Saturday, 29 August 2009

29 August 2009 - Finikoudes and back

10 nautical miles

This was going to be the longer sail we were preparing for a couple of days ago, but then Beth felt slightly sea sick and Miriam decided to come instead and then there would be four adults in the boat which was too many and so would make two short trips and then... Chris went with Neil and Paula so could be longer trip... but Chris and Judith and Miriam didn't have packed lunch so couldn't make it longer trip...

Eventually we headed out and as soon as possible I handed over the helm to Judith so she could have a chance sailing. We tacked back and forth a little and then met up with Blue and decided to sail to Finikoudes and back.

Judith was doing very well, in fact so well Paula, who was helming Blue, thought that I was helming expected me to sail round her on approach to Larnaka port, but we were on starboard tack and leeward boat, so we were stand-on and got close and then both of us tacked off...

I took the helm past the port and marina and then Miriam took the helm for a bit as we sailed in towards the old fort.

I took over just before we turned into a downwind run back towards the club. We managed to get the whisker pole out and were running well, but the waves were increasing so we were rolling slightly and Miriam began to find the motion upsetting, so we changed to broad-reaching back and met up with Blue on the final reach back to the club.

An enjoyable morning sail.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

12 nautical miles
Today was a sort of afternoon training sail for Saturday. I took out Chris and Judith first and then Beth and Bob. Chris was my best friend at school and Beth his daughter... the rest of the names just complicate it. Oh well...

The track is just from the second time out with Bob and Beth... or should it be Beth and Bob? Slowing getting everything back to normal on the boat [like the GPS].

Then photos of Judith are not flattering, so you'll have to make do with the youngsters! Judith sailed Galini. She had sailed a Norfolk Broads yacht some years ago - but the broads are flat and the boats slow and not so lively as a Wayfarer.

Anyhow, I took Chris and Judith out first and then came back and took out Bob and Beth. The wind was light [Bft 3 dropping to Bft 2] so I let Beth try sailing Galini. She has coxed a rowing boat at Oxford University, so the left right reverse steering of a rudder is not toally new to her.

Then... the clip on the rear buoyancy holding the main sheet to the hull broke. It had broken when we went over, and obviously the repair wasn't as good as I hoped. So I took over the helm, put is hove to and sorted it out.

Then it was Bob's turn. Bob had never sailed before or coxed a rowing boat so he was at a disadvantage, but did really well.

They were both doing so well we goose-wing ran downwind [with me helming now] and gybed her round, tacked back and brought her out of the water. A great afternoon sail.

And I was trying out the new camera that Chris and Judith brought out after the other one was lost after the capsize. Here is some of the video recorded this afternoon.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Teaching sailing in Galini

Through the summer I have been teaching four kids to sail. I've written a little about it... and will write some more when I can get the booklet I wrote for them uploaded for others to use... but anyway Tuesdays and Thursdays I have had two kids in two Optimists. This week, however, the two older ones were away on a camp leaving the younger ones. But... Jacob fell out of bed 4 days ago and cut his face really badly needing steristrips to hold the cut together.

So I decided for two reasons it would be better for them both to come out with me in my boat. One of the reasons [maybe obviously, but maybe not after the capsize] is that my boat is dryer and safer and less likely for Jacob to get the wound wet or reopen it up.

The other reason is that Nicole is having problems sensing where the wind is. For the last week or so whenever anyone is about we say to her 'Nicole, where's the wind coming from?' She then points and indicates where she can sail and where she cannot.

What we could do on my boat was discuss wind direction while we were sailing. I also discovered a new exercise that worked extremely well... getting them to sail with their eyes closed, just feeling the wind. Nicole was great at that and sailed better with eyes closed than open. Of course, not something to do sailing alone!

Nicole admitted she prefers sailing in a bigger boat - being a social person like me she prefers the group interaction. You can see it on her face!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Finally back on the water

Approx 5 nautical miles
I went down to the club in the morning and Tim joined me to try and fix the last few things on the boat. Last Sunday Tim [my son, not the Tim I sail with] brought out a some things I needed for the boat to repair it - a couple of cleats with fairleads and a bow plate were the main things. The bow plate got damaged in towing I would guess since it doesn't have the strength to be towed by...

During the week I had been down [with Tim] a few times doing repairs. In the process I had removed the floor boards and found the cleat that had come off the track, but having ordered new one I didn't replace it. The holes from the old track needed filling. I did it initially with gelcoat filler, but that didn't go off properly [too old] and so used some of the glue Tim's daughter brought back from South Africa. That worked very well, and in fact when it came to bolting in the new cleats I found I couldn't get the nuts on the end, so glued the bolts into the hull itself.

