Saturday, 20 December 2008

20 Dec 2008 - Beach picnic

10 nautical miles

Today I sailed with Sophocleus - one of the guys from the Day Skipper course in Limassol. Tim took out his trimaran and the two boats sailed together down to Mackenzie beach. Water spots on the lens... sorry!

The wind was very fickle in the morning and it was a broad reach out and then a straight run down to the beach. The wind... well... to say fickle was an understatement... all over the place... coming and going. Trying to keep the sails filled with air meant we were sailing, well roughly in the right direction, but only roughly. The only time it was really consistent sailing was on a goose-wing run to the beach.

It times Tim's trimaran really flew through the water... then stopped dead when the wind dropped. He has changed from roller furling for his jib to a hoisted jib. The aim of this being to mean that the jib can be removed when not sailing. Last week when we rigged the new blocks we found his jib had been perished by the sun and was torn all along the seam. It was, after all, the aim to stop further sun damage... the sail-maker in Limassol had done a brilliant job and the repair was excellent.

On the water he rigged the reefing line for the main, having realised that if the weather front came through, as it looked possible, he could no longer shorten sail by furling the jib.

Then we brought both boats into the beach and had a picnic on the beach. Tim had made some amazing oxtail soup. No, it wasn't just amazing because we were a little cold, it was truly amazing soup. That and fresh french bread from the baker... feast for a king!

Tim has no chain for his anchor and it was dragging on the line. Mine dragged a little then held when I buried the anchor in the sand.

While we were on the beach the wind changed direction about 180 degrees... hmmm... a dead run back? No, it changed again... but not till we were out on the water.

Coming off the beach I suddenly found myself with excessively heavy mainsheet... I looked round and the block on the mainsheet was no longer attached to the bridle. I don't know what happened, I guess it must have broken as all my shackles are moused with stainless steel wire. This is a reason I keep a few short lengths of rope handy... a quick replacement for a shackle to get us home,

Anyway the wind had come up a little and was steady so I gave the helm to Sophocleus and we sailed back towards Finikoudes. It got shallow just before the fort [I didn't know that shallows just south-east of the fort] and so we just touched bottom with the centre board, so I took us out and round again.

Tim had left the beach a few minutes earlier than us since he was tired of his dragging anchor and by now was up by the marina. The wind lightened and lightened till by the time we got to near the port we had no steerage way. So I furled the genoa, flaked and lashed the main and we motored back to the club.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

6 Nautical miles

I went out for a sail with Tim today. Both of us had heavy work weeks and needed a 'blow the cobwebs away' time. Tim's daughter was arriving later in the day but she gave him permission to miss picking her up at the airport to have as a sail.

Maybe she believes her Dad is somewhat like me. My wife says that I am somehow a nicer person to have around after I have been sailing... well... something like that.

Anyway, her plane was late and we got back early enough that both happened - Tim had a sail and he managed to pick her up at the airport!

The change to the twisted shackle made the mainsheet run better, though the wind was very light and fickle. There was still some breakers on the shore, so we motored out for a few hundred metres and then started sailing.

This is part of my ongoing 'chart all the buoys in Larnaca Bay project'. We sailed past the large yellow mooring buoy and grabbed that as a waypoint.

There was another buoy we didn't log/photograph that used to be a yellow mooring buoy very similar to the one on the left except that all the paint has worn away and so now its just a rusting mooring buoy!

Then more black rubber tubes... as you can see these do have a couple of buoys to make them slightly more visible but as the photo shows they are not very clear.

Tim reckons that this is all dangerous information to publish for terrorists. No, I don't think so - anyone with Google Earth and Admiralty charts can get 90%, just not so easily.

We discovered a new 'how to annoy the coastguard' game. Not that we were playing I hasten to add, nor would we. While we were sailing Cyprus Radio announced a 'Pan Pan' all ships alert for a ship in difficulties somewhat south of Cyprus.

After the announcement an unidentified station came on the air asking them to repeat the position of this ship in difficulty. Actually all they said was 'Repeat location please'. Cyprus Radio politely and clearly repeated the location and then asked the calling station to identify itself. Silence. Repeat by Cyprus Radio to identify ship name. Silence again. Again request by Cyprus Radio [you could hear the frustration in the voice by now]. Silence again.

