30 September 2009

Daisy Grace under sail

Had a photo from the Shilling that I sailed with last Sunday. Always hard to get pictures of your own boat under sail, so this is nice to have.

28 September 2009

Last weekend afloat 10.4nm (243.2)

The season ends glorioulsy, some of the best weather we have had all year. Hundreds of boats out. A huge fleet of Mirrors and Toppers was starting a race and their sails were continuous right across the harbour. Every anchorage was packed, with boats rafting up five or six deep. Winds were light but I managed to sail round Green Island in company with a beautiful the Willow Bay Boats Shilling gaff cutter Margherita. Beautiful little boat, but too small for me. The skipper said he had seen my boat at Beale Park. Seems like everyone did.

This view ahead shows the benefit of mounting the jib directly on the stem. The view forward is much improved. Matt Newland is concerned about sailing like this in case the bearings fail in the drum, or the furling jams as you can't lower the sail without dropping the mast. We are going to look into alternative arrangements over the winter. You can aslo see the lazyjack tightening mechanism, which works very well.

I haul out next weekend so I thought I had better get more practice at dealing with the mast. I beached her on Redhorn Point near the mouth of the harbour, stuck my brand new mast support thingy into the mizzen socket and lowered the mast without any consequences at all. I unbolted it at the tabernacle and slid it forward to see what the overhang was at the rear. It is not too much at all, so I shall tow her like that, with the mast in one piece.

Having lowered the mast and stowing it all, I decided there was little point in raising it again as I would have to motor back and then lower it again at the end of the week. I was also interested to see how easy it is to motor with the mast down. The answer is that you can do it, but the mast obscures your view. I actually stood up for the whole journey, which was comfortable as you can lean on the mast. I like to stand when sailing or motoring in very shallow water, as you can see approaching problems much more easily. If I motor her down the Thames, as we plan for next year, I shall leave the masts at home.

21 September 2009

Further thoughts on water ballast

One thing I experimented with again last weekend was the water ballast. Pumping out takes something under 15 minutes. That still leaves a reasonable amount of water in the rear tank that doesn't pump out. I would estimate 10-15 litres. I am sure that self bailers would help, and might even empty the tanks completely. The main time you might want to empty the tanks is when you are going to do significant motoring, and then self bailers would just do the hard work for you. The front seems to rise higher than the stern, so water should just drain naturally to the back. The whole boat rises 75-100mm out of the water when unballasted. I can't really say I notice any significant improvement in speed without the ballast. Motoring I may have got an extra 0.6kt, so could be worth while for a long drive. Sailing, I couldn't really sense any difference. If you were racing it could help, but for general cruising, I think I would say just keep the tanks full.
When she is unballasted, you can really push her high up a beach if you want to. I would think that if you were aground on a and bank, pumping out fast could get you off before the tide falls much further.

20 September 2009

Nearly the end of the season, but still tweaking the boat 19.4nm (242.8)

I have to get my boat off her mooring in Poole Harbour by the end of the month, so not many sailing days left. I'm not a winter sailor. I like a break from any activity and the anticipation of the next season.
As I will be getting her onto her trailer on my own, I thought I had better practice getting the mast down as I have never lowered it myself. So I sailed to Brownsea Island and beached her at about half tide on the ebb. When she was firmly aground she dried out pretty level, with just a little rocking from side to side as I moved around. Then to lower the mast for the first time.
I had asked Matt Newland to rig her with a forestay and a separate furling jib, set inside of the stay. The idea was that I could lower the sail at any time, without having to lower the mast. This means the forestay has to be released first, and then as the jib halyard is loosened, the mast tips backwards. It worked fine, but the mast could swing from side to side in a wind until you can grab it as it comes down. As it is carbon fibre it is "light" but only compared to a wooden one. It is still quite a weight. Once it was down I decided that I would change the forestay arrangement. I have never lowered the jib in practice, so I removed the seperate forestay and moved the jib tack out to the stem head and the jib head up to the slightly higher forestay fitting on the mast (no photos, I fogot my camera). Then the raising...
It would be very straight forward if you had three arms. I don't. You push up the mast with one hand and use the other two to take in the slack on the jib halyard. In practice I found that you can push the mast right up until it is vertical and the shrouds tighten and brace it. Then you pull in the halyard using your spare hand and your teeth. Not sure what the chief medical officer would say about that. The real trick is getting from the cockpit, where you have to stand to start pushing the mast up, to the cabin roof, where you have to be to push the mast vertical in the tabernacle. I can't really remember how I did it. I think I built a stairway of flat fenders to climb on. You couldn't do it solo afloat or in a strong side wind. Anyway it went up without mishap. I wouldn't try to raise it just hauling on the halyard. The sideways leverage on the tabernacle would be huge if the mast started to sway before the shrouds tightened.
Moving the jib to the stem head is a revelation. I am sure that is where it was meant to be. (I think Matt said as much once). The sail sets much flatter, there is less weather helm and you can actually see under it. Before, everything off the leeward bow was a mystery, but now I can see it. She also self steers even more consistently, to the extent that I can leave the helm to go below to fetch things without disaster striking. I spent quite a lot of time sailing along with one hand behind my head and the other holding a drink. A bit like cycling with no hands. I felt like waving at passing boats with both hands, but that seemd to be asking for trouble.
Saturday was one of those beautiful September days we sometimes get. I sailed to Studland and anchored close to shore. Rowed in and went up to the pub (the Banks Arms, a lovely ancient pub overlooking Poole Bay) for coffee. Then I sailed to the beach and learned a lesson.
I rowed ashore in my inflatable tender and there were some very small waves just breaking on the sand. I lined up my transom to one so it would wash me in for the last 5m. It picked me up, spun the boat sideways and dumped me completely underwater and under the boat in less than a second. Five seconds later I was standing on dry land thinking "I'm all wet, that wasn't in the plan". Never under estimate the power of a wave.
Very gentle winds so I sailed slowly back to my mooring, only using the engine for the last mile because the ebb tide was pushing me backwards. Many boast are off their moorings already, so it is very quiet in the channel now.

