Back to Falmouth

After a leisurely breakfast, it was time to head back down to Antigua. We had the full main up, and took an easy sail down towards the East coast of Antigua.

This was up into the wind, a little too tight to make the East side of the island on a single tack. We tried our best, including moving the traveller up and pulling the kicking strap very tight on a powered winch. Not something you'd normally do upwind, but every little bit of tension helps flatten the sail.

As we approached Antigua, there were some squalls and we started to get some serious wind, around the time we needed to take a couple of tacks. The wind then changed, and we continued round the island on a broad reach. There was a fair swell and we were rolling around a lot, as we came round the East side of the island.

Then we noticed that our (almost brand new) rigid vang had bent in two.


When sailing, the mainsail pulls the boom up. But when you lower it, you don't want the boom hitting the deck, so the rigid vang holds it up, cushioned on an internal spring.

We had bought the yacht with its original gas-strut sprung vang, but the struts had leaked out all their gas, and it wasn't holding the boom up any more. As a back-up, one can hold it up on the topping lift, a line from the top of the mast to the end of the boom.

When we asked the riggers in Grenada about re-gassing the vang, they'd suggested that we replace it entirely with a stainless steel sprung model, that would never need to be re-gassed. This seemed sensible, and they fitted one for us. Unfortunately they were very busy, and we weren't getting their full attention during the job, it was rushed just before we launched.

The main sheet is usually pulling the boom down, when sailing downwind. The lines around the vang (the kicking strap) also pull the boom down, compressing the vang's spring. All of the usual angles that the boom sits at should be within the range of travel of the vang's spring. But it must have been over-compressed when we were sailing tight upwind. This was the first time we'd given really tightened the kicking strap, since installing it.

We were under a full mainsail at the time, which was hauled up tight, so my best guess is that the vang wasn't fitted in the correct position, and should have been shortened or had its mounting moved further out on the boom, when installed. Of course, the riggers that fitted it disclaimed all responsibility. This is a good lesson to not just blindly trust professionals.

Aside from that it had been a lovely couple of days of sailing with Martin and Sofie, having an experienced crew to push the boat a bit. We limped back into Falmouth Harbour, and anchored in the muddy back of the bay. Our usual corner off Pigeon Point was pretty packed. They took us out for a fancy dinner in Nelson's Dockyard, and we did our best to forget broken rigging and the terrible war in Ukraine.

Time on the water: 7:35
Distance covered: 45.7nm
Avg speed: 5.8kts
Max speed: 9.9kts
Crew: John, Clare, Stefano, Martin, Sofie

Navionics Track


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