Boogie Nights

A sweary hyperactive maritime professional, really very keen on laughing a lot, doing their best to avoid all the trappings of societies' expectations by acting on impulse to any adventurous idea that wafts by. Let's go!

bienvenu, hola, ciao!

15 August 2014

Braking bad

I had an old house mate (from my days of land living) a friend called "tall" Dave come to visit for a weekend. 

He's a good mate who enjoys sailing but by his own admission has forgotten almost everything he learned on a competent crew course several years ago. He helped bring Mistral - Varekai  Boogie Nights back from Spain over four years ago but has done little sailing since then.

I introduced him to Beach Barbie first. Explaining her importance to the overall safety and security of the vessel.
Followed by the other safety kit (all new), the lines (all new), the kettle (the only original item), the helm (recently fettled, see blog entry "got a stiffy") and the sails (all new).

The boat has changed quite a bit since that big trip we did. There's a lot to take in.

Safety first, how to use the man over board items; the throwing line; the life ring and dan buoy; the rescue sling. How to deploy the liferaft. Where the fire extinguishers are. Where the gas shut off valve is. Where the flares live. Where the safety lines live. Where the May Day VHF radio crib sheet lives. Where the bilge pumps are located. Correctly fitted life jacket and how to activate it if you fall in and it doesn't automatically inflate.

Cup of Coffee? You look like you need it. 

Then, I moved on to which line does what. They have all moved since he sailed it on that delivery trip.


There's two up-fuckers, four down-fuckers based on traffic light colours, 1 red, 1 amber and 2 greens, a vanga-dang, a "Mr Jibbins" (we won't be using that today) and a "Dump n Grind" (previously known as  "scream if ya wanna go faster" aka the main sheet).  That's 9 clutches right under your nose.
The Dump n Grind has a Disco Tweaker too, which is something I added by nicking a handy billy** originally destined for use with a boom brake* and requires cowboy, yee-har skills to use, see you just flick it like this... and yee-har.  The blue Dump N Grind line lives in a heap by the wheel, the disco line lives on the other side of the winch bar in the cockpit to avoid the two getting snaggled.
Then there's the new furling line block with a ratchet and cam cleat on one side of the cockpit, a spinnaker pole down haul block on the other and sheet lines running forward to the new Genoa (no never met her) , Mr Jibbins the self tacker is packed away in a bag on my bunk. 
The two jib up fuckers and the red for danger spinnaker halyard are all nestled at the mast now, located by that new mast winch which arrived eleven months ago. Nice isn't it. Makes life so much easier.
Oh and that silver rope, that's the pole up. yes, That big pole that's attached to the rail. Don't worry, we won't be getting the spinnaker out today, yes that big colourful sail in the bag, I reassured Dave, however, I'm going to put it in the saloon where I can reach it easily, just in case, you know, just in case


Whilst my boat savvy friends and previous co-skippers Hazel, Rick and Sue picked all of this up as naturally as opening a bottle of wine and putting your feet up, Dave looked a little bewildered.

No worries, once we slipped our lines out of the marina berth, we headed off for a night on anchor in Chichester Harbour.

Dave doing his best impression of Will Smith, the fresh prince of Chichester.

I put Dave on the wheel with a telly screen to give him a break from having to remember things, which left me free to play with the sails and the sun was shining.

Goose winging into Chichester Harbour on a sunny summer evening with light winds.

It's been a long while since I last anchored Boogie Nights, but everything set first time round, no messing and we were soon sitting down for a late evening dinner in the cockpit while the small handheld GPS (my dad bought it for the boat when he helped bring it back from Gibraltar in 2010 - thanks dad) was switched on as anchor alarm.
If we drifted more than the length of the boat, it sets off a little chirrup to let us know.
With the changing of the tide in the middle of the night I looked to visually check that our anchor was still good. I'd forgotten how much I love being at anchor.

A beautiful moonlit night

anchor lights

Next stop was Cowes, Friday was the last day of Cowes week, so watching fireworks and meeting with friends was planned. Torrential downpours weren't planned though and it turned into a bit of a wash out.
The weather forecast was showing that a big old tail end of a tropical storm, called Bertha, was heading our way on Sunday. But Saturday was looking good for sailing.

To make up for a piss poor Cowes night, I mentioned to Dave that the weather and tides were spot on for a fast lap of the Isle of Wight. A bit lumpy for the first couple of hours then a great wind direction for a fast sail round the back of the island then back to shelter before the gales arrive.
Dave was keen. I was looking forward to a good blast to clear away the previous nights dark clouds and damp spirits.

