951Re:: Juliet;- Solo in the Solent
- Feb 12, 2015
Congratulations; I have just seen and enjoyed your Part 1.
You certainly seem to have had the weather for it; it looked merely autumnal, rather than wintry, with plenty of sunshine. It looks about as enjoyable as was my own late autumn cruise into the Dee estuary, which looking back I now regard as one of the high spots of last season. And I see that there was, very briefly, one other yacht under sail to share the waters with you.
And all those yachts in Yarmouth lying unused ...
As an old hand, and by way of being helpful, perhaps I might make some suggestions which arise from your video. Although I realise that there are a lot of points, they are genuinely intended as enthusiastic positive suggestions, and not at all as negative criticism.
1. Leaving a berth; in this instance you had all the room in the world, light wind, and no wave action; there may have been tide in the immediate vicinity of the berth but I could not assess that from the video. So that seems to have been a very easy exit, but in other conditions it could have been more difficult.
I myself do not like motoring parallel to a pontoon (or, even worse, a wall) only inches away for any further than absolutely necessary, because unless you have the benefit of either wind or tide actively taking you away from the pontoon it is all too easy for the boat to be deflected back into the pontoon and scrape her side. And of course if you have moored boats ahead - which you were lucky enough not to have - you have to get further out anyway.
So get yourself well away from the pontoon as early as possible. Don’t be afraid to use the boathook to push the bows off before you start. Alternatively, rig a spring from the bow back to a cleat on the pontoon anywhere abaft of amidships; then haul the tender up short and make sure that the painter cannot possibly foul the propeller, and go slow ahead against the spring; this will force the stern out from the pontoon, then put the engine astern and slip the spring so that you can reverse out.
On a boat with a centrally mounted engine (and it works well with the Privateer if you are moored port side to, but obviously not when starboard side to), you can do the opposite; rig a spring forward from the quarter to a cleat on the pontoon anywhere forward of amidships, again look to your dinghy painter (and other warps) to keep them well clear of the propeller, and go astern against the spring. That will force her head out, slip the spring and go ahead, and you are away.
It is also worth mentioning that the forward end of the boat has very little grip on the water unless there is at least some keel down, and if there is any cross wind it is all too easy for the wind to take charge. I learned that the hard way about three years ago, when in a stiff cross wind I left a pontoon and just could not get her to answer the helm under power, and in restricted water I found myself getting rapidly into difficulties and in danger of being blown straight ashore. The situation was resolved instantly when I dropped some keel, and now as a matter of routine I always drop at least some keel before getting under way.
Finally, whatever length of painter you use for towing the dinghy at sea, I would recommend heaving it in close when manoeuvring in a harbour or marina; it just keeps things that much more under control.
2. Sailing under headsails only It looks as though you may have already picked this up, but I mention it just in case. This is one of the few situations where the unusually far forward location of the drop keel on the Privateer is beneficial; use the full depth of the drop keel, and she should balance nicely under headsails alone.
Except when sailing under headsails alone, the drop keel should never be more than half way down, and use it as a trim tab to balance the aft skeg; it is worth marking either the control rope or the winch wire/rope.
It is difficult to see from the video how much keel you had down, but it looked as though it could have been all down while you were under headsails only, which in that very special situation is how it should be.
Although I think I detected the occasional purr of the engine! …
3. Mainsail hoisting and dropping I note that you fold the main hatch right forward, and this gives you convenient access forward. Fine, but you will lose this facility if you fit a sprayhood, which I know you are interested in doing. I deduce that you already have the main halliard led aft to the cockpit, but if you do fit a sprayhood it would be worth also rigging a downhaul from the head of the sail which is similarly led aft to the ccopckpit, so that you can drop the sail without the need to go forward. By the same token, have your reefing lines permanently rigged and led aft, including lines through the tack cringles, so that you can reef or shake out without needing to go forward; I think that at 8:13 you had to reach forward to secure the tack reef cringle.
Incidentally at around 11:15 and onwards your main halliard seems to have slipped; certainly there were an awful lot of wrinkles in the luff. Then a little later I notice some major wrinkles in the foot, suggesting a problem with the clew reefing line. Neither helps either the efficiency or the appearance of the rig, so it is worth checking that your cleats are not allowing the halliards and reefing lines to slip, and also that the clew reefing line is pulling adequately aft as well as downwards. For the latter, think initially of a 45 degrees angle of pull, and then adjust as necessary in the light of how the sail actually sets.
4. Radar Reflector I note that you have one of the tubular ones. May I suggest that you consider replacing this; if cost is an issue then go for a traditional octahedral, but if the budget will run to something better then perhaps either one of the Echomax ones or a Tri-lens type. The MAIB/Qinetiq Report into the effectiveness of the various reflectors on the market makes interesting reading; it is available online at a number of locations, including http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/radar%20reflectors%20report.pdf . Sadly, the tubular ones came out not just worst, by a long way, of all the ones tested, but absolutely abysmally. (Says he, who bought one for his GP14 dinghy two years before that test report was issued ...)
5. Nav Lights Full marks that I could see the evidence of the sternlight, so I presume that you have all the other required lights as well. Don’t forget the anchor light, and if you don’t already have one it is worth considering a tricolour for when you are sailing; modern LED lights are particularly effective while at the same time being remarkably frugal with your precious battery power.
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