RIP Spinnaker?

This red spinnaker is a colorful large, billowy sail that always invokes ‘Ahhhhs’ from the crew. It is also nearly 40 years old! Just last year, we learned that it has an amazing history. The previous owners, Bob and Jackie McMahan, who owned our trimaran for two decades, gave us a magazine with the spinnaker flying on the cover of the magazine — from March 1979 ! (photo taken by Bob himself). That was two years before I was born!

During Day 10-13, we had a period of lighter trade winds. So we hoisted our trusty spinnaker for the first time on the passage. The wind had lightened to about 8 knots from ESE, and our boat speed was down to 3 knots. Once we trimmed the spinnaker, we were grooving again at a full 6 knots. Awesome!

Basking in the downwind calm, making good progress in the light airs, we had a fabulous lunch of Fish Tacos (with Sabby’s yellowfin tuna catch) wrapped in cabbage and stuffed with grated carrots & beets.

Suddenly, Rrrrrriiipppp!… the sail simply split in half right near the base and collapsed in the wind, twirling around itself. “All hands on deck!” We quickly donned our harnesses, clipped in and ran to douse the spinnaker. But sadly the damage was extensive, and the cause probably just old age. It ripped right along the fabric, and also along a seam, for about 20 feet… Major bummer!

We’ll have to show the material to someone who understands spinnakers to see if it’s worth fixing… naturally the effort & materials to make such a repair will be significant, so we want to get a second opinion on whether it still has life in it, or if this tear was indeed a spontaneous break in compromised, aged fabric.

The trusty blue headsail was re-hoisted, and we plodded along again, commiserating over our old friend the red spinnaker. Many good times were had, and some tough times too (when we ran over it near Cabo San Lucas; when it gave Michael C serious rope burn and a twisted ankle from dropping him 6 feet.) For all its challenges it kept Aldebaran moving under sailpower when things were calm, and was always a sight to behold.

Without the spinnaker, we will have to chug along at slower speeds when the breeze is light… farewell for now, old friend!

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