Dragonfly (the 63) Missing a Mast

“Stickless in Hawaii: Dragonfly was dismasted 400 miles south of Hawaii. The best we can determine is that a wave, significantly bigger than the others, broke beside us throwing us sideways toward the wind causing the mast to break because of the inertia of the mast and the force of the wind on the sail. The shrouds and headstays were still intact and we made an assessment that trying to save anything from the rig posed too great a risk to the crew considering the conditions of wind and waves, and the absence of safety lines which had been pulled over with the rigging. Al and Stephan cut loose the shrouds and control lines and let the mast go. Fortunately no one was hurt and we were able to make it to Hawaii 6 days later with 10 gallons of fuel to spare. Significant credit goes to the terrific crew for getting through this incredible event!”

It sounds like a shear failure or maybe too large a cutaway for some hardware?  I’m trying to get a picture of the buckle before the mast was pushed overboard.

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2 thoughts on “Dragonfly (the 63) Missing a Mast”

  1. How much sail did they have up? Considering the rest of the hardware was up… maybe they were due for a mast replacement due to fatigue. Very unusual to have breakers against the wind but confused sea with breaking riders is common. I guess the solar panel and wind generators were deployed in the harbor again. 20k + labor for a used mast last time I checked.

  2. Very interesting case to me, because I was dismasted last summer in exactly the same way. All rigging was intact, but our spar buckled to leeward after an unusual slam on a wave. Actually, I don’t know if the failure is a true buckle (from compression only) or a bending failure. It seems like it was the latter. In our case I suspect the shrouds (this was a 23′ trimaran with rotating rig, close hauled) were not tight enough to keep the mast from whipping to windward in light winds and heavy chop. The failure could then occur as the mast returned from windward and the windward shroud came tight. That would be a bending failure.

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