03 February 2021
Oh Rebak Marina for me
I don't like the wild ragin' sea
The big foamin' breakers
Wad gie ye the shakers
Oh Rebak Marina for me.
Ye can go for a stroll on it's banks
Tae loosen yer muscle bound shanks
There's no shark or whale tae mak ye turn pale
Or shiver and shake at the knees
.....and on goes this ditty from Dan McPhail, the good ship Vital Spark's world weary engineer. (*)
It's really about the Crinan Canal, the much loved shortcut of Clyde yachtsmen heading for the west coast each summer. The canal, originally built to save the small freight ships serving the western islands, "Puffers" as they're known to us locals, from having to risk body and soul rounding the notorious Mull of Kintyre (**) nowadays it provides a fast, tidal-gate free, short cut to the sheltered cruising waters and pubs of Crinan, Oban, Tobermory and further afield.
Pubs are popular venues during a summer cruise on the west coast. Not just because of their ambience, fresh seafood and lively local music but mostly it's where you go to stand, steaming in front of a coal fire. And I mean steaming, as in drying out after pounding to windward in driving rain and twenty knots, not after a few too many pints of the foaming ale, perchance a nippy sweetie. (***)
"Och. We had a grand thrash up here" you'll hear the yotties lying to each other over their beers, rubbing salt off their eyebrows into their chips. Meanwhile, like my poor mother for many summers, their drookit and long suffering spouses are stood at the end of the pier trying to hitch a lift back home to a bed that doesn't move or rock and all is warm and dry.
Well, the Indian Ocean is shaping up something similar. It's all a bit black out there just now. And it's only eleven in the morning.
On comes the latest squall and the wind jumps from 10 - 12 knots to 25-30 and we take off looking for a daily record and clean pants. We hit 16.3 knots first night. Today, just fifteen, but that burst of speed stripped the blades off our Watt&Sea hydro generator. That's a big problem with the thing, at the start of your day or trip, you have to guesstimate how fast you're going to go, or risk losing props. Earlier in the day as things got a little sporty, I'd already stopped the boat and dangled off the back step, giving my bum a good wash at the same time and changed the Max 9 knots prop to Max 12 prop. The forecast is pretty much 10-12 knots the whole way so we weren't expecting to set records. If you have a too fast prop on it means as you toddle along at average speed, the power output isn't where it could be, or enough to keep up with consumption. We've now got on the variable pitch prop, set to Max 22 knots! Surely thats enough. That will hit our power generation again but at least, we hope, the prop will last the distance and I can avoid the salt water bidet twice a day.
Having said all that, it was our intention to be prudent and follow my "this is a marathon, not a sprint, mantra. In the end, I got fed up trawling along under-powered and while Anne was snoozing, sneaked out the two reefs and picked up a good two or three knots. That was more like it. Then; of course, no sooner are they out than the moonlit horizon darkens and the hackles on my neck raise.
"Aaaannnne". I think we need to reef". "But we're already ree......." and she tails off, now realising what these noises were a while ago.
More bumping and grinding and the reefs are back in, just in time to bear off and fly off dead downwind in thirty to thirty five knots and driving rain. At least I'm sure it was raining. It's sometimes hard to tell with the "lounge", patio doors closed against all that nasty weather. And so the night, and indeed the day has passed like sandpaper. Wet & Dry.
I've a feeling the Indian Ocean could be a wet, windy and squally passage. And I can tell you, while we're only three days out, this ocean desperately needs a shortcut.
Stuart & Anne
SV Time Bandit
YouTube: SV Time Bandit
(*) Search Crinan Canal Boat Song / Para Handy on YouTube. Ye cannae whack it!
(**) Search Mull of Kintyre / Paul McCartney. Ye absolutely can whack that.
(***) Billy Connolly