After our incident with the mooring at Paradise Taveuni— we knew Sedna was slowly bound for the nearest yard where she could have the bowsprit pulled and reconstructed. The actual damage to the bowsprit was created in one swift rocking horse motion of the boat— knocking the tip of the bowsprit, from the cranse iron, (see diagram attached for bow terms) completely off. Having the cranse iron exposed posed a threat for the rigging in the front of the vessel, making everything suspect. We also later learn that the force of the blow has also bent/damaged the headstay turnbuckle.
So we motored most of the way through Fiji, occasionally sailing downwind with the staysail, all the way to Vuda Marina, which is situated on the west side of Viti Levu (the largest island in Fiji). Vuda had the ability to haul us out and have us three or for independent contractor options for the bow project. After doing some research, and getting quotes from several carpenters, we chose to do all of our work through Yacht Help (with Hermant Kumar as our project manager). The entire project took three weeks, two on the hard and one in the water. We had the interns from Westside Rigging help us remove all the rigging and stainless off of the bow. The stainless pulpit was a beast to pull off and required several hands and lines. The bowsprit itself was able to pull out through the “gammon iron,” the stainless bracket that secures the forestay. We just used one of the halyards to lower the bowsprit onto the ground (mind you… this was all done on the hard, so 15 feet up in the air).
Our original bowsprit was laminated African Mahogany (three long planks), 14 feet long and 10 x 18 cm girth. Yacht Help sourced local “True Genuine Mahogany,” also known as Honduran Mahogany, that was introduced to Fiji after World War II, and tried to mimic the construction of the three laminated pieces as best we could.
In the mean time… we had Westside rigging prep and replace the headstay wire and whisker stays. I stripped the old varnish off of the bow pulpit wooden planks, sanded and then sealed them with a stain (SEMCO). Yacht Help sanded and repainted the bottom of the boat. We (reluctantly) raised our water line. We had some blisters forming right at the top of the water line, so we sanded those out, cleaned them and let them sit before applying a hard-bottom-bootstripe. I also spent a large amount of time stripping varnish and re-varnishing the port caprail. Clif spent several days replacing our bilge pump system.
Overall, we had a great experience with Yacht Help. We were able to pay for the project by credit card, which is a big help to us. Hermant as a project manager was excellent and kept in touch with us daily. The final push on the last couple days made the actual painting of the bow be a little rushed, so when the bowsprit arrived at the yard (it was built in the Yacht Help Shop at Denerau), they had mushed the paint in where it had touched cardboard during transport. They also pre-drilled some holes for the bow pulpit, which didn’t all quite line up, and we had to spend some time getting the bolts in and secured.
We were smart the second time around and had the assembled the new bowsprit and bow pulpit IN the water at high tide so that we could pull the boat in over the side walk (that’ll make more sense when you look at the photo). Vuda Marina is extremely unique in that it is circular, and everyone ties up to four points, two on the cement sidewalk and two behind on moorings. You have a tiny wooden platform off of your bow that you jump to— this act of jumping can be much harder at certain tides, and turned into a slack-line-act once we had the bowsprit on Sedna. I literally would step onto the bowline, holding onto the whisker stays, and quickly tight-rope across to the platform.
So Sedna has a brand new bowsprit… which will hopefully last thirty more years!
** If you’re reading this post because you’re interested in the project or in need of a Hans Christian bowsprit replacement— feel free to email us! We spent lots of internet time trying to find other boats that completed similar projects, and it was nice to hear from sailor who could relay their mistakes and successes with bowsprits. We’d be happy to chat… firstname.lastname@example.org