One of the more daring aspects of sailing is a trip up the mast whilst a yacht is underway. This could be to effect repairs to battens or to rethread halyards. Simply put, halyards are ‘ropes that go up and down’ and sheets are ‘ropes that go left and right’.
The halyards pull sails to the top of the mast so it is vital that they run smoothly.
Halyards can seize or break if not properly maintained and, of course are most vulnerable at the top of the mast. Climbing the mast can be scary in big seas as you sway and are bashed against the mast on your journey up – there is an ever present worry of a halyard snapping or your crew being unable to assist you if you get stuck. (See: Deaf Sailor, Gavin Reid, Named YJA Yachtsman of the Year – where a brave sailor climbed up a mast without the aid of a supporting halyard to free a crewman stuck at the top)
As part of their training on J-Sea (a J27 yacht) the young crew get to do exciting stuff like climbing the mast. BUT, in Algoa Bay that exercise has one more added hazard – Manganese Ore Dust which accumulates in the rigging and on the mast in the higher up sections that power washers and hoses cannot reach from the deck during a normal clean. That Port Elizabeth has water restrictions exacerbates the situation somewhat.
As you can see in the image, young Sophie Hynch became a very dirty girl with just one trip up the mast.
Consider my contention that I will spot a yacht from Port Elizabeth sailing anywhere in the world by just one look at the sails.
After months the ever present Manganese Ore ‘worms’ its way into sails, rigging, halyards, sheets, blocks and equipment leaving a dark stain everywhere. Look at the stitching on the sail to Sophie’s left and the sail above her left hand to see what I mean.
The same happens to fishing and other boats moored in the harbour and is a factor preventing Cruise Liners, International Yachtsmen and Superyachts from spending a long time in the Port of Port Elizabeth.
The Manganese Ore dust is a dissimilar metal to those found on boats – aluminium, stainless steel, mild steel and boats are in a harsh environment: outdoors, high humidity, and salt. This leads to accelerated galvanic corrosion.
Consider this: South Africa and the Ukraine hold over 80% of the world’s manganese ore reserves. So the Manganese Ore exports will not stop, we can only hope that the present dump in the Port will move and await a plan to ensure the continued survival of the Port once that money spinner moves.
Will we see a huge PE Waterfront in our time?