A Perfect Day To Sail

We took Alistego out to the lake yesterday for a perfect afternoon of sailing.

Before I begin the story, the impatient can find the pictures at this link. Yes, I know it’s bad form to leave the fenders like they are in the above picture.

Rigging took just over an hour, but again I feel this could be improved upon with a few more streamlined operations. To speed the process up I use snap shackles in all places where it is safe to do so. The goosenecks have been fitted with quick release pins rather than bolts. There is a lot of clutter (halyards, lazy jacks, stays, temporary fore stay, etc.) to keep under control so careful organization pays off big time to avoid spending a long time untangling the mess. I have found that a detailed checklist in a waterproof sleeve helps keep everyone on the same page.

Once we motored into the clear the first order of business was to hoist the mizzen, holding the boat into the wind, and then hoist the jib. For those of us new to gaffers: don’t forget to run the jib traveller out to end of the bowsprit! She does sail like this but there is quite a lot of weather helm. Don’t ask, I think you can figure out how I know this. Jib backed and tiller over for a speed of 0 kts or 1 kts in reverse and lunch was served.

Once lunch was done it was time to go sailing. The conditions were light winds with little wave action but we decided to get going under mizzen and jib alone. This netted us a startling 0.8 kts, so we hove to and hoisted the main. I’d suggest some mechanical help here, single blocks require a fairly large effort. The boat is designed to have all sail up in only the lightest of conditions, normally she’s sailed with one reef, and with two in very windy weather. Not knowing anything about how she would behave (and to practice this necessary procedure) we decided to set the main with a single reef.

We were close to the wind on a port tack for about an hour and she balanced well with just a polite amount of palm pressure needed on the tiller. We managed 2-2.8 kts or so with just a bit of heel. On the low side of the cockpit I could just put my fingers into the water. When the wind increased every now and again, I could feel the bow rise slightly and the acceleration was immediate with no additional heeling.

She is responsive to steering even at very slow speeds such as when when coasting up to a dock. There is quite a lot of water noise from the laps, as the bow cuts through the waves and of course from the bilge board cases. The motor well hasn’t splashed any water into the cockpit so far.

It does help to let the mizzen out just before tacking, not too far though, we managed to foul our sheet on the bumkin end- keep a boat hook on board- otherwise it will hold you into the wind half way through. We waited for the jib to back a bit to help bring her around but it may not be necessary.

On the new starboard tack we hit a hole in the wind and came to a near standstill. We decided to take out our reef and see what the full main sail could do. It was so calm that we just let the mainsheet go and took the reef out while on course. Without the reef the sail set beautifully with not a single crease or wrinkle. Soon we were back in the wind and scooting along at 3 kts or a bit better. Interestingly the other sailboats on the water seemed to be heeled way over on their ears but our small amount of heel didn’t change much throughout the day.

With the afternoon wearing on, we pointed a bit more downwind and headed back to the marina. The chop was now coming up, along with a freshening breeze, but we didn’t feel the slightest need to reduce sail. Too soon the marina was in front of us again as we hove to and dropped the main first, followed by the jib and our faithful mizzen last. I fired up the outboard and motored back in, noting that the marina flags were now standing straight out as the after work fishermen began arriving.

Alistego still gets an unusual amount of attention. Everyone looks and points as we drive by, one powerboat came right up, stopped, took some pictures, and we had a slow sail past by a Tanzer 22 and her skipper. While parked at the pizza place for dinner most cars slowed down for a look, a few stopped, and one circled her a few times before going on. Even the patrons at an open air pub called out their compliments as we went by.

So there you have it. Our first afternoon on the boat and nothing but very good feelings about how she performed. The crew still has some learning to do but I think we’ve made a very good start.

Dale Hymanyk 2022