Day 116 Rigging failure 26/12/13

Dec 26, 2013Position: 32.55 S, 80 17 E

The weather forecast was for calm. I had time on my hands, so decided to take advantage of it and do a thorough inspection of the rigging and sails. I started with the standing rigging upper and lower shrouds and mast head shrouds. First I removed the protective tape that stops chafe of the sails against the turnbuckle cotter pins. I had only done the port aft lower shroud when I noticed that one of the wire strands had separated from the swaging, commonly known as rigging failure. I was very taken aback and quickly removed the rest of the tape and inspected the remaining five shrouds. To my horror, I found one more wire strand had broken loose, this time on the port forward shroud. I had made the decision to leave on my circumnavigation with the shrouds I had in place on WW II, hoping it would see me through to the end of my voyage. 

My mind started to work on solutions. I came up with temporary ones that satisfied me and that I thought would work, but for how long I don’t know. I started to realize that this had to be repaired before I could go any further. Lots of questions. Could I go on to Africa and make repairs there? How many more cyclones could I expect in getting there?  Australia is 1700 miles back to the east. Africa is a thousand miles further away than Australia. What would I do if I lost my mast? Could I still use the radio? What about the sat phone? I still had a connection as far away as 400 miles from Australia. That may help if the radio would not work.

I emailed my rigger Brent Jacobi from Blackline Marine for his expert opinion of what to do to fix the rig temporarily so I could carry on and he provided a very good solution. I then emailed MaryLou to keep her informed and give me her thoughts. My very good friend Tony Gooch got an email for his take on the situation, and then I emailed Ron Kolody my weather master and informed him of the problem and his thoughts about the weather if I turned back. I heard from most of them within the hour. Then I had to make a very difficult decision. Which way to go? The afternoon wore on and I had my ham sked and asked them to comment on the situation.

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to go back to Australia and make repairs there. It should take about three weeks, 1775 nm.

I couldn’t see myself making it to Cape Horn early enough to make a safe rounding this season. It means the end of my goal, my dream.  I am not happy about it, but nor do I want to be caught out again and have to ask for help. I will go slowly and make my way back and then see from there. 

As the days go by, I will see how it feels to let go of something I have worked hard towards for ten years.

Course: Speed: 5 knots Waves 2 metres, liquid mercury Wind NE 5 – 10 knots Cloud 20% Temp 25 C Baro 1022 Miles in last 24 hrs: 55 nm Volts 13.3


  1. Hola! I’ve been reading your site for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a
    shout out from Humble Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the
    excellent work!

  2. Glenn, this test has really shown that you can make the bravest move of all, when to know to call it. Your decision to make this safe play after that many days of pursuit of your goal is incredibly admirable. I am very impressed that you are making the smart decision. I am sure it was tough. All the best and safe journey to Perth. We will be thinking about you! One Love Mark

  3. Don’t worry. It’s all about the journey, not the destination. And you are having a great one!

  4. David Johnston says

    I have been following your progress since just off Washington State and very tough that you have to return to Oz. MInd your rigging and have a safe voyage back to port.

  5. So sorry to hear that you had to turn back Glenn, but so relieved you discovered the problem before it became a bigger problem. Safe travels dear friend!


  6. Glenn,

    So sorry to hear of the rigging problems but agree with your assessment. Though a huge disappointment, as you commented, how fortunate that you discovered it prior to the rough and tumble that was ahead. We cheer your efforts regardless.

  7. So, so sorry to hear of the rigging problems. I can only imagine the disappointment you must feel, but I hope there is a bit of relief that you were able to discover the problem when you did and not experience a life-threatening emergency. Wonderful that you had such a great support network to help you make a difficult decision. Your adventure is not over yet, it is just taking a different course!

  8. Jan Sutherland says

    Oh no! I have been watching from the start…so sorry to hear this… But glad you are safe, and that the problems were not hidden until it was a serious problem! You must be shattered…


    Dear Glenn & Mary Lou Words cannot express how sorry we are. We are so proud of you Glenn. What ever decision you make, our hearts and prayers are with you. Love Ann & Steve

  10. Pat and Fred Lark says

    Hi Glenn and Marylou We are still with you no matter which direction you go. Pat and Fred

  11. Hugh and Ann Porter says

    Hi Glenn and team We know that you must be terribly disappointed by the rigging failure but you are already well on the way to accomplishing what to most of us vicarious offshore sailors is the real challenge – your solo circumnavigation. We will continue to follow every nautical mile of your epic voyage! Seasons Greetings and safe passage. Ann and Hugh

  12. Good call Glenn. Tough one, but doors will likely open. All the best, Rob and Wendy

  13. Glen and your support team I am so sorry about your rigging failure. As I said to you on your return from your last attempt Glenn, you have not failed, you have been defeated by a great opponent being the weather and the conditions you sail against. Glenn as I know you, you have done everything to prepare that is possible. Hold your head high, fewer men have gone over 200 MPH at Bonneville Salt Flats than have climbed Mt. Everest and even fewer have succeeded at what you have attempted. Tom Sims.

  14. I can’t imagine how disappointing this must be. Although a difficult decision, you have made the right one. Obviously better to find out you had a problem now then when it is too late! Good luck Glenn and I will continue to watch for your daily reports with great interest. Don Kleim Nanaimo, BC.