Coming in we started hauling the boat out with the winch and the front jockey wheel broke... at roughly the same time the centreboard dropped onto the jockey wheel and I now have a centre-board repair to do again. Tim reckons he's jinxed on the centre board, but it wasn't anything to do with him - I had cleated it, but obviously not fully up and it would have cleared the ground except for the jockey wheel. Oh well...

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Leaking self bailers and anti-slip

No crew today, the wind low and the surf high... so no sailing. Also a very high tide. 61cm above chart datum in Port Said which is our standard port for the area. Yes, I know 61 cm high tide is absolutely nothing for most of the world, but for the eastern Med its a pretty high tide. In Larnaca sailing club the water was over the grill and up on the concrete of the launching ramp.

So with time to kill I set about trying to find why I get water coming in. I masked off the self-bailers with sellotape and then filled the bilges with water. No leak... till... it started coming through the sellotape on the port bailer. Then when the water came up to the level of the centre-board pin I started getting in from the centre-board case. Lifted the front so that the pin was out of the water and the leak stopped instantly.

That was excellent news. Basically it means the leaks are from the self-bailers and the centre-board pin. My fear had been there was a hidden crack at the stern of the centreboard case which would have been pretty well impossible to get to. Or... that my fibreglass repair to the centre-board case was not holding. Having seen [and hopefully fixed] the horrible bodge someone else had done to the centre-board case I was dreading that possibility. But no... just self-bailers and centre-board pin.

So why and how to fix? Last winter I had replaced the rubber seals on the self-bailers and when I had re-bedded the bailers into the hull I was not happy with the fix, and had then used silicone to 'seal' them in place. I thought silicone was the ideal sealant. Everyone I spoke to said that was what they used, except... Sue gave me Don Casey's Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual for my birthday this year and he had said that silicone was a fairly hopeless sealant [which is what I had now discovered myself] except under compression. Probably, had I bedded the self bailers into silicone, let the silicone cure and then at least 24 hours later tightened the nuts to compress the silicone it might have worked.

The centre-board pin was something others had suggested was where the leak was coming from but I had been not sure about. I suspect what has happened is that over the years the hole for the centre-board pin has worn and enlarged so that the pin itself is no longer a good seal. So how to fix it? I think I will make a washer for each side of the centreboard cased out of silicone. Then by compressing the washers with the nut on the pin, I should get it to seal. Silicone does reputedly seal quite well under compression, but it is not an adhesive seal and ' should not be used below the waterline.' Apparently leaving it at least 24 hours to cure/go off before compression is the clue to an effective seal.

So on Don Casey's recommendation I went round the shops looking for polysulphide glue. All of them had either silicone or polyurethane. Polyurethane is apparently a very good adhesive seal, but permanent - like impossible if you ever wanted to change the self-bailers. Many of the glues had only Greek descriptions so I had to get assistants to translate. And sometimes they were not sure of the English so had to find other containers with both English and Greek on them to work out that the word was the Greek equivalent of polyurethane. Anyway I shall try during the week to find polysulphide and fix them later.

What I did get was a strip of aluminium for each end of the anti-slip. Tim had bought me a present of anti-slip tape from South Africa when he came back and although it adhered well to the thwart the ends looked ugly and one started to ride up. Not good news after only one month of doing the job. So, again at Tim's suggestion, I bought some aluminium strip which I have pop riveted to the thwart to both fix the ends down and give them a much smarter finish.

I also changed one of the twisted shackles for one of the mainsheet blocks. Last year I had bought two sizes of twisted shackle not knowing which would be right. The blocks were just too big for the small ones so I had used a big one. This meant the block was hanging about 2-3 cm lower than I wanted. So today I filed off the edge of the block to make it just slightly narrower and managed to fit one of the smaller twisted shackles which I then moused with the stainless steel wire I still have from the spring.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

... demonstrated a knowledge of theory up to the standard of RYA Day Skipper

50% there... I now have a certificate to show that I have 'attended a shorebased course of instruction and demonstrated a knowledge of theory up to the standard of RYA/MCA Day Skipper/Watch Leader'.

Now for the practical [the other 50%] which will be sometime early next year. I must admit I am looking forward to the practical more than the theory. But... this course has given me the confidence on a lot of the navigation and other aspects of yacht sailing.

