Baggy Wrinkles

Baggy Wrinkles
S/V Nautica, Hull #614, Built at Whitby Boatworks Ltd., Ontario, Canada 1977, one of the most recognizeable Carl Alberg designs. A masthead sloop displacing 9000 lbs, keel hull, Yanmar 15 hp diesel, LOA 30.27 Beam 8.75, Draft 4.29, roller furling headsail, tiller, berths for 4, interior teak bulkheads, teak cap rail and cockpit teak coamings, 12 volt lighting, aluminum mast support, Harken self tailing winches, in its day was designed for customers as a Cruiser-Racer, the Alberg 30 remains a Classic design of the large Alberg inventory.

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sea trials on the lake!

Having finally located and arrested the pernicious and persistent leak, my agenda quickly shifted to the rigging.  After all, you wouldn't want to sail a boat which is taking on water and might sink?

Finally a weather break provided perfect conditions.  The forecast for a couple of days was for 15 to 25 kts, but as usual, especially early in any season, it seems the forecasts are a bit over-estimated.  But despite that, the two days of sea trials were extremely helpful.  I was able to get a feel for the way the Alberg handles in good winds, to see what was working and what needed fixing. 
Stiff breeze from the NW over Lake Murray in South Carolina.  Good to have solid life-lines as standing up in this vessel with tiller-in-one hand,  I needed another hand-grip to say in the cockpit!

Heeled over to port under one reef and partial genoa in a brisk blow on a beautiful early winter day in the south.

Despite what conditions appeared to be at the Club, which is in its own nook of the lake, I decided to defer to the forecast and put a first reef so I wasn't surprised by a rise in wind velocity on the "grande large."  Good thing, as the way the Alberg reacts to wind is a great deal different than the little Alberg, the Typhoon.  There is just so much more boat that everything takes on a coefficient of a bit harder to accomplish.  I had grown accustomed and comfortable with backwinding the genoa and putting in a reef for the Ty, but not knowing the characteristics of the Alberg 30, I thought it advisable to just wait and see how she reacts to some brisk wind.  That was a good idea.  
One of the Harken dual speed work-horses aboard.  Glad to have them as there will be no sail shaping without them!
Characteristics I noticed were:  the Berg reacts quite similarly to the Typhoon in the sense that it takes the wind, leaning over with intensity.  It's not quick to heel, it is intentional.  In other words, the Berg's design functions as it heels, giving the wind recognition, and at the same time seizing the wind in its sails with confidence.  Its forward speed was surprising to me, I expected it to be much slower with a prop turning below yet dragging a bit at the same time.  Yet the vessel seemed at home in the situation, heeled yet not overpowered with the reef.  

It pointed much better than the Typhoon and seemed to have an advantage because of its size, that it was able to push back against the point of the wind and get into the edge of the "no go," stealing a bit of angle otherwise unavailable to a smaller vessel.  That was a very forgiving feature, no stalling, just a push, and she was back in the close tack and ready for more.  

I was delightfully surprised by her ability to sail herself.  You always hear the statement, "a perfectly balanced rig will sail itself..."  Well, I guess so, but the additional length probably helped.  Yet I discovered her ability to sail solo without me at the rudder when I went forward to grab a line that had gotten eaten up by the v-berth hatch.  While there I snapped a few photos and checked this item, then that one, and then I instinctively sensed the she was in the wind and moving.  I turned around surprised that she was sailing her broad reach solo.  I was shocked.  I stood there and wondered if she'd head into the wind and stall or jibe by mistake.  Nope.  I took a variety of photos from the fore-deck and returned to the cockpit as if my 1st Mate was at the tiller.  I laughed at this remarkable ability that she was taking a broad reach and heading remained constant without the slightest tiller tap from me! 
We came from way out west and she is sailing herself in this photo, a quite remarkably capable vessel, well balanced and great to look at too!

