Phil's Logs


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DATE: May 24, 2007
LOCATION: Hilton Head, SC

Parallax limped into Skunk Creek Marina on Hilton Head, SC with a broken compression post after what would have been an uneventful passage from the South Caicos. Uneventful, as we were fortunate to skim over or around really bad weather and averaged nearly 170 miles a day after a slow start in squally but mainly windless conditions. Somewhat less uneventful when I discovered that Parallax's compression post, the structural member that supports the mast, was cracked. There was a strong norther forecasted for our rounding of Cape Hatteras and I decided to visit a friend in South Carolina and take the norther on the aft quarter instead of on the nose in the Gulf Stream. It was a great ride on the Gulf Stream rollers with sustained speeds of 11, with the speedo often touching the low teens on the front sides of the waves as they hissed by. Other than the juddering and deceleration the ride was smooth. I was sitting at the salon table writing when I looked up and saw the crack running horizontally at the point of a previous repair. I immediately drilled a hole in each end of the crack and got the remaining main (it had been triple reefed) tucked into the sailbag. I started to roll in the jib but after some though decided it would act to steady the boat, which would otherwise pitch wildly in the short steep Gulf Stream seas, and perhaps lessen the strain on the wounded compression post. . In the end I reefed about a third of it. With the shortened jib Parallax still hovered around 7 or 8 knots in the 25 to 30 knot quartering wind but that was just below surfing speed so the ride was remarkably smooth despite the seas. For the next few hours I was up every 10 minutes shining my light on the crack checking to make sure it had not crept past the holes I had drilled. After 30 hours the wind had died, and we were long past the Gulf Stream. I really don't believe we were anywhere a catastrophic failure but losing the mast in the gulf stream would have been at best, way to much drama and at worst, result in a ride home in a helicopter. It was the beginning of the Memorial Day holiday and there was no realistic prospect of finding a portable TIG welder until after the holiday. All things considered, I was grateful to be in the friendly little marina that shared none of the bad attributes of a skunk, needing only a welder.

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