Our visit to Malaysia will be very different. I lived there for two and a half years, 1997 to 2000 and have very happy memories of the country and the people and feel that I know the country fairly well. But it is the first time for Cherry, apart from one day we spent on our way to NZ. We will be meeting some old friends in Kuala Lumpur and many sailing friends when we go north to the island of Langkawi. In KL we hope to get Cherry’s troublesome left leg seen to, first by meeting up with Professor David Choon, who kindly fused my right ankle after the first attempt had failed to knit together (by another orthopaedic surgeon).Then there is the mast and rigging to take delivery of in Port Klang, where we can get it erected and make our beloved ‘Rainbow Gypsy’ whole again.
PORT KLANG: We are now at the Royal Selangor Yacht Club, very posh!!, lovely friendly members, but NOT geared to cruisers. No Laundromat, very expensive restaurant and a long walk into town to find facilities. The good news is that we can get the mast delivered here and all repairs can be effected. It looks as if we will be here for about 6 weeks in all, so will use this as a base for some land travel, as the train station is close to the club.
MAST AND RIGGING PERSPECTIVE
Now that our insurance claim has been settled, this is a good time to take stock, looking at the whole incident and how it all happened. We have discovered that the mast was wrongly rigged at the time the boat was built 17 years ago, so it was bound to collapse at some stage and was therefore an accident waiting to happen.
We were so lucky that it happened when it did, in only 30 knots of wind and not 50knots, then we would have been in much more trouble. Our marine surveyor when we bought the boat failed to spot it and even the rigging company who re-rigged it for us two years ago. They should have and they have been very helpful in helping us quickly put our claim together and getting it settled before we left Sri Lanka.
So unbeknown to us, we have been sailing with an unsafe rig and as is the nature of sailing worldwide and particularly in South Africa with its wild and unfriendly seas and few if any day sail destinations, our boat has probably done more sailing in the last 15 months than in the previous 16 years. Our mast was spliced, so gradually the joint would have weakened to a point that it was ready to collapse. After the genoa forestay failed, obviously because of too much movement in the whole rig, we naturally made it considerably tighter than before and this undoubtedly put extra strain onto an already weak joint and so accelerated the weakening process.
At Chagos we knew we had a problem. Other yachties had noticed that our mast bent forward at the middle and Bryce from Silver Fern, who is a very experienced sailorand NZ champion professional, had a look at it for us. He told us it was wrongly rigged, with no cap shroud and no back stays to resist the forward pull of the staysail ‘baby’ stay, as it usually called. He recommended swapping the two stays around and this was exactly right, as we now know, having been sent a copy of the correct rigging layout.
He shook the baby stay and we were horrified to see the mast violently flex in the middle at the spliced joint, such that it looked very unstable, as it later proved to be. Even if we had fixed it correctly, which we were going to do as soon as we were in a place where it could be done, it would still have been potentially very weak at the spliced joint, so for it to collapse and force us to have a new mast, was arguably the best thing that could have happened.
The new rig will be very strong and should not fail, whatever the conditions. The 12 metre mast will be in one length to an upgraded specification and the wire size increased from 7mm to 8mm, at our suggestion. With anchors and chain, one tends to go to one size larger than theoretically necessary and we have adopted the same principal with the rigging. And we shall have brand new sails, so all in all, there are many pluses.
It has swallowed all of our ‘slush’ fund, which we kept for such disasters but this is what it was for, so no problem using it, as long as we have no more disasters for about the next three years, by which time our ‘boat budget’ and ‘slush fund’ just might be replenished. We will have to postpone a few big wish list items until a later date but we shall not allow it to affect any of the land trips we have planned, which are one of the main reasons we so much enjoy our cruising life.