Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gravity: Mast Raised, Skipper Decked

Lot's of good times in between.

Saturday's weather started out cloudy but gradually turned sunny. The wind was not as strong as last time, at just 1 to 2 meters/second (2 1/4 to 4 1/2 mph). At times we actually got some hiking time sitting up on the rail.

Once again, K had an Ibaraki International Club lecture to attend (about Vietnamese superstitions of all things), so I took the train to Hinuma and biked the rest of the way to the yacht harbor. I wanted to measure the cockpit floor so that I can order some anti-slip (or non-skid if you prefer) pads to keep us from falling down when the boat gets wet. The old Lido 14, which I sailed as a kid, had smooth gelcoat seats, but the inside of the hull had a typical fiberglass boat spray job for the time that was not slippery. The 6000 series (Bluesette is #6329) has smooth gelcoat inside and out, and I've read that I am not the only one who has gone "slip sliding away".

It's a beautiful ride through farms and along Lake Kitaura.

For those who wonder what it is like on the train... Only 20 passengers or so for the first half of the trip, but more get on with every stop. The cars are a little old and rough around the edges, but I find them charming and a kind of nostalgic part of rural Japan.

I had quite a bit of time on my hands before K would join me for lunch, so I decided to raise the mast on my own. It's a bit tricky as the thing is a little heavy and also because I usually have K attach the forestay to the bow while I hold the mast upright. As Bluesette sits in the sendai, she tilts a bit aft so the mast wants to fall backward.

My solution was to attach the jib halliard (which goes through a pulley on the mast up near the forestay) to the bow, cleat it to the mast while still holding the mast up, and let the halliard hold the mast while I got out of the boat and walked to the bow to attach the forestay. Worked great. K was quite surprised to see it when she arrived. That would be my sole victory over gravity for the day, however.

Before taking the boat out, we went to (all together now) "Mama's Kitchen" for lunch. This time, they offered a teishoku lunch with tempura. Nice change from pasta. It included salad, miso soup, pickled veggies, rice, and a kind of turnip called "kabu" served in sauce - very tasty. The tempura was fresh and crisp. While we were eating, "Mama" came out and gave us each a bread roll fresh from the oven. Why eat anywhere else?

The high school students were out training with both spinakers (boat on left in this pic) and trapeze (not shown). The instructor worked them hard the whole time we were there.

We readied the sails and got on the water by 14:00. The lighter breezes made things easier and yet picked up enough later to get more interesting without soaking K or keeping us distracted with the threat of capsizing. Just a lot of nice sailing and practice. Perhaps due to the hills and valleys upwind, the south side of lake has a lot of wind shifts while the north side gets the stronger breezes and steadier wind directions, so tacking back and forth from on side of the lake to the other is a lot of fun. I am finally figuring out how to tack without falling down or loosing control of the tiller, by facing forward and passing the tiller and mainsheet from hand to hand behind my back. Obvious stuff for an experienced sailor, but a revelation to me.

Our mast float. The top "telltale" yarn on the mainsail is trying to tell me something. The one on the lee side, which can be seen by its shadow, is pointing forward. That tells me I have the downhaul/Cunningham too tight for the light wind conditions. Loosening it will allow the sail to bend more and create better airflow. Sailing is a lot like flying an airplane, only the wings are much more adjustable!

We made a long downwind run to test my new homemade whisker pole. To use it, K takes off the grappling hook and screws on a sort of spike that goes through the clew of the jib, then she adjusts the length to about 70 inches, puts the spike in the clew, and puts a hook at the other end into a bracket on the mast. Then she sheets in the jib and viola. It holds the jib flat while sailing downwind so that it catches more wind and makes us go faster. It works just fine, though we need to mark the pole so we can get the right length every time. I think we were a little short today, but no big deal.

K did a great job deploying our new whisker pole.

After we'd been out for two hours, it was time to dock. We had gotten pretty smooth with coming about and felt confident approaching the dock. I had K release the jib to let it luff, let out the main and swung the boat around into the wind. This time I was closer to the dock and it was looking good except that as K snagged the guy line on the dock, she caught or sat on the jib sheet and we started sailing toward the dock under the jib's power. She was stuck between letting go of the grappling hook or addressing the jib sheet. We made a bit of a rough landing and put some minor scratches near the bow on the starboard side. (Scratch removal day coming up).

After tying up, I stayed in the boat and had K take a picture before taking the sails down, as we didn't have any pics yet with the sails up taken from somewhere other than the boat itself. Well, now we do. Though I would like to get some pics of us while we are under way.

As Bluesette was being put on the sendai (dolly) to be pulled out, something was catching. Somehow the centerboard line had become uncleated (since I was last in the boat, guess who was responsible for that!). I made the mistake of walking down the ramp and into the water to try and grab the centerboard line and pull the centerboard back up. BIG mistake.

Do you know how slippery a boat ramp can get? One in a lake full of algae? Well, I'll tell you - Teflