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.

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