Day 666 [July 30/10 JST] -- Rigging fails; tow arranged for last 50 miles

Today's Report
July 30/10 0800 JST (Updated 1800 JST)

Position:  20°57'N, 158°39'W (21°00'N, 158°27'W)

At about 4 am his time, Saito-san called Tokyo to tersely announce over heavy wind noise: "Something has happened to the genoa stay. I don't know what, but I have furled the genoa all the way." Thirty minutes later he called Saito 8 Safety Officer Mike Seymour to report that the double backstays "have loosened" and together they agreed he should drop all sails to prevent potential mast failure, and wait for sun-up to allow a careful rigging inspection. 

At daybreak the seriousness of the failure became apparent, although the cause uncertain, and a decision was made to notify the U.S. Coast Guard.

On the duty officer's advice, a tow was quickly arranged for the remaining 50 nm to Honolulu. By noon, Dave Cooper had organized a crew for Swan Song, his Roughwater 58 sea-going trawler, and was on his way. The vessel was expected to rendezvous with Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III by about 6 pm local time.

(At a bit past 1800 Saito-san called Tokyo to say he could see what he thought was the trawler on his radar, about 5 nm distant. The Coast Guard subsequently confirmed that Dave had radioed in to say he had NBSDIII "in sight.")

The Coast Guard earlier used a helicopter to do a fly-over to establish Saito's position, and dropped him a spare VHS radio. Saito-san now has two VHS radios for communications with Dave as the two vessels near and for when the tow line is deployed.

Saito-san has used all halyards as further support, and said that the mast should be fine without the added stress of the sails. He is ready, he said, and is now awaiting the arrival of the tow vessel. 

2300 HI update:
The tow was started at approximately 1900 HI time. By 2300 they had proceeded to within 37 nm of Honolulu, covering nearly 15 nm.

The Coast Guard told Tokyo that they are "going slow, at about 2 or 3 knots because of high winds and [against] seas." No problem were being reported, a staff member reported, adding, "they are making steady progress."

Winds were 12-18 kts during the day with seas at 1.5 m. The current is out of the SE at 0.3 kts.  Winds were forecast to increase into the teens and twenties on Friday.

Distance in last 24 hours: 39 nm over ground / minus 12 nm DMG
Heading: drifting westward
Reported boat speed: 1.0 kts
Average boat speed: 
Engine: 0 hrs
Generator: 9.25 hrs
Weather: Clear, sunny skies
Temperature: 25.5° C
Barometer: 1016 hPa
Wind (from): 12-18 kts ENE, expected to be 12-14 kts ENE, then reducing to 7 kts E in 19 hrs
Waves: 1.5 m
Current (from): 0.3 kt SE
Sails: All down

Position Map

Drifting at about 1 kt westward as he awaited Dave in tow vessel