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.

Pageviews since BaggyWrinkles started:

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sailing with a Mentor Aboard


Having a seasoned sailor aboard can definitely improve your sailing performance.  


A second set of experienced eyes can immediately calculate and suggest a more optimal way of managing the wind and our vessel’s capabilities for prevailing conditions.    Because most cruisers are not necessarily avid racers, they seldom have the opportunity to have a “Pro” along as observer, coach, and mentor, taking into account boat design, sail plan and tactics on the water.  

Yet I had that opportunity recently when I invited a seasoned sailor and competitive racer along for a sail.  It was a great experience to have another set of eyes on the sails, hands on the lines, and a certain depth of knowledge from which to draw. My experience resembled a re-certification process, with my “Pro” taking the First Mate’s position as I took the helm.  We were fortunate to have some stiff 23 to 30 knot breezes across the lake that day, conditions under which some cruising skippers might not risk leaving the docks.  

With a single reef in the main and a second in the genoa, we headed out to see what the lake offered that day.  Reefing is too seldom employed by cruisers but is an essential skill for all sailors.  Even large vessels can become overpowered by carrying too much sail.  Strong winds can tear sails and create frantic emergencies.  Reefing manages sail power and, if trimmed for the unique characteristics of each vessel, will balance the boat and "tame" strong winds for safe sailing enjoyment .  

The reefed sails on my Alberg 30 provided us with a good pointing to windward and good hull speed over the water in a very fresh blow.    Most of our time was spent doing what sailors do, we tacked and hauled on lines, we hiked out a bit, we talked.  While obvious that we both knew how to sail, it was helpful of him to observe what I might be doing that was getting in my way to being a better sailor.  In collegiate racing, team coaches often use megaphones and shout corrections so teammates learn best practices under the pressure of drills and practice races.  Here, there was no yelling aboard.  This was quite collegial as my mentor assessed the performance of the Alberg and then pointed out beneficial tips on sail shape, rudder handling, and pointing.    

My learning curve peaked suddenly, after several hours on the water.  The wind was a bit cooler and the sun was beginning to hide behind the winter clouds when we turned toward home.  We’d had a great time under sail and I savored the chance to get real time coaching.  During the reach home, I saw something happening that didn’t match my idea of sail trim. 

With wind on our port beam, my “Pro” had let the main out to starboard looking as if we were headed downwind on a run.  Posing the obvious question while looking at the Windex, I asked “Why not pull in the main to leverage that wind on the beam?”  In a revealing teaching moment, he pointed to the tell-tails on the leech of the main.  Hauling in a bit to windward the tails began to flutter in the disrupted wind flow behind the main.  He then eased the sheet and explained the concept of flow over windward and leeward surfaces as the tell-tales streamed off to leeward and the boat pushed forward, the main now cooperating with the wind on the beam.  We looked as if we were sailing downwind but were actually on a beam reach.    

In that instant, I realized that,  somewhere in that catalogue of sailing lore we keep buried in a mental drawer, I’d lost track of such a simple but important characteristic of sails.  By my advice, we would have continued to sail fighting the wind instead of trimming for optimum power.    Not having the “Pro” along that day would have meant that, unless I could remember enough of my sailing instruction and articles I’ve read, I’d continue to mishandle that point of sail indefinitely.  What a waste that would be!
  
This was one of those moments where I changed the point of sail but did not do the mental math on what I saw with the wind direction.  Deflection and flow is everything to a wing, even the vertical wing we raise on our sailing vessels.  But on this particular point of sail, I learned a valuable lesson: watch the sail position carefully and give it the best flow on every point of sail maximizing boat speed and balance. 

Four hours of sailing with a “Pro” was never better for me.  We often laugh about the fact that we’ve been sailing for years and years and repeating the same mistakes whether they’re right or wrong.  And that’s often very true.  With another set of experienced eyes aboard, will we be able to maximize our learning curve and avoid our tendency to repeat the same mistakes.  We often look but don’t see our deficiencies.  

This mentoring moment aboard the Alberg 30 had a profound impact on the way I look at my sails and boat’s balance in the wind. My instructor’s mentoring moment that windy day helped me to apply a basic principle of sail shape overlooked because of a failure to read my sail to best advantage.  Those four hours of "re-certification" will pay big dividends helping me sail a terrific classic design in an optimal manner.

They are not called "tell-tails" for nothing!
 [I wrote this originally for our Club Newsletter.  It was edited and published in our club newsletter by Ryan Gaskin, our former Commodore and Sailing Instructor at the club and my Pro for this sail.]

Friday, March 3, 2017

March is being itself again.  

Blustery winds are sweeping across the country and creating some sustained breezes for sailing in our region.  

Gone are the hazy winter skies and pleasant breezes, easy to bear with a bit of sunshine.  Now the wind is definitely upset, and the fetch is annoyed too, the sailing demands some tactics and procedures that you don't use everyday.  It'll be cold going out that's for sure but it will also be a good time to reef-up and test the water sealant along the cap rail again.

During the period passage of storms, I've been on the phone trying to find the problem of my Alternator's outputs and the requirements of my Tachometer.  Also, I'm looking in town for someone who can open up this tach and put in a wire for 4 volts of AC power which the it requires.  Some frustration over this little wrinkle.  It all seems to come down to "sourcing" again.  It was harder before the internet existed. All we had back in the day was the yellow-pages.  At least we can scour around and quickly spot who might most likely be able to get this odd job done.

 
Purty little thing in its box.  Needs to get to work!


And I found the guy.  Working out of an old garage that showed signs of several generations and hundreds if not thousands of alternator and starter parts, the guy knew exactly what I handed him and exactly what it needed.  Whew.  What a relief.  As he pored over a real desk catalogue to insure he had the correct part, I gazed at the exposed rafters, one or two bowing toward the ground, and the fridge, which looked like something from my early days that held old bottles of coca-cola, yes, the real ones that were small and very cold or so it seemed.  Because in Carolina it gets very hot in the summertime, and this garage showed the signs of it.  

I wondered what we will do when this guy is gone.  Who will be the resident Yoda of electricity here?  The folks at the bright and shiny stores don't have this guy's encyclopedic knowledge or the stories to go with that memory.  He told me all about my original alternator, how GM used these in every car they built, and how the Japanese Hitachi item in his hands was really the same thing except made strictly for one use only, power.  It was 35 watts and it only had a DC outbound peg.  He would pop the alternator open and solder a connecting wire with a 4 volt outbound AC current for my tach.  I breathed a sigh of relief as the internet company had no other recommendations than to find this guy, this one right in front of me, and ask him to fix the additional wire.  And they didn't even know where this guy was.  

And, after securing my refitted alternator from him this week, I installed it and began calibrations.  The fix is good, it works!  Plus the new alternator is just so much smaller than the original Delco monster alternator, so there is a bit less stuff in that crowded space.  The journey of the panel is now complete, from the old faded and sad looking face to a happier and more informative one.


Bringing back life to the original electrical panel.
These photos show what is on the other end of the alternator, the original engine control panel in the cockpit.  Of course the tach did not fit the original hole (you were wondering that I'm sure), I used a curved hand rasp to enlarge the hole for the tach.  

Everything in it's time and sequence.  I want every item I do to be a good fix, not just a band-aid.  If ever there comes a day when I might choose to sell Nautica, I can at least proclaim the fixes were done with attention to longevity not timidity.
  
Winter winds sweeping the playing field.