An annual event, 'her indoors' accompanied me out on a day sail yesterday. Pleasant weather unlike last week - with light winds, F2 from NW around to SE and back again - so fickle! Sunny and a lovely temperature of 25C.
Launched at QAB as normal (they are back open doing self launching once more), we drifted out on the outgoing tide (HT at 10.0am - allowing 'her indoors' time to wake up, have a civilised breakfast and get a latte before we departed the pontoon).
Unlike last week, everything went according to the plan - after we almost collided with the enormous steel hulled 'Pelican of London' - a tall training ship - that was coming through Sutton Harbour to negotiate the locks into the Marina (we were coming out of a narrow canal between moored boats and didn't see the tall masts of 'The Pelican' The accompanying pilot and harbour master launches escorting her - didn't see us - smiles and laughs all round but only after I executed an exceptionally fast and tight right angled turn with the outboard and tiller).
The sails raised smoothly, once out in Jennycliffe Bay (now that I have put the cleat back towards the mast base below the fore-deck - I can 'sweat' the main sail halyard far more efficiently). The top yard still doesn't quite attain the top of the mast below the mast sheave and today I worked out why - I have left the old wooden block pieces on the mast that used to support the base of the bronze mast ring and so the loop of rope that runs around the mast and holds the yard tight against it - keeps catching on it - what a simple revelation that was. So, sometime this week those old blocks pieces will be removed and the holes filled in and sanded.
We made good progress in light winds across Plymouth Sound - reaching 3.7 kts - tide assisted of course. We headed for the eastern end of the breakwater, caught a lucky break on the winds which allowed a beam reach along its length westwards and into the centre of Cawsand Bay where we sailed between two sets of moored boats (each long, long line anchored in the lee of either the northern or southern shorelines), before dropping sails and gently motoring right inshore to drop the old hook for a lunch time picnic and swim. After lunch, we set sail out of the bay, eastwards along the outside of the breakwater and then turned north back through the eastern entrance, by which time the winds were almost due south again and so we ambled downwind all the way back to the Dunstone Buoy where we neatly pulled up rudder and centreboard, sheeted in the mizzen, turned head to wind and dropped sail. We later learned that the small blue hulled boat with white sails that was ahead and veered off towards 'The Bridges' and the mouth of the Tamar, was the partner of a friend we both know who we worked alongside in the city education service. And, apparently, he follows 'Arwen's Meanderings' - well go figure - a small world it is indeed.
Which brings me neatly to the point of this post - an opportunity to try the 're-boarding loops' on Arwen. I shamelessly stole the idea from Howard Rice, Joel Bergen and Simon Baldwin on their Scamps and navigators.
My loops, made of woven tape, tuck under the coaming cut outs and are securely tied to eye-bolts that run through the bulkheads either-side of midships.
There is a boarding loop on both port and starboard sides. The idea is that after a capsize, I can reach over the coaming and pull one of them out. The loop hangs down in the water at a sufficient a length that I can get one foot onto the loop and then stand straight up on it.
With both feet inside the loop, my legs then sort of stick out under the water away from the hull but also give me sufficient height that my midriff comes level with the side deck and by pushing against the loops I can 'tip' myself into the boat. Well that is the theory.
So, the short video below shows the re-boarding. Of course, there are considerable caveats. The boat was at anchor, the seas were calm and I wasn't wearing a life jacket or PFD with bits hanging off it.
But what did I learn in doing it? In no particular order, initial thoughts:
- the side deck was around 6 inches above my head when I was in the water - didn't expect that - though granted after a capsize, the hull will be full of water, swamped, and so settled much lower in the water
- that 6" above my head, plus the 8" side deck, plus the 2" high coaming rim - all combined to defeat me in reaching my arm down over the coaming to access the tape which is tucked behind a coaming cut-out - 'the boss' had to help out
- the way I store my oars on their rowlocks along the side deck outside of the coamings was also a pain - and the tape comes over the top of them - so when my weight is on the tape, the oars are pressed against the coaming edges.
- in the water, the tape was around 6" too shallow - I needed that extra little bit of 'depth' to them. I could get my foot into the loop, but I had to be right on my back virtually to get my feet raised high enough in the water - trying to do that in a wavy sea - could be interesting!
- the actual standing up on the loops and pushing my extended legs out behind me under the water was surprisingly easy and so my mid riff did come level with the side deck and I practically tipped myself in an ungainly roll into the boat - that was quite easy.