She made my day!

It seemed to become a nice day yesterday. Our trip from the Spanish village Portosin to an anchorage bay around Cabo de Cruz offered some wildlife experience which was new to us. Motoring down beautiful Galician coast lines we spotted an area with hundreds of seagulls quietly resting on the sea surface, kind of unusual. We changed course right into the seagull’s place to find the cause for that gathering. It didn’t take long to find the reason: Thousands over thousands of crabs were floating there, just below water surface and the birds apparently enjoyed a big eating party.

Somewhat later and after steering around stunning rock formations into Ria Arousa, our traveling direction had changed so that the little bit of half wind just seemed to be enough to sail for the last hour of the day. Out came the furling mainsail. A furling main sail is a main that rolls into the mast for stowing it away. Due to the easy conditions I was a bit too relaxed with controlling the tension of the outhaul line. In short words, the upper part of the sail got jammed inside the mast. From below we couldn’t see what exactly was wrong. The sail just wouldn’t roll neither in nor out, at least not much. A jammed main can easily become a serious problem, for example in a storm or on a gusty day with the shore on the ‘wrong’ side.

As low winds were forecasted for the next 48 hours, we proceeded to our anchorage bay under engine again. Bumping into a heard of eating dolphins was a pleasure but it didn’t solve the problem with our main. Having the anchor dropped, we decided to cook our dinner and wait for ‘manjana’ to fix the sail. The night was calm, with the main sail up.

Now comes the new day, and what made this day. Fixing the jammed sail is another job which requires one person to be hoisted up the mast. Manuela volunteered, in fact that was the better solution because hoisting myself up would require a body builder. So up she went, armed with our two biggest screw drivers and a Swiss Army knife for the case of further emergencies, for example if one finger would got jammed as well. That wasn’t going to be an easy job, that was for sure. Manuela is anyway better with undoing crazy tough knots and the like, and an extra portion of patience would certainly also be helpful. I’m better with pressing the buttons which would turn the motor to drive the main a bit in and then two mills out again. In fact, I got dozens of in-and-out commands and executed each one without any comment. Down came some funny noises, like on a women tennis court, quite an appealing sail problem.

Sitting in the cockpit next to my buttons I was already thinking who to call in case we couldn’t solve the issue by ourselves. Perhaps Carmela, Office Manager in the Club Nautic Portosin could recommend someone around Cabo Cruz who was good in fixing jammed sails. Just yesterday when checking out, she offered that we could call her, should we run into troubles. That was the friendliest of the friendly marina staff I have ever seen.

At my next glimpse up the mast I realized the the main now looked considerably better. Apparently, Manuela managed the worst part of it, and soon the command came to fully roll in and then haul out the sail for checking the full functionality. It worked, and my heart was – once more – jumping with joy.

My estimation was that it could take beyond three hours and a couple of new words for the kids to get this item solved. Instead, Manuela made it within one hour only and in silence (apart from the tennis, you know…). Moreover it should be mentioned here that she had fear of heights for the last decades, and working 18 meters above sea level, held and secured by two steel wires is definitely something which is well included in such fears. That even elevates her achievement of the day.

So Manuela received warm congratulations from the entire crew and enjoyed the second half of the day without any further house keeping or cooking or any other duties ;-). I gladly noted that my relaxed sail setting didn’t end up in one or two days of trouble, perhaps with many bucks gone.

Here I have to state that I would never trade in our fully electric driven furling main sail, also not after this nasty experience which, yes, left a couple of red drops on our main, nothing bad. Too many are the advantages. A yet unsolved issue however is that the bimini (cockpit shadow cloth) prevents direct sight to the main. That means that the one operating the main cannot really see what he is doing. This remains an open point for the time being.

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