A loud recurring screeching sound woke me up. It was reverberating in our
cabin, as if our room were a sound box. Pierrick wasn’t in bed. It must be
his shift, I thought. I went up on deck and found him in the cockpit.
“Can’t you stop that sound?” I asked. He replied, “That sound is coming
from the mast, which is precisely why I’m worried.” Worried? Is there
reason to worry? Tiredness was etched on his face. It must have been about
He told me that he had gone to listen to the mast but couldn’t located
what was causing the sound. He thought it was the pulley for the lead of
the main sail, at the top of the mast. To relieve the mast we brought down
the main sail. I’m not a fan of doing manoeuvers at nighttime. I’m one to
take in a “ris” and set the sails for the night when the sun sets. But
living on a boat for so many days makes daylight and nighttime rather
Pierrick and I sat around the mast, like believers around a totem pole, to
try to locate the sound. I didn’t think it was coming from the top or even
from the chords inside. I put my ear to the mast, much as used to put my
ear to a train track when I was a kid to try to feel the vibrations of an
incoming train. The chords in the mast were raddling, but in a normal
non-noisy way. No, the sound was coming from the base, but where? And then
Pierrick gasped. And then I saw it too. The mast has pivoted on its axis.
The front is no longer facing front but about 1 cm towards starboard. The
base is dented where the mast used to sit. It’s the friction between the
bottom of the mast and where it now sits on its base that was causing the
Pierrick put some lubricant at the base of the mast to stop the noise, but
that doesn’t solve our new problem, which is why on earth would the mast
rotate on its base? How can that even happen? We’ve never heard of that
happening. A mast can break and fall over, but rotate? We started offering
hypothesis. When we violently jibbed this summer, when I burnt my hand?
But that was back in July. Surely we would have noticed it before. During
this trip? We jibbed a few times but never very violently. Under the force
of the wind? Seriously, the wind has not been very strong at all and the
boat is meant to resist storm conditions. Can’t be that. Pierrick has sent
an email out to our friends and our brother-in-law back home who work in
the boating industry and who help us out with our various problems. He’ll
call them once its morning back in France. Meanwhile, we our sailing only
with the genoa. Our speed has gone down from about 7 knots to around 3.5.
Our ETA has extended by 2 days.