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.

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