Beach Barbie with her classy cable tie crown keeps a look out for racing boats ahead of us

We turned left out of Cowes. It was a bit choppy, with the strong south westerly wind picking up the fairly big tide as it headed down toward the needles channel.
My first mistake was not hoisting the main sail within the sheltered harbour entrance. This meant we were being bounced around and the boat rolled and slammed as we ducked between racing yachts trying to avoid interfering with their race. Just as the melee was clearing and we found some clear space on the water I prepared to hoist the main. This is when I realised my second mistake, I hadn't double checked the halyard fitting as usual.
The Halyard (up-fucker 1) had become detached and was now flying several metres in the air behind us.
So I spun the boat around to head downwind to see if the halyard might fall back within the grasp of the spreaders.

No. It was now flying ahead of us by several metres.

No matter which way I turned the boat, the halyard just kept on flying beyond reach.
Motoring as fast as possible downwind yielded the best results with it occasionally dropping down and hitting the forestay, so I sent "tall" Dave forward with a couple of lifelines attached to his life jacket harness and my longest boat hook, having already gone forward myself and realised I was around 30cm too short to reach it.
After 20 long minutes of waving the hook at the sky, he managed to snag the halyard and pull it back in.
He clambered back to the cockpit with his prize, a fancy grey dyneema line with a faulty clip on the end. I asked if Barbie had had anything to say while he was up there, to which he replied,
No, she was resolutely silent. I think she is reserving her judgement for later.
We then changed places so that I could run around the boat with the halyard and undo it from its maypole style mess. With a fresh roll of tape in my pocket I fastened it back to the main and taped the loose catch, pulled a couple of reefs in the mainsail before hoisting and then finally we were sailing an hour after setting off!
But by this time, the damage had been done.
Dave was decidedly a whiter shade of pale.

I sailed the boat solo while Dave sat and stared at the horizon willing his sea sisckness tablet to start working. I suggested he go and lay down until it took effect, but unsurprisingly he was unwilling to go down inside the boat.
It's not easy tacking down a very busy Solent into 28kts of wind while you have a large person looking ill in the cockpit. Whilst I can handle Boogie Nights well enough on my own, I can't handle seeing friends look unwell, not when they're supposed to be enjoying it. We do this for fun!
We reached a point, just south of Yarmouth (Isle of Wight Yarmouth, not Great Yarmouth on the east coast) when I asked Dave if he would like to continue or head back.

Freshly painted nails make me more self aware of my delicate digits. My favourite Gill gilet is ever present blocking the wind but allowing me to keep the layers thin. 

lightweight leggings are much easier to pull waterproof trousers over if the weather turns foul.
Leopard print is de rigueur on Boogie Nights

We headed back up the Solent.
running without a preventer

With the wind behind us everything seemed so much calmer for Dave. But for me, this is when I get twitchy. Needing to gybe every 10-20 minutes meant rigging a preventer (stops the boom from crashing across the boat) was going to be a right royal pain in the arse. So steering by hand was essential. As was being quick on the helm.
another Dehler, called Kelana heading the same way.
Oh how I wished I could beam Hazel in at that moment, or any of my boaty friends who understand the risks of running without a preventer, trying to cut it as fine as possible to minimise the number of gybes needed to maintain a good/fast course
It was around this time I cursed myself for not fitting the boom brake I was given as a gift at the end of 2013. (it's a Walder boom brake, which isn't my first choice, but when it's gifted to you, you don't turn that kind of generosity down)

I've been stepping over it for months in my forward cabin. I put it there thinking eventually I would get pissed off enough to give in and finally fit it. I've stubbed my toes on it, bruised the soles of my feet on it, got tangled up in it. Always cursing.

So, this week, after 10 months of pain and cursing,  I finally fitted that f*&king thing! That bad boy boom is now braked.

A second hand donated Walder boom brake

(*the boom brake requires the use of a handy billy to tension up the line on the drum, causing added friction, which means the boom can move only slowly while it slides around the drum, so when the boat is going into the wind, the boom brake is released without tension, but then when the wind is behind the boat, tension is applied to the brake, which stops the boom from being able to fly across the boat uncontrolled, which would damage the boom, mast or other fittings or could potentially kill someone if they got in the way)

 (** a handy billy is a mini block and tackle which gives a much stronger purchase on a line. So one line attaches to the end shackle. The handy billy has it's own captive line tied on to the end of one of the blocks and then goes backward and forward around the pulleys, it becomes 4:1 ratio, which means a small amount of pulling by me on the handy billy line means lots of pulling power on the single line attached to the end of it.

a highly technical drawing of a handy billy

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