13 September 2009

Back afloat for the best weather of the year 20nm (223.4)

Evening sunset at anchor off
Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour

Two weeks away on holiday in America but back afloat this weekend. We have had the best weather of the year now it is moving into Autumn. Two new things I have discovered. You must tilt the engine out of the water when sailing. I left it down and found I could barely tack, even though wind and speed was good. The leg of the engine sticks down too much like a rear dagger board and stops the stern swinging round. I only forgot to tilt it up as for the first time I had risked leaving the mooring under sail. The beauty of the mizzen sail is that you can pull it right up on one side, so the wind catches it and pushes your stern the other side as you drop the mooring. I had it all planned out and it worked perfectly, i.e. I didn't clobber any other boats.

The second thing I learned was that you can in fact climb back in with the rudder step, if you are wearing shoes. I had anchored for the night, the wind had dropped and it was quite warm. I wanted to sit between two anchors, very close to the shore of Brownsea Island (like, 5m from it), so I wanted one anchor on the beach and a kedge off the stern holding me off. I took the direct method of stripping off and wading out with the kedge, to drop it at about neck depth (started to realise it wasn't all that warm at that depth). Wading back I thought I would try to climb back in over the stern. With one foot on the rudder step, you can put the other foot on the top of the rudder assembly, hang back on the mizzen mast and heave yourself up onto the poop deck. You need a shoe on the foot on the rudder top as it has two narrow steel edges, which would be very painful to a bare foot. I think this could be made barefoot-friendly quite easily with a couple of wooden blocks either side. You are swinging up over an overhang though, so how feasible it would be in rough water I don't know. You need to be fit. I think I will fit a stern ladder over the winter.

Mocked up crockery store behind sinkWhilst anchored for lunch the second day I finished roughing out some storage areas behind the galley. I have built it with 3mm MDF and contact adhesive, with the plan to take it all apart and use the pieces as templates to make a permanent unit in decent wood over the winter. I now have storage spaces for most things that I want to hand, without having to root through lockers. The spaces behind the seat backs are particulalry useful. There is also a timber strip under the side deck, which is useful for cup hooks and hanging things from. You don't want to be screwing anything into the hull.

Having succesfully dropped the mooring under sail, I made the worst mooring pickup of all when returning. Did it under engine to make it "easy". Started by getting angry because someone else was on my mooring. Then realised that I was looking at the wrong mooring and that mine was shooting past alongside. Nearly grounded as I swung around, and then I manged to get the pick up float rope caught bewteen the rudder and hull. Forced it down and under the rudder with the boathook (not easy) and then managed to get the main moorng buoy jambed between the hull and the inflated dinghy I was towing. Manged to heave it round by climbing into the dinghy, thinking "This could all go terribly wrong". Finally managed to drop the loop over the samson post just in time to realise the dinghy was no longer tied on and was drifting away in the current. I threw the only thing available into the dinghy, my right leg, thinking "This can REALLY go terribly, terribly wrong!!", but it didn't, I managed to heave it in and grab the painter. Just sat down to grab my breath when my wife rang to see what I was up to "Oh, just picked up the mooring, be home soon." When things go wrong they go pear shped on a boat.