Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Its been a while...again!

 A lot has happened in the last few years and 2022 is looking crazy too.

Sailing wise, the Covid pandemic changed a lot of things for me. The first was the impact of the lockdown on the boat. It sounds odd - why would that affect the boat? The inability to check on the boat, to get the cover off and allow it to air, particularly in those cold months, caused a build up of damp to damge the varnish with discolouration and in some places seperation. 

This was compounded by not having winter storage space or somewhere undercover, or the space to errect a polytunnel, to work on the boat. I decided I needed a boat constructed in FRP that would be able to withstand winter conditions and not need painting or varnishing. The search began in winter 2020. I found nothing suitable. In a fit of madness I explore the idea of fitting out a new hull. I had a spare mast and boom and some spare fittings and foils so I thought it was a reasonable option. I contacted Paul Armstrong who had fitted out an Albacore and asked about it. His advise was 'don't do it' - it took him ages and he had to buy special tools. Unperturbed, I contacted Ovington who told me the last two hulls had just been sold to CS Boats. I called Paul Sleeman of CS Boats and we discussed the options, starting with the bare hull, then with a fittings pack, then fully fitted out - with foils, all the while the price was going up but still within my savings. I decided, on the spur of the moment, to buy a fitted out hull, complete with foils, roped and ready to take the mast from 6844. Next task was to tell my wife. And to sell 6812 - a boat I hadn't sailed since 2015 and was in a state of unfinished refurbishment. At the end of March 2021 the second lockdown ended and 6812 was sold to her new owner as a refurb project. 

In May 2021 Paul Sleeman arrived with 8254 and we set about fetteling the rig I had from 6844 onto the new boat. She arrived on a new road base and trolley that I had also purchased through CS boats - an after-thought when considering that I needed another trolley at the least. A new road base for a new boat seemed the right move. 

That weekend I took 8254 to the club and launched her for the first time with a simple naming ceremony - just water! I was asked if it was holy water, I said it is if I say it is! 8254 was duly named 'Outrageous Grace'. Why that name? I never expected to buy a new boat. It seemed outrageous and yet here she was. 'Grace' is a gift that is undeserved, unwarrented, not earned and whilst I did pay for her, the mere fact that I could felt like a gift. Like all things in life, it helps to be grateful to the ultimate gift giver for what we recieve and her name reflects that gratitude. 

2021 was a great start to racing 8254 with some success in the national circuit (I won my first Albaore Open meeting in October) and at my home club with some good results through the year. 

I purchased a new mast early in 2022, which is working well and this means 6844 can have her mast back. She has had some essential repairs done and her deck revarnish with a superb finish, by Paul Sleeman of CS Boats. Now she just needs a bit more work and refitting and to be sold as soon as reasonably possible. She is a quick boat and she looks great. 

I love the look of a good looking wooden hull - they have more personality than the very bland looking FRP hull. I am tempted to keep 6844 but I can only sail one boat at a time.

Is the FRP hull faster? I'm not sure but I think so. It seems to be quicker to get on the plane, the controls work better and the centre sheeting as opposed to aft sheeting makes for better tacking and gybing - especially gybing in a strong breeze as it gives you more control of the gybe.

I'm hoping for some excellent sailing in 2022 as the season unfolds. New sails are on order and performance looks like it will only improve so I'm hopeful of some good results this year too.But other things could crash into all these rather minor hopes, we live in a fragile world with idiots in positions of power that ought not to be. I'm praying that the crisis in the Ukraine is resolved peacefully and we can all breathe a little easier. 

Its been a while....

 Since my last post, many moons ago, I have been sailing my Albacore 6844, Firebird at Nottingham Sailing club and a number of open events around the country, including the International championships held at the Waymouth and Portland Sailing Academy (venue for the 2012 Olympics), which was a great week of racing, even if things didn't go well for us. But over the last few years we have had some success, especially locally at NSC.
I have really enjoyed sailing at Nottingham Sailing club, the river is a challenging piece of water to race on and I am sure my boat handling and windshift spotting vastly improved.

However, since August I have moved house and sailing club so now begins another period of adjustment and settling in.

My new club is Leigh and Lowton Sailing club on Pennington Flash, not far from Warrington, where I currently live.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

A race from last year

With no sailing possible I am checking out videos online of racing plus reviewing my one videos. This is one is from a race at the Albacore National championships held at the Welsh National Sailing Academy in Pwllheli.
My crew for the event was my daughter Emma, an experienced dinghy sailor, venturing into an Albacore from her usual Enterprise. Earlier in the year we sailed together in her Enterprise in the Masters held at Leigh and Lowton SC - my current home club.
Emma inveted a new game - Racing-with-Dad Bingo which uses key phrases that I might utter such as "Jib in" and "Where's the wind gone?".
The event was really good fun with some excelent racing and socials. We finished in the top ten so clearly have some room for improvement - like starting and keeping the boat flat.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The last Sail of the day-dreaming sailor! For a while anyway.

