A cracking test sail

Tuesday 6th July 2010

Today it was Pete and I witnessing that not only could Whinchat float, but that she could sail too.  She has a cutter rig which neither of us are really familiar with (let’s face it, if Pete isn’t, then I’m hardly going to be)! It was a gorgeous day, blue sky, sunshine and light winds.  Perfect sailing conditions for having a play in open water.  Adrian and Nick from Rustler came out with us.  Adrian took her out of the marina and shortly handed her over to Pete to take her out towards Falmouth.  Adrian busied around making her good for sailing; he really is an action man on board.  The mainsail went up without any drama, followed by the yankee (the very forward sail of the two foresails, where we’d previously sailed with a gib) which unfurled without drama.  The staysail (a smaller front sail that sits behind the yankee) wouldn’t come out!  Adrian tried some tricks to loosen it, but it seemed to be set fast.  He decided to have someone look at it rather than force the issue, so we sailed with only two sails.  It didn’t really matter, except that you lose a bit of speed and also it made tacking rather mucky.  When you tack with two sails, the yankee goes first followed by the staysail… and with the staysail furled, the yankee kept on getting stuck on the furled staysail – apparently when its set, it slips over the open sail.  I don’t think that Whinchat was shown to her best, but we got the idea!  When we arrived back in the marina, the rigger was waiting, and he fixed the drum which had a pin stuck, or something like that.

The main drama of the day was the cruising chute.  The beautiful sail in the photograph (colours designed by Pete, approved by me)!  Adrian and Nick spent a certain amount of time having to rig this one on deck, as Pete and I watched from the cockpit.  Unlike the other sails (the mainsail, the yankee and the staysail), the cruising chute has to be attached… meaning work on the deck!  Pete and I decided that we’d wait and see what they’d achieved rather than trying to ‘help’.  Initially they thought that they were a piece of kit short (a short pole to help the furling back up) but a phone call to the sail maker revealed that it was a self-furling device.  Not convinced, they had to hold faith.  They hauled the sail (it goes in front of the yankee), and when set lose it was all twisted.  One of the lines was laid wrongly, so Adrian (in a slight panic for the first time) had to readjust the furling lines when the sail was in half-flight.  Once correctly set, the cruising chute billowed in the wind, catching all of our collective breaths.  It was a magnificent sight, and Adrian immediately wished he was on another boat to take pictures for their website!  It would have looked splendid looking at her…. particularly given the sun and the bluest of skies.  Yet to be tested, however, was the furling…  Nick was on the furling line, but it wouldn’t furl.  He’d get so far, and then it would all unravel.  We were in danger of heading up to Truro!  Nick was increasingly suspicious of the lack of the required pole (or something like that), but actually, it was insufficient tension against the block.  With a yank to tighten that (Adrian worked it out, somehow), she furled with ease… well, with a fair amount of pulling, but it worked OK.

The business of the sails having been tested, we headed back into the marina.  I ended up on the helm as the sails were put away.  Pete took the controls to take us into our berth… a different one to the one we’d started out at.  Pete executed a perfect manouvre, as he eased her alongside the dock.  I was very proud of him, particularly when Adrian and Nick complimented his skills to me.  All without the use of the bow thruster too!!

We’d had a super sail, Pete’s only criticism being that it was too short!