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The tide had turned off Port­land Bill, the sea state was smooth­ing out and we were beat­ing into a fresh south­west­erly breeze aboard Phorty. We’d climbed through the pack and were now close to the top five.

Then there was a loud bang as a fit­ting at the base of the forestay gave way. The mast floated down, land­ing to lee­ward be­hind the boat. It was a sec­ond be­fore our brains could process what had hap­pened. The wind­ward shroud bent a stan­chion dou­ble as it came down and squashed two crew hik­ing out, who quickly ex­tri­cated them­selves.

Be­cause Class 40 masts are deck-stepped and our mast fell back­wards, the heel had sim­ply kicked up above the fore­deck. The rest of the rig was trail­ing be­hind the boat and we de­cided it was re­cov­er­able. I called the Coast­guard no­ti­fy­ing them of our po­si­tion and prob­lem, but say­ing we did not cur­rently re­quire as­sis­tance.

By at­tach­ing spare sheets to the mast winches then through a snatch block on Phorty’s bow we slowly started to drag the rig for­ward along the deck, cut­ting any rig­ging that pre­vented progress. Get­ting the mast on board went rel­a­tively smoothly. When the spread­ers ap­proached the coachroof we bounced them over, us­ing the rhythm of the waves.

The main­sail proved a big­ger prob­lem as the full length bat­tens were im­pos­si­ble to lift once un­der­wa­ter. One of the crew donned a dry­suit and went over on a safety line to cut the main away.

The whole oper­a­tion took around an hour-and-a-half. Once the mast was se­cure we made a fi­nal thor­ough check for lines over the side and then mo­tored to Port­land for a com­pen­satory beer.

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