The amazing glue was also used to repair the tiller. But when we came on Saturday to refix the uphaul for the rudder, the rope wouldn't go through. Tim and I must have spent an hour or more trying to feed it through till we realised that the centre plate of the rudder had moved and the rope would never thread through... some gentle persuasion and the plate moved [and was then screwed in place] and the rope went through easily!

Tim decided that my 'There's only one more thing to do...' was nearly as bad as my 'I won't be long...' cry to my wife. There were many 'only one more things' to do. It took us all morning to get the boat back into a sailable state.

Then we were too dehyraded to sail so went off the club for a drink. Cool refreshing water melon also helped and we went out for a short trip round the bay. We tested everything and checked the boat at all points of sailing from close hauled to goose wing running... and even checked out the motor. Hmmm... motor... now that was expensive to get repaired... very expensive.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Post mortem

Chatted with the skipper of the Dhekelia rescue boat that came out to right my boat and found that with a fresh crew they attempted and failed three times to right the boat and eventually towed it to the shore capsized, so it would have been highly unlikely that we could have righted the boat in that sea state. He therefore felt I had made the right call.

Sadly the camera has been lost, as has been my hand bearing compass. One of the cleats for the genoa is also lost [that is strange, they are almost impossible to move] and the bow plate broken so the standing rigging is no longer secured.

Other than that the boat is in pretty good shape.

Saturday 8 August 2009 -- Mayday!

22 nautical miles
Not my favourite experience to recall, but I must say the emergency services were excellent. I wish it had been an exercise rather than 'for real'. Here's the report to the Marine Accident Investigation Division of the Department of Merchant Shipping:
Incident relating to open boat Galini: a 16 ft Wayfarer. Saturday 8 August 2009.

Skipper: Richard - 4 years sailing experience, approx 1100 sea miles mostly in open boats in Cyprus waters. In 2009 studied for and passed RYA Day Skipper theory and practical.
Crew: Skipper, crew A and crew B all adults and crew C 11 year old son of crew A, who I have been teaching to sail during the summer of 2009. Crew A has diabetes and knowing him well understood this to be under control. Crew B was a friend of crew A and this was a day sail as a gift for crew B. All the crew were wearing 50N buoyancy aids appropriate for open boat sailing in inshore waters. I was also carrying a serrated safety knife on a lanyard attached to my buoyancy aid.

We left Larnaca Nautical Club at approx 10:00, two open boats Galini and Saga sailing to Cape Pyla and back. Both boats had marine band handheld radios and we were using channel 11 for inter-boat communication. Conditions were moderate and crew C helmed for most of the first 1.5 hour towards Capy Pyla. During this time I noticed a sluggishness in crew A that concerned me and I asked if he was OK. He tested his blood sugar which was very low and he then ate some fruit which he said would replenish his blood sugar.

I took over the helm as we approached Cape Pyla and in communication with Saga we decided to turn back and find somewhere to beach the boats and have lunch. We turned just after the Pyla 1, 2, 3 buoy line. There was further deterioration in the condition of crew A and so I placed him in the bottom of the boat where if he did pass out he would be safe. I looked at Romanzos as a safe haven but decided that getting in there with the sea state as it was would be unwise and then proceeded to Dhekelia Sailing Club, where I also knew there would be medical back up if needed. Crew A started to vomit, which I assumed just to be sea sickness, but later discovered was related to his diabetic condition and not sea sickness.

I tried to make contact with our partner boat, but was unable to. I later discovered they had a battery problem with their marine band handheld radio. We tacked back a couple of times and then ran into the Dhekelia Sailing Club bay, gybed and came round and picked up the tripping line. I got the crew on shore and crew ate lunch and in particular crew A recovered, he re-tested his blood sugar, which I was told was then OK.

The wind rose from Bft 4 to Bft 5 over lunch and I watched the wind gauge at the club, and also watched carefully a smaller Laser dinghy from Dhekelia Sailing Club go out. The conditions appeared to be very similar to those I have sailed in before, in particular the conditions of the previous Saturday. I therefore decided it was OK to sail back to Larnaca. Crew C and I reefed and prepared the boat for the sail back. As is my normal practice when the wind is more than Bft 3 I attached my marine band handheld to my body, so that if we get into difficulties the radio would be with me and not the boat.

The wind had moved to South-South-West, so we would have to sail close hauled into the wind the whole way. As we tacked back I had problems with crew B. Firstly wanting to relieve himself and then having problems understanding the basic instructions to change sides of the boat when we tacked. Repeatedly I was getting 'Where am I supposed to go?'

