Wednesday, 17 May 2017
Calstar: tracks, tacks & gybes
The GPS track of the sailing of this weekend just gone. Blue line was outbound Saturday 13th, red was the return Sunday 14th. Wind was a F5 from the southwest both days, gusting to 7 on the Saturday, a little less the day after.
It occurs to me that the outbound track shows less of a downwind slalom from Steep Holm to Clevedon than I remember, there being only two gybes. I didn't put the preventer on until past Clevedon however, as I wasn't sure whether or not we were going to clear the shallows of North West Elbow on our starboard tack (question: is a boat on a "starboard tack" actually on a "starboard gybe" when sailing downwind? I don't actually know this and it's now bothering me)
In the event, the turning tide picked up as we neared the shallows and lifted us nicely around them.
I am going to invest in a second preventer. Silly not to, in that it's just a bit of string with a small carribena to clip it onto the boom with. I feel a lot more comfortable sailing deep with the preventer attached. The overtaking swell tends to slew Calstar's stern around like a drunk dad dancing (note: I've never seen my own dad dance, drunk or otherwise) which without the preventer puts us at risk of an inadvertent gybe.
Only having the one preventer line means if we're using it, every time we do intentionally gybe I have to head up and out onto the bow to re-thread the line back down the new leeward side, which means that I tend to not use it unless I know I'm going to be settled onto one tack (gybe?) for a good number of miles.
It's not that I mind going out to the bow when needed, but it does make Dad nervous so I try to avoid it unless absolutely necessary just to save on the surely affectionate but certainly persistent repetitions of "Oh, be careful Bill!" distracting me from the cockpit.
The clew of the new headsail is cut much lower than the old one, giving the sail a larger sail area, but also making the sail much more likely catch on the babystay when tacking. We'll get used to this. I still like my new sails.
Beating back into the wind on the Sunday, we reefed conservatively, but some of the gusts still heeled us through to about thirty degrees at times.
When Calstar does this, despite all the miles we've now shared together, I still can't shake the subconscious terror that she might actually fall over. I felt the same with the Drascombe, albeit in that case the risk was very much more real. I think it's basically a problem I have with any boat I can't actually practice capsizing, or at least wouldn't want to and couldn't without raising a few eyebrows.
I don't have this problem if I'm on somebody else's boat. So I guess it isn't the fear of capsizing that gets me, but rather the fear of capsizing and it being me responsible. Incidentally, any fellow sailors I've mentioned this anxiety to have generally laughed at me, with at least one pointing out, his voice dripping with good-natured amusement, "But it's physics, Bill. Big lump of metal underneath you. It just can't happen."
The other anxiety I have when the boat heels whilst beating to windward is losing Dad over the side. In this, we do at least have form, as I'll never forget the sight of him tumbling out of the Drascombe as she pitched over whilst caught between the branches of a tree and the inexorable push of the tide beneath her.
We've solved this one at least. I tethered him to the cockpit for the beat back to Cardiff. At least if he did try to roll out on me during a surprise gust, he wasn't going to get very far (as in no further than the right side of the guard rail because of the limitations on the length of the line)
Posted by tatali0n