Monday, 2 February 2009

1 Feb 09 - Second day practical Day Skipper

29 nautical miles
Day two the weather was much kinder to us - some rain to start with but really nice sailing weather for the rest of the day.

The first exercise Andreas showed was maneuvering the boat in the marina - both turning and coming alongside a fuel pontoon. I had been really looking forward to this as controlling a yacht inside a marina was something I had no experience with. The propwalk behaved exactly as described in all the books I had read, and with little wind affecting the hull I would be confident to control a yacht around the marina now.

When we got out from the marina to start with we sailed with full main and genoa, but then changed to fully reefed main and half genoa after about 45 minutes.

The first exercise on the sea was man overboard. Andreas made it look so simple - first we put the boat into 'hove to' position, start the engine, head downwind for eight boat lengths then come up toward the man overboard till we are alongside.

For the exercise, we were using a rope tied to a fender - which meant we had to come exactly alongside to pick up with the boat hook rather than a few metres away for safety and use a line to the man overboard.

To the right you can see Andreas example of how to do it.

Next Michalis did it and looked almost smoother than Andreas. His attempt is shown on the left. Smooth and clean.

OK, so how difficult is this... I was about to find out! My turn was next.

My first attempt, we 'hove to', no problem with that, I have done it many times in the dinghy, then furled the genoa, started the engine and headed downwind...

No... I didn't quite head downwind... in the thinking about the man overboard I was forgetting tiller/wheel and steered the wrong way for a bit in a broad reach rather than downwind run. Then I came up too fast to the man overboard, so went round for another attempt.

The second attempt was much better and would have be possible to rescue the man overboard if it had been a real man overboard as we were about 2-3 metres away and could have thrown an line. However it was too far for a boat hook so we went round again and picked it up correctly this time.

As Andreas explained, a lot of this is related to boat handling as much as the picking up a man overboard.

Both True North and True North 2 were out today - were were on True North and this is a photo of True North 2, a larger boat than the one we were on and made by Bavaria Yachts and... very new... just a few weeks old. Its main job is to be available for charters whereas the one we are on will be maintained for RYA training courses.

The aim for the rest of the day was to go through all the points of sailing and to practice tacking and gybeing... but it turned out to be a mini-race between the two yachts. A little competition never hurts to make people keen to do it better!

Just being out on the water, helming a 40 foot yacht was so wonderful. I think Andreas must be blessed to be paid to spend his time in such and enjoyable way. I think I might have had a different choice of career if I chose now!

The recommended way for gybeing is to bring the main to centre, gybe and then let out again. On the dinghy I would just hold the main sheets near the boom to control the gybe. However, I have both centre and end sheeting on the boom so controlling is not that easy. This seemed a better technique even for a dinghy so I will try this when I am on on Galini next.

We sailed past a ship with a fast deploy life boat. Now those do sound fun to be in... not! Andreas thought it was the munitions ship that the Americans had apprehended and suspected of arms running to Gaza. Now sitting 'under arrest' or something like that, in Limassol bay. There is a lot in the news about this, but here is one link:

But I have a credibility problem... you see... some friends of mine took a 30 foot catamaran to take medical supplies to Gaza. They were stopped by the Israeli navy. How on earth could a ship the size of the one in the photo ever get into Palestine without the Israeli navy knowing? Even a small 20 motor yacht was rammed by the Israeli navy taking in aid supplies. It just doesn't make sense. Something is very strange about this story!

But the race is still on... as we grab a bite to eat, True North 2 comes up and overtakes us.

There are shouts between the two boats. Most in Greek so I didn't understand. Of course they are a bigger boat so they should go faster... and of course we are taking a lunch break... and of course they might be cheating somehow...

It is beautiful sailing weather. Tacking up close to the shore we manage to overtake them.

This course is reminding me very much of my TV Conversion Course many, many years ago at the BBC. I had worked in radio and was confident in my abilities in radio - that didn't mean I was perfect and I knew I still had loads to learn, but then I moved to TV and so did a TV Conversion Course. Mostly it was the same but... different. Well that's how I feel about the Day Skipper Course. The yacht behaves the same as the dinghy but... different.

I know that sailing the dinghy I still have a lot to learn, but I'm confident to get us from place A to place B without any problems... but I spend my time kicking myself on the yacht when, because I am so used to a tiller, I move the wheel the wrong way, or when I just cannot seem to feel the wind in the same way I do on the dinghy... or cannot read the leech of the sail in the same way as the dinghy. What I need to find is a tame yacht owner who will invite me out to spend days with them on the yacht.

One thing that was strange was coiling ropes. Actually it was coiling ropes that first made me think of the TV Conversion Course similarity. I have been coiling ropes and cables for maybe 35 years now. At times coiling more than 50 cables in a day. More than 99% of the cables I coil are right handed lay, like right handed lay ropes, so back all those years I was taught to let the lay fall under your thumb... in other words a right handed lay rope would be coiled with your right hand.

Now modern synthetic ropes don't really have a lay so you can coil them either way and for most people, I gather, who are right handed, coiling as if they were left hand lay would be easier. Ah... but... not if you have been coiling right handed cables without having to think about it for 35 years. My hands just refused to do it as they should and so I still coil ropes as if they are right hand lay, much to Andreas horror, but he's tolerant of my idiosyncrasies.

Then I thought about all the little conversion things... I'm really enjoying this course, but I frequently feel like a total idiot, not able to do easily what I can confidently do in the dinghy... much like I felt 30 years ago on my TV Conversion Course trying to operate a TV boom. Of course it came with time and practice as I am sure it will with the yacht sailing.

Finally we turn and broad reach all the way back, gybeing on the turns. In theory it would have been almost a deadwind run, but we were reefed on main and genoa so broad reaching and gybeing is much safer. Here's Michalis at the helm. Just from his face you can see how enjoyable this course is.

Want to join us? True North Yachting RYA Training Centre.

No comments: