Rode Trip was cruising along on our final passage day from Bermuda to Maine. The wind built steadily through the afternoon to 15-20 knots from the southwest. Under full sail, genoa and main, we maintained a speedy 6-6.8 knots and were thrilled that we’d make the anchorage just west of Bar Island before sunset. We’d agreed to round Bald Porcupine Island, rather than squeeze through the breakwater, and take down sails in the lee of the island.
Less than one mile from Bald Porcupine a gust of wind knocked Rode Trip on her side; rail in the water Brian commanded the genoa, “DOWN!” The gust was about 60 knots of wind, the most we’ve ever experienced under sail. I scrambled to the foredeck and hauled down the genoa using the downhaul but couldn’t get the massive sail onto the deck. The sheet was still secured on the winch and while the genoa flapped out over the water Brian called again, “GET THE MAIN REEFED!” I had just released the main halyard and was pulling down on the luff of the sail trying to get any bit of it to fall despite the wind keeping it full and Brian having limited steering when Brian yelled once again, “SHIT!” I looked up and the main had split along a panel and ripped downward from there; it was also now flapping in the wind and Brian abandoned the tiller to help me get the main down and tied. After a 10 day passage without any breeze, we’d suddenly been slammed within two miles of our destination. The chaos subsided only about one minute and 30 seconds after the gust began. It was amazing how quickly the conditions changed!
The next morning, we pushed aside our denial and finally disassembled the main to assess the damage. The sail was already on its last legs and we weren’t sure a repair would bring much more life to it. A new sail was on our agenda for the summer…guess Rode Trip just wanted us to get a move on it!
Special thanks to Phyllis at Acadia Sails in Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island. Phyllis confirmed for us that even if repaired our sail wouldn’t likely survive another long passage. She did a “quick and dirty job” repair for an affordable price. Phyllis also gave us her precious time and counseled us regarding the purchasing of a new or used sail for Rode Trip. After her assessment of our current sail being “vintage” we think an appropriate sized used sail might be the way to go. The repaired main will keep us sailing for several months while we research, order, and await a new main sail.