The course was taught by Andreas from True North Yachting in Limassol. The course has been interesting.

Andreas not only has many years of experience as a sailor and yacht delivery skipper and trainer... he also enthuses about sailing... and... more importantly has patience with everyone - encouraging them through the course.

As you can see Andreas loves the whiteboard. Which is great, 'cos so do I. 'Remember... always allow 20% more fuel than you think you need for a passage.'

I have now mastered the mag/true variation, ignoring the mnemonics [though I use them to check] and use the scale on the Portland Course Plotter... set the magnetic against the east/west variation and read off the true... or set the true and then read of the magnetic against the east/west variation. No arithmetic! Why is that relevant? Well a couple of weeks ago I managed to add 7 to 99 and get 105.

So, if the magnetic compass reading is 121, I set that against 7 West and read the true as 114 degrees. Much like the slide rule I used as a kid at school. Actually very like the slide rule, but that was used for multiplication and division not addition and subtraction.

Quote of the day... well, we were discussing wind and talking about Beaufort scale. In passing I mentioned that I was often more concerned about the gusting than the static wind. Sailing in Bft 2 gusting 5 is often more difficult than Bft 5 gusting 6. Andreas' comment 'there speaks a dinghy sailor'. True.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

8.5 Nautical Miles

Morning (Bft 1/2): Tim came out with me in the morning and we took a southward leg from the club. The wind was very light indeed. Since I'm on the Day Skipper course I was concentrating somewhat on the navigation aids.

We photographed and plotted positions for some of the buoys.

The green starboard buoy for the main harbour is pretty weathered so only a small part is green - the rest a black mucky colour except for the top which is white. The white cap makes the shape appear almost like a can [which is port/red buoy] rather than the conical green/starboard buoy.

Actually its clearer that its a starboard buoy in the photograph than in reality on the water.

The next buoy is yellow - either a mooring buoy for large ships or a oil take off buoy - I'm not sure which. It's big! I wonder if this is what is referred to as a 'super buoy'... it certainly appeared to be over the 5m size for a 'super buoy'.

The light on the top has no solar cells so one assumes the power is coming from the shore line - maybe along the oil pipeline.

The next buoy was topped with cormorants and just a rusty box that is used for mooring.

The cormorants are very nervous and always fly off before we get near.

Next was the floating black pipes. These are the hazard I most fear.

Tim said he had nearly sailed into them as well. With any kind of swell they are almost invisible.

The final buoy was a rusting cylinder. Also used for mooring ships. You can see it was originally yellow, though there is almost nothing of the original paint left.

There are more buoys in that area and I will try to chart and photograph them all over time.

Afternoon (Bft 2/3): The afternoon sail towards the north was sailing single handed. I enjoyed that too... although I prefer a crew.

The wind was higher and we [that is Galini, me and God] were sailing along between 5-6 knots SOG which meant that I could open the bailers and empty the boat of water.

It was enjoyable to see that I am now comfortable sailing her alone in light winds - locking the tiller into shock cord and sorting out the boat as we sail. It would be fun to have a autopilot/windvane to allow me longer away from the tiller, but on a small boat its not really necessary. I cannot seem to balance her to sail with tiller locked for more than 15-30 seconds though, she tends then to bear up into the wind. Balancing her slightly off the wind doesn't help as she then bears off with risk of gybe. I guess with a dinghy everything is so closely balanced than very small changes of wind/rudder make significant changes to the balance.

I took her off the mooring buoy [very small red cylinder nothing like the buoys in the morning!] from the boat and sailed off from the buoy. Enjoyable to see I had mastered everything enough to do that single handed without being blown back onto the shore.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

16 November 2008 - Short Sunday Sail

14 Nautical Miles [approx]

Raed couldn't find the GPS so I assumed that we had left it behind... we found it after lunch! The cyan AM track is through Dead Reckoning and the afternoon Yello track from the GPS.

The morning sail was very quiet - not the predicted Bft 2/3, but more like Bft 1/2. Finding fickle wind when there is almost none is pretty difficult. It was a nice gentle sail.

After lunch we helped Tim do some work on his trimaran - he was replacing the furling jib with a wire so that the jib [which is not UV proof] will not get damaged staying up all the time... the jib will be hoisted when he needs it.

