Firstly I should apologise for another delayed blog post. This year as they all seem to, has flown by and it seems like all work and no play. I didn’t want to wait till the boat came out of the water to fit the furler so I sacrificed one of my sailing days as a jobs day. Heading down to the boat after with the furler in the car, tool and well thumbed instructions I moved the boat off the mooring and on to the club pontoon. The next day I woke up early and removed the forestay, it’s a odd feeling being up the top of the mast solo, with no forestay. Don’t worry too much, Sundance’s keel stepped mast won’t go anywhere and I had a couple of halyards made off on deck.

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I was with a friend at the Southampton Boat show who was looking for a DAB radio for his boat and we got on to the subject of music whist sailing. Strangly enough I has the same conversation with a club member a few weeks back, both listened to music in the cockpit whilst sailing, one over speaker and one with headphones, both seemed surprised I didn’t.

I enjoy music, I’m one of those that will listen to anything quite happily but when I’m sailing I like the peace and quiet of the sea. I go sailing to get away from the noise of modern life, internet, phones, radios, adverts etc. It’s vary rare I’ll look at my phone whilst on the boat, infact it normally stays in the chart table.

I’m sure I would stick the LW on if I had been at sea for a week or so, just to check the rest of the world is still there, I would probably enjoy listening to a rhythm but I’ll enjoy the sounds of the natural world for as long as possible. There’s nothing like the sound of water lapping against theĀ  hull to put a smile on my face.

Sundance has a lovely wooden tiller but no tiller extension which isn’t the end of the world but I do like sitting on the coaming whilst I’m helming in nice weather and tucking under the spray hood when it’s not so nice, both I can do with the long tiller but it’s all a stretch. I decided on the Spinlock EA1200, I had thought I would prefer the joystick handle coming from a dinghy background but the asymmetrical one is a joy to use. The other thing I wanted to add to the tiller was a bracket or connector for the windvane (I decided on the Windpilot tiller bracket, despite the cost it’s seemed the best made for the job) as all I had was a canvas sleeve that slid over the tiller with a couple of eyes for the lines. This worked but it did mean an extra faff if you needed to unconnect the windvane in a hurry but with the tiller extension bracket I wouldn’t be able to use it.

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One thing Sundance didn’t have when I bought her was roller reefing for her genoa, her previous owner opting for hank on sails as she was club raced with a crew. I thought I could manage with these sailing singlehanded and whilst I can it’s hard work, especially when the wind picks up and you have to change the sails in a good bit of Bristol Channel wind over tide. It was the sole reason I didn’t take part in the 2017 Jester Baltimore Challenge and with the 2019 event round the corner I thought I better get things sorted.

Roller reefing has been on the cards, well since I’ve owned her, but it’s such an expense I haven’t managed to get it till now!

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I’ve bought myself a Sailspar continuous line roller reefing for Sundance as sail changes whilst solo are a pain in the backside let alone trying to fold the sail at the end of the day! To go with this I wanted a clutch to go on the reefing line so I can easily pull it through and lock it off where I wanted. Doing a bit of digging on the net I found Spinlock do a couple of clutches and Selden do a “Tandem fiddle double cam”. In the end I opted for the Spinlock clutch as I thought the Selden system could be a bit of a handful or two handful so to speak (I should point out I’ve not tried one and have heard they are very easy to use, it’s just a/my personal choice. I tried to find some sort of reviews or instructions online for the Spinlock XTS0814/1M and I couldn’t so here’s my thoughts.

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Although I haven’t anchored Sundance since I’ve had her (I haven’t needed to and there’s not many decent anchorages in the Bristol Channel), I want the option of being able to throw the hook in and not have to worry about it. It can be argued with the thick gloopy mud we have a decent sized mooring shackle would hold and I agree but my thoughts are if I’m anchoring it’s because I either can’t get back on my mooring or I can’t get into a port with water in it!

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I was asked earlier on in the year by a friend of mine if I wanted to crew on his lovely Rustler 31 for the Round the Island Race, before I finished reading his message I knew I was up for it. The RTIR is something most sailors want to try once, to sail with so many other boats in a relativity relaxed race. We hadn’t really prepared for the race, I’m not sure there was a need to. David regularly sails his boat single-handed only sailing to Scilly a few weeks before solo plus we had a full crew so there would be no shortage of hands.

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I finally managed to get out on Sundance for the first night away of the season! The mother had little man for the day and he was at nursary the next so I had a free pass. I had planned on meeting up with a friend who wanted to have a sail to Cardiff but a weather window opened up for him to sail to the Isles of Scilly on his boat so he took it.

After a good few weeks of nice weather and no wind, it started to fill out and although it wasn’t awful, it was just on the edge of feeling comfortable with going out, especially on my own. I had put the feelers out to various people to see if they fancied a night away but being in the week they couldn’t make it either. I drove down to the club and even if I didn’t go for a sail I still have enough jobs to do to keep me busy.

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I needed to go up the mast last year but managed to put it off, I’m not the best with heights but if it needs to be done it needs to be done! If I’m going to do it though I would rather have my feet on something rather then hanging from a harness or bosuns chair.

I have seen various methods of mast climbing but a mast ladder appealed the most to me. I said singlehanded or with inexperienced crew mostly so having to ask someone who isn’t so sure on how to use a winch to winch you 30ft in the air isn’t my idea of a fun day out. With a ladder I am in control and another person can tail the safety line on the winch or I can use a climbing asscender myself.Continue reading