After a couple hours, the winds from the NW now began fetching a very steady and brisk breeze across the surface of the lake, the kind that snaps your lack of attention to detail, tears or foils something, or causes you to go a direction you had not planned if you're not thinking ahead and watching it arrive.   The breeze was constant and also a bit demanding.  I had left my anemometer home in my other to-go pack, but the breeze was certainly nearing 15 and perhaps a gust to close to 18, but that was rare.  Whitecaps were everywhere but no streaking of the lake surface.  This sea trial was certainly not punishing, it was delightfully surprising!  Enough wind to work things out but not so much it demanded more attention than the rigging.

Day one was superb conditions and left me feeling quite energized for another day to do some refinements on tensions, adjust my head-sail a bit more and re-look the reefing setup.  I was glad I added length to my head-sail sheets as that one mistake in measuring would have cost me dearly in handling.  I added about 12 feet in doing my first double braids thanks to You Tube!  Day two opened with a hard cold temperature and uncertain skies.  By the time I set out, I had added more clothing and gloves.

Lacking much wind, an overcast and cold wintry day seems to close in and punish you until you run away.  This was at about 1pm.  I was tied-to by 1:30pm.

I spent half an hour working on my genny, as the large grommet at the bow plate left no play to insert a new larger clevis.  With engine on idle and the winds now from the east pushing at about 10 kts, I fumbled with cold fingers against the pressure of an impossible fit and the closing shore.  I reset my boat position and fumbled in the cold once more as the clouds now covered the lake in a wintry tomb.  It was no use, my hands were turning that pink and white and feeling the need for hot coffee.  I could not persuade the genny to cooperate, pulling it down about a foot provided me the room to re-put the original clevis, small thing that it is, back into to the connection at the furler, re-hoist the sail and get to some more testing.
A simple rig but quite balanced set of sails for the A30

Noting a few things to do like extending my mainsheet line, another miscalc' I had made.  I deserved the double braid practice anyway!  In the more gentle but icy winds of the overcast day I pondered making passage through a preciously shallow cut between two islands, checked the map, and then sardonically turned north, deferring to another day when the lake was not 6 feet below normal.  The thought of grounding on a gloomy winter day and having to potentially get wet too, did not excite that idea for me.  I concentrated on the mainsail track which is oddly difficult to work with and stops about where it needs to continue...who designed that?  

Day two was much shorter than day one.  I can handle cold if there is some modicum of brief warmth from somewhere.  But that hard, penetrating, icy stab is too reminiscent of many days in the Infantry when the sun set and blowing cold and snow penetrated the night and without a tent you made do with your gortex sleeping bag, if you were able to find a few hours of rest.  This day had come to an end as I turned for the club after a couple of hours of this and that.  Nothing was under much pressure except me this day. 

This unusual exposure is enhanced by reducing some highlights which enables the human eye to see what it later remembers.  The radiance of the sun caught my eye as I had not used any filters on my lens (Nikon D3100).
Two photos from Day one which capture the experience are this one above, taken as one of some 100 photos, holding my camera in my one hand aside the lifeline while my other held the tiller.  I snapped automatically and managed to capture this remarkable view.  Pure luck.  A familiar view to any sailor, looking ahead on a windward reach.

And the other is this photo under first reef with a brilliantly deep blue winter sky behind it.  The distinctive A30 identifying the type and length of vessel and its hull number 614.  This is the first time these numbers have been seen on this sail and vessel as I applied them just recently.
Reefing system on this Alberg seems to be standard and quite simply effective.  The sole challenge would be taking it out and raising the sail as the first few feet of sail track slides are unattached due to design.  I welcome someone from the land of Albergs to write and explain to me the design of this as it requires re-putting each slide in order to raise the main.  Something quite difficult to do while tied-to at the dock much less pulling into the wind under active conditions to do the same.
I have realized now that i have done this a half dozen times or so, that each sail always ends with one last maneuver, a 360 degree turn-around in limited space in now, currently shallow water, to align the starboard at my slip.  I will have to have the first mate GoPro this maneuver because despite having done this mostly error-free, I never enter this last thing with over-confidence!  As I entered, the wind from the East blowing me gently toward a rickety private dock and an old pontoon boat adjacent to our Club property, I slowed to forward momentum and pushed hard-a-lee spinning the 4.5 ton vessel on a dime and coasting upwind 15 feet to the dock.  

Another good day to be on an Alberg 30.