Sunday, 26 August 2007

26 August 2007

The day started off well enough, we had problems getting off from the shore [about 30% of the time we seem to have problems getting off the shore right now] and we were drifting back without real steerage way so James and I tried a roll tack [ie bouncing the boat] to go about in order to get steerage... which worked.

Then we sailed off and watched his parents launch their spinnaker, so thinking they were on a downwind run we goose-winged with a whisker pole, which worked well... only to discover that they were not on a downwind run and so going in different directions. so we dropped the whisker pole and chased them.

They did another run with the spinnaker and so we tried another thing that I had wanted to try... 'heaving to'. First attempt failed because James couldn't pull the genoa round, but then we tried other technique: Going about and keeping the genoa on the wrong side. Then lashed the tiller with the traveller rope [is this a guy, sheet or what?] and the boat heaved to beautifully. I had a drink and James reckoned that if there wasn't a thwart in the middle he could dance a jig!

Sailed off and did a photo shoot [Neil taking pictures of us] by which time the wind was picking up somewhat and it was glorious sailing weather. We then did a failed attempt to pick up a balloon somebody had let drift. Balloons [and plastic bags] are really bad for the turtle population as they chew at them and the back gets trapped in their throat and they die of asphyxiation.

At the end of that they suggested we make for a fishing harbour on the north coast of Larnaka Bay for lunch. I didn't know where this was and had forgotten our GPS so said we would follow them. In light winds we seem to do better than the Laser 16 but in stronger winds they do much better than us. So following [especially when they were flying the spinnaker] was somewhat at a distance.

The wind was picking up a lot and I felt we were really over-powered and so we furled the genoa and followed more slowly with just main. Somebody more experienced could have probably kept the genoa up, but for me it was too much. Discretion is better part of valour in sailing for me...

So we followed at a distance and then saw Neil and Paula coming back flying their spinnaker. I was pretty amazed I must admit, since I would have preferred a reef in the main. Choice time... our walkie talkies were not working... I would have preferred to turn back, but throught that maybe the fishing harbour would be calm and we could wait for the wind to die so we sailed on.

We found what we thought was the fishing harbour [later turned out we were wrong, this was another harbour] but it had rocks around and I was definitely not happy trying to get into that with the wind gusting and the waves as they were so I decided to turn back and although Niel and Paula were on pretty much a downwind run which would have taken them towards the beach at the entrance to Dhekelia I decided to broad reach across the bay back to the club and would turn to the beach if the conditions got worse.

The sailing was pretty nasty coming back across the bay - the waves choppy and seeming to come from different directions at times. I was glad that I had been out sailing with a Danish friend Torkild in the Mirror when the boat was rolling because it gave me confidence to sail through it with the boat rolling severely.

Then I remembered reading somewhere that if you raise the centreboard in these conditions, although it doesn't help your overall direction, the boat slides off the waves somewhat and doesn't roll as much, so we tried this and found it to be true. Trouble is, the centreboard is stiff and James has problems moving it at times. I had been thinking of adding 4:1 blocks for both up and down centreboard.

It was a slow sail back across the bay and tiring helming, not something either James or I particularly enjoyed, but I in retrospect it has given me more confidence on the boat... it can't all be plain sailing!

Getting close to the club we found the wind was squalling which James felt was probably the wind 'playing under the clouds'. Two claps of thunder and some rain. Yes... in August! Not much rain to speak of and then the wind dropped somewhat so we unfurled the genoa and the boat picked up speed again. I probably could have unfurled the genoa earlier actually, but the sea was so messy that I was happy just plodding on under main only.

When we arrived back at the club I expected to see Blue there before us, but it wasn't. I thought Neil and Paula, seeing the gusts had sailed to the beach and were waiting it out. James was very concerned and we tried to phone them - we often take mobile phones with us in halloumi cheese containers [which are waterproof and cheap containers, but some of the Cypriots find funny that we use for this]. No answer.

