As Cape Wrath sank below the horizon last June an email pinged in from our insurers informing us that our standing rigging must be replaced before our next renewal date in July 2016. This news was despite a perfect rigging survey done just 2 months before. We were leaving Scotland, and all its sailing infrastructure in our wake and heading north for several seasons in the Arctic. The timing could not have been worse.
Our underwriter regards 10 years to be the life expectancy for the bits of wire that hold the mast up. We tried to negotiate and Topsail, our broker, tried to be flexible but it became clear that should a rigging calamity happen during our three planned crossings of the Denmark Straight and one of the Davis Straight then we would have to settle the costs and logistics of remote repair and rescue ourselves.
Refurbishing a 300 ton trawler in Reykjavik is commonplace but there are no riggers in Iceland and no infrastructure to support them. So what to do? Google took us to Facebook and Facebook took us to Jay Thompson who is now our knight in shining armour.
As I write this blog Jay is swinging around the top of our mast blasted by sleat and swaying around in the gusty winter Icelandic winds. All in a day's work for Jay who left his native Californian sun to sail with his rapidly expanding family around the Atlantic's frigid northern waters. Last winter he spent in Reykjavik living aboard with his kids in school learning Icelandic. When that became too comfortable he sailed north to Isafjordur for the rest of the winter and spring before moving onto Norway, Holland and France in the autumn. Happily for us Jay is a rigger and had already helped out some overwintering boats in Iceland. Miraculously he was prepared to sail back to Iceland to meet us this month and re-rig Shimshal along with some other clients he had acquired along the way. Great guy with a great story. Visit www.coconuts.is to fill in the rest.
CR Yachts, our boat builder, had the original rigging specification and Sparcraft were the suppliers. So we went back to them to supply all the shiny new stainless steel and happily it all arrived intact in RVK a week ahead of us. Aki kindly shifted it all onto the boat at the request of Icelandic Customs otherwise we would have had a hefty VAT bill to add to the already considerable cost of this venture.
So we are keeping everything crossed in the hope that all the bits fit and that the weather is kind to Jay as he wrestles with huge bits of wire at the top of our mast as the prime exhibit in the Icelandic Maritime Museum - our neighbours for the winter.
Thanks must go to Jay for his willingness to do this work unsupported in the depths of an Icelandic winter, to Aki for finessing everything with customs and to Mattias of CR Yachts who patiently fielded our evermore frantic emails and calls as delivery deadlines approached. Hopefully we will soon sail north with all new, shiny and insured rigging.