Sunday, August 28, 2016

Reasons To Go On Deck...

... Or 10 reasons why leading all of the lines to the cockpit is not my cup of tea.

  1. Friction. I can hoist my main all but the last two feet without a winch, and I can do this in less than a minute. A high mast exit point exposes the halyard high enough for me to put my full weight on it without any strain, and there is only one pulley in the system. The jammer is nice and high, and the winch is right at my chest when it is time to grind the last few feet. I keep a winch handle at the mast.
          Also less stretch because the lines are shorter. This allows
          the use of polyester line.
  1. Simpler. Cheaper. Also saves twists, tangles and stuff that can break.
  2. Clean Deck. Fewer turning blocks and line organizers. Less to trip on and more space for the feet.
  3. Less spaghetti in the Cockpit. Gotta do something with all of those line tails.
  4. Eyes out of the cockpit. There is a new disease afoot, where the helmsman stares at the instruments more than where he is going, loosing both spacial, situation, and weather awareness. Folks actually think they need instruments, in spite of the fact that none of this existed when sail was king. Folks should sail  part of the time with the instruments off or at least covered. New sailors should be allowed only a compass until they have mastered every maneuver and basic piloting without them.
  5. Practice. If you never leave the cockpit when the weather is less than perfect, will you be ready when the furler jams in a blow, the anchor works loose, the main won't come down, or that wonderful single-line reefing knots up? I've told many climbers that unless you plan on climbing at least once a week you have no business leading challenging traditional climbs. A climber needs to know exactly exactly what they can and cannot do do without falling. Same with a sailor on deck; you only become and stay skilled and comfortable on a heaving deck if you do it frequently.
  6. Tethers and practice. Same thing. Sailors who don't use them regularly get caught up in their knitting and then blame the system. The problem is they are not used to the system. Just like people who claim they can't work in gloves, invariably they have not really tried to learn. They have deigned to try. Jacklines should be permanent, and used frequently, like seat belts.
  7. Inspections. There is no better time to look at the equipment than when it is under load. You will see things that aren't visible at the dock.
  8. Trim. Get another perspective on the sails. It's surprising how often I see some thing that wasn't obvious from the cockpit. Anyone who does not want to understand trim is not a sailor.
  9. Because you can. Isn't sailing about freedom to go where you want, and why shouldn't you be free to travel the whole boat?
and finally..

    11.  Exercise. A passage spent in the cockpit is cramping. I like moving on deck.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Crowds or Isollation, What is Your Pleasure?

It's natural to crave solitude after a week of hand-to-hand combat in the rat race. Can't they all just get out of my way and leave me alone? Even if you you like your trade, perhaps it needs a rest.

But after a few weeks away and a string of blue lagoons (or even solo time up a muddy Chesapeake creek), people start to get interesting again. You wonder what they have been up to and you have your own stories to share. Sometimes I'll just dinghy over to the beach or waterfront and sit on a bench, half listen to the local talk just to learn what is different about this place or different about folks. I'm not snooping, I'm just interested.

In a few weeks most of the Chesapeake sailboats will take their last trip of the season, most likely a Labor Day trip to a locally popular spot. And then, in spite of the fact the September is the best sailing month of the year around here, the boat will be parked until it is time to winterize, and then hauled out until May at least. It won't be too cool for comfortable wading until late October, and sleeping in 50-60s is infinitely better than 80-90s.

The only down side to off-season sailing--all but the core of the winter, when cold becomes an obstacle--is that shops close up, people go away, and the waterfront gets quiet. Do they stay home because everyone else stays home, feeding a self-fulfilling prophesy? Are people so attached to crowds that they can't sail without them, no matter how vehemently they claim to seek solitude under sail?

People are weird. And I'm one of them. For me, cruising is more interesting when there are sailors around. Not so many I'm fighting for space, but folks to interact with. I'm human.

So get off the couch this Fall, Winter, and Spring. It'll be fun.