I think we all agree that a BFS doesn't necessarily involve extreme conditons of wind and sea, but can also include a sail that pushes the envelope of what a sailor has ever done with his boat. I had one of these tonight.
I have a 1975 Newport 28 with very vanilla rigging. I recently added a jib downhaul, but hadn't tested it yet until tonight. I really didn't want to singlehand alone for the first time; I wanted to have someone handy just in case my setup exploded into ruin and I needed immediate help. However, none of these plans came to fruition, and I found myself alone tonight and too eager to wait until later. It was an "edge" moment: could I handle what I was going to try without any backup?
In all honesty, it wasn't like I was facing extreme conditions: 15 mph winds on the Patapsco River were just about perfect for what I was going to do. So out I went.
The first thing I discovered is that my shock cord tiller tender couldn't hold the boat into the wind for very long. I idled down the engine and carefully pointed her into the wind to raise the main, but I didn't have it half way up before I noticed that the boat was falling off and the strain on the sail made it impossible to finish raising the main. I ended up making three big circles with the boat, raising the sail a bit more each time we came into the wind, until I had it up all the way. I can only imagine what I must have looked like to the other boaters coming out of the creek.
So once I had the main up I practiced with it a bit, tacking and gybing to get the feel of it, and I finally felt comfortable enough to decide to raise the jib. That was the mistake of the evening!
I just didn't have the right rig to handle the jib sheets. I was trying an experiment with the jib sheets coming right off the winches to the jib clew, with no blocks between, and it just didn't work. (As most of you could have told me, no doubt.) I only tried it because I saw a photo of a Newport 28 with that rig, but it was probably a primitive Photoshop effort, because it just didn't work at all. The photo was a fraud. The sheets either wrapped around the winch and locked up as if they were self-tailing winches, or the sheets just fell of the top of the winch.
So I struggled with the jib sheets for about an hour and a half, trying to figure out if there was any way to properly handle the boat with that setup. I finally abandoned the effort, and decided to drop the jib and main and motor back into the creek.
Well, I must have looked like the most drunkked sailor ever on the Patabsco River as I zigged and zagged all over the river trying gto get the sails down. I'd love to see my GPS track, as the tiller tender still couldn't told the boat into the wind even with the engine going. All I needed was "Yakety Sax" playing in the background and the comedy would have been complete.
At least I didn't hit anyone, and I was able to get the boat back home with the sails down . There was lots of work doing that, and my new jib downhaul jammed 2/3 of the way down, requiring me to go forward Yet again with only the tiller tender guiding us. I probably looped around another 2 or 3 times while clearling that mess up. At least the engine ran wonderfully. (Thank you Moyer Marine!)
So my BFS was under ideal conditions on a river I knew very well, yet the envelope was pushed way beyond anything I'd done before. I know that the next time I go out alone I'll make a few changes, and hopefully that will make a big difference .
S/V Free Spirit
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Last edited by jaschrumpf; 05-14-2009 at 10:19 AM.