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2016-05-30

Trial by sail

In very weak wind, the "new sail creases" still show.
One thing a boat refitting blog tends not to emphasize is actual sailing of the boat. This is a pity, of course, because that's the point of all the learning and labour. Anyway, we had been asked by our splendid neighbours, the Dulmages, for "a boat ride" before they move to Vancouver shortly.

Well, of course. We'd love it.

First, however, we needed a sea trial of the new main. Before the actual day of Having Guests Aboard, we went out in frankly miserable wind of perhaps five knots, all the better to diagnose and repair our line reeving and our sadly decayed sailing skills.

After only a few embarrassing if trivial incidents, more involving the role of heavy fenders in trapping sheets and furling lines, we declared the boat Fit for Minor Sailing. Minor because there's still loads of gear, tools and mysterious fluids only semi-secured and the head is filled with painting supplies and the beer is warm off dock power, as neither an inverter nor a 12 VDC power socket is installed. They're aboard, but not installed.
Cabin Boy in a rare moment of unmoody teenager.
Frankly miserable went up a Beaufort scale to mediocre, fitfully from the ESE, so out we went. We we reminded of a few things, such as a) the hydraulic steering quite unlike the tiller of dear old Valiente (still unsold, make an offer), both in terms of reaction time (hydraulic is slow and I feel as if I'm oversteering) and feel (hydraulic has none). Still, when Alchemy's steering is "dialled in" and we are on a beam reach or slightly aft, the boat pretty well self-steers, which bodes well for the bypass plus windvane proposition.

That's more like it.
I left the sail rather flat as I didn't want to develop speed and spilling the main would get us standing up quicker if I started to hear items shifting overmuch down below. Even so, the boat's undeniably as lightly loaded as a steel behemoth can be, and we did heel a bit. It felt good, actually, even if it was at best five knots in 11 knots true.
Haven't decided whether I should take the topping lift off entirely when sailing.
Anyway, a hot day on shore was cool gliding over the still chilly Lake Ontario, and one of the kids needed a blanket to keep warm. Luckily, we've had that sort of thing aboard for ages, given that sometimes I'm reading a manual in the dead of winter and a tiny heating fan does very little.
Sometimes shots like this remind me we sail a fairly big boat. Well, big to me.
Of course, some errors were made. We are still getting used to the fact that Alchemy needs to make a far more assertive tack, and, once tacked, needs to be helmed equally assertively, lest the Yankee jib backwind and you have to start all over again. While typical and in fact expected, it's different from an IOR design where the tacks are as little as 65-75 degrees. Nothing broke or complained, however, just a slight bit of sailorly muttering. There were children present, after all.
Mrs. Alchemy at the helm. Maybe I'll restore the tiller for her birthday in three weeks.
 All in all, a pretty nice sail...we were out nearly four hours, even in the light air. Helming from "below", however, at the pilothouse helm, with well-meaning if view-obscuring crew on the coach house, made me think that I want to get that second throttle/shifter at the outside helm....where I can see. The pilothouse is great for reading dials and playing with the radio, but I could use a better field of view. And dudes in dinghies should not sail out when I'm coming through the gap in the sea wall, please. It's nerve-wracking to see a headboard on a triangle of Kevlar going by at pipe-rail height, really closely.
Not pollution, but mist from the warm air over the cold lake.

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