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Jayana - A Unique 50th Birthday Gift

I was just walking around the dock, gazing at the ARC flags all around with the sun rising in the background. We arrived at the end of the day yesterday, Lohan (10 y/o) and myself, successfully sailing from Canet-en-Roussillon, France to Las Palmas in time for the ARC Rally. A 9-day passage that shouldn’t have been possible given the circonstances three weeks ago. It’s nothing short of a miracle that Jayana is now docked on the S pontoon. And this morning, I can only take it the best gift possible for my 50th birthday.

On October 18th, I was heartbroken when I sent a notice to WCC Admin to notify them that we couldn’t make it for the 2022 ARC:

«We suffered from the catastrophic failure of our sail drive three hours motoring after a scheduled maintenance at an authorized ZF dealer. We are still trying to understand what went wrong, but it will takes weeks before I can get going again from south of France. Parts are extremely difficult to find for our pivoting pod.»

That happened while we were sailing on our way to Barcelona. We had a dramatic entry with high winds ( no propulsion nor bow thruster) in the marina. Then we exchanged with the yard in France and the only way to troubleshoot the issue was to sail back to France. I was able to get two wonderful crew to help me sailing back and then again, we had a dramatic entry with 25 kt winds under sail only in the marina in Canet. While Jayana suffered a few scars, I was emotionally devastated. The boat was hauled out and the verdict was rather quick to come: the sail drive had to be replaced and the wait time is 4 months.

After having spent two months of maintenance that halved our precious sail time in the Med, that sort of delay was just too much. Our dream of offering the kids a sabbatical year on the water crumbled apart. It was too much bad news to handle and the only solution was to get away from the boat. Staying around was like plunging a knife in our heart and wiggling it. As we had enough of crying and despair, we decided to split the family. Sounda and Mael (13 y/o) took a plane for Morocco to have pleasant experience in the desert while I had to drive to Carthagena to pick up a brand new Parasailor that we were supposed to pick up on our way out of the Med.

That road trip with Lohan) was filled with laughters and activities to help us change our minds. I could reflect on what to do with the time we had left until the next school season. Through some Via Ferrata, caving, canopy adventures, cave explorations and city dwellings, we were happy to be together and be grateful we were healthy and life would go on after Jayana. It was perhaps a good time to part from her after 10 years of ownership.

Then came that phone call.

While we were away from Canet, the whole community was moved by the agony of our sailing dream. Many parties were frantically searching for a solution to our technical problem. A senior manager at ZF in Italy was trying to find parts for the top section of our SPP pivoting pod. The Yanmar dealer was exploring the possibility of ripping my cyborg joystick-controlled sail drive with a basic cable-run one. They come in different ratios and the one compatible for Jayana is quite rare. The managers at the Catana factory were prepared to release one from their inventory, jeopardizing a new build for us, but they were not compatible with my engine. Yanmar had no sail drive in inventory and were also having the 4-month lead time for new orders. As a desperate measure, the manager for the Yanmar dealer sent request to all dealers worldwide.

The next day, he received an answer. One of the closest dealer, in Marseille, had exactly what we needed in stock. Due to a mistake from Yanmar, they were sent a sail drive with the wrong ratio. It was wrapped and ready to be sent back to factory when the email arrived.

Long story short, Pascal from BMS (the company supervising my boat), was telling me that a compatible sail drive was being sent to Canet. It would arrive within days and the folks at Yanmar were prioritizing their work to get me going as soon as possible.

Exactly a week after that phone call, I was watching the keel of Jayana touching the ocean again. We then had a perfect weather window to motor our way out of the Med. I was planning to stop in Malaga to have the family reunited again, but the weather in Gibraltar cancelled that plan. We therefore made a direct passage and we arrived in Las Palmas marina yesterday. Just in time for me to wake up for my 50th birthday and watch the sun rise. Fate decided that we had to be part of the ARC adventure and I couldn’t be more grateful to be here today.

s/v Jayana

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