At approx 16:00 we were at our final or near final tack to get back to the Larnaca Sailing Club and as we tacked we caught a wave and went over, within a few seconds the boat went 180 degrees. In previous sailing experiences in Bft 5 with experienced or inexperienced crew even if we have taken water on board we have not capsized. Generally the Wayfarer has proved itself a very seaworthy boat.

I later heard from crew A that on this particular tack crew B had remained in his seat on the wrong side of the boat and had not changed sides at all. When we started to capsize because of the wave his extra weight on the wrong side of the boat and even then not moving his body exacerbated the problem and took us over to 180 degrees. Crew A grabbed crew B who was in danger of being trapped under the boat and dragged him free.

I have a 'masthead buoyancy' system as recommended by the RYA for open sea sailing and this should prevent or reduce the possibility of going 180 degrees. Because it appeared to have failed and bringing a boat back from 180 degrees can be difficult I tried to get assistance by first calling Larnaca Nautical Club on channel 16 and Dhekelia Sailing Club on channel 8. Neither responded. After a few minutes the masthead buoyancy did work bringing the boat to 90 degrees. I therefore tried to right the boat by climbing onto the hull/centreboat, but slipped and went under.

I realised that having been sailing for over 5 hours the entire crew were weary and that being in the water everyone was using up energy. Because of my concerns for crew A, and being unable to make contact with my partner boat or either sailing club I decided to make it a Mayday call: I was worried that if crew A did use up too much energy his blood sugar would drop and he would become unconscious, where a buoyancy aid would not help him. I therefore called Mayday on channel 16 and RCC answered almost immediately. The marine police arrived within approx 15 minutes and they rescued crew C [child], crew A [diabetic], crew B and finally me. They were very professional and very good.

Dhekelia Sailing Club then sent out their rescue boat and tried to right Galini, but in the conditions found they could not so towed her and beached her north of the Lordos Beach Hotel, where we later recovered her with the Larnaca Nautical Club rescue boat.

Things learnt from this event:
1) Inexperienced crew (crew B) who fail to follow simple instructions can become a significant liability in sea states that might otherwise be sail-able.
2) Masthead buoyancy did eventually bring the boat back to 90 degrees, but took a few minutes to do so. Had the crew been less weary then we might have been able to self-rescue.
3) The bright orange 40 litre balloon of the masthead buoyancy assisted the emergency services in locating the boat.
4) Having the marine band handheld radio attached to my body made it easy to call for assistance.
This is the Secumar Masthead Buoyancy unit inflated with a 30cm ruler alongside to show size.

It took a few minutes [difficult to estimate but probably between 3 and 5 minutes] to bring the boat to 90 degrees, which would have been too long had a crew member been entrapped below the boat inverted. However, the Wayfarer does have a significant air pocket when inverted.

This photo shows the masthead buoyancy unit deflated, also with a 30cm ruler, which shows it has little impact on the sailing ability of the boat.

There was very little water entered into the rear buoyancy tank of the Wayfarer - maybe half a litre - which showed the seal on the tank still to be good. I don't have test gear for this seal, so it was kind of a baptism by fire, but the Wayfarer did stay buoyant throughout.

The wind was Bft 5 for the afternoon and gusting, but pretty similar to normal wind conditions for Cyprus in August and very similar to the week before. I would have had to wait till approx 19:00 for the wind to drop below Bft 5 and I didn't have the masthead lighting with me.

Other non-safety related things we found out were: The 'dry box' was not as water tight as anticipated. Possibly the lid had not been screwed tight, but there was significant water ingest into the box [maybe half a litre again, but significant in a dry box!] which damaged and possibly destroyed my mobile phone. Strangely the matches also in the dry box were still dry! Probably the mobile phone should be in an AquaPac as well as in the dry box, which is what Tim does.

Because of untying the bucket to let crew B relieve himself [we went 'hove to' and he used the bucket as the sea conditions were not possible to go over the side], some items had not been re-secured to the bucket, eg camera in waterproof case, hand-bearing compass etc. These were all placed on the shelf under the foredeck, but I haven't found if they floated off or not.

We will have to get the outboard motor serviced/cleaned out as soon as possible as it was under water for quite a length of time.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

1 August 2009 - Afternoon and night sailing

16 nautical miles
The intention had been for an afternoon sail leading into a night sail, since the wind looked good for that. In preparation for the night sail I had put in a few more waypoints on the GPS - about 7 cables off shore for the club, Cape Pila and Potamas. You don't really want shore based waypoints for night sailing! [A 'cable', by the way, is 1/10 nautical mile or 185 metres. Just as a piece of useless trivia, it is the length of a anchor cable on a British man-of-war... back in the days of sail.]

We [Tim, Mark, John and me] got down to the club at about 3pm since the wind should be picking up around then. John and I rigged my boat and Tim and Mark rigged Tim's. Tim wanted to modify the furling system for his genoa, which worked very well, and I wanted to check out my new night sailing navigation light.

