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.
High water wasn’t till just after 11 so I had a bit of time in the morning to get sorted and decide what I wanted to do. The river is pretty sheltered and the Pill even more so. It was blowing about 12kts from the West in the Pill as the tide was coming in so I knew in the uninturupted Channel it would be blowing a bit more. I had decided that was fine but as we were getting closer and closer to the tide turning the wind picked up, now pretty much a constant 18kts, sods law. I could have waited an hour or so but that would have only given me more time to duck out, so it was now or never.
Getting off the mooring was fine, as usual, I knew there would be people in the clubhouse so I got the fenders in asap, can’t have those out too long! Getting the sails up was the interesting part… I could have motored out of the river and got them up out of sight but where’s the fun in that! At least in the river I had a bit more shelter, the chance to entertain a few of the others and if something went drastically wrong someone might be able to row out and help, or just watch me crash and burn… It’s getting the sails up that make me realise I might have bought the wrong Ballad but in reality I wouldn’t swap here even if the perfect Ballad was moored next to her! Trying to feed a boltrope main and get the hank on genoa up in a gusty 20kts of a confined river with other boats about was interesting… especially without an autopilot keeping me head to wind. It was fine but I’m sure the clubhouse were enjoying themselves.
With about 3 reefs in the main, and a No.4 genoa with pretty much no halyard tension on it I tacked my way out of the river keeping an eye out for ships heading in or out of the docks. As soon as I was out of the ship channel I connected the Navik windvane for the first time, one reason I bought Sundance. With the tiller under control I clipped on again and headed to the mast to get some tension on the genoa halyard and unroll a bit more of the main, the boat under control this was nearly a joy! I instantly loved the Navik, it just did what it was supposed to do without complaint!
The wind instrument was showing 25kts, beating into it meant true wind was about 20 but Sundance felt in her element. Although cloudy the sun was out and I was able to leave Nigel to it and get a drink and have a tidy up. I wasn’t sure what to do about tacking, use the vane or disconnect it, I opted to disconnect it but I’ve since learn’t you can ue the vane to tack so all I have to worry about is the sheets. The new “jointed connector” managed to pop off the trim tab so on opposite tack I couldn’t get the vane to work till I noticed! Half way down to Cardiff the wind picked up again, this time I was getting a constant 30kts, sometimes a bit more… again Sundance and Nigel took this in their stride and didn’t compain once, I felt totally safe even though I was on my tod.
Watching Nigel (the Navik) steering the boat was a joy, I knew what they did but I wasn’t quite sure how they did it, even watcing lots of YouTube videos and reading lots of accounts. I’ll do a post trying to explain it as best I can… But watching this mechanical contraption doing the hard work (well to me, boring work) all using the movement of the boat through water and the wind, all without draining the battery bank or cost!
Getting into Cardiff was fine, getting the sails up the next day was fine as well with a bit more sea room. The navik performed surprisingly well with a light tail wind and the tide pushing up up river as well. The wind was very light and witht he tide pushing us meant the sails wern’t really doing their job, the drizzle came and the vis dropped quite conciderablly so I decided to turn on the engine and motor the last hour back.