Monday, 23 April 2018

For Sale: Enterprise 21870 "Buffy"

£250 ono

Includes launching trolley, road trailer (not a combi) and leak ……

A much loved, heavily raced and admittedly hard-used Enterprise dinghy.

Wooden hull. Carbon fibre tiller extension and flyaway jib pole. Kicker and down-haul controls led aft to helm position, dyneema main halyard, all rigging in good nick, four nearly new, airtight and frequently exercised buoyancy bags. Boom up cover is a bit grimy and has a broken strap but otherwise good condition. Includes a very worn suite of sails, main sail has a couple of taped patches along the shroud line.

Decks very much in need of re-varnishing, white hull needs a fresh coat of paint.

Launching trolley and road trailer included. NOT a combi, but the road trailer carries the boat on her trolley with judicious use of appropriate lashings. Trailer has been stood in the grass in her berth unused for some years; wheels turn but can make no guarantees as to the safety of the trailer or the condition of the wheel bearings.

IMPORTANT: She currently has a significant leak, suspect centreboard case is failing and will need some potentially extensive work to make sound again. I’ve got neither the time nor the talent to do the necessary, hence the price being asked and the reason for sale.

Currently lying in her berth at Frampton-on-Severn Sailing Club.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Weekend accomplished

Friday night's gig cancelled a few weeks ago, so after work I came home via Nik's shop and saw Friday evening out with a bottle of wine in front of Netflix.

Saturday morning I half made up for that indulgence with an hour of karate, by the end of which, whilst sparring, I found myself crippled by the most horrific stitch in my side; I can only assume all this rich living is catching up with me. But it was otherwise good.

After that, I headed down the lake, joined in with the Level 2's (RYA beginners sailing course) who I haven't seen since their first day, and found myself exceptionally impressed by how much they have obviously improved. Bit of a downer with Buffy's centerboard case, but as previously mentioned, she owes me nothing.

Saturday night's gig in Hereford was great.

This morning I begged, pleaded and emotionally blackmailed my wife into giving me a long overdue haircut (I have a bit of a social phobia with regards to barbers, first world problems and all that) then headed back to the lake to crew for Geoff over a couple of afternoon races in his Enterprise, "Ghost". His regular crew, whom I've always viewed as both exceptionally talented (on the odd occasion she's crewed for me, my boat has always sailed flatter and gone faster) and pretty much indestructible (I've yet to see conditions so rough she still won't gleefully launch and race) has sadly pulled a muscle. Whilst collating the results for last week's race, apparently.

The wind was a F4 gusting 5 from the south, the lake crowded with friends. We sailed a couple of great races; fantastic, hard hiking weather. I ache, and have various bruises, scrapes and sundry abrasions. The front seat of an Enterprise is never a comfortable place to be.

It feels good.

Nik's out for the night with her best friend. I'm cooking "spag bol" for me and the youngest (it's not really spaghetti bolognese; the sauce is out of a jar, I'm cooking it in a wok and have sliced a red chilli into it) and I have a couple of bottles of Cornish ale to wash it down with.

Had some sad news about an old school friend at the beginning of this week. Life can be a bitch at times and I grieve for his family and his loss.

But this moment, right now, is good. And he was the sort of guy who would've appreciated that.

In the words of Capt. Jack Sparrow: Take what you can, give nothing back.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Buffy: the time has come

Buffy is leaking.

I spent some time with her this afternoon, and I'm pretty certain it's the centreboard case that's gone again. She still sails of course, and you can still win races with her, but a lot of water leaks in very quickly, so you have to put up with very wet feet.

Of course, with enough wind, the bailers clear the water out. But it's not good for her to get so wet, so she really needs to be dried out and repaired before she's sailed any more.

It's far beyond the time or talent I have available to hand, so, almost reluctantly although I have been considering it for a while, I'm going to sell her.

Of course, she's not going to be worth much, as she clearly needs somebody that wants a bit of a restoration project. I could almost certainly get more by breaking her up and selling the components: carbon fibre tiller extension and flyaway pole, dynema main halyard, restored centreboard, road trailer, all that sort of thing.

But I won't. She owes me absolutely nothing. She's been pure pleasure to race these last six or so years, I've loved every minute of it. Hopefully I can find somebody that has the afore mentioned time and talent and will to rebuild the bits I've neglected and broken and get another decade or two of joy out of her.

We'll give it a week in case any of the new members just finishing their sailing course at the Club take a shine to her, warts and all. Then it's eBay here we come.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Frampton: when it all goes right

Spent a lovely evening charging around the cans at Frampton last night. The weather has suddenly flipped, and gone from bleak mid winter straight up into the twenties, so it was my first race of the year in shorts and tee-shirt. Hopefully, it won't be the last.

The entire day had seen a stiff, steady southwesterly breeze accompanying the sunshine and, like the temperature, tripping up into the twenties. Thankfully, it lasted through until the evening.

We sailed Amanda's Enterprise. The boat needed a few repairs to the kicker and flyaway jib pole, and a replacement burgee, so despite getting to the Club early we were last out onto the water. We made the start line with a few minutes to spare however, so all good.

