Race to Cuba: Frankenmain

Things get worse onboard Lesson #1 with the loss of their main, but spirits remain high and they continue toward Havana.

Working on repairing the “Fankenmain.” Troy Gilbert

After our frustrations with the electrical problems resulting in us surviving off of a trickle charge solar panel, unfortunately the mainsail blew up last night at 2:45 am approximately 310 miles from Havana. We continued on under the heavy #1 and this morning we agreed to race on. The first improvisation was to use the #3 as a trysail and this made the little sail very angry.

The next option was to use a batten above the rib as a structural element and we have successfully sailed on the “frankenmain” for two hours now – although we are still discussing how to tack or gybe with it. We will likely drop it each time.

We are still without any weather routing and are hand plotting – also down to one cellphone that can be used with the sat-fi system, one laptop at half power and one sat-phone.


As of 2:24 pm on Monday, our position was 86 degrees 20 minutes and 84 degrees 42 minutes. Heading has been 128º and we are averaging about 6 knots in 10 knots of breeze – again still on the nose.We are in the Loop Current which is giving us a +2 kick straight towards Havana. The rest of the fleet appears to be ignoring the current and as we’re limping along now at about 6 knots, we are simply going to attempt to cover them and be the first to finish.

A crewmember just had a beer and a bag of Zapps Cajun potato chips up on deck and said, “It’s kind of like I just had my own little crawfish boil.” I stuck my head up on deck and asked if there was anything else I should address and was met with a “Did you cover this sweet tan line?” I went back down below.

Arrival in Havana is expected late Tuesday, maybe early Wednesday. Spirits are high.


Follow along with the crew of Lesson #1 on the race tracker or our blog page for updates on the race to Cuba.


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