Sunday, 28 October 2007

Blue sails again

Back in Cyprus, I couldn't wait to get out on the water again.

Neil and Paula had repaired Blue from the capsize on 26 August.

They had taken the top section from an old albacore mast and an old albacore sail, plus manufactured a rudder and tiller from educated guesswork. There are no plans they could find for a Laser 16 rudder.

Anyone have any plans for one they would love to have them.

They told me that making the albacore top section fit the laser16 bottom section was a little more of an engineering feat than they originally expected, but looking at the mast it seems that it will keep Blue sailing for many more years.

The wind was very light and so I offered James the helm. He normally sails an optimist, and he said he found helming the Wayfarer very different, she was much less responsive. If you look carefully in the photo you can see James' parents sailing Blue coming up astern.

We had a very very enjoyable day sailing. The wind picked up somewhat in the afternoon, making for a more interesting sail. Because I haven't sailed the wayfarer for a couple of months the mainsheet block was a little stiff and the mainsheet didn't run through as well as it might. With the wind light in the morning we ended up pushing the boom out by hand!

Sue [my wife] had given me a pair of Icom M34 handheld radios for my birthday and these worked very well for boat to boat communications. Had we had them when Blue capsized then they could have called for help. Actually this is the first part of my safety upgrade for our sailing. I also want to buy a masthead buoyancy unit.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Cat on the South China Sea

Being away from Cyprus for almost two months is stressful... at least from a sailing point of view, but great otherwise.

We ended up in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia. Wonderful place. Nearly as nice as Cyprus. Rated my second best place to live in the world.

You can see how stressful the place looks! [British irony for those not getting it]

We went to one of the islands just off the coast. The sea was amazingly clear. I am used to the Med which is pretty clear, but this was something else. Considering how much rubbish we had seen in the South China Sea on the trip from Hong Kong to KK, it is amazing the sea is not dirty grey. The fish around the jetty were in greater numbers than I had seen anywhere else in the world... then I saw that you could buy food to feed the fish and understood why there were so many!

The trip to and from the island was my motor launch. A fibre-glass construction boat with an outboard at the rear that takes about 8-10 passengers. The outward journey was calm, with the launch following the designated channel out of the harbour.

When they collected us at 3pm it looked like a storm was brewing [there were often thunder storms in the late afternoon] and so the Malaysian person helming the launch opened the throttle and we shot back to KK at about 30 knots, bouncing over the waves. You could feel the waves bounding under the fibreglass of the hull as there was no decking on the launch, just the fibreglass skin.

Anyhow, Borneo being an island in the South China Sea I expected there would be many options for sailing. With loads of islands off Borneo to sail round it looked a sailor's paradise. Sadly it was very difficult to find a sailing boat to rent.

I had made friends with Paul, a doctor from South Carolina who owns a Peirson 26, and we were looking for a day boat we could rent and go out for a day sailing. Something like my Wayfarer would have been good or up to 20-21 feet ideal. However, there seemed to be almost nothing available.

Eventually we found that the Shangri-la Resort in KK offered sail boats to rent, with options of a Hobie-14, Hobie 16, Laser Funboats and Laser Picos. Sounded great. Maybe we would take out the Hobie 16 or a couple of Picos. We went down to the restort only to find that the only serviceable boat was the Hobie 14. OK, that cut the choice down, but we took it.

It was sad to see all these boats with minor or major damage just left to die when a small amount of TLC would have made them all available. The Hobie 16, had been blown over on the hard and its mast broken. Otherwise it was fine. Difficult to tell with the other boats, they all looked like minor problems that should have been easy to fix.

I'd not sailed a catamaran before so it was interesting to try it. Very similar to to a mono-hull dinghy except you could not point so well and had to have enough speed to go about.

We had a wonderful couple of hours sailing around the bay - Paul and I were oggling Gandalf [the yacht in the background of this picture] but nevertheless ecstatic to be out on the water and sailing. The two hours passed way too quickly.

Daniel [my olderst son] proved a natural sailor. He helms one of the lifeboats on the ship that he is crew on, so he is used to tiller steering, but could feel the wind and control the main-sheet like he was born to it. I really look forward to him coming back here for a couple of months next year when hopefully we can sail together regularly.