After that we went out for a quick sail as the wind had come up. Still not very much but more than the morning - at least Raed was hiking out which is his preferred sailing position, though likes it even more when the waves are splashing over him too!

As we were coming back there were a couple of lasers and an optimist out sailing too. So... because the sky was picturesque we took pictures. The two lasers sailing together looks really nice. The optimist picture is still good, but somehow doesn't have the poignancy of the lasers.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Day Skipper Course - Day 2

I was soooo.... tired... I have worked about 70 hours this week and it was showing in the course. Included in what we went through in the morning was the lights on boats. There are many many combinations of lights to mean many different things. You need a copy of the regs in the boat to decipher them! Andreas had a simple guide: Learn the common ones and for the rest... if it looks like a Christmas tree... stay clear!

We dealt with some chart navigation in the afternoon. Because I was so tired i made a silly mistake on LAT/LON misreading the LON scale by a minute. I know LAT/LON and have used it for years even writing translation algorithms for converting DCW into other formats, so I was kicking myself for making such a stupid mistake.

Then we went on to Mag vs True on compass/GPS. Now, I knew the idea and was hoping for some help in understanding exactly how it worked but Andreas likes mnemonics and I don't remember mnemonics so got totally confused till in the break one of the other guys on the course suggested an alternative way of remembering. Though his way isn't really mine, it will help me to work out a way for me to remember it. Actually for me to remember things I need to know how they work, not just remember the mnemonic... so I need to figure out what the chart actually shows in the compass rose and then it will all makes sense.

Next week should be easier at work so I will be less tired on the course.

Monday, 10 November 2008

GPS with Google Earth

I've had a couple of people ask about how I made the Google Earth images used on my blog.

I use the cheapest, most basic Garmin eTrex GPS unit which I bought in Singapore for not very much. I gather this is now discontinued, but there are other Garmin cheap replacements which will work. Image courtesy of the Garmin website.

I also got the serial port cable that goes with it. I gather there might now be a USB port cable, but I'm using the older serial port cable. I use a mac iBook G4 computer... and though it's a brilliant computer, there is no software I have found that runs on it to download the data. So I use my wifes Windows 2000 machine.

The software I use is DNR Garmin which is written by the Department of Natural Resources at Minnesota University in the USA. Download and install this using the link above.

Connect your eTrex or other GPS unit to the computer using serial or USB cable and then start the DNS Garmin program. By doing it this way round DNS Garmin should automatically find your GPS unit. Then select track and download. With a little bit of luck the program should start downloading all the track data from your GPS.

It can take quite a bit of time to download the data if you are using the serial cable as the transfer is only 9600 baud. So be patient, especially if there is a lot of data to download.

When its all downloaded select save to Google Earth. The option you need is 'Line', not point or polygon. Wait for a while and it will eventually say its saved to 'My places'. The in Google Earth open and, if you want, edit the track. Simple as that... but remember to clear the track data from your GPS otherwise next time it will downlaod the track again.

You can also export points from Google Earth and import into DNR Garmin as Waypoints... which I use. But I'll let you experiment doing that yourself.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

8 November 2008 - Day Skipper Theory - Day 1

I started the Day Skipper Theory Course today [5 Saturdays] with True North Yachting, which meant I couldn't go sailing today. I had hoped to get out sailing tomorrow, but don't have any crew.

The course is good - Andreas is pretty experienced and explains well. I had been worried that I didn't have enough experience for this course, but that is not so. Some of what we covered today I knew already - like most of the rope-work I had known since I was a teenager, some 35+ years!

But some was new and very useful for filling in holes in my knowledge. One of the topics today was especially interesting - that of anchoring. For instance... what to do when wind and waves are not coming from the same direction... the rule that he who arrives last gives way to those who anchored earlier regardless of the sanity of doing so... if you have to drop your anchor, leave a fender on the line and come back for it later.

And what has become my 'tip of the week' on anchoring... if you really want to make an anchor hold [because of strong winds], shackle your secondary anchor about 10 metres after the main on your anchor chain. That is such a good idea and so simple.

I'm really looking forward to this course and doing the practical course after it in January.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

1 November 2008 - unexpected night sail

3o nautical miles

The day started out with light-to-no-wind-at-all and then a safety hiccup that lost us half an hour. The safety issue was that one of the two hand-held radios had not been charged and was low on battery. Galini was doing a long trip and Blue just pottering around for the morning, so it was important that the fully charged radio was on Galini, but it wasn't... so we had to double back and swap radios.

