A strange title as we don’t really have anyone on board called Luigi but it’s the name we’ve given our spinnaker as it’s comprised of the colours of Italy. Now Luigi didn’t intentionally jump overboard, and he certainly wasn’t pushed but, never the less he ended up getting somewhat wet.
We had been at Middle Percy island for the last couple of days and pretty much had enough of the rolly anchorage, so we decided to head to Scawfell island some 61 nautical miles further north. The day started out as most have with the wind directly up our rear, a difficult angle with a cat that much prefers sailing the angles. But to do so adds a lot more miles to the journey so we decided to bring Luigi out of retirement. I say retirement as he hasn’t been used for the last four years. During the dust off and running tack lines and sheets I managed to put my foot through our relatively new trampoline. I say relatively as it is only 3 years old and has not had much use, I should have taken this as a sign of things to come.
Our spinnaker is a large mast head symmetrical spinnaker and can instil fear into the most hardened of hearts, so it’s with some trepidation that I haul on the halyard raising Luigi. There’s a sock that Luigi is kept in which helps control him. Once the halyard is locked off the sock is raised to the top of the mast and Luigi is set free. So, with heart in mouth I grab the sock control line and pull. At this point there are any number of things that can go wrong but fortunately Luigi is set free without any issues, the wind fills the spinnaker, and everything is right with the world. For the moment.
Luigi is a large sail and when deployed Toucan really finds her legs so instead of loping along in the 5-6 knot bracket with the genoa, we were soon trotting along at 8-9 knots and then galloping along in the 10-12 knot bracket. Perched up on the helm seat noticing this quickened pace I started to envisage an early arrival at Scawfell and a coldie a helluva lot earlier than I had planned. Now at this point it should have been obvious to me that things were going far too smoothly. In fact, so smoothly that first mate Fitzgerald decided to bake cookies. Now don’t get me wrong I love a good cookie but at this point we are already pushing our luck with the wind gods and had I known that the cookie procedure was in progress I would have called a halt for the time being to not push it too hard.
As the timing went, we were three quarters of the way to Scawfell with around 18 nautical miles to go and the cookies were about to go in the oven. At this exact moment a rather large bullet of wind chased us down, the boat topped out at 12.5 knots and then there was an almighty BANG with the halyard at the top of the mast exploding. Confusion and chaos rein supreme as the head of Luigi shoots straight out in front of Toucan, a bit like a greyhound chasing a fluffy bunny, and we are now decelerating rather quickly. Without any hesitation Luigi drops out of sight and straight into the water. We now have a bloody large prawn net to retrieve – without the added bonus of prawns. We’re extremely fortunate that Luigi doesn’t wrap himself around the keel or rudders, which not only would have made the extraction back on deck painful but also would have done (more) damage to our new bottom paint. After some time struggling, we eventually wrestle a wet and soggy Luigi back into the cockpit for a drying out session.
We still have some 17 miles to go, so out goes the trusty genoa wide sheeted to the mid cleat and bugger me, we are doing a very controlled 8 knots.