Monday, May 17, 2010

A single handed weekend

I'm back from a beautiful weekend of sailing.  Blue skies, fairly warm, and even a little bit of wind thrown in there.

I left early friday evening for Blakeley Harbor to anchor out.  There was a nice wind on friday, 5-10 knots from the north so I had an easy downwind sail.  Blue skies, easy sailing, things were pretty nice.  I've sailed single handed before so nothing really new so far, more good practice though.  Anchoring single handed went pretty well.  There are times when having more people aboard would be very handy - but I'm trying to develop these skills and the only way I can see myself learning this stuff is by doing it.  When there are others aboard things just happen and you aren't forced to think through how you would do it if you were sailing by yourself.  Anyway, friday ended well, safely at anchor, clear skies, lots of stars.

Saturday morning I had to figure out raising the anchor while staying safe in the anchorage.  There was a little over 5 knots of breeze blowing through so it wasn't a huge challenge and it went well in these conditions.  I like to spray down the chain as it comes up to keep mud out of the anchor locker, so I was on the bow spraying, raising the anchor, stopping to walk back to the helm to maneuver the boat, back to the bow to raise more chain, down below to spread the chain around as it castled, back to the helm, back to the bow...  It was pretty smooth.  It it had been blowing 20 knots or more it would have been more of a challenge.

I got out to Puget sound with the idea of heading south to Quartermaster harbor...but there was no wind.  I'm pretty patient so I waited for four hours with the sails up bobbing around while I drifted first north and then south with the current, watching the current go from an ebb to a flood.  Finally I'd had enough and motored back to Blakeley for a repeat.  This time I lowered the chain from the windlass remote rather than being at the bow and unleashing the chain from the windlass clutch.  When using the clutch I can lower chain very quickly - it can just rip out of the locker.  That could be handy, but I'm not at the helm when doing it.  Using the remote the Lighthouse lowers chain much more slowly, but its controllable as I can maneuver at the same time.  I'll try both of these approaches again, it might be that I use them in different circumstances.  When I finished anchoring it was still early so I waxed the topsides for a while, cleaned things up, read, enjoyed the sun, had dinner and just generally enjoyed being out.

Sunday morning I had a small inspiration for making raising the anchor easier.  I fastened the hose nozzle to the bow of the boat pointing down at the chain.  I was then able to use the windlass remote to raise the whole rode, stopping once to reflake the chain below - but this was done while the anchor was still on the ground so I wasn't moving anywhere.  It was pretty smooth.  As the anchor tore free I was able to get it to the bow and then head very slowly forward with the autopilot on while I moved around cleaning things up and getting ready for a sail.  I'll work on making the hose nozzle/bow connection easier and try it some more.  If only I could see the chain rode at the bow from the helm, that would make placing the boat as the chain came up easier.   Maybe some sort of mirror setup would help with that?

Getting back out to the sound there was again no wind.  I motored slowly toward Shilshole and after about 1/2 hour a few knots of wind arrived.  I let the genoa out and started sailing at about a knot north!  The wind slowly filled in to between 10 and 15 N, which is more than enough to drive the boat at hull speed.  Sweet!

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