Bookmark and Share
Salts to sellers
Jackie & Colins' adventures on the high seas.
Kicker, sheet and topping lift

As we turn into the strait between Cumbrea and little cumbrea, we find the dark water Dave was on about, the water is choppyer here and sure enough there's enough wind to put up our sails. Before we can put up the sails we are told about the importance of KST, which stands for kicker,sheet and topping lift. This refers to three ropes, or lines, although one line is a sheet, just to confuse matters. The reason we're doing this is to raise the big heavy swinging boom arm at the bottom of the main sail so it is above our heads and won't knock us senseless,or into the sea when it flys across the boat, which it will do at times. We loosen the kicker, pull on the topping lift and loosen the sheet which is a line running through a series of pulleys just in front of the steering wheel,(helm). The boom is now raised above head hieght and it's time to put up the sails. We're told to come about, which means we have to turn the boat to face the wind. A swinging arrow at the top of the mast points to where the wind is coming from, and we put the engine into neutral. Dave shows us how to wind a rope, or halyard, around a winch, without trapping our fingers, pinky pointing at the winch, and with Stewart pulling on a line on the mast up goes the main sail flapping like mad as it climbs to the top of the mast some 30 odd feet above us. Next the Genoa is fed into a slot at the focsal and this too is flapping away. The Genoa line is locked in place with a thing called a rope jammer and one of the lines leading to the clew on the Genoa is wrapped around another winch on the opposite side of the top deck. Dave asks us to now steer the boat out of the head wind, and sunddenly the sails stop flapping, fill with wind and the boat sarts to move again, slowly at first but soon were doing 3 or 4 knots according to the speedo. Wowee how brill is this. It turns out that what we have to do is to steer a course that is about 45 degrees from the direction of the wind. If I get to close to the wind, as they say the sails start flapping and all I have to do is correct that is steer the opposite way to get the sails full again. Within minutes were doing the same speed as we were with the engine on, which was 6 knots, which Dave reckons is quite healthy. The wind we're told is about force 4 which Dave can read from looking at the wave tops.
To make progress, in a forward direction we will have to do what is known as tacking. This involves turning the boat through 90 degrees, and sailing in the opposite direction. What happens here is that two people man the two winches, one will release the line to the genoa whilst the other tightens the other line. The command for this action comes from the helm, and Dave tells me to say ready to go about, to which my crew have to respond, Ready, and I turn the wheel.
The sails go into a mad flapping once more, ropes wizz about, winches turn and in a few moments we're sailing again but we're now on what we learn is an opposite tack. We will have to do this again and again to move forward, we're quickly leaning one of the fundamentals of sailing, tacking. We swop jobs as each of us gets to grips with these new skills and at one point Jackie manages to clock an amazing 8.5 knots, this is exhilerating and so much fun. The weather is perfect, clear blue skys and a force 4 breeze to take us to our lunch destination which is a sheltered bay, called Lochranza, on the north west coast of the isle of Arron.

| | More
Heads, tacks clews, and dark water.
10/11/2009, Scotland

'm first up at about 7am on Saturday morning, and I'm sitting on the back of the boat, which from here on in I'm to refer to as aft, and a Swan glides by on a flat calm sea. All around mountainous islands rise up out of these tranquil waters in which ever direction I look, but this doesn't look like a day for sailing, there's not a breath of wind. We breakfast on a full english and we are joined by Stewart who is about 25 and last night was behind the bar at the sailing centre. He is going to accompany us for the weekend as an extra hand on board, he's also learning how to sail, and has jumped at the chance of two days free cruiseing.
As there's little or no wind we have to use the engine for the first hour as we leave our overnight mooring and head towards little Cumbrea. With Jackie at the helm Stewart and I take off the main sail cover and get out a big sail, called a Genoa, which is big, and has to be hauled up to the front end of the boat and attatched to some ropes, that we will now call lines. We learn that the bit of the sail that will be at the top is the head, the bottom corner at the front is the tack, and the corner nearest us is called the clew. All clued up now we connect the head to a line at the sharp end, now called fo'ra'd, with a shackle and two red ropes are run through pulleys either side of the boat and are tied with a knot called a bowline onto the clew of the sail.
Skipper Dave explains that whoever is steering, or at the helm, needs to keep a 360 degree lookout for any other boats that we can see, and try to get a fix on them by lineing them up with something on our boat. If that fix changes we're not on a collision course, if it remains the same we might have to take evasive action. He also tells us to look out for dark water in the distance, as dark water seemingly means that it's windy there, and as it's a sailing course we should head in that direction.

