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.

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