Getting to know a boat . . .
How long does it take to get to know a boat?
Longer than most people think.
When I first sailed Blue Mistress, she had a lot of weather helm.
I thought it might be something to do with the rudder.
It became a feature of our sailing – slowed us a little but it didn’t stop us. I got used to it.
Then I discovered it wasn’t necessarily the rudder.
I learnt to trim the sails more carefully, and got used to selecting the ‘right’ foresail for the particular weather. I reduced it – significantly.
That was a pretty obvious, you say.
Perhaps, but, problems often work that way – they crop up and are set aside to be solved later. We get used to them and move on because there are plenty of other problems to deal with.
The bigger, more pressing problems draw our attention and the lesser ones are tolerated and fade into the background.
As a result many of us live our lives at less than our full potential – mildly (or heavily) inhibited by a pot full of unfinished business.
“All problems carry their own solutions” (anon), but it takes some event to stir us into revisiting a tolerated problem and looking for the solution.
So with the weather helm.
A calm day, force 1, following two slightly bigger yachts with different keels, wondering whether I could keep up – (it was already apparent that my leeway was less).
I was sailing with the No 1 foresail. The lighter, larger genoa would have made a lot of difference.
On Blue Mistress, the No 1 foresail works best in a blow with one reef in the main. It was good practice to be working with it in light airs.
Easing the foresheet to give the foresail more power, and bringing the main sheet up the traveller and the boom midships, took some weigh off the tiller and gave us an extra half knot in the light wind.
They always had the edge on me in this light air, but we sailed all the way to Cawsand whereas they tacked back as they approached Picklecombe Point.
I didn’t solve the weather helm problem, but I did consider it more closely and began to tackle it.
And I enjoyed the sense of a race.
Sailing is always a race – sometimes against other boats but mostly against the tide, the weather, time – and our own need to keep up.
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