| | More
Cumbrae, west coast of Scotland, 11th Sept.
10/11/2009, Cumbrae, Scotland

We've packed all our warm clothes long johns and thermal tops, plus our full length deck boots as instructed and met our skipper at pontoon E8/9 at Largs Marina at 7.15pm on Friday night. We are half of a party of four, but the other couple haven't arrived yet. Our yacht for the weekend is a Jeanaeu 36 footer and as we're first there we take the opportunity to bagsi the forward bunk. We meet our instructor, Dave, who tells us to make ourselves at home whilst we wait for the other two. After numerous phone calls it's got round to 8.30 and Dave decides that we're going to leave without them. Looks like we've got ourselves an exclusive charter for the whole weekend as Dave fires up the engine to leave the Marina for the 20 minute sail to the Ilse of Cumbrea where we will pick up provisions from the Sport Scotland centre, have a drink and meet the crew of the other yacht that's going out this weekend.
The day has been beautiful and we've just witnessed an amazing sunset over the harbour but by the time we're underway it's almost dark.Ok Jackie, says Dave, come and take the helm, and as we're there to learn how to sail, Jackie dutifully takes her place behind this giant steering wheel at the back of a 36ft yacht and Dave engages 1st gear and the boat slowly pulls away fro the pontoon with Jackie steering! All around us are millions of pounds worth of moored yachts as we slowly make our way down this watery avenue heading towards a massive sea wall. Although Jackie doesn't let on she's not too good seeing in the dark as her contact lenses can play havoc with judgeing distance at night. Never the less here she is steering our boat closer and closer towards the wall. So far we haven't hit anything and I'm impressed, not only with her steering but with Daves' confidence in our abilities. About 20 ft from the wall Dave tells Jackie to gently turn to the right and the boat, Somerlea, swings round gracefully and we're in the exit channel from the Marina, and a few moments later we're clear of the breakwaters, passed the flashing beacon and heading into open water bound for Cumbrae which we can see in the distance across about a mile and a half of sea. The stars are out, the sea is calm and Dave puts Somerlea into top gear and we're cruiseing at 5 knots towards a red flashing light in the distance. About 20 minutes later Jackie is manouvering our yacht, under instruction, slowly into the gloom of the pier on Cumbrae. She wears a relieved grin of accomplishment, and I'm impressed as Dave and I hop onto the pontoon and tie up our yacht to the key. Dave has explained the way we tie her up with a sort of knot called OXO that we secure to the cleat on the keyside.Its completely dark by now, and once the boat is secure we head off along the long pier to collect our provisions for the weekend. It would have been wise to bring a torch with us for this excursion, but of course we didn't, so we pick our way slowly towards the buildings on the shore wher our stuff will be.
We pile it all in a trolley, take the perilous route back to Somerlea before returning to the centre to join the others in the bar to socialise before bedding down for the night aboard our home for the next two days.

| | More
Start Yachting course

So here it is the day we start to learn how to sail the kind of yacht we intend to buy. We booked ourselves onto a Start yachting course at Cumbrea on the west coast of Scotland. The thing you can always rely on is that on the west coast of Scotland it's going to be windy, but today we wake up to a weather forcast for the weekend that forcasts clear skies and NO WIND. Now as a complete novice I have this notion that to sail we need some sort of wind, so how we manage to pick this weekend when there is no wind is a mystery. Oh well, never mind we've booked the boat and we're packing our warm clothes and full length deck boots and we're heading north to Largs, to meet our boat at 7.30pm. Lets just hope that we get at least a breeze.

