I finally got the repaired and improved masts back on the vessel (yes, it’s me being hoisted by the crane). I had to cut off the bottom few feet of each mast as original design flaws had permitted rust to render them to a point where in a few years they would probably have been structurally unsafe. That meant fabricating new base sections, complete with all attributes required to locate back onto the vessel (bolt holes and a keyway) and removing part of each mast and welding the new section on.
While they were down I also prepared to route electrical wires through the masts instead of curling around rigging wires, replaced the mast steps as the originals were of questionable safety, and replaced all of the standing rigging – that’s 42 pieces, compromising 750 feet (over 250m) of wire, all of which was clipped with wire rope clips and proofed to 1 ton of stress. I would have preferred to have spliced the terminations as my wire size is right on the lower limit of what I should be using due to the weight gain of the vessel, but I don’t have enough time, so it’s a simple decision.
With the masts back up, I’m very close now to being able to operate the sails – and assuming the engine still works (given all the damage and questions hanging over that part of the ship) that is my minimum point for doing my first sailing voyage (as opposed to attempting to run on the engine).
Hence the title of the post – as I expect to have to sail non stop for up to a week to reach my first destination with no friendly ports of refuge en route. I’m somewhat dreading the prospect at the moment, but perhaps that’s sanity speaking considering the vessel is still not going to be properly prepared and I’ve never sailed on the ocean before (as opposed to inland), and never sailed this ship before to boot. There is no shortage of unknowns in that equation, even if the vessel should technically be in better shape than last time.
Not to sail soon would carry risks too. There are no good options, and that might be the subject of another post later, whenever that should be.