Gone sailing…

Hi! Yes, I’m still here. I’ve just been busy sailing, as the people following Sailing SV Away on Instagram already know (you should too!).

I was invited by SV Zora to tag along for an overnight sail to a nearby anchorage and it sounded great, so I was delighted! There were some more boats joining as well, so it would be great fun.

Leaving Kinsale I had the wind straight on the bow, so I had to tack all the way out to the ocean, but it was really joyful and a good time to gain experience on how to handle the boat. The first tack did however go very wrong, due to the auto pilot panicking and just stopped working. Not sure why, but as I turned it off and on again it worked just fine for the rest of the sail, so I’m not sure what that was about.

It was a light breeze, so handling Away was the same, and I enjoyed the sail immensely. Just getting out on the ocean was a joy in itself and having boats around me even more so. I didn’t really get where we were going, but we had a “pace boat” that was showing the way and I wasn’t really concerned since wherever we were going, the weather was fantastic and the sun warmed my body. It was just a perfect day for a pleasure sail. Just after I had rounded Bulman, the cardinal buoy outside Kinsale, the wind started to drop, which gave an opportunity to sail close to Zora and take some pictures before continuing to our destination.

After some I get a message from Zora that they have some issues, so I double back to make sure that they were okay or if I could tow them if the issue persisted. Apparently the gear was stuck in reverse, but Rhys fixed it and off we went again. Now the wind had dropped to 2 knots so there was no use trying to sail the last bit, so we powered there.

Photo: Rhys Meyers

Once we entered Oyster Haven and the anchorage we decided to raft up and socialize. Said and done. After a while we were four, and later five, boats rafted and we had some beers while dinner was prepared. The weather was more than we could have wished for, it was warm and sunny with pretty much no wind at all. Such a contrast to the nights at the boatyard with a strong wind howling through the rigging making the whole boat vibrate while I was trying to sleep in a cabin that was only 10 degrees Celsius. Forgiven, but not forgotten.

Photo: Rhys Walters

In total we were six boats and we all fit in the cockpit of Away, it was really nice to have all these new friends around, having a laugh and enjoying the sunset.

The next morning I woke up and started to clear out last nights enjoyment in the form of snacks and empty bottles. As I was cleaning up I felt like I wanted to have some music to accompany me, but the speaker wasn’t as willing to connect to my phone. It just stated that it was connected to my iPad in the cockpit, and in the end I gave up and got out into the cockpit as well. I grabbed the iPad and the neighbor popped out his head from their companionway, the stairs down into the boat, and said “oh, I think we have dragged”. I turned around and realized that the boat that isn’t rafted with us in the pictures above is about 10 meters to port off my stern and it was a little bit of a shock. We hadn’t set an anchor alarm. I was just lucky that we hadn’t dragged more, since we would have crashed into them, for sure. Then I looked again and realized that, no, we hadn’t been dragging, we were dragging! Now it was just about five meters between the boats and as we were coming together their bowspit would most likely hit my side unless we did something.

My first reaction was to get us out of immediate danger, so I started the engine (changing that starter was exactly because of situations like this one) and put it in gear and gave the control a good push forward. Since we were still rafted we rotated a bit, but we moved away. I looked at their chain as my stern passed it, there was less than a meter between them before we were free. At the same time the other boat broke the raft and we were all free.

A little sea side drama, and a good lesson. First of all, I want to point out that I’m not pointing any fingers here, we were all there and we were all a part of it, no single person bears the blame for us dragging. What we learned was plenty, but the most important one is to make sure to set the anchor properly. Ask if the anchor is set properly if you raft up, ask for details – how much chain is out, did they reverse the engine to test it? What revs?. Use the largest anchor available. Set an anchor alarm, multiple if possible.

Now, as I wrote earlier, this was a good lesson and I doubt that we will forget it soon, but rather incorporate it in or way to anchor. What has happened was that the tide had come in in the morning, lifting us a couple of meters off the bottom and thus the scope had changed (scope is the ratio between how much chain you have out and how far it is from the bottom of the sea to the top of the bow, normally 5:1 is used, and in hard weather 7:1 or more, so if it is 5 meters from the top of the bow you need 25 and 35 meters of chain out respectively). At the same time the breeze had picked up again, pushing us along the surface towards the other anchored boat.

Always scope the anchor chain for the highest tide if you are staying longer than a few hours.

So, my course of action today has been to order a new anchor. A larger, heavier Rocna 33kg that should hold Away in any weather that I may run into. I will keep my anchor that I have as a spare of course, since it is good to have an extra.

After that awakening it was time for breakfast.

Zora messaged me that they would go sailing in fifteen minutes and I was welcome to tag along. Well, it takes a little longer than that to ready the boat, but I got at it immediately. It just so happened that I had the wind straight at my bow again, so I figured I had tro try to sail off anchor, without starting the engine. All prepped, head sail was up and then I hoisted the anchor. She stood still in the wind for a little while as I turned the wheel, but slowly, slowly she started to turn and fill her sails. In no time I was tacking my way out of Oyster Haven! It was a thrilling feeling and an achievement that I had on my to-do list. Yes! Awesome!

Photo: Rhys Walters

The coming hours Away and Zora was sailing outside Kinsale and the wind was good, and I topped about 8 knots at most. She is definitely willing to sail fast, not much heel to talk about and it all felt really comfortable.

Photo: Rhys Walters

I didn’t check, but I think we didn’t have any winds over 20 knots, so it was perfect weather for some fun sailing, especially since the sea state was good, no old waves of chops to talk about since it was so calm the day before. It wasn’t as warm as the day before, since the sun was hiding behind the clouds, but it was still a really enjoyable sail. I practiced some tacking and tried to figure out how to optimize all the steps to minimize the risk of doing anything wrong. Especially if I’m sailing alone and is tired this needs to be honed into perfection and should sit in the muscle memory.

After a few hours it was time to go back to Kinsale and the mooring. But it was a great weekend with a lot of fun! Thank you Rhys for the invite!

Featured photo courtesy of Rhys Walters

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.