The day starter for me at 0345, I’m scheduled for the 0400 watch and helm shift. The night was incredibly beautiful with a crystal clear sky, the ocean and waves rhythmically slicing past, and light warm winds. The spinnaker was up and the main was out and on a small preventer. I like to sail headsail only when the conditions are right. They were this night. We centered the main and put her away. Without the effect of the mainsail on the wind coming off the spinnaker, the spinnaker was free fill with wind, settle in and pull us along. I tightened the after guy, loosened the sheet and eased the tack line pulling the spinnaker pole to windward on our starboard side. The spinnaker gently followed by coming around a bit and squared perfectly in front of Blue Moon’s bow to drive us deep down wind. An asymmetrical spinnaker on a spinnaker pole to the tack and poled out to windward to get a deep downwind angle is a fairly new approach and it was working perfectly. We had the mast light on to softly light up the spinnaker which not only gave us the ability to see and manage the spinnaker but also presented this beautiful giant canvas in front of us. We could see every star, every constellation, the arms of the milky way, it was incredible. Nathan suggested we turn off the mast light to see more stars and to see if we could sail the spinnaker by the bright moon and star light alone. I enjoy the idea of two people looking up at the moon or a selected star from different places at they same time as a way of seeing it together. Seeing more stars and flying the spinnaker by starlight and the moonlight sounded like a great idea so I we turned off the mast light. The spinnaker was easy to see against the star lit sky. The edges clear and the tack and sheet easy to manage as she was set up very balanced with Blue Moon comfortably in her sweet spot dancing in the swells and loving the wind. She was all on her own, so balanced we didn’t need to touch anything.
There was a sudden pop and a bang and the spinnaker was gone. Just like that. The halyard had broken and the spinnaker fell onto the sea. Nathan and I jumped to grab the spinnaker and Marye Ellen went the wake up more crew to help. Nathan was grabbing and untangling the 5 lines that keep the spinnaker flying. They needed to be released so we could gain control and bring the spinnaker back onboard. I was laying on the deck reaching over the port side pulling as much of the spinnaker out of the water as I could. We got her back onboard and safe after about an hour of untangling and repacking. She appeared undamaged but soaking wet. The spinnaker halyard had come apart at the spliced eye, and they halyard had fallen through the center of the mast. The halyard would need to be repaired and run up the mast again as soon as the conditions allow for someone to climb to the top of the mast and re-run the halyard. We’ll do this at sea in the next couple of days and get the spinnaker up again.
The night before, we were running the engine so its alternator would charge the batteries as we made water through the night to recover from our fresh water loss. The batteries started reporting a drop in voltage meaning that somehow the alternator was depleting the batteries instead of replenishing them. We are still working through this electrical issue. Have plenty of water now and are making water every day in excess of our consumption thanks to the solar panels. The solar panels have been providing enough energy to run all the boat systems and make water, with enough energy to keep the battery bank to a good charge level.
The wind is still low, but it has improved to where we can make better progress toward Hawaii.