Since Friday I’ve been busy trying to get Away ready for a short test sail as well as waiting for the weather to be more reasonable. What that means in practice is that I’ve been trying to get all the electrical systems to talk to each other, which I actually got working. I also turned the magnetic compass for the autopilot 180 degrees, since it had a marking pointing aft, saying bow. I saw that as a misconfiguration. I have also tried to understand how the magnetic compass works, and how to configure it. It seems now that I managed to get some settings wrong, since the auto pilot was complaining that it didn’t get any magnetic compass corrections. I have to look into that before next sail.
Next sail? Oh, yeah! Yesterday it happened, my very first sail with Away! But you who follows me on Instagram knows all about that already. I had a short but intense shake down sail, just to get some frustration out of my body and some wind in the sails. It went rather well, but as I mentioned above the auto pilot was complaining a lot, so that needs to be fixed.
What I didn’t mention was that there was quite some wind as I entered the Atlantic ocean, up about 20-25 knots (10-13 m/s), and that created some heel. That wasn’t a big thing really, she can handle fine, but I should have taken down a reef to lessen the sail area and thus the heel. But to be honest I didn’t think of it at the moment as I was struggling to get the sails up, rather than fit for the situation.
Anyway, the sail was fantastic, but the heel did break havoc in the boat. Let’s face it – I got an instant lesson in the importance of preparing the boat before going out sailing. Many YouTube channels says that they try to make sure that the boat always should be ready to sail in an hour and now I know better what they mean with that.
Unfortunately the unreadyness on my part costed me some bowls made from ceramic, most were nothing of value but one was from my grandmother and that made me a bit sad to see it break.
My storage room was also turned up side down, with pretty much everything down on the floor as I inspected it as I got back to the mooring. So not everything went smooth, so to speak.
Talking about the mooring. I had a surprise visit from Alan, the former owner, and his son this weekend. We talked a bit about the mooring and he said that the loops was meant to be secured on each of the cleats in the bow but one was a bit too small for that, but I didn’t really undertand him until later. I realized that I probably had them attached incorrectly, but at the same time I was really struggling just to get some parts of it above the water surface as I moored this Friday.
I was to town to get some groceries on Saturday and as I got back I thought I’d check the mooring from the dinghy. What I noticed was that I had managed to moor to the correct lines, but not through the loops! The only thing holding the boat was the thinner (even if it isn’t super thin) line used to catch the mooring lines with the boat hook. And all that made a loop was that it was entangled with the mooring ball.
Just to be clear: It was pure luck that the boat hadn’t pulled itself off the mooring.
Thanks to the boat pulling on the mooring and that it was a lower tide I was able to see the loops in the end of the mooring lines this time, and I manged to get my mooring lines through the loops and securely attached to the boat. As a last measure I wanted to try to get the white helper buoy free from its entanglement, one reason is to be able to use it but also to hopefully prevent anyone else do the same mistake I did. As I was splashing around with the dinghy in the water I realized that it wasn’t attached to anything, and I didn’t have any oars nor the engine in the dinghy. I thought that it would be a bad thing if I lost the grip of the mooring since it was blowing about 20 knots (10 m/s) and the dingy is literally floating on the surface, so it can easily blow away fast. We all know how fast floating things gets away from us on the water if it is windy.
So, from thought to action. I turned around to pick up the line I had in the dinghy, but didn’t realize that by doing that I just staged the scenario that I was dreading. As I turned back I found myself just at an arms length away from the mooring, and the wind was blowing me away from the boat. I frantically tried to paddle the dinghy closer with my arms, to no avail. A quick assessment of the situation later I had two possible actions to take: either sit in the dinghy, waiting and hope I drift into the marina a few hundred meters downwind, or dive in and get to the boat.
I elected the latter, since it sounded like a more certain choice. It was sixteen degrees in the water, and about fourteen in the air so it was not an easy decision. I made a loop on the rope for the dingy, removed my life jacket since I didn’t want to fight it as I swam towards the boat, and then dived in. I was no more than twenty meters away from the boat, so it wasn’t hard to swim the distance, even fully dressed in foul weather gear.
The first thing that went through my mind as I crossed the water surface was that it was a rather comfortable temperature, the second was that it didn’t really take long to swim to the boat, even with the dinghy on tow which I expected to pull a lot harder.
Alright, I was at the boat, hanging in the water between the mooring lines and the dinghy. Now what? I tried to raise a leg onto the dinghy, but it was too heavy with all the water in the clothes. Crap… It is over a meter to get up onto the boat and while trying to pull me up I realized that all the water in my clothes was making me too heavy for me to pull my self out of the water.
What to do? Try to get to the stern and get up there? Not likely, it has a nasty overhang and then about 30 cm slope, and the ladder was tied to the pushpit, so I couldn’t get that down either. So I was stuck. Couldn’t get up in the dinghy, nor the boat. And I could feel that I was using my energy unwisely by trying to get out of the water by trying to pull myself out.
Then it hit me.
I could use the mooring ball, since it had ropes going down into the water, I could get my body over them and then stand on them to get into the dinghy. It worked really well, and I was on the dinghy in seconds and on the boat minutes later.
What have I learned from this? Well, first of all the oars are now attached to the dinghy as a possible way to propel it. Another learning is to always secure the dinghy when working on the boat from the water, at least one line but preferably two.
If I hadn’t had the mooring lines to step on I had some ropes on the dinghy that I could have used to create a loop and to attach to the boat to use as a step, so one more experience I take with me is that I should not try to pull myself up out of the water with wet clothes since I’m too heavy, I need to use my legs to have a fighting chance.
I know, I’ve just completed the first sail with the boat and all I write about is when I voluntarily took an unplanned swim in the river. It is hard to convey written feelings, but I was really excited taking her out for our first sail. It is till shadowed by all the feelings I had fighting for getting out of the water.
It was pure survival.
Now, am I alarmed? Should you be? No, neither really. I have always said that this will be a year of learning, and it is. Not all experiences will be pleasant, and some will be out right frightening. But as long as I learn from them it is all good.
The sail was, as I wrote earlier, fantastic! I was a bit overpowered, but well within the margins and all that happened was loss of some ceramic bowls and a pie form. So I learned that I wasn’t methodical while preparing the sail as I forgot to secure the doors of the cabinet under the sink, which I know is broken and needs some attention. The beeping auto pilot did stress me a bit and has to be remedied before I go sail next time. I can test it on the mooring, so that is good. I also found out that the traveler for the boom was not moving smoothly while under load, so probably I have to change the bearing balls in it if they are worn or worst case the entire traveler, which will be expensive. That has to be fixed as well before i go to sea again. There is some issues with the furler as well, it seems to be in a need of some grease, hopefully it will solve the issues being a bit hard to furl/unfurl.
None the less, it has been some eventful days and now I have to conclude the experiences I was given and rectify what I can and mitigate or accept the rest.
On another note, I also managed to get some hooks, so that there is a place to hang a jacket as you get into the boat, making it a little bit more livable. I must say that I’m surprised that there is no such things anywhere through out the boat except in the heads. Do they expect everyone to hang their clothes in their lockers all the time? I got a pair of drunken octopus boxers, love them!
Life is about learning.