Just as we turn round we see Neil and Paula walking into the club... we rush over and find that they had had problems. They had capsized and been unable to right their boat. Apparently Laser 16's are reputed to be difficult to right. It had gone right over 180 degrees and the centre board doesn't have a rope/block to keep it down so 180 upside down the centreboard had dropped inside the hull. I had decided to add ropes and blocks for up up and down with cleats as one of my 'winter jobs' for our boat and now I am sure this is something to do!

Anyway, they had difficulties and eventually were rescued by someone in a motor boat who towed them to Dhekelia Sailing Club and club members helped them right the boat and then get it onto the shore. Tomorrow we will pick it up on a trailer. In the process they have lost the tiller and the top of the mast.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

18 August 2007

The screws holding the pindle to the rudder stock had pulled out last week, so I took it home, drilled out the rotten wood around the screw holes, filled the screw holes with wood and glue and re-screwed the pindle to the rudder stock. This was the same problem I had with the wooden rudder stock for the Mirror I sailed before the Wayfarer.

This week, the screws pulled out again - the wood filling was not solid enough to hold them. So I chatted with Nicos who is the sailing coach at the club and he added two extra cross pieces of metal to the pindle with screws into new solid wood in the stock. Its not pretty but it will hold for a few more weeks till we travel [we are away for most of September and October] and then I will, over the winter, build a new rudder stock. I looked at the stock of the Laser 16 which my friends have - its made out of metal and wont rot. I looked online and saw a metal one advertised for the GP14 on ebay - looks better than the one for the Laser 16.

James, my regular crew, was sailing an optimist, so I had Paula [his mum] and Dan [a friend from the UK] as crew while Neil had other friends from church as his crew. We overhauled Neil [first time ever] and I found that one of the problems I had been experiencing was not what I had thought at all. What I had experienced were occasional times when the boat appeared to get into patches of no wind. In reality what was happening was that I was falling off the wind and was turning the wrong way and so was not picking up wind at all, but [slightly] running with the wind so it felt like no wind.

All in all a good day sailing. The picture is of Neil sailing Blue solo, taken by Paula from my boat.

Monday, 13 August 2007

11 August 2007

We sailed about 16 nautical miles on a day mainly practising tacking. We found that rigging on shore and just hoisting the main works much better after last weeks problems. James parents are practising with their spinnaker [Spinnaker is next season for us, I don't have all the blocks for the guys etc and I am not yet confident enough to fly a spinnaker]. The wiggles are where I got distracted watching the others with the spinnaker and forgot about helming!

According to the calculation the maximum hull speed is 5.36 knots [1.34 x square root of the lenght in feet], but on tacks we are seeing speeds of 6.5 up to 6.9 knots and running with the wind 5.5 knots. We are almost as fast as James parents now, but they are pointing much better than us. We discuss this over lunch with them and in the afternoon [cyan track] we try pulling the traveller to the centre of the boat in so that the sail twists more and it seems we can point better like that.

We have a whisker pole but just did training runs this week, maybe next week we shall try this. On the runs I did sit on the stern deck and James came right back to the stern to lift the front and try to get her to plane better. She planed very well on some of the waves which was good fun.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

4 August 2007

James, my regular crew, is back from the UK and so we go out sailing [his parents have a Laser 16 which we sail alongside]. The wind was gusty and our regular method for rigging the boat is to attach kicking strap and main sheet etc to the boom when on the water [there is normally an onshore wind and reversing the boat down the slipway with the sail hoisted would be a problem]. Bad day today, as I was attaching the mainsheet a gust hit, the boom flew over suddenly hitting me in the face and knocking a chip off one of my front teeth. I lose a shackle pin over the side in another gust.

We decide when we get back to use a different method of rigging - attach all the ropes to the boom before getting into the water and then just hoist the sail when on the water. The main halyard is slightly too short [winter maintenance job] so the main sail is slightly blowing around... but better than losing a tooth!

On the water it is force 3 gusting 4, great sailing. but one gust rips the wipping off the kicking stap so we have to jury rig that and another gust pulls the car off the traveller system [the traveller endstop also goes overboard!]

But I am pleased with the sail back - holding the course worked well and was pretty straight.