| | More

In the RYA booklet, competent crew there's a couple of pages on knots, there's the figure of eight, the clove hitch, rolling hitch, and the bowline. I sort of recognise these, somewhere in the dark reaches of my 61 year old mind I sense my days in St Perrins scout group when I about 10 or 11. Way back then we used to do knots and I do believe I passed my scout badge for knots, and I remember the bowline. There was some thing about a rabbit coming out of his hole, going round the tree, and back down the hole, but when I try this with a bit of string it doesn't work, or at least it doesnt look like the one in the book. Jackie has found a good bit of old string in the shed, it's a slow Sunday morning, and she's trying to tackle a clove hitch, but garden string is not right, what we need is some proper rope. It's been a week since we were looking at boats, and the week has been busy with work, and our yachting adventure has been put on the back burner. So today, to keep up the momentum we decide to take a run out to Coniston to seek out an outward bound shop where we might be able to buy some proper rope so we can practice our knots. It's a grey day with rain forcast for the afternoon, so we take a ride out along the east side of the lake stopping at Waterhead to see if we can spot my friend Malcoms sailboat. I spoke to him early this week and he offered to take us for a sail. I'm expecting something like the boat we looked at last week, but when we find it tied to a tree it turns out to be just a little bigger than a dingy. It does have a mast, but it's not at all like the yachts we have been looking at. No matter, it might turn out to be fun for a day out, but for now we head off for Coniston to buy a yard of rope. In Summitrex we find exactly what we need, a couple of yards of nylon rope, about a quarter of an inch in diameter. Back home we open our RYA book and find that practicing with this is so much easier. We both manage a clove hitch, a reef knot, fiqure of eight and a bowline. Hey another small step towards sailing. Got the wellies, and now the knots, and next weekend we're doing our start sailing course, lets just hope the weather picks up, and calms down a little.

| | More
Looking at boats

This weeekend we set up a couple of veiwings of yachts that were for sale on Windermere. One was a 21ft and one was a 26ft. We were thinking that if we could buy ourselves a boat that was some where around the size we would eventually buy in the Dominican Republic then we could get some sailing practice in and take the courses that the RYA do. We are not at all convinced by what we're doing but we've set up these veiwings so we go ahead. The first boat is going to be at the public jettys near to the Windermere Ferry. This yacht looks a bit small, although when we get up close it's not that small but it's pretty basic. In fact we decided that this is a fun sailing boat, one that's fun to sail if your into sport sailing, and has enough room to sort of camp out on but there's no real facilities, just a nice sailing boat. We came away thinking that we didn't see us with that sort of a boat.
Next day, Sunday we're off to meet Pat and Dave who have a Westerley Centaur. This boat looks like a caravan on the water, and we meet them at their mooring at Cunsey woods. Dave takes us out to the boat on his dingy and we climb aboard. Now this is much more like it, at 26ft and with over six foot of head room and with all the gubbins, cooker, sink, head,(toilet in nautical speak).
This feels just what we want, it feels like a big boat, but not too big, and it is not at all flashy, it's the sort of boat we would maybe buy in the Dominican republic. We leave thinking that we've found our boat, but on our way back we chat through our feelings and although it's great we start to think that we're going down the wrong road here. We decide that looking at boats has been a good thing, but that really, we just need to learn how to sail. So do we need a yacht at this moment, and the answer is no, what we need is to do the course and after talking to the instructors re-evaluate and not think of spending 10,000 on a yacht, that can wait till we get to the Caribbean. But it's been an interesting weekend, and I think we've moved our adventure on an inch or two.

| | More

Newer ]  |  [ Older ]


Powered by SailBlogs