The last Sail for a few weeks at least as the Coronavirus brings a lockdown to the country to slow the spread of the infection.
I don't know why but I decided to use the camera for this solo sail and I'm glad I did. It was a really lovely time on the water with enough wind to get planing off wind and not too much to make upwind any more than slightly challanging.
I wear a Fitbit tracker and I have noticed that when I'm sailing my heart rate is almost continuously in the 'Cardio' region for pretty much the whole time I'm on the water - and its such fun that you don't really know your exercising normally until the day after when your wonder why your legs ache!
What I really find so great is that there is often this kind of inner stillness after sailing - its almost on the parr of a religious/spiritual experience and I guess in many ways it is. It can be a truely immersive experience - in more ways than the obvious! Immersed in creation - the wind and water - the balance of forces - the movement and coordination of body and boat - the concentration that drives out every other thought until you are one entity moving across the water with the soul aim of speed and course responding to the elemental changes.
I can't wait to get back on the water. Until then I will have to practice sailing in my mind - visualising every detail. I won't get all the health benifits but what else can a day dreaming sailor do when the water is forbidden?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Catch up on 2015 and introductions

Its been almost a year since my last post and boy what a year! Last season went well with Acushla (Albacore 6812) sailing really well with a nice new set of Mcnamara sails. Some good results were achieved both at my local club and at the Albacore National Championships and the Northern area championships at Bala. It would have like to have done more circuit events but that is probably always going to be the case!
Here are a few shots of action this year

Nationals at Brightlingsea
Planing on the Trent at NSC
NSC open meeting in very light conditions
Leading the first race NCS open meeting

The major event of 2015 was nothing to do with sailing
Introducing Helen, my lovely wife.
We got married!
And we did some sailing together on the river Fal  

And then right at the end of the year I bought this

Another Albacore: Firebird 6844. A Woof Mk2 hull in good condition but with a desperate need to be re-painted and re-varnished. And a number of other repairs and replacements needed too.

Since January, I have stripped the hull of fittings, varnish, and paint, effected repairs, sealed the wood with Eposeal, repainted the hull, purchased a new cover and ordered a new mast. In the coming weeks, I hope to varnish the cockpit and decks and refit her for racing hopefully in time for the Inland nationals at Carsington.

Here are some pics of the work:
Look no varnish! It took ages to do this.
stripped of fittings
Eposeal on the cockpit and decks complete
Devoid of paint

Eposeal of the hull complete
Hull painted

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sail repairs

It seems that since I have started sailing the wind has been blowing dogs of chains almost every occasion I get to go sailing. It makes for exciting racing but my body is getting a bit of physical punishment. And its not just the body - I noticed this weekend that my jib is getting a hammering on the clew. It is to be expected because the clew on the jib gets the brunt of it as every tack it slaps against the mast and then there are the occasions when the sail flogs and again it gets the worst of it. Letting a jib flog is the quickest way to wreck it so I do my best to prevent it but there are times when you just have to let the wind do its worst.
On inspection I noticed that the stitching had come away and the material was beginning to separate on the leech just above the clew.
I took the sail home and quickly assessed the work. I have a set of sailmaker's needles and some thin sailmaker's twine as well as some sail repair tape. So I replaced the missing thread by simply stitching using the holes already made and then covered it with a strip of sail repair tape. I then checked out the rest of the sail for other repairs and found a few places that needed a bit of sail repair tape. I think it looks ok. The sail has seen a lot of action but it still has a good shape so its worth the effort to keep it going.

These simple repairs should keep the sail working for another couple of seasons but I wonder how many folk would just use it until it came apart and then get a new one. I have recently ordered a new jib, which I intend to keep for open meetings and the Nationals, and they're not cheap; a new mainsail is a pretty penny too. Taking care of your sails is not only good for the bank balance but it is also a safety issue - a sail coming apart at the seams is not much use when you're out on the water in a dinghy as you can't just change it. So take care of your sails folks. This jib is going to see a lot more use before it finally ends up as a garden shade.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

She floats! No leaks.

These images show the internal view of the repairs

Turning the boat over to finish of the repairs, I found that a number of the floor stiffeners had started to become loose and needed re-fixing. I resorted to yet more epoxy resin which seemed to do the trick. However I do wonder if a better fix is to remove the stiffeners and add a sheet of thin ply to the floor as this would strengthen and stiffen the hull. But alas the rules don't allow it.

The finished repaired hull ready to complete the fitting out, decks re-varnished and floor painted with deck paint.

It could do with a complete re-varnish of the cockpit but its good enough for another season.

Now she is all fitted out and down at Nottingham Sailing Club. I have taken her out twice, the first time was for a race with a novice crew.  It was a bit of a scramble as I was still putting the last fittings on 15 minutes before the race. We launched on what I thought was the 6 minute signal, it turned out to be the 3 minute signal so when the start signal sounded it was only the other boats speeding off that gave me a hint that the race had started. So not the best start.
Before we got to the first mark we had taken the lead and we just kept extending it until the finish. On corrected time we won by 3 1/2 minutes. Very satisfying.

Monday, April 20, 2015

I am sick of the stink of paint fumes

The problem is my office is over the garage and the fumes accumulate - even with the windows open. I may have to construct a shelter outside next time I need to paint the boat. 

Not the best finish, I should probably have removed all the paint and started from scratch but I want to go sailing. Maybe next year I will strip it right back and re do it.

I still have quite a bit of work to do but I'm hopeful of getting it done by the weekend.