Necessity is the mother of invention.

Looking pretty perfect.

21st April 2024

Hanamoenoa, Tahuata, Marquises, French Polynesia – Taiohae, Nuku Hiva, Marquises, French Polynesia via Atuona, Tahauku Bay, Hiva Oa & Hanamoenoa, Tahuata, Marquises, French Polynesia

Necessity is the mother of invention. The necessity of creating cheap cars made Mr Ford to think about the production line. The necessity of the Royal Navy to sink French and Spanish warships* drove the development of rifled cannon, while the necessity for SERN to communicate with the rest of the world created the Internet. Lowers are necessary on Ruffian and we’ve had to do some serious thinking about how to make sure our mast is strong, stable and straight after the failure of our lowers as we crossed the Pacific Ocean has left Ruffian in jeopardy and our plans in taters.

After waiting the allotted 2 weeks for parts for our lowers to be shipped from Australia to Tahiti, for the rigger in Tahiti to put the bits together, and for the plane to fly them to Hiva Oa; we arrived expectantly at the door of MMS in Hiva Oa and sought out Vincent. Instead of delivering shiny new lowers he delivered shocking news. The parts were still in Australia, the rigger didn’t know when they’d turn up and we would have to simply wait. We returned to Ruffian sad and dejected knowing that new lowers were necessary for Ruffian’s health and we’d have to invent something to make her well again.

Once at anchor in Tahuata we explained our problem to our friends on “Mindelo” and they excitedly showed us their cutting edge Dyneema lowers, explained how easy they are to make and bestowed all their benefits. We however had calls to make, a plan to form and contacts far and wide to brief so that Ruffian could once again be a sailing boat.

All our avenues for fixing Ruffian were running into roadblocks and we thought time and time again about “Mindelo’s” rigging and how we could invent something that would allow us to get Ruffian sailing. All our rigging spares were retrieved from deep within Ruffian, any metal components that might be able to help were dug out and we started trying to put together a Meccano kit of pieces trying to work out how we could connect the Dyneema to our mast.

While in Guatemala we’d thought about this exact situation and had some spoon fittings (which go into the mast) swaged onto wire with Norseman fittings at the end (all ready to accept Dyneema)**. However we’d not thought about it enough, the physics of Dyneema means that it looses strength if it turns too sharply, we needed to find a way to connect the Dyneema to the Norseman fitting without a sharp turn, and without any knots. So we got our thinking caps on and thought and thought.

As a respite to all this hard work of thinking there was great entertainment to be had in Tahuata. We’d discovered that every morning Manta rays swam into the bay seeking out tiny krill so every day before breakfast we went out seeking the Manta Rays. Every day these huge creatures swam within inches of us gliding around in circles and doing loop the loops in an effort to hoover up as much protein as they could. They took no heed of us as they were totally focussed on their quarry and we felt honoured to be welcomed in their domain.

Thinking more and more about inventing a necessary fix for Ruffian a plan started to form. We managed to acquire some metal eyes from a boat called “Gemini”, more from “Cushla” and with “Mindelo’s” spares we came up with a way of changing to Dyneema lowers. There was however another challenge. “Mindelo”, who had the expertise and the Dyneema, were now 150 miles away. We’d have one last scary sail with failing rigging to effect our invention.

Sailing into the night to meet with “Mindelo” our poor rigging continued to strain. We hoped that these last miles wouldn’t be the proverbial straw that broke the camels back and our rigging would get us to Nuku Hiva successfully.

After a night at sea the dawn sun started to light up the huge hills of this new island and deep into the bay we were heading for we knew that “Mindelo” sat and the solution to our problem. All we now had to do was enact it and show that necessity really is the mother of invention.

* To be fair to the Royal Navy this wasn’t just limited to the French and Spanish. They’d happily sink any vessel from any nation if enough booty was involved.

** Actually, it was Fiona’s idea – clever stick

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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