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. 

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 opinion of what to do to fix the rig temporarily. I 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.

Becalmed Speed: 0 knots Waves 2 metres, liquid mercury Wind 0 knots Cloud 20% Temp 25 C Baro 1022 Miles in last 24 hrs: 55 nmVolts 13.3


  1. Wow Glenn, we can only imagine your deep turmoil in determining if it is safe to carry on. I presume you had already inspected these shrouds earlier in the voyage, and they were fine. Like many of the comments from your experienced skipper friends, I wondered if you could somehow splint and secure those areas of the shrouds with cable and clamps. I know how resourceful you are, so I know you have thought every scenario through. And I know too you are wise, so will not risk your safety.
    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts over the next few days.
    Our love is with you, James and Louise

  2. Frank Mottl says

    Hi Glenn,

    Don’t be discouraged. You made the right decision to go back and fix the rigging. Safety of the crew is first, the boat second. If you loose the mast when you’re in the ‘roaring fourties’, you’re done. I commend you on making the right decision. It is the same decision that any captain would make..the right one…well done.


  3. Steve Erickson says

    Glenn: As a mariner myself working on tugboats over 40 years, I would like to say a few things. I have followed you from the start in Victoria and very much enjoy your e-mails. Having been up and down the west coast and the east coast to the artic in all kids of weather I have an idea of your situation. I have always maintained that the voyage is only sucessful if you come home. You have your head on correctly and made the safe and proper decision. Good on you. I would be happy to sail with you any day with decisions like you just made. Enjoy the rest of your trip and continue to be safe. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from Langley, BC.

  4. Craig Reeder says

    I wish I had a handle on the rules a bit better. Could you make the repairs at sea if you had the parts and tools ? You know you have the support of your team and now many devoted fans. Let your network of supporters and followers solve some of this for you, if the dream can be salvaged. And if you can get what you need flown out to you and a drop made by air or whatever can you continue ? In the event of a catastrophic mast failure take the rescue……So that’s not your failure it’s Gods way of saying not today. The real variable is that last 1000nm’s each passing day closer to your goal , we have the technology Capitan.

  5. Sally and Geoff Dolman says

    Glenn. Geoff and I are sorry to hear of your turn around but glad that you are safe and sound. Cheers Sal and Geoff.

  6. Jack and Donna Schaddelee says

    We are so sorry you have to turn back. Our hearts our with you, and wish for you to get home SAFE. Have been tracking you since before New Zealand where we found your site. Donna had a few tense moments over you. Please keep healthy and safe. Jack and Donna

  7. kenneth woodside says

    Hi Glenn I’m not on site, however, I presume you have some lengths of suitable spare dia wire + length plus Bulldog Clamps? If you can “beef up” the rigging this way, then you may still have the option to continue and of course don’t FLOG the rigging. It’s been done before, of course, with many of these guys having to improvise with no mod cons (Sat phone/Instant comms/GPS/WX info) to give MORAL support. If you CAN beef up the rigging this way and try to take it easy I feel, just maybe, you should continue. Good luck mate.

  8. David Burke says


    This is earth shattering news. I have been enjoying the vicarious thrill of your singular adventure an now share with you the incredible empty feeling. It is clearly not the Christmas suprise you had been anticipating.

  9. MaryLou

    We had the same problem. Does Glenn have cable clamps on board? We used cable clamps to clamp a shackle to each stranding stay about a metre above the deck or lower fitting and then ran a line from the turnbuckle/lower fitting or a sheet car or anything strong enough to take the strain, up through the shackle and back to a winch – anything that works to give a purchase. If necessary a block and tackle or a spare turnbuckle between the shackle and the lower fitting instead. We used both. It worked as a temporary support for the mast in case the stay broke. The stays survived so we never found out whether it would have saved the mast but I’m confident that it would. I have photos and can send if you want them. We minimised the sail plan after that and inspected the rig every day.

    We were told that the stays strand close to the swages if they hang loosely when to leeward and wave around and flex a lot. It almost always happens to the lower shrouds. We were advised to replace the swages with sta-locks when back in port and to use shock cord to prevent the flexing. The sta-locks seem to have worked – we have not had the problem since.

    Best of luck


  10. So sorry to hear this. Remember though that the adventure is usually in the trip and not the destination. Our respect for you is amazing. You have made the correct but difficult decision and we look forward to meeting you when you return home. Best wishes. Bob and Jill

  11. Michael & Eileen Smith says

    We are so sorry, Glenn & MaryLou. We wish you a safe voyage.

  12. Susan Bassett says

    I am glad that Glenn will be safe in Australia. Then maybe decisions will let him continue on. If not, he has made a damn good go of it. Wishing successful journey to Australia, and glad for all the long distance tech help!


  1. […] Re: He's off!!…… Again!! Looks like Glenn is heading back your way Simon – his rigging is starting to strand on the lowers at the swages. Lousy Christmas present for sure. Latest post here: Going Solo ? Day 116 Rigging failure! 26/12/13 […]

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