How to set up a jury rig

Jean-Luc van den Heede sends us his first post-dismasting update

Thursday January 9th 2003, Author: Jean-Luc van den Heede, Location: Transoceanic

All first of all, thank you everyone for your messages of support. Please forgive me, but I can't reply to all of them.

The night of my dismasting I was very worried about the possibility of the mast puncturing Adrien's hull. Jacques De Roux (lost in the 1986 BOC Challenge) had told me about his shipwreck four years before with Skoiern. His mast had gone into the water, acted as a battering ram and succeeded in piercing the hull even though the hull was made of aluminium. The first thing I did was to attach the foot of the mast to Adrien as firmly as possible.

I detached everything which held the sail to the boom to protect it (it is fixed to the deck). Then I sawed the rods, in the process breaking several blades, got the stay retaining pins out and finally cut all the cordage finishing with the running backstays. I have kept the mast foot and the first five metres of the mast.

When all that was finished, the dawn was breaking on Adrien as she drifted. I was soaked because in the emergency, I had neither put on my boots nor oilskin trousers. When all the rigging had sunk into the depths I heaved a great sigh of relief and went and changed.

It was impossible to sleep! I brooded over the situation. I was drifting towards the Antarctic and I thought that as the wind was going to veer to the SW, it was in my interest to tackle the problem straight away. Clearing up the shambles on deck, then my hands, full of carbon splinters. Preparation of the spinnaker boom: two blocks for the halyards, two forestays taken around the cleats to the winches, two backstays taken on the mast chainplate, one forestay taken up on the asymmetric spinnakers’ tacking block, one backstay on the end of the boom, which was the highest point.

Lifting this spinnaker boom single-handed which is 9 m. long and weighs about 40kg was not easy and without the use of the boom I don't know how I would have done it. Another advantage, the spinnaker boom fixation was made on an axis at the summit of a tripod and this axis could go right up to the vertical. I did that just in case... It all went up slowly pulling on one side and giving a bit of slack on the other. We were right in the middle of a storm and the sea was quite considerable. When my spinnaker boom was vertical I breathed a considerable sigh of relief.

All I had to do was to hoist the Celerant Consultant staysail and Adrien set off, wind abeam, at 3 knots. I’ve run 70 naut. miles since yesterday. I shall aim for Melbourne, one of Australia's biggest towns. I shall do all I can to look after my jury rig and remain independent as long as possible.

Until tomorrow

Position at 14H : 53°57’S / 134°50’E
Wind 15N. de NNW. Temperature : day 12° / night 6° / water 4,5°
Distance run in 24H : 70M. Distance to Melbourne : 1045 naut. miles.

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