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Our first accident on the water!

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After Granhamn island we continued south, the wind was blowing from the north and we were sailing downwind. For us inexperienced sailors it seemed like this would be the easiest type of sailing. In my mind downwind sailing would be great, the boat wouldn’t heel (lean over) and we would probably go quite fast. Both of these assumptions turned out to be correct, the boat didn’t heel over at all and we were able to make about 12km/h whilst surfing down the waves. 

I have since learn’t the issue with downwind sailing is if the wind changes direction or the boat changes course it can cause the boom to violently swing to the other side (an accidental gibe). The waves were hitting us at about 15 degrees to our stern causing Polaris to want to spin, if I moved the tiller just right we could hold our course and make good progress but if the waves broke differently or I timed it wrong Polaris would spin in the water and the boom would come flying across the cockpit area. 

After 2-3 badly timed tiller movements and accidental gibes I looked up at the mainsail to see 3 of the sail slides broken, the mainsail was flapping around. At this point we decided to drop the mainsail for fear of causing any damage. Uyen took the tiller and I went to the mast to try to pull the sail down. As we turned into the wind the mainsail caught a huge gust of wind causing the boom to fly up and eventually come crashing back down. On its way back down the boom caused several more of the sail slides to snap and also broke our wire boom lift. The boom eventually ended up in the cockpit after narrowly missing Uyen’s head.

A little shaken but otherwise ok we started up the engine and headed for the nearest safe haven, thankfully the Swedish archipelago has visitors berths on almost every island so we didn’t have far to go. It was a hard lesson learnt. Below are a few photos of where we stopped, not a bad place to end up and we would love to go back and visit Kålö island another time.