The wind had backed (presumably) between the race committee laying the course and commencing the start sequence, which put a huge bias onto the line that nobody else seemed to notice. Consequently, they all massed together for a conventional starboard tack start, labouring simply to lay the line itself, and Amanda and I, holding well back from the line and away from the crowd until the last thirty seconds, made a charge on the pin end that came off perfectly, hitting the line at full speed on port tack just as the starting gun granted us the all clear.

I've never actually successfully pulled off a port flyer at the start before. I have to admit I wouldn't have tried it with a larger fleet, and there were a few regulars missing last night who would never have let me get away with it had they been there. But it worked, we were halfway to the windward mark before the rest of them even cleared the line to join us in the race and the feeling was delicious.

We raced for the next fifty minutes in warm sunshine and clean air, never needing to look back; the rest of the fleet never even got near us.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Calstar: Winched

I'm the first to confess there's not a lot I know about winches. I'm not of a naturally mechanical bent, you don't find them on dinghies, and despite my logbook showing that by the end of last year Dad and I had sailed a grand total of 2130.5 nautical miles with Calstar now, that's still where I've done most of my sailing over the last fifteen years.

Interestingly, and a complete aside, those 2130.5 miles have been covered over 251 hours and 43 minutes of being underway. That works out at an average speed over ground of 8.5kn, which I think is rather impressive for a 26' bilge keeled Westerly Griffon.

Then again, that's the Bristol Channel tide for you. I expect the average is going to drop somewhat now.

Anyway. Calstar, of course, has winches. They've just worked without any stress for the last three years, except for one brief episode last spring when the starboard genoa winch stopped gripping. I smacked it with the winch handle, and that sorted the problem out. Had meant to look into servicing them, but then other things got in the way and we forgot about it.

I should add we have winch covers for each of the winches, and they are religiously put back on and secured at the end of each day's sailing, so they're not left exposed. That's probably they only reason they've kept going so well despite my neglect.

On Saturday, whilst on the way out towards Eddystone, the starboard winch slipped once more. It took a couple of bashes with the winch handle to get the ratchet to bite again. Sunday morning, as a solid 20 knots was blowing through the Sound and we were packing up to come home, I checked the winch again, and it was slipping under my hand and intermittently refusing to bite. Smacking it was beginning to have unreliable results.

It's a an old Lewmar 30 Two Speed winch, not self-tailing, and probably as old as the boat. It's always looked like a bit of an impenetrable unit to me, with no obvious clips or screws or bolts to effect its disassembly. After clearing out the rope locker and climbing in to get at it from below, I discovered there's no way into it from down there either.

It is good for the soul to clean out the rope locker every once in a while, however.

Then Dad spotted the circlip  that holds the top plate on, and after a bit of finessing the thing with a little screwdriver, it came free and the whole thing lifted apart.

In amidst the grease of the ratchet mechanism were clogs and clumps of what appeared to be dog hair. I'll swear the stuff gets everywhere. No metal shavings or obviously worn gears however, so that was a good thing.

We picked the rotten stuff out, leaving the good grease in place and handling the whole mechanism very gingerly in case we accidentally knocked anything and the whole lot sprang apart in our hands. Then we reassembled it. All appears to be working, although it's obviously well overdue that service.

Now we've unravelled the mysteries of disassembly, I wasn't particularly phased by the thought of servicing the thing. However, back at home and now quite swatted up on the matter via YouTube and Google, Dad has meanwhile had a word with the John at Allspars (the folks that stepped our mast for us) and has now told me they're going to do it for him.

It's like he doesn't trust me or something?

Now it has to be said, playing with grease and diesel and springs and ratchets isn't my idea of a good time; it strikes me that an awful lot can go wrong and if it does, replacing a main winch is going to cost £600+ a piece. Plus I bite my nails (an intentional habit; best way of keeping them to length for the guitar) and discovered on Sunday that grease tastes horrible. However, paying somebody else to do it for us does feel a bit like cheat mode.

A bit like driving the boat over to Plymouth on the back of a flatbed rather than sailing her around. Although on that one, I have to admit Dad was right. If we'd tried to sail her, we'd still be stuck now in the Bristol Channel dreaming of blue water, rather than sailing on it.

So I'm going to give his wisdom the benefit of the doubt on the winch servicing issue. And at least I know how to get into them myself now if we ever find we have to

Calstar: Eddystone

It was a good weekend. Sure, the conspiratorial weather forecast for Sunday and Monday derailed our original plans, but Saturday was as gorgeous as promised.

Bright sunshine, blue skies and a fresh breeze coming into the land from south of south east, the local forecast was F3 gusting 4, more in the west, and expected to build into the afternoon. Wanting to do something more than just sail around the Sound again, I considered sailing out to Looe to the west, but with east in the wind, didn't fancy a long, uncomfortable beat against the tide to get home again once we got there.

