It’s September, the season is almost over and it’s the last sail I’ll get in before the club recovery. It was a springs so a morning tide and I had talked a friend in to coming along. We woke to a beautiful autumnal morning, sun warming the air and not much of a breeze but enough to keep us moving. After breakfast in the clubhouse we cast off and headed out in the channel.

 

The breeze dropped, well with the tide taking us there was no apparent wind. I decided we would give it a go at flying the spinnaker for the first time, just see if it would pull us along?! Pole and lines rigged I hoisted the kite, rolled away the genoa and she filled ever so gently. Pulling us along no faster then we were before it was a fantastic introduction to the new sail. As we passed Lavernock point the wind died and the kite dangled motionless which made for an easy recovery. We turned on the engine and slowly motored, with the tide mostly taking us down towards Barry.

On the horizon, in the haze it looked like a mass of ships anchored on the far side of the channel, as we got closer it was infact 30 or so leisure fishing boats achored off Barry enjoying the nice weather. With not a ripple on the water we entered Barry harbour and anchored in the fairway, giving plenty of room for the pilot and lifeboat and keeping far enough away from any mooring chains there may be on the bottom. Anchor down which was another first in Sundance we cooked our lunch and ate it in the cockpit.

An hour or so later, after the tide turned we set back off, a slight zephyr ripples the water we upped anchor and motored out. The plan was to sail between the islands but with not much wind and a few boats motoring around we decided a slow drift up on the tide. Only making a couple of knots and with the shifted wind we once again raised the spinnaker which in the ever so slightly rising wind dragged us closer and closer to Newport. The wind now starting to blow over the deck was increasing to about 6 kts apparent and I was starting to get concerned about dropping the kite effectivly on my own as Andy although has sailed with me before is largly inexperienced.

After the drop, which went as well as it could have we wasted a bit of time sailing about under genny outside the Usk for the tide to rise a little more. The spinnaker certainly did it’s job and got us back to Newport in record time! Heading up river we rolled the genoa away, motored on to the mooring and sorted the boat. That was it, a perfect last sail of the season. Anchored, flew the kite and visited a new port I couldn’t ask for more.

A week later I was back slipped her into the wise and onto her cradle, sails, boom and sprayhood off and she was ready for some winter fettling… more about that, soon!

 

 

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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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