The day finally arrived. That day!
The day, when finally after a horrendously wet winter, Arwen and I could get out on the water for her 2016 shakedown cruise.
The only day this Easter break, when Arwen and I will be able to get on the water. Yes, you guessed it. The weather for the next fortnight is………TaDah…………HORRENDOUS!
It always takes a little longer when rigging Arwen for the first time after winterization. Poor memory doesn’t help. I have to re-familiarize myself with rigging halyards and blocks and holes in the deck around the mast base. And then poor memory kicks in again because I can’t remember where I stored everything after the winter spring clean and re-stowage policy I introduced………the aim of which was to make things easier to find to hand!
There are captions on the video. These don't always appear if playing back on a tablet device
It was a spring tide with high tide around 7am and low tide around 1.30pm. So it was launch on the south slip and retrieve on the north slip at QAB. Not normally allowed on the north slip, but a kindness shown by the yard team for which I was grateful. It was good to catch up with the team and hear their winter news. They had had a busy winter season with lots of upgrading of pontoons.
And Good Friday was gloriously sunny. Down here in the west country, we had been waiting for such a day throughout most of winter!
A breeze of around 8 – 9 knots during the afternoon. The sea was a slate grey topped by the occasional little white horses. It’s surface, ripped by the wind zephyrs as they raced across the sound from the south west. Naval frigates, both British and Dutch, came and went; the little Police boats that accompany them racing around like mildly irritated small wasps. Inshore lobster pot boats scurried about hauling in their plastic coloured floats. One or two private fishing boats were out for early mackerel. Someone caught a jumbo 2.5lb one last week; reported in the paper it had clearly got some people excited! Brave souls bobbed about on open fishing kayaks. They looked cold despite drysuits, several layers, gloves and hats and facing away from the wind. Several white plastic yachts joined us mid- morning and with building breeze, they were able to put on a show of leaning away from the wind to reveal their broad bottoms as the raced about.
Arwen and I scuttled along on a beam reach for most of the day, back and forth across the sound. We had no specific plans, it was just good to feel breeze on our face and sails again. We practiced hove to manoeuvres to adjust cameras on floating platforms; and I was reminded how sea sick queasy I can feel the moment I look down or concentrate on something in the boat. Tea and cheese and marmite sandwiches, Jaffa cakes and grapes went someway to alleviating the symptoms bizarrely.
Today was an opportunity to get familiar again with rigging, test out new adjustments and additions and generally reacquaint oneself with bobbing about on the sea. The new tiller extension worked perfectly. The trim and balance seemed fine. There was less clutter around the cockpit. The new submersible filming platform for my SJCAM was fun……a work in progress I think! The rear tell tales on the leech of the mainsail fluttered and streamed nicely, telling me the airflow across the sail was wrong. Huh! Tell me something I don’t know…….like how to trim the sails so that the airflow is better! My MOB retrieval skills improved significantly during the morning although I have yet to master coming to a complete stop alongside……which does seem to put pay to rescuing an MOB…so further work needed on that manoeuvre! I managed to rig the port jib sheet outside the port shroud instead of inside it. Dur! The second reefing line mysteriously became loose and undid itself….so much for my bowline skills! Still, all minor niggles, all easily solved.
Not such a minor niggle was the outboard. Something is wrong. It keeps cutting out when you go to put on a little speed. It will chug along at a very sedate slow speed but the moment that throttle is twisted……it splutters and cuts out. I’m also thinking that it may be my imagination, but the outboard bracket looks as if it has sagged slightly and so the engine will be lower in the water……..very disconcerting…..given sailing back to the south slip at QAB is not an option! Sailing back to the north slip – yes; the south slip with that tight turn and approach through the expensive boat canal as I call it…nope!
Another thing I was conscious of was the sorry state Arwen looked in and so this year I will take time, as soon as the weather allows, to varnish the mast, sand and paint over the scraps, sand down rubbing strakes and then reseal them with burgess woodsealer. Poor Arwen, she really needs some TLC!