Not all superheros wear capes.

BOOM. Thats the noise that made.

15th May 2023

Cayo Largo, Cuba – El Bight, Guanaja, Honduras via Bonacca, Guanaja, Honduras

Most fictional superheroes blatantly show their superpowers. Spiderman, dresses in a spidery outfit, Superman shows his power with a flowing cape and ‘Super’ emblazoned on his chest, while the ubiquitously British Dangermouse, while understated, still advertises his status by driving a flying car and demeaning his sidekick Penfold. In the real world superheroes do exist but their powers are hidden and only come to light when they wield silky words and powerful prose or stand by oozing comfort and confidence.

After Mont Blanc had driven into the side of Ruffian, broken her badly, bent her gantry and damaged her davits we were on a mission to form a plan to get her fixed. At dawn every day we ventured ashore to be eaten by mosquitoes, write emails and communicate with people around the globe. Each day those conversations became more fractious, more virulent and more painful. Then after a difficult morning we would return to Ruffian despondent at our predicament, knowing that sleep would be elusive and our minds would race to painful places.

With things spiralling out of control and a resolution seeming to become more distant we search our minds for friends would could help and Fiona came up with a superhero in the making. After a single simple email to a friend* we knew we’d found a superhero who could help and her name was ‘Superlaw’.

With a single stroke of a pen (well email) our communications became more legalese and more demanding. The tables had suddenly turned in our favour. No longer were insurance companies driving us, they knew that we knew our rights, they knew that we knew we could sue and we knew that they knew that we had ‘Superlaw’ on our side.

With tensions rising to new highs ‘Superlaw’ took it upon herself to unveil her true superpowers. She called the insurance company, outlined the position, questioned their moral integrity and pulled in some favours. Suddenly we had an email admitting culpability, a plan to fix Ruffian and promises of cash that should cover all our painful costs that are yet to come.

In all the advice that was given, the calm words that spoken and the silky propositions that were made ‘Superlaw’ showed her superpowers. these powers had not only got Ruffian on the way to being fixed she also give us something priceless; freedom. Thank you ‘Superlaw’, you know who you are.

Having reached a resolution all boats were ‘unarrested’ and free to leave. The weather was looking perfect, Honduras was calling and unbeknown to us we had another superhero to discover.

We sailed out of the light blue water of the Cuban Cays into the deep blue waters to the Caribbean sea. We were joined in this colourful sailing by Horst on ‘Lady Blue’ who resolutely stuck with us mile after mile. For 100’s of miles, during the day, her sails shone on the horizon and at night her masthead light twinkled. We chatted on the VHF about the weather, ships, fishing and everything that was great at being free, being offshore and closing in on a country and we’d never visited before.

After the previous days of high stress and high stakes, sailing was a relief but like all good things the sailing came to an end. Our destination was a reef strewn island, where markers are rare and charts inaccurate and we had to enter in daylight. The only way to do this was deal with the rhythmical din of the engine and the rolling of Ruffian in the seas.

The din of the engine soon faded into the background but suddenly this ‘silence’ was broken with the loudest of bangs and the most terrible clanging of metal. Ruffian’s mast was bending like bamboo and her once taught metal rigging was flailing in the seas. The forestays sagged and yawed while the backstays snatched. Something catastrophic had failed and we had to act quickly to save our mast, our sails and, once again, the future of Ruffian.

Our port lower, which is usually attached to the deck with a strong metal toggle and stainless steel strap** had broken free and we had to secure it to keep the mast standing upright. Within seconds rigging clamps were retrieved from below, dyneema line pulled from the lockers and like a well oiled team we lashed everything together, built tension in the stays and saved the day.

Although the mast was secure we knew that disaster was still not completely averted and we asked Horst on ‘Lady Blue’ to turn around, stand by us and escort us the last 20 miles into port.

As ‘Lady Blue’ approached we could feel her superpowers calm us. With her standing by we knew that even if the worst happened we’d not end up wrecked on the rocks and not finish our days in a life-raft. These powers took us all the way through the reefs of Guanaja , into the main town and finally to a safe and secure anchorage.

Thanks to the superpowers that our friends posses we have moved though one calamitous situation straight into another, but those superpowers have enabled us to prevail and shown us that not all superheroes wear capes.

* This friend just happens to be a partner in a maritime law firm but to maintain integrity and not create conflict of interests ‘Superlaw’ will remain nameless. ‘Superlaw’: If you are reading this we are forever in your debt.

** The toggles and straps had been replaced just before we left the UK in 2019 and neither the rigger nor Sta-lok understand quite how this failed in such benign conditions.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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