I went sailing in Arwen today with my good friend who is a really experienced small boat skipper. He helmed whilst I crewed and it was very interesting to watch him take Arwen over to Cawsand and then around the back of Drakes Island and up the Cattedown through the boat moorings. The winds were fickle, forecast as being 12 knots +, they clearly weren’t. The wind gusted and swirled; it constantly changed direction from south east to south west. It would suddenly die. Despite all this he managed to sail Arwen around 50 degrees off the wind and tacked her several times through 100 degrees. I comment on this because there has been some interesting discussion about the navigator’s ability to tack which I will summarize in another post later this week.
He kept the mizzen untouched all morning and made many course corrections just by adjusting sails and trim rather than by tiller adjustments. He did pinch close to the wind on many occasions and the jib luff would begin to flap at which point a slight nudge on the tiller put him back on that ‘magic invisible line’ between close haul and over pinching.
What did surprise me today was the amount of leeway and sliding sideways that Arwen did. It is clear that the more you pinch that wind, the more she slides sideways.
It was a nice sail. We averaged about 2 kts per hour; we covered about 6 nautical miles; and we sailed for 3.5 hrs. We passed a buoy laying vessel; some dive boats off the breakwater fort and a lovely double masted gaff rigged oldie boat. As we followed her through the bridges on the western side of Drakes Island, the whiff of fresh paint and varnish wafted over her transom and down to us on the wind. She was a lovely vessel.
The tide was tricky today as well. Just off Drakes Island we went through a very odd patch of water, sort of eddy effect where the surface of the water was heavily jumbled. It is difficult to describe but the water appeared to be jumping upwards in mini fountains. Weird but marvellous to watch. It was a pleasant sail in excellent company and as always when sailing with my friend, I learned loads.