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.