The first days out, winds were sublime. Late afternoon upon us this particular day, we were both in the galley, me preparing tea and Bob procuring an afternoon drink when the emission of a loud popping sound, followed in its wake by a muffled thud, promptly caught our attention. Whilst Bob raced upstairs, I rapidly carried out a cursory check to ensure all was safe below, before following in his wake. With Bob exiting the pilot house, I just caught the words,’ the twins are down.’

A rapid gaze through the window and sure enough they were. The masthead fitting upon which they resided appeared to have given way, thereby leaving the upper section carried by gravity down, down, down into the blue waters. Like a shroud, the twin’s upper half draped over the bow spit, whilst Gratis’ forward motion against the water, combined with the southerly swell, sent them snaking out to Starboard.

My mind in shock, the only way out I could see was cutting them free. Bob’s emphatic reply was, ’no F —-g way. That’s $5000 worth of sail there!’

His mind processed and took stock of the situation at an amazing pace. Grappling hook in hand, this enabled him to hook and raise the halyard from the water.

Whilst he continued to hold it against the hull, at his command I released the halyard jammer, pulled the halyard through then proceeded to pull it through the combing, around the bow Samson post, and back up around the mast winch. In the meantime, Bob had the strain of holding the sail’s head for a twofold purpose: to prevent it from sinking into the back depths below and enable me to carry out my task without undue pressure on the body. Unfortunately, as rapidly as I was working it was not fast enough for Bob, who was under immense strain, ‘Oh God, Oh God, hurry up,’ were his words.

All in place at last, it was a matter of placing the electric drill in place and then winching, or so one believed. Unfortunately, all came to a grinding halt as the halyard commenced entangling around the winch: the angle of the sheet was just not enough.

Another rapid rethink, and we were at it again. Halyard secured around the winch for a moment, the port side sheet was disconnected, closely followed by the sail being released from the furler, the actions of which enabled the twins to float out behind. With myself at the winch, Bob returned to the head of the sail and took a firm grip upon the halyard. At his command I commenced releasing the line, thereby enabling the twins to gracefully slide along the starboard side of the hull whilst, still retaining his firm grip upon the rope, Bob followed alongside to the stern. Once in place, I gradually released the remainder of the halyard as Bob pulled it his way. Making my way to the stern, I carried out a quick I search to ensure all lines were safely secured.

Meanwhile, Bob slowly dragged the sail back on board. With Gratis dragging the sails along nicely behind, bit by gradual bit in it came.

A blessing in disguise this turned out to be, for whilst dealing with the twins the wind had increased from 15 kn apparent to 20+. Twilight well and truly there, a reefed Gennie in tandem with the stay sail was set for the night.

Over the coming days Bob’s mind was ticking over as it gradually formed a solution that would enable the twins to fly once more upon the arrival of the predicted light winds.