There had been a long discussion on WIT [Wayfarer Institute of Technology] about what navigation lights were appropriate for sailing by night. The common understanding was that the ColRegs for sailing boats under 7 metres required very little - a torch to shine at the sail or passing ship or a lantern to be hoisted into the rigging.

Well... I had found this led 'anchor light' which had a visibility range of 2 nautical miles and was designed to be hoisted on a 6mm halyard. So I built a small cradle for it which allowed it to be hoisted above the main sail on the main halyard and would give all round visibility from above the top of the mast. It worked very well... much better than a lantern hung from a halyard would.

Anyhow... we started out... and just as we were starting out James, Neil and Paula arrived... I think to wave us off into the sunset, but they didn't get their boat out [we had invited them to join us].

Few cables distance and the first problem became obvious... the furling line was too taught and the genoa would not fully unfurl leaving it luffing most of the time and somewhat difficult to sail.

Then sudden graunching noise... 'What was that?' Neither John nor I could see what had happened... few cables further I realised that the boom clip for the kicking strap had slid along the boom and the main sail is now bloated and very over powered... at this point the wind is bft 5+ and gusting and sailing getting very difficult... though John liked the ducking and diving through waves.

The predicted wind had been Bft 3 dropping to Bft 2 at sunset, so you can see from the chart we got a lot more that that. With the main sail bloated and the genoa not fully extended we did end up with the gunwale under water at one point. But Galini always comes up laughing and enjoying the ride.

As we near the harbour a cruise liner leaves the port. Apparently the port will eventually be converted into a cruise terminal, so this is to be expected more and more I guess.

Eventually Tim calls me up on the radio. One of their pontoons is filling with water and not wanting to pitch pole the boat they head for the club. We follow suite. Channel 16 is full of a prolonged discussion between the Israeli navy and a ship about telexes that have or have not been sent by their ships agent. Why they have to carry this on over channel 16 beats me... just clutters up airspace for possibly emergency communication. They must be pumping out a lot of power to be coming in on our hand-held radios over the horizon. Sorry... that's my pet peeve... abusing channel 16 for unnecessary communications.

Back at the club we discuss reefing. Both Tim and I had considered it, but I was not sure about the nav light if I had reefed. Hmmm... that's a disadvantage to the system, reefed we would not have for'ard facing nav light.

We then pack the boats and wash the sails and Tim and Mark leave and John and I wait for the sails to dry. While they are drying we notice the wind has dropped now to about Bft 4. Whereas night sailing with an inexperienced crew in Bft 5 didn't appeal Bft 4 is much more manageable so we re-rig the boat and go out again.

In between I had also re-tensioned the standing rigging and Galini is sailing very much better. This is great fun sailing. We beat out towards the harbour/marina as there is a simply huge masted sailing yacht there we would quite like to see... well I would and I was helming! The wind direction had shifted somewhat and I was saling conservatively since the light was dropping.

Ooops... graunching noise again... hove too and sort it out. This time I really hope it's tight enough!

Watching the sun set over Larnaca from the water was simply beautiful. Hove to again and we turn on the new masthead light. Yes, bright light all round but not down on us to ruin our night vision. The moon is about 1/2 full and gives plenty of light to sail by and looks gorgeous reflecting off the water across the bay.

We tack up towards the marina, but the wind picks up as we clear the harbour wall and I turn and broad reach back towards the club. Also there was a very big ship arriving at the harbour and I didn't want to argue with that on my first night sail in Galini!

The wind is dropping a little more so I gybe and do an eastward broad reach out towards Cape Pila. There are no lights to steer by so I am using the compass. The compass has a light stick which goes in the front of it to illuminate it. Well... just about illuminate it, it was pretty difficult steering by this very dimly lit compass. Really using a hand bearing compass with chemical light stick is not adequate as a steering compass.

I turn back towards the club and a couple of tacks later and the wind has almost dropped to nothing, but we arrive back at the club.

Nickos is there with some guests so we find out how the Lasers have done at the competition in Limassol today. One of the young people came 6th out of 17, which is pretty respectable. With Nickos being about we can use the winch to pull Galini out of the water, which is much easier than using my 4x4 to do it.

What I need to find is a better way of securing the battery pack. I have two gel batteries in a waterproof box with terminals for the nav light. The problem is that it slips and slides all over the place under the foredeck. I thought about putting it just for'ard of the centreboard case. That would put the weight lower which would be better but it would get much wetter in that position. But maybe since the case is waterproof that doesn't matter.

Well... that's over and a very enjoyable sail. Will have to do this night sailing more often.