The Eddystone Rock is a reef that lies about eight nautical miles off Rame Head (the headland that shelters the western side of Plymouth Sound) and is marked with a significant and quite distinctive lighthouse. Charmed by the thought of leaving the land behind us for a while, Dad and I settled for a trip out to see it.

We cast off a little before low water at 1030 in bright sunshine and a lively breeze. Clearing the Mountbatten breakwater, we had the sails up within ten minutes of dropping our lines, a cautious first reef in the main and a full genoa. The wind was a lively F3 from the south east and the little yacht felt very lively as we fetched across the Sound towards the Western Entrance.

The sun was warm, even if the sky was a little hazy, and for the first time this year we were sailing without our waterproofs on. Twenty minutes later we left the Sound via the Western Entrance, and hardened up on to a tight reach to lay Eddystone, some ten miles distant, and very much still lost out of sight within the hazed horizon.

The tidal flow runs east until HW-3, when it reverses to the west after a period of slack, so for the run out we enjoyed the lift of having the tide on our lee bow. By 1142 we were six and a half miles out, covering 6kn  over the ground, so close enough to hull speed, with a first reef in the main still and now a single roll in the genoa.

As the land fell away astern, much of the other yacht traffic that had surrounded us during our departure disappeared behind. We were briefly overhauled by a J80 with a crew of three, before they tacked off to the east. They seem to be quite popular little pocket racers, there were a few at Portishead and Penarth, and there are a number in QAB. They do look like fun. I like the accommodation and comfort of the Westerly, and really do enjoy just cruising from harbour to harbour in her with Dad and Nik.

But were it not for the regular fix I get on the lake with my Enterprise, I'd really miss racing. The 8m J/80 looks like exactly the sort of little keel boat I'd love to race with. The other one that appealed to me was the 7m Hunter Sonata; Ben and I crewed a race on one in Falmouth a couple of years ago.

Over the next hour, the wind and sea gradually built and the sky greyed over. Chilled, I conceded to the fact that it was still early spring and pulled my waterproofs on for their extra warmth. At 1245, the Eddystone lying abreast of our port beam, we tacked and started back.

Aside from the whole "slack water" thing that I've mentioned previously, there is another aspect to sailing here that is markedly different to sailing in the Bristol Channel. Tacking angle. Making passage from Portishead to Penarth on the ebb into the inevitable south westerly with 7 knots of tidal flow running with you, the tacking angle of a Westerly Griffon is a miraculous 20 to 30 degrees or so, as your course is measured over the ground.

In the English Channel, without the help of a Bristol Channel tide, the tacking angle of a bilge-keeled Westerly Griffon really isn't that.

We'd been set on a close reach to get out here, so I'd half expected anything from a beam to a broad reach would take us back, and was in fact nervous about sailing too high in case the run home became too much of a downwind, genoa smothering slap for comfort.

As it turned out, once we'd tacked through the wind, to lay the Western Entrance and not get caught having to beat back up into wind to get around Rame Head, I had to set the little yacht hard over on a close hauled beat. Cracking off just a point or two added a respectable knot to the boat speed, so I settled for slightly less height to our course in the hope that the wind would lift closer in to shore.

By 1253 I'd put a second roll into the genoa. We were still covering just shy of 6kn over the ground, a little less now through the water as the tide started to turn against us, and Calstar was taking a lot of spray over her bows, soaking her sails and the coach-roof, but she's a very dry, comfortable boat if you're in her deep, sheltered cockpit. Even with the genoa rolled down, she was still hard over and sloughing off to leeward in the bigger gusts, so I gave in to the inevitable and put the second reef into the main. It knocked half a knot off our boat speed through the water, but our speed over the ground hardly dropped, the reduction in leeway we gained by stiffening her up with reduced sail must've more than compensated for the loss of actual speed.

For the first hour of the trip back, the wind was cold, the sky grey and visibility murky; no more than four of five miles at best. It didn't rain, but a lively sea on Calstar's starboard shoulder slapped lots of foaming spray over her. We remained sheltered within her deep cockpit however, and didn't even feel the need to pull the spray-hood up, although I did slid the companionway hatch shut.

As we closed with the shore, the murk receded to haze and the sun reappeared in the sky, easing the chill out of the wind as the land re-emerged from the haze. Still holding a point or two off of close-hauled to keep the boat speed up, our course lifted just enough to clear the headland and lay the western entrance and we re-entered the sound amidst a scattering of other yachts and fishing boats at 1445.

We held our course across the Sound back towards QAB, running parallel with a couple of other yachts and getting ducked by a big racer, close-hauled and screaming through the water on port with a full compliment of rail-monkeys hiking out on the windward guard-wire, the helmsman giving a cheerful wave as he ducked, scraping past our stern with about half a boat length to spare. Dad was below at the time so rather than worrying him by mentioning it, I took a photo to show him later.

We dropped sail at 1500, a little early but straying intentionally onto the conservative side, then gently motored in, dodging all the traffic going with, against and across us. It was an understandably popular day out on the water.

We slipped into our berth at 1524, just shy of 5 hours underway, most of that under sail, and 25.8 nautical miles of water having slipped between our keels since we'd set out that morning.