The windvane – four short clips

The windvane on Blue Mistress was damaged at the end of last year. A small yacht misjudged leaving the visitors’ pontoon in Dartmouth and ran onto it – “altering the shape” of it. This year I have been watching it closely in different conditions to check there has been no lasting damage. I took these short clips off Teignmouth earlier this month.

The wind was gusting strongly – (note the untidy lines), and I thought I’d record the effect of the gusts on the self-steering gear. In the second clip, the boat is heading higher than I wanted. In the third clip,  I have adjusted the windvane to correct direction. A stronger gust then brings the boat up into the wind. In the fourth clip, I have adjusted the sails slightly. This works.

 Video clips by Bill Whateley

An Evolution

The old . . .

P1080118a

The new . . .

P1080089a

The very new . . .

P1080133a

Note the bystanders on the pontoon.

These vessels will sail for New York on Monday, 2nd May 2016 – no passengers.

(Images by Bill Whateley)

A short passage to Dartmouth

7 – A brief moment on the passage home

I had plenty of time to reflect on single-handed sailing during the week away. I passed many yachts, some with large sociable crews, more with large racing crews. They are the norm. So what about single-handed? Is it about sailing from A to B with no crew or is it something else – sailing for the sake of it, a little of which can be illustrated on camera but most of which remains in the mind of the sailor? The following records a few moments on the passage back from Dartmouth to Plymouth on that Friday evening.


Continue reading

A short passage to Dartmouth

4 – A mooring in Salcombe

Ever curious, I have been asking myself about single-handed sailing and why I enjoy it so much. The fact that I am reflecting on this at all is a clue in itself. I will enlarge on this later.

What brought this on was the image below of a diminutive Blue Mistress moored among a sociable fleet of smart yachts in Salcombe and the acknowledgement that this is not a suitable haunt for the sailor who seeks solitude.

Continue reading

A short passage to Dartmouth

3 – A few days away – to Dartmouth and back

I’ve been away for a while – first a week on the boat then a trip to London for a ’45-year’ reunion. In the latter we met up as fellow students, still recognisable as the young people we used to be – (well . . . some more, some less)! It was fun. But the London of today is not the same as it was 45 years ago. Our dental hospital was in Leicester Square and we could walk across the square without having to push through crowds of tourists. Not that I wish to turn the clock back – tourists are good for the capital, but I want to record this enormous increase in population and to contrast it with the single-handed sailing I enjoyed a few days before.

Continue reading

A simple pleasure – looking

Having watched the yacht leave – (and totally failed to note her name), I indulged in the simple pleasure of looking at boats.

A film crew has been in Teignmouth for the past week or so filming the Donald Crowhurst story – Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz etc have been here, 1960’s fashions have been in evidence – (the reporting in this link seems to be all about Rachel Weisz).

I have a deep sympathy for Donald Crowhurst and his family. A lot has been written and spoken about him, the story sensationalised for public consumption; like the previous film (Deep Water), this film will bring it all out again. I hope they treat him with respect. Whatever the mistakes, and there were many from the very beginning, (each one stacked on the previous one), he put himself forward for a huge enterprise that had no precedent. That alone took a particular mind-set. Only Knox-Johnson completed the course. In terms of seamanship, there would have been no disgrace in turning back – or even in not starting at all. One can only imagine what he must have gone through once at sea. Retrospect is easy, Therein lies the fascination – the question is asked of each one of us, “Having got into the tangle, what would you have done?” Think carefully.

Continue reading

Folksong: Temporary sail ties

In 2009, I wrote a post on lazy jacks. In 2012, I posted another three posts on lazy jacks, here, here and here. Then in 2013 it occurred to me that I was being very slow on the uptake, the boat is small enough not to need them. So I removed them.

No lazy jacks means that a whole series of lines are no longer there to be tangled with but it brings to the fore those vulnerable minutes between lowering the mainsail and stowing it neatly, when the wind can get hold of the sail and blow sections of it over the boat or, worse, over the side. At the same time, there may be other boats in the vicinity, so attention is divided between containing the flapping sail and avoiding the possibility of a collision. Lazy jacks are designed to avoid this so, if I have decided that the boat doesn’t need them, what is the alternative? This is the solution that works well for me.

Continue reading