The Oceans of Hope is a 67 foot (20m) sailing vessel crammed with systems ranging from water makers, electronic autopilots to satellite communications equipment. However, it is of course, the yacht’s sails which catch the breeze and push her through the water on her ground-breaking circumnavigation.
There is the mainsail, which is nearly always hoisted and a range of headsails which are specific to different wind strengths and wind angles. They are all exposed to chafe, wear and tear and damage from the sun’s UV rays. Some repairs have to be carried out while at sea in order to keep the sails useable. However, following a long ocean passage, such as the recent North Atlantic crossing, it is essential to take them all to a professional sail loft where they can be laid out flat, inspected and repaired or adjusted with huge, long-armed sewing machines run by skilled sail makers.
During this planned maintenance period in Newport the local North Sails loft has been chosen to carry out this work. This loft builds sails for all manner of racing and cruising yachts in what is essentially the sailing capital of American, but they have taken a keen interest in the Oceans of Hope project, its aims and values. Skipper Kristian spent a morning there with Jim Harrington, one of their leading sail makers, crawling over every square inch of each sails and building up a long list of repairs and improvements.
The spinnaker, which exploded on the Atlantic crossing, was in the worst shape with two corners and the foot separated from the rest. It is an essential downwind sail and while it is repairable, the team at North Sails is helping to source a replacement of similar dimensions – we shall see! The serviced sails will re-appear aboard Oceans of Hope in a few weeks’ time, ready for the next 8,000 miles of hard use.
Please stay in touch with the Oceans of Hope crew and follow our journey here at the blog, or through Facebook and Twitter. We appreciate your support and ongoing interest to change the perception of multiple sclerosis by showing what is possible when people with a chronic disease are empowered to conquer their individual challenges.