Since the wind was almost non-existent and I was keen for a longish sea trip we motor-sailed for the first 30 minutes then got enough wind for a gentle sail.

Our first waypoint was Cape Pila. This little Garmin etrex is a wonder. You can interface with Google Earth to put in waypoints [probably frowned upon in navigating circles, but I find it pretty accurate]. And then do ETA, ETE calculations on the fly.

I love it... and all $80 or something like that.

The only thing to remember is that sailing to bearings means using the compass not the GPS as the GPS will steer you round not allowing for sailing leeway, tides, currents etc. But on short hops and keeping in mind the potential problems it's a great tool.

The Volvo Ocean has all those sexy mast-top pictures... using no doubt expensive remote controlled cameras.

So... when the winds are light and the sailing fun but not taxing inventiveness comes into play. I took the camera out of its waterproof case, attached a lanyard, removed the topping lift from the boom and used it as a halyard for the camera. No remote control, just a 10 second timer. Quite a few attempts to get one good picture.

Mentioning the Volvo Ocean cannot go without being amazed by the boat/team I'm following on this race - Ericsson 4 - who this week broke the world record for the greatest number of miles sailed by a monohull in 24 hours. The distances was just over 600 miles, which makes an average speed of 25 knots. I'm doing well if I can keep up 5 knots, so they are sailing 5 times the speed of my Galini. Their boat length is 70 feet which means on a displacement hull their maximum speed would be just over 11 knots... so they must have been planing the hull to get that speed.

As we pass Cape Pila the winds get up. This is the sailing Raed loves, bouncing through the waves with him hiking out holding on by his toes. The waves are steep and choppy and reduce as we get away from the cape. Actually it's not as windy as all that, maybe Bft 3 only. But fun fast sailing at last.

The most dangerous thing is all the fishing stuff... many of the fishermen don't do their buoys very well so you are bound to nearly hit a bamboo cane sticking up form some invisible [black] buoy. Occasionally they might also have a [nearly invisible] black flag on the end of the bamboo cane.

Eventually we reach our destination... well, the backup destination. Had it been Bft 3 all the way we wanted to try to get to Agia Napa, but with light winds we made it to Potamos.

Potamos is a lovely little fishing harbour. We moored in a bay overlooked by a restaurant, which was closed since its out of season.

Yes, I know I should have flaked and lashed the main sail to make it 'Bristol fashion' but we only had time for a very short break to eat half of our lunch as we were running late already. We'd eaten the first half just before the cape.

The entrance to the harbour is very shallow - a MacGregor started to come in then thought better of it and reversed out. He obviously had a depth guage - we don't! We scraped an underwater rock with the end of our centreboard on the way out. Yes, its very shallow!

I set a course that was as close to the cliffs as was safe. Sailing close to the cliffs would mean we had less miles to sail... the shortest possible route. It was interesting to see how the waves had eroded the cliffs so there were caves and overhangs all the way up to the cape.

The wind was dropping as we sailed back to Cape Pila so I had to motor sail the last mile. I hoped as we turned the point I could sail the rest of the way as it should be a direct run and have more speed.

As we turned the point we set the waypoint for the club and the bearing was such that a direct goose-wing run would be ideal. But sadly the wind dropped so we motor sailed. Eventually the wind dropped totally and so we furled the sail, hoisted the boom to the mast to and then lashed it there to get it out of the way an motored back.

What this all meant was that I had misjudged timing and we had the most beautiful sunset over the sea with Larnaca in the background. Yes God does make some really beautiful sights. I'm sure He must enjoy them as much as we do.

What threw me was the hour change from summer to winter time so sunset was an hour earlier than it was the previous week. That having been said, it was still later than I had planned.

But... after sunset... night. So we topped up the engine with fuel while it was still light and got everything ready for a night motor back to the club.

Navigating by night with the etrex is not too difficult. It has a 20 second illumination setting so holding it in your hand you can check your course. And just to make it easier you can set it up to tell you where to steer for the waypoint... Right 7 degrees... Left 4 degrees and so on.

