to the big lake it was just before noon and it was obvious there was a race taking place that day as all the yachts from MYC were following our lineup out into the open water.  Shortly after exiting the channel we unfurled the jib, raised the main, and cut the engine.  Wind wasn’t very heavy but there should have been enough of a breeze for us to at least point in a direction and slowly amble along.  But no matter what way we positioned ourselves there was nothing filling the sails and they’d just luff and taunt us while the racers cruised steadily by.  Trying every point of sail we were getting no kind of forward movement.  Even copying the compass heading of all the boats on the water that were leaving us in their dust we did nothing but stay stationary.  Finally when three other racers passed us with their mylar sails perfectly trimmed to this illusive wind Matt threw his hands up in the air and questioned, “What are they sailing on?”.  I just had to laugh at him and reply “…..skill”.

After clearing out of the way from the more skillful sailors we decided that with the lack of wind and waves it was as good of a time as any to remove our radar from the mast so we could sell it and use the money towards a newer model.  At first I assumed it would be my ass making it’s way into the sky which scared me a little, and when Matt said it would be him going up that scared me even more.  Not because I know he is afraid of heights and didn’t know how he’d handle it up there but because it was going to be me hoisting him up.  Now if you remember a few posts back I’ve mentioned there is a complete lack of muscles on my part.  I can’t even hold a paint brush above my head for more than 5 minutes without getting exhausted.  And the fact that just a few weeks ago I needed to be relieved from raising the genoa because I couldn’t complete it myself.  I was assured that because of the gear reduction in our winches it would be enough for someone even as weakly as me to raise a 160 lb male 60 ft in the air.  Even if there was a way I could get him all the way up though I didn’t know if I’d be able to let out the line gently enough to keep him from crashing all the way down or even pulling a Mission Impossible act where I stop him six inches from the deck surface.

After working the halyard around two winches I was told that I could do this and to start cranking.  Inch by inch the halyard became taut and Matt slowly became suspended in the air.  It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, there wasn’t much of a strain at all, it was just slow and steady all the way up.  Once he was where he needed to be I cleated the line and went blow deck to work with the wires at the bottom of the mast that he was working with at the top.  10 or 15 minutes in he’d realized that the wires were not coming undone as easily as he’d hoped and instead of swaying around in the breeze while I fiddled around for who knows how long trying to fix it, that it would be easier for him to be brought back down to take care of it himself.  With beads of sweat coming down my forehead I followed the instructions of keeping one hand on the line wrapped around the winch and making slow 1-2″ counterclockwise turns to gently ease him down.  Before I knew it he was safely back on deck and I was quite proud of myself for not killing him.

After getting everything in order and Matt up the mast a second time (which was slightly more difficult on my arms) the wind that had been hiding from us all day was starting to make more and more of an appearance and although it wasn’t dangerous it was definitely making for a bit more motion at the top of the mast.  Like the pro that he is though, the radar was successfully removed and lowered to safety and he was shortly behind.  Getting everything safely secured we cashed in on the fresh breeze we couldn’t find before and turned back towards the racers ready to hold our own.






* Here I was thinking I was so special for getting Matt ‘all the way up the mast’, and now I go back and realize it was only about 20 feet up.

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