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Headsail saves boat after whale attack

Oct 18, 2012

Island Planet Sails

What happens when a whale gets tangled in your anchor rode while you are ashore enjoying dinner? Hunter 40.5 owner Dennis Weglehner can certainly tell you.

He and his girlfriend Nikki went ashore for dinner on Niue, a 100-square-mile remote island nation in the South Pacific. The anchorage was calm and serene when other cruisers reported seeing Weglehner’s boat moving as though under power. A whale had apparently become tangled in their anchor rode and was pulling the boat through the anchorage. At the time of the incident they had a Cruisers Light Air Sail Solution (CLASS) code zero headsail with Facnor furler connected to a bale on the anchor roller. The anchor roller was ripped from the deck along with the bow cleats. Now tangled in the anchor rode, the sail and the furler were the only things connecting the boat to the anchor.

Despite the extensive damage to the boat, the furler, and the sail, it was ultimately the headsail that saved the day. A strange tale that Weglehner will likely regale cruising friends with for years to come.

Island Planet Sails

In what is assumed to be a whale strike, the Hunter 40.5’s bow roller was torn off along with its roller furler and sail leaving the boat tethered to its headsail alone.


Edit Module

Oct 30, 2012 12:07 am
 Posted by  Commodore Keith

There certainly was a close encounter with a humpback whale in our mooring field, but quite as written in this article. The yacht was moored, not anchored when a whale of unknown size got entangled, briefly, in the mooring line. The mooring held firm, and the damaged described certainly happened. The force of this encounter was considerable as it did shear the deck cleats off and there certainly was a tangle of Code 0 sail, deployed anchor chain from locker and mooring line. Dennis and Nikki did extremely well, with the many willing hands available to effect repairs and sail on. As for being towed through the mooring field and for "whale attack" that is journalistic license. Perhaps if our moorings hadn't been so strong, the yacht could have been towed through the mooring field. A "first" since 1992 when the mooring field was established.

The Niue Yacht Club mooring field is in one of the bays of Niue where the whales come to give birth and close encounters are usually possible. Being lulled to sleep by whale song is more likely.

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