Just in case you are thinking about the stupidity of using flash photography to ruin the helms night vision let me explain the photo. It was taken with flash before it was actually dark. The flash makes the foreground comparatively lighter and the background simulated night. So... no I would not be stupid enough to ruin my night sight for 15 minutes just to get a photo.

You can actually see which lights on the shore are roughly on the correct bearing and then sail for that, just checking with the GPS. In the case of Larnaca Nautical Club there are a number of oil storage tanks about half a mile south and these are very well illuminated so sailing to the club from about 5 miles out is pretty easy.

Night motoring was really fun. It would do it again, but would prepare the boat for it... have torches ready and preferably navigation lights on the mast. But... it was very enjoyable and something I would like to do again.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

28 October 2008 - following the offshore racing

14 nautical miles

I set out in the opposite direction today - south rather than north or east. The wind was light - very light - Bft 2 much of the day.

Almost nobody from the nautical club was out sailing. As we arrived the kayaks were just coming in, but it looks like we were the only people out sailing today. We... that is Raed was my crew again today.

Going south from the nautical club always concerns me somewhat as there are a couple of plastic pipes floating in the water among the buoys for taking off oil/gas/petrol. The pipes do have marker buoys, but the pipes are black and not very visible so I am always concerned that I will miss it and sail into one of them. I'm not sure if I will do Galini or the pipes more damage. Either way I don't want to find out. If the pipes were white or orange they would be much clearer to see and less dangerous.

As we passed the port entrance light to the commercial harbour I noticed that the port light was protected by an inordinate amount of barbed wire, yet the starboard light appeared almost unprotected.

Changing the bulb for the port entrance light would be a major task - getting over all that barbed wire.

Passing the harbour breakwater I remarked how many yachts there were out sailing today.

The wind was pushing us along at about 3 knots... not exactly exciting sailing, but the water was smooth and it looked like it would be a very enjoyable sail. We swapped helming back and forth so it was good experience for Raed. I remember a couple of years back - what you need is just many many hours of helming.

Coming alongside the first yacht [which was obviously the back of the fleet] we found that there was a race for the Larnaca Offshore Sailing Club... 'We're number one', they told us. So we tagged along to see where they were going.

Strange... we overtook them with no trouble, yet they are a much bigger boat than us, but Galini has always sailed well in light winds. Now I see she sails faster than yachts double her size.

Leaving 'Number One' in the distance we caught up with Summer Wine, a Moody 38. Now this is a beautiful yacht. Modern, but classic.

She wasn't quite as easy to pass, but we did and then for the next few miles it was interesting watching where she tacked and where we tacked to stay clear of the airport. We were slowly pulling away from her.

Looking at the waypoints on the GPS I wondered if we would get to Cape Kiti - we got to about 4.5 miles from the cape but the wind was so light it would have taken us nearly two hours to sail there... two hours back and...

Over the airport a dark cloud base was forming. I thought I heard a murmur of thunder, but it could have been a jet taking off. I keep a careful eye on the clouds.

I get a phone call from a friend at the airport saying that he had driving though showers coming up to Larnaca from Limassol and wondered if we had any rain yet. No, not yet...

We head on south taking a big tack out to see if we can get a line down to the cape.

We are overtaken by our first yacht - a Beneteau First 31 - another terrific looking yacht. Small and sleek. That is something about the size I would like.

As we tack in towards the coast we see the clouds creating an amazing stripe effect with the sun over a dredger working at the southern end of the airport. Today is 'Ohi Day' - a public holiday so its slightly strange to see people working today.

On the tack back out I start the Japanese assistant - we have not had enough speed for the self-bailers to take the water out. So I motor sail for about 10 minutes to get up enough speed to clear the water out from the bilges. I think I could do with a manual bilge pump for next year.

We'd heard all the race chat on channel 72, but since neither of us speak any Greek it was all incomprehensible... the only words understood being 'committee boat... committee boat...'.

But, we spot the marker buoy they are all turning around so guess what is happening from that.

Don't ask me why the yacht on the right is sailing so far past the buoy! I know there is a penalty for hitting the buoy, but that is being a bit over careful.

A ketch motors up to past the buoy - getting closer to us than I would like - we're sailing, they're motoring, we have right of way! The skipper [sailing solo with no crew] yells something about playing with the other yachts and gets his jib up, but a few minutes later takes it down again and motors back.

