There isn’t any order to the points below – they are just things I’ve scribbled to myself to think more deeply about.
Firstly tents! Paul made a very good point that it can take up to two hours to sort out a tent, catering and sleeping arrangements at the end of a long sailing day. Securing the sails, erecting the tent, changing clothes, assembling the galley and then sorting out bedding; cooking a meal and then washing up – all take time and a high degree of planning.
This is true and I need to develop a more systematic system than the one I did in Salcombe last summer. I need to have systems of Tupperware boxes with different things in. I always think that Steve Earley with Spartina has it really well buttoned down. Visit his blog and peruse his posts. The man is one highly organised camp cruiser. Go to http://logofspartina.blogspot.com/
Then there is the issue of buoyancy. John has plenty designed into a navigator......but I always worry that my hatches might leak....don’t know why – I just do! So maybe I need to put in some additional buoyancy. Fenders are useful additional buoyancy and of course they double nicely as hull props for propping up the boat when you allow the water to ebb away and you decide to beach camp on board! However, these fenders have to be well secured and almost immovable in the hull if they are to act as additional buoyancy and they must of course be below the water level in the hull during a capsize so that they provide the additional lift. I need to take another look at this issue! Mine are definitely not that well secured!
I need to revisit the downhauls on my centreboard and rudder. Originally they were shock cord. I used this because if either hit bottom, there was enough ‘give’ for them to rise upwards slightly. However, I found that the shock-cord stretched whilst under way and the centreboard would rise. The rudder was the worst offender – rising upwards quite rapidly. This made steering difficult and placed huge strains on the rudder. So.....I replaced the downhauls with 5mm rope – it held them in place nicely....but now I’m worried – if I accidently hit bottom whilst creek crawling.......they won’t give or bounce back....so I need to look at this one again – will a thicker shock-cord be better?
Paul posed some really good questions about deciding how safe your boat is. Arwen passed the RNLI small boat safety check with flyhing colours two years ago. She scores highly on this website on which you can complete an online questionnaire which helps give you an idea of how safe your boat is – it’s fun to fill in and actually quite a useful reflection exercise – go to http://smallcraftadvisor.com/sca-seaworthiness-test
Anyway, questions posed by Paul included:
• In a capsize can the rudder or tiller detach themselves and float away?
• Will the centreboard drop back in the centre board case and be difficult to extract when the boat is floating on its side?
• Will any gratings or floor boards float away?
• Is the tiller firmly attached to the rudder?
• Are rudder fittings bolted to the transom rather than just screwed?
• Are oarlocks metal and firmly attached to the boat?
• Are cleats bolted through the deck rather than screwed to it?
Um! May need to go and check one or two things......I sense that ‘to do’ list is growing again!
The one that made me really sit up and think is along the same lines as some questions posed by Osbert a few months ago. Can the boat sail itself?
Wow! I’ve never tried. I always sit with tiller in hand and I’m happy to potter along but actually, Osbert, Steve in Spartina and believe it or not Joshua Slocum himself – have all commented about how their boats can sail themselves for short periods of time.
Paul, in this book makes the point like this.......
“The way the boat sails is of prime importance. Speed is not really the issue with cruising; it is far more useful to have a degree of comfort when sailing for a sustained period of time. Going more slowly does not mean sailing inefficiently, it is more to do with matching the sail area to the undertaking. The activity is ‘sail sightseeing’ and during sailing, it is usual to engage in a variety of domestic activities, changing clothes, eating snacks, taking photographs and checking pilotage details to mention just a few. You do not want to have to be constantly jumping up and down to keep the boat from capsizing whilst occupied in this way.........
..............the reaction of the boat to gusts of wind should be predictable, steady and smooth. It should not be so tender that it instantly falls on its ear with each puff of breeze; there should be plenty of time to react. It helps if the boat will gently follow the wind in the puffs but still be easy to steer and not become so ‘hard mouthed’ that she will luff irrespective of what you do. Here is a relevant question....could the boat be sailed with the sheets held firmly in jamb cleats or with the helm impeder almost constantly engaged without undue risk of capsize?”
Got that ‘Homer’ feeling again.....doh! And there I was as a novice sailor hoving to every time I wanted to do something – hell no wonder I don’t seem to make much mileage!
Soooo much to think about! This sailing malarkey is complicated stuff!