  15. Dear Glenn. I have just read about the rigging failure. I am at a loss for words. A quote I just read in a book I’m reading. “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” I will be thinking about you. You are an amazing man who has overcome so much. You can do this!!! Love you. Mary xo

  16. OMG! Glenn, I hope you can turn things around! I am happy that you were able to find this and not have a demasting further from anything. After the repairs I hope you will continue

  17. Bruce & Pam Cline says

    Glenn I was so sorry to hear of your rig failure and resulting change of plans however if your journey has taught me anything it is to be open to change and to just wait and see where that may lead. I hope the sea gods are good to you and that you reach a safe port of call very soon. Take care and all the best to you in the new year. Cheers, Bruce Cline

  18. Dear Glenn and MaryLou I’m so sorry this has happened. It is an awe-inspiring privilege to follow the Going Solo journey. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever expected to receive an email wishing me a Merry Christmas from the middle of the Indian Ocean. I do so hope that you will keep in touch and let us know what opportunities unfold.

  19. Alex Laframboise says

    Hello Glenn and Marylou We have been watching your journey since you left in September and last night were so sorry to here or your rigging problems. I can only imagine how this has caught you by surprise and know it must be devastating for you both. Glenn sail safe and get back to your loved ones’. We’ll still be waiting everyday to receive updates from MaryLou. Alex and Chris. Penticton BC.

  20. Malcolm Smith says

    Merry Christmas Glenn Sorry to hear about your rigging problem. I am glad you found the problem before you were beyond the point of no return. I am a little disappointed that Santa did not bring new rigging for you at Christmas. Best of luck Malcolm

  21. As Tolkien said “One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters” or as they would say nowadays “Ya gotta do what ya gotta do”. Stay safe.

  22. Hi Glenn and MaryLou Even though we’ve never met, I’ve been enjoying your blog for quite some time now, really looking forward to it each day. You paint such an inspiring picture. I know you’re sad that you’re having to change your plans, however it is such a blessing that you found the rigging failure. As much as I love reading about your adventurous travel, it would have been devastating for so many people if things went awry. So while you’re giving up one dream, you’ll now be home with your bigger dream, MaryLou! I wish you smooth sailing back to Australia. Looking forward to hearing about it. Carolyn

  23. I remember hearing about you, setting off from Victoria. I stumbled across this a while ago. Been avidly fallowing since day 66. That’s a hard decision to turn back. Incredibly hard after all the time and effort and energy you’ve put in to this dream. You have inspired me to dream bigger than day trips on the inside in my cal 25. I hope the love of your family drowns out the regret of turning back for repairs. Sincerely, Ian McLean Qualicum Beach, BC

  24. Sorry to hear about your challenges. Cannot say you have not done well because you have. Hard to accept but your choice is the prudent one considering the challenge snd the location.

    Good job, glad you identified the problem and all the best for a safe sail back to Australia.

  25. Glenn & Marylou. Off the grid in Tasmania. Just got a wifi signal for a few minutes and stunned to read your latest post. My heart goes out to you both. With memories of Sannu Sannu’s broken boom, wracking my brain for a jury rig to get you to South Africa. Any cable clamps aboard? Sending positive vibes. Pete

  26. Linda Newland says

    So sorry to hear of your great disappointment but I applaud you for making the conservative decision to not push on. All my best to you and hoping for a quick and uneventful voyage into a safe port

  27. Ryan Haagensen says

    Glenn I am a friend and past co-worker of Brent Jacobi. He helped me prepare my 30′ Pacific 30 sloop ‘Pacifier’ for our trip from from Victoria to Mexico 15 years ago with my wife Debbie. We carried aboard some ‘Nicopress’ swage rigging that we could self repair a few shrouds if needed while underway. Not sure if you have anything similar onboard. Ive followed you everyday since your start. I am sure you will make the right decision.

  28. Sonia Polson says

    Thinking of you and Mary Lou as you had to make a very difficult and emotional decision today….wise but very difficult choice; I’m so sorry. Sonia

  29. Your safety is all that matters. You have already accomplished an amazing feat. Be grateful for all you have accomplished. Not many could ever say the same. Peace to you and your family.

  30. Heather Loenen says

    Really!? That is my first reaction . . .but as I read your post over and over again, your meaning is clear. This is a tremendous disappointment. Those words do not seem adequate. Few will ever fully understand how this must feel for you. I am thankful that the weakened rigging was discovered at a safe time and pray for safety as you head in. I will be thinking of you as you adjust to this change of course. We all think the world of your efforts and perseverance but right now it really just sucks to have to turn around.

  31. owen popplestone says

    Glen and MaryLou. My girlfriend and I have been following you since day one. Was going to set up my SSB on the boat to talk with you coming up the coast back home. Can’t imagine how you feel, but looking in from the outside, who cares about the non stop? What you are doing is amazing. Get it fixed and go out again, or if you are too late put the boat on the hard and finish next year. The most important thing is to finish. How and when doesn’t matter. We will be there listening to all of your reports as you do come home…

  32. Glenn, my heart breaks to read this post. We have been following your adventure from day one – usually from our cozy perch on the couch in Ladysmith, BC – and have been looking forward to read of your successful rounding of the Horn and your impending return to our wonderful little island. Travel safely back to Australia.Tara


  1. […] Glen Wakefield Forced to Turn Back Due to Rigging Failure I've been following him daily as he attempted a non-stop circumnavigation East to West. He is in the Indian Ocean about 1800 miles from Australia. The stick is still up, but the wires are coming apart. Not good. Take a look. It's been fascinating to follow. Going Solo ? Day 116 Rigging failure 26/12/13 […]

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