More adventures in singlehanding
Went out today on the Patapsco out of Rock Creek (Baltimore, MD) on a beautiful day with winds predicted to be 10-20 (mph). As I was setting up, I heard a few gusts that made the rigging sing a bit, and I pondered putting in a reef at the dock. A few more gusts like that and I went ahead and did it; but on my way out I saw boats my size coming in without any reefs, so I took mine back out as I motored out of the creek. Needless to say, later I wished they had still been in place.
Once again, as back in my July post "I am overpressed with sail," the wind was from the west and got up into the high teens in knots, and I found myself unable to hold a broad reach. Every time the wind gusted I got bad weather helm that pulled me back up into the wind -- often up to 90 deg offcould course!
But this time I decided to heave to and put in a reef. I'd practiced heaving to, and I had lines set up on the boom for reefing, so I figured I'd give it a go.
Heaving to and setting up the reefing lines was easy. What surprised me was that I was unable to hoist the main back up to retension the main. I could see that the main was not up as far as it could be, but even grinding on the winch wouldn't move it up. I didn't persevere with the winch, which turned out to be a very good thing.
Trying to come up into the wind under sail wasn't helping, so I fired up the ol' A4 and powered dead into the wind and tried again. Still nothing. Suddenly I noticed that the main halyard was not making a straight run up the mast from the turning block, and looking away from the masthead for the first time, I saw that the halyard had somehow got wrapped around the starboard spreader. If I'd kept grinding on the winch, I might have damaged it -- thank goodness I'm of the "if it ain't moving, quit pulling" school.
I figured the only way to get the tension off the main halyard to free it was to completely drop the main, which I did. I took the jib down too, just to get all the sail pressure off the rig. Then I went forward, leaving the tiller tied down with a bungee cord, and freed the halyard from the spreader.
After getting that free I went back to the cockpit and got the boat right back into the wind again and hoisted the main. This time I was able to get decent tension on the main, though I wasn't completely happy about it. But after I raised the jib again, I saw that the sheets had managed to tie themselves in a knot over the port lifeline. This was a serious knot, and not one to unwind itself just by pulling on the starboard sheet.
So once again I had to tie down the tiller and go forward, and this time I had to submit to the joy of being flogged by the loose part of the knot as I attempted to free it. I got two or three good THWACKs by the sheets before I got everything right.
Finally I had everything set up, and was able to get back under way. There was still more weather helm than I think there should have been with a full 110 jib and a reef in the main. I'm going to have the rigging looked over by a pro before next season, just to make sure everything is correct.
But all in all, everything was working OK, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. I think there's something off about the rigging setup, that I need two reefs in just 20 kt wind to balance a 110 jib. Something's just not right about that.
But it was another good day of learning: I relearned the old standby "never change your first answer on a test" by putting in, then taking out, then having to put in again the reef in the main. I also learned that heaving to to put in a reef is a pretty easy thing to execute.
Another good day on the water. When I got home I checked the wind speeds off the NOAA buoy just outside the Key Bridge: 16-20 kt steady, with gusts up to 26.
I need some Tylenol.
S/V Free Spirit
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.