One of the casualties during our Indian Ocean crossing was the furler guard for our headsail. This is a small cage that encloses the furler and prevents the furling line from falling off the drum. The line that secures the anchor when we are underway came loose, allowing the anchor to swing free. It took us several minutes to realize there was a problem, and in that short while, the waves and seas caused the anchor to create several divots in the topsides as well as wallop the underside of the furler guard. By the time we were able to secure the anchor again, the furler guard was broken in half.
There was no replacement to be had in South Africa, but not to worry - Marcie was heading back to the states for a couple of weeks. We should be able to get the replacement guard delivered in plenty of time, and she would have room in her bags to carry it back to Nine of Cups. The part was ordered, it arrived in time, and both Marcie and the bags arrived in Durban on-time and intact.
It took a few days for me to get around to installing the furler guard, and it wasn't until then that I noticed one teeny-tiny glitch – the furler guard was the wrong size. I don't know whether I ordered the wrong size or the wrong size was shipped, but either way, the new guard was too small to fit our furler, and now there wasn't time to get a replacement shipped to South Africa.
It is possible to sail without the guard, as long as there is always tension on the furling line. If any slack occurs, however, the line will fall off the drum, making a tangled mess around the headstay. Once this happens, someone has to go forward and spend several minutes at the bow, untangling the line before the headsail can be reefed or furled. If the seas are big, the person going forward is sure to get drenched and probably banged up a bit – not something either of us would look forward to. Perhaps the old furler guard could be repaired?
I thought that if there was a good aluminum fabricator/welder around, perhaps a bracket could be welded to the bottom of the broken furler, and it, along with a couple of additional welds, might do the trick. I made a drawing and set out to find someone who could make the bracket and do the welding.
I found just the place ... a company called GW Industries located a few miles north of Durban. They build aluminum (or aluminium in SA) boats and certainly had the necessary expertise. In addition, even though the job was pretty small for them, they were more than happy to help us out. I delivered the broken furler and drawing, and a week later, they returned the repaired part.
The part needed a little tweaking – a little sanding here and a touch of grinding there (my fault, not theirs BTW) – and it fit in place nicely. The repair held with no problem from Durban to Cape Town.
Now if I can manage to keep the anchor secured in place, perhaps the repaired furler guard will stay in place on our Atlantic crossing. Stay tuned for some thoughts on a method of tensioning the anchor in the bow roller.