14th March 2009
. The objective today was to have a gentle day's sailing without anybody getting bored or shouted at. The problem is that I am a very experienced power boat handler and in my youth did a fair amount of sailing, but I have forgotten many of the lessons learned and am not as 'in control' as I would like to be when sailing. When I am not able to anticipate what is going to happen next and what has to be done, I tend to get snappy and things degenerate quickly. A familiar story for many, I am sure, so this morning I was determined to take things slowly, involve everybody and to have a relaxing day.
We drew up in our usual parking bay just outside DOSC harbour and instead of getting on with the rigging single-handed, everybody was given a job to do, from untying the trailer light-board to unsnagging the shrouds as the mast was raised, to taking photos of the process. I have now fitted quick-release snap-shackles to both ends of the main sheet and to the kicking strap so the rigging process is having seconds shaved off here and there and it makes it less likely that a vital shackle pin will get dropped and lost at the wrong moment. We were off to a good start as we launched and headed out to sea at 1100. The new modification to the ballast tank to connect the vent permanently to atmosphere made the launch easier with no running below to put the vent plug in needed - why isn't it designed this way?
Once clear of the harbour I persuaded Robert to take the helm whilst we generally sorted out and he then held us head-to-wind whilst I got the main up. We bore away, unfurled the genoa, and started beating up into a gentle WNW, heading out towards The World once again. The boys each had supervised time at the helm with Dad and a chance to learn the secrets of sodoku solving with Mum. Several times we rounded up, sails ashiver, but I kept my cool and a helping hand nudged us back on course.
Soon enough we rounded the chosen windward mark, gybed and bore away onto a broad reach toward Safa Island. The sail hand (Luke) now went below and passed me up the spinnaker in its new dowser and we soon had it flying. The dowser worked a treat - so much easier than without. The next step will be to install a dedicated spinnaker halyard a little further up the mast. Luke took the helm whilst I took some photos - another little kink in the track but learning all the time. We averaged the downwind leg at 3.2 knots in a very gentle wind before dropping sail and anchoring amongst the motorists off Safa Island.
After another Rach-special quiche lunch whilst being buzzed by ski-boats and jet-skis, all of us boys swam ashore to attempt the exploration of a desert island. Apart from it being far from deserted, the island was artificially created from sand dredged from the sea floor so, unlike soft natural sand dunes, the sandy "interior" of the island was full of sharp shells which were incredibly uncomfortable to walk on. We trudged over the sharp sand until we could see into the offshore bay and then skipped over the rocks of the breakwater to make our way back to Morwenna. Robert wanted to try halyard-swinging so I gave a demonstration - climbing up onto the pulpit and swinging outboard on the main halyard, dropping into the water at maximum reach. Robert didn't have the hand strength to hold onto the rope so dropped straight into the water - a little more practice required I think.
After our swim it was time to return to DOSC so we hauled anchor and set off. The wind had veered round to NNW so we had a good 20 minute close- to beam-reach back to DOSC - not quite broad enough to get the spinnaker up again. This time we moored up and fetched the trailer together before landing, de-rigging and heading home.
So had I managed to keep my cool? I did pretty well, although everybody was tired by the end of the day and people were beginning to get teasy - I'd give it say 7/10 and by the next day everybody recognised that we had had a good, relaxing day's sailing. The boys are really looking forward to the next trip out - I wonder whether its got anything to do with the inflatable tow-toy they found in the garage this week?