Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Devils Tattoo

Sleeping on the boat, even just at the marina when lacking the time to go anywhere, is one of the great joys of owning a cruising boat. Quiet time.

And then it starts. At first, just an isolated sound. Ping. Silence and a few waves lapping. Then increasing. Ping, ping. A few seconds of rest. Anticipation. Ping. Ping, ping, ping. Pointless urgency. Ping, ping, ping, ping, ping,
ping.... Restful like a train station.

I've head the that the gentle slap of hemp on wooden masts is soothing, but my expereince is limited to the shrill ping of polyester on aluminum. The creak of docklines is OK; they can always be adjusted if troubling. The low howl of the wind is calming; I'm harbor, not underway, so all is right in  my corner of the world.

And then there is the matter of chafe on halyards and lazy jacks and scuffing of the mast. I tie mine off by sliding a loop up the halyard, pulling it tight to the diamond wires. Most noisy masts have a plan, but just a fair weather plan, a plan that fails, unknown to the owner, when the wind pipes up. Bungees lose tension. Lines stretch. 10s of thousands of cycles against the spreaders, jacklines, and the mast itself. It all sounds like money to me.


Today I've been fitting a new windlass to my boat, swapping a badly rusted Lewmar Sprint 500 for a V700. Very quiet. The windlass that is; the winds have been sustained at 30 knots at the dock, raising all sorts of racket.

I can't afford halyards this year.

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