A visit from Captain Flash (or hangin’ around)…



It was a fabulous sunny day with a cloudless blue sky when Captain Flash showed up to check our rigging and install our anchor light.

(Some of you may recall that we broke it last year going through the Julia Tuttle Bridge in Miami.)

On a sailboat, the main engine is composed of the mast, the rigging and the sails. You might think it’s the diesel engine, but that is called the auxiliary engine for a reason — it is actually the secondary means of propulsion.

Using the wind to move a 14,000 pound sailboat through the ocean at 7 knots puts a significant strain on the mast and the wire rigging that keeps it up. Prudent owners who want to stay safe — and avoid having their mast fall down on them — need to have their rigging checked on a regular basis.

Enter Captain Flash (also known as Richard) of Mac Sails. Today he carefully inspected every part of the rigging on our boat. He was here for the whole day. What he was looking for was corrosion in the fittings, which connect the wire to the mast, the spreaders or the chain plates.

After inspecting the chain plates on the deck, he needed to go aloft — and hoist himself up the mast. To do this, he used one of our lines (the topping lift) to haul a block (pulley) to the top of the mast. He rigged a line through the block. One end was attached to the bosun’s chair that he sat in and the other end he used to lift himself up the mast (55 feet).

It was quite a sight — the closest I have gotten to Cirque to Soleil around here. (I managed to get some neat video which I hope to post in the future.)

When Richard wanted to stop and inspect something he tied the line off to a ring on the chair.

Captain Flash found two fittings that looked a bit suspicious. They have some corrosion on them, and we don’t know if it’s coming from the outside (not a big deal) or from the inside (potentially a big deal.) To be on the safe side, we will have both of them replaced.

I’m so glad that Bob agreed not to go up the mast himself! Richard was really much more suited to this job. And now we’re both feeling confident that Windsong II is in shipshape condition with strong rigging to hold up her mast.