The other yacht launches its spinnaker. I'm not sure how experienced they were with spinnakers - it collapses many times and the pole doesn't look set right - but I cannot talk I have never sailed with a spinnaker!

Sea Quest on the other hand has a beautifully set spinnaker. However, goosewinged we overtake her. Time to put on a waterproof as I sense rain might be on its way and its easier to put it on under the buoyancy aid while the sea is calm and sailing easy.

I phone Roy [who has a flat on the sea just north of Mackenzie Beach] and Raed waves to him. He goes for his binoculars and then tells me I need a shave!

In the middle of the call, the wind changes, backing the genoa which is goosewinged, so I quickly close the call and tend to the boat.

We hear a thunder clap and see lightning over the airport. Definitely time to make for home. No, we didn't manage to catch the lightning in the photo. And no, it didn't hit the plane!

The Beneteau is also goosewinging it back - I kind of like their idea for holding the boom out to stop an accidental gybe... but I'm not sure how safe it is! I would have thought a line from the end of the boom to the pulpit would be safer.

When goosewinging I try to keep it so that the main is held out solid and the genoa is on the edge, so I watch the genoa for any signs of luffing as an indicator to bear off very slightly.

We overhaul them slowly. Of course I have an advantage - I have pulled up my centreboard, which they cannot do with their keel.

The light is really strange by now - thunder and rain on one side, light overcast where we are and sunshine in the distance.

The rain eventually catches us and out come the waterproofs on the yachts. With the rain, we get an increase in the wind and suddenly we're doing 5 knots or more... goosewinged... gusting and the whole rig rattles with each gust... back through the plastic pipes which are now very close to invisible in the darkening sea!

I must find out what to do with gusts when you are sailing goosewinged. You cannot easily bear into the wind or spill wind...

All in all it was a very enjoyable sail.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

25 October 2008 - Larnaka -> Dhekelia -> Pila -> Larnaka

25 nautical miles

Wind... what wind? It started off with almost no wind so... sunbathing on a sailboat weather. The water was almost like glass, with just the faintest ripples on the surface.

We motored out for about half a mile to get clear of the kayaks that were practicing at the club and then... while I slept with my hand on the tiller... Raed sat on the foredeck and took pictures.

Actually we tried sailing without a rudder as this is something I wanted to try... we failed...

We just went round and round in circles... and then sailed backwards! When we got back I talked with Nikos about this - apparently you need to put more weight on the leeward side to come up to the wind and more weight on the windward side to bear away from the wind.

When the wind did come up a little we sailed off towards Dhekelia sailing club. Raed was helming most of the way - he helmed about one third of the sail today. We did about three knots on the way over there, and it was really enjoyable sailing.

But almost nobody was out sailing from Dhekelia Club save one lone bosun. We really liked the bright blue sails of the Bosun...

Apparently the Bosun dinghies were designed for the British navy. The crew sailing her explained this and said they were very heavy. Heavy means sturdy and sturdy means the navy probably cannot break it!

Heavy? Well... without much difficulty we could sail around it.

As the wind was increasing we then sailed off towards Pila - my target had been to get round Cape Pila and into Potomas. But the wind was too light for that.

Since the wind was light and Raed was helming I played with the GPS and learnt how to set complete routes - not just navigation to waypoints. Also to set the fields to display things that are more helpful for sailing than the default fields.

En route we passed an absolutely massive mooring buoy for the tankers that come in to the power station.

We saw PILA 1 buoy in the distance and it looked like it was close to Cape Pila, but in fact its at least a mile or more from the Cape.

There are three PILA buoys in a line on the southern side of the cape. I would like to have a chart so that I can see what they are supposed to indicate.

We passed Cape Pila and could see Agia Napa in the distance. It was about 5 nautical miles, so on a day with good wind it would be just about possible to sail to Agia Napa and back in a day.

But time was against us today [it being after 2pm] so we turned and made for home, passing PILA 2 buoy on the way back.

I wonder what the little entrance is for. Could someone sleep on the buoy?

Memo to self... remember to clean the lens of the camera case with fresh water. The salt water smears are what makes some parts of these photos less than pin sharp.

Whenever I am out on the water I am inspired by the beauty of it. I think God must really like water - two thirds of the earth surface is water.

I look at the sun glistening off the water and my mind is taken to the Son who created it all. God you are amazing!