Sunday, 28 September 2008

28 September 2008 - Sailing over HMS Cricket

19 nautical miles
On the way to the club we saw a mast for what looked like a pretty big yacht - actually I should say really big yacht. So we went hunting, but it was in the commercial harbour so we couldn't see her. So, I thought, lets take a look by sea. The aim then was to sail out from the cub and then tack across in front of the harbour and run back to the club by 11:30 to help Sheila into the water.

But... the wind was too light, so we got out to about the place to tack across to the harbour by 11:00, which meant there wasn't time to even sail back by 11:30 - the GPS was showing over an hour sailing back. So we flaked the sail and tied it to the boom, brought out the outboard and motored back in 30 minutes. The outboard runs really well when the sea is very calm. Which is what I want it for - running back when the wind drops and motoring into difficult places like Potamos.

After helping Sheila into the water the aim then became to try for Cape Pila or Potamos as it felt like the wind had come up quite a bit. However, we were still sailing at only 3-4 knots so there was no chance and diverted to sail over HMS Cricket. Which we did.

Had a bite to eat on the way and then went about and sailed back. The wind was a little fresher, so thought we might be able to get over the commercial harbour and see the yacht, but didn't happen again, so came into the club.

Pity not the see the really big yacht, but it was a very enjoyable day sailing. Windguru said it was Bft 1 in the early morning, Bft 2 late morning and Bft3 in the afternoon. The new position for the topping lift worked much better, meant we could easily [relatively] flake the sail out on the water and motor in... and unflake and sail off from a buoy back at the club.

Oh, and... yes, those are my feet in the first picture - I'm sitting our on the foredeck with my right foot locked under the kicking strap treating it like a hiking strap. But having the weight that far forward makes Galini dig in a little, so not recommended for long periods of time!

And... you can just see the engine in its sailing position - with the screw suspended under the front starboard seat and the engine itself secured under the thwart. It makes is slightly more difficult for the crew going about as the handle sticks out a little. I shall have to think about the engine position in the future, but having the screw suspended means that its away from the hull, where it could damage the hull and not sitting on the floorboards where it could damage to the screw itself.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

27 September 2008 - Gale warning?

10 nautical miles
Today I went sailing with Ruth - the table shows what Windguru predicted. Yes, that's pretty blowy for a small dinghy. So we made an early start, hoping for the early morning inshore calm, being down at the club just after 9am and having helped Sheila on the water we got out ourselves.

We tried reefing on the water and failed. Actually we broke a block fixing to the boom! It almost worked, but the extra stress with the reefing line going through two eyes made it impossible to get enough tension on it. So we sailed back to the club, reefed while attached to a buoy and then went out again.

The main problem with the wind was the gusting - in itself it wasn't very strong, but the gusts were very powerful indeed. I think the red bar in the Windfinder chart shows the gusting at one point - which shows Bft 2 gusting Bft 5+. Which is about what it felt like, and being cruisers we had reefed for the gusts not the average, so were underpowered while sailing normally.

Regardless of what the chart says, the wind was mostly directly offshore from the club ie westerly or nor-westerly... except when it was playing with us and at almost any other point of the compass. So the game was, we could see the gusts coming, but we had no idea from which direction the wind would appear to be when it hit us!

While we were out Cyprus coastguard put out an 'all ships' gale warning so we sailed for home. Having the radios really helps to hear what is going on and communicate with others.

The wind was changing direction pretty dramatically too. So sailing back to the club we were only making about 3 knots. Still it was a very enjoyable sail.

As normal we got pretty wet with all the spray coming off the waves and Ruth's comment to that, 'At least the water here is warm'. It certainly is still warm at this time of the year.

We had three problems today:
  • The main halyard has been catching in the topping lift. I had put the block for the topping lift just where the mast starts to taper. However, this meant that the main sail while being hauled up or re-hauled up after shaking out a reef tends go get caught in the topping lift. So later in the day we moved the topping lift to the very top of the mast. Hopefully that will fix the problem.
  • We repaired the block for the reefing line which was the second problem (as I already mentioned). That's still not good a good solution and I will have to think of a better one later. What I really want is something that is relatively easy to do while on the sea and sailing... especially when its blowing hard and you need the reefing.
  • The third problem was the reefing line when pulled in dangled and got caught in the genoa sheet. I will add a bag to the boom for the reefing line.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

20 September 2008 - Wind... lots of it!

4 nautical miles
I went out with Stuart today - only the morning for a couple of hours as he couldn't do more. In fact since he had a operation a little while ago, it proved a couple of hours was about right.

The forecast was for Bft 2 in the morning gaining to Bft 4 in the afternoon. So I expected a quiet and pleasant sail. As soon as we got going I handed the helm to Stuart and crewed for him. The wind was brisk and I was hiking out as far as I could go... my calves being more used than normal they will show how underused they normally are in the next few days!

It was a really fun sail. To me the wind seemed good, but not that strong. When we got back there was discussion about the wind. I still thought it was about Bft 2/3, but Neil and Stuart both thought stronger. They were right! It was actually metered as Bft 5 most of the time we were sailing, rising up to Bft 6 in the afternoon.

