Yesterday out sailing we experienced what I had feared could be cause for a capsize, an aka brace pin failure.
I had gone out with Jason, who has Cerebral Palsy (CP). Since I have got a second AI he has been out with me a few times and has really enjoyed the experience. The stability and ease of sailing the AI has given Jason a new found freedom on the water and leveled the playing field as far as his disability goes. He often sails faster than me!
Here he is on a previous trip:
As he was getting serious about sailing we were going to practice some re-entry techniques and test out his new Hobie PFD. However the weather almost turned a drill into a genuine rescue experience.
The ENE winds which had been predicted to get to 30 knots were dropping when we left late afternoon but the chop was still up. We had a very wet but fun trip out into Brisbane Water with sails furled to the tell-tales and gusty winds up to 25knots but mostly around 10 -15knots. We were sailing across and slightly downwind. Jason was trying to get closer to me so he could hear what I was yelling out about changing our destination when a strong gust turned me windward and into his path. He collided into my windward ama at the rear with the nose of his leeward ama. The collision had a reasonable force to it and his brace pin broke. I turned around expecting the worst (Jason in the water) but was surprised to see him still upright and the ama still out providing stability. I came alongside him intending to fix the broken brace pin with the spare but the brace was not there. It must have released and was now at the bottom of Paddyâ€™s Channel!
Jason was a bit shaken but fine and his AI was still stable even without the brace so we furled sails just leaving a little out to push us to a sheltered spot. The tide was dead low so we had to travel further than I had expected to avoid the deep mud/mangrove/oysters on the shore. On the way I released my brace just to see how well the AI would go. It was surprisingly easy to hold the ama out. Nearly 2kmâ€™s later we were on a sheltered beach. We swapped boats and decided to head the 4kmâ€™s back to the ramp (rather than call my wife to pick us up and risk never hearing the end of it!
The trip back was uneventful. The winds were still gusty but were dropping. The broken brace ama was windward and mostly out of the water and it was easy holding it out. We gained some valuable sailing experience in less than ideal conditions and I was pleased with the way the AI performed even when broken!
I had been aware of the possibility of losing the brace from reading some of Kayaking Bobâ€™s (I think?) posts and had purchased a complete spare brace assembly but it was sitting back in the car as I only take it with me on extended trips.
It would be good to come up with a way to easily attach the brace so it stays attached when the pin breaks or that it floats and can be recovered. I will work on that but meantime any-one come up with a simple solution?