BUT... looking at the Beaufort scale [care of the WIT site] I'm really not sure this description matches what we experienced:

Moderate waves, taking a more pronounced long form. Many white caps, some spray
Light dinghies have to ease sheets in heavier gusts.

Neil and Paula reefed their Laser 16, but we had full main and genoa and I was able to hold her level by hiking out almost all of the time. Maybe it was Stuart's experience as a helm [though he claimed not to have sailed for 12 years]. I would have said the sea conditions as 'Large wavelets, crests begin to break. Perhaps scattered white caps' which is Bft 3.

What was interesting about the wind was that although it was strong it was not that gusty and the waves were pretty small. There have been times when I have been out before when the conditions where a lot more turbulent, but the wind speed lower.

In the afternoon I came back and watched the end of the Larnaca Sailing Club offshore yacht race [had been offered a place crewing on this, but couldn't do it as I had something on later]. I saw the 'tail end charlies' go through. Interesting to see how they sailed, and really wished I could have helmed a yacht to see how well I could do. One of them seemed to be not pointing enough so was leaning well over and looking over canvanced... and another seemed to have its genoa out of control so was not using the extra power as much as it could. Since it was Bft 6, I would have expected a lot more speed. Of course its much easier to say all this from dry land!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

16 Sep 2008 - Captain Chrysis and the case of the dragging anchor

7 nautical miles
This afternoon I had a simply glorious sail with Chrysis in his Congor. We set out about 2:30. He gave me the helm straight away. I hadn't sailed a Congor before and the first thing to learn was that the mainsheet locks by pulling up and releases by pulling down - the opposite to other cleated mainsheets I had used. Clever German engineering. Very clever and very simple. But like having the indicator and windscreen wiper on the opposite side when you drive, many mistakes happening when I wanted to release and actually locked the main sheet!

To start with I was making no headway at all against the wind as the track shows. Oh and I had the helm for most of it even though the pictures are all of Chrysis. They're nice pictures so I include them anyway.

It felt to me like the waves were heavy but the wind light. Not really seen conditions like that before but... well, this is Limassol not Larnaca. Seemed like Bft 2 or so. Pretty calm, but the waves pushing us about a little.

We kept going and I slackened the jib and main - to try to go faster rather than make more direction to windward. Strangely this seemed to allow us to go more to windward too. So we began to tack up the coast.

Every time we went about it was ever so slowly. So I showed Chrysis backing the jib to make us go round... but even that seemed to happen in slow motion.

The Congor as a lovely boat - almost a mini-yacht in some ways. There is a small cuddy at the front with almost two berths. Plus loads and loads of very accessible storage. The engineering for the jib is also very clever German stuff, with loads of extra wires and ropes... which all do their stuff.

Suddenly, the wind starts to drop so I immediately bear off and head for home. We use the spinnaker pole as a whisker pole on the jib and goose-wing it. Up comes the centreboard [which is lead weighted by the way]... and still she is sluggish. I put all the sluggishness down to heavier boat with weighted centreboard, weighted rudder etc.

But then we spot it. All this time the anchor chain with grapnel anchor attached is off the port site about 2 metres below the surface. We have been sailing all afternoon dragging an anchor through the water!

As we get back to the shore, Chrysis takes over the helm and I get a chance for some photos. All in all a very enjoyable sail.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

13 September 2008 - Almost no wind

17.6 nautical miles

The wind was very very light today. We sailed from approx 10:30am till approx 16:00 pm. Windguru reckons we were Bft 2 when we started off, but the sea was actually almost like a mill pond... barely steerage way. I actually hooked the outboard up and thought about motoring out to start with. We picked up a little and go about 3 knots speed. But the sea state was still very very flat.

My target had been to get round Cape Pila to Potamos. But with so little wind there was no chance. It was also slightly misty, so I was sailing off the GPS with waypoints for Cape Pila and returning off the club. Looking at the track you can see a curve. I am thinking that I really need to find a way to mount the compass and sail off a heading and monitor the direction to waypoint rather than sailing directly towards a waypoint.

Cyprus Meteo shows a similar but maybe slightly lighter wind speed. Certainly the 10:00-11:00 is credible for what we experienced.

My crew for the day was Micalis. He has never sailed before but just 'liked being out on the water'. It was a great day. I really enjoyed it.

I had also fitted a topping lift to the boom. This made getting the main sail up much easier as the main was not getting caught by the tiller. When we came back we flaked the main sail over the boom and tied it. Not something to do in a blow as the dinghy moves around quite a bit. It was not as neat as my normal method for flaking it. I will have to try and work out new method for this. Doesn't really behave like the main on a yacht!

We then tried out the outboard, since it had come back from being serviced. It ran much better and pushed Galini along at approx 3-4 knots with throttle at 50-70% into the waves. Increasing throttle increased noise but not speed. It was maybe 1/2 knot faster going with the waves, again increase in throttle made no difference to speed. I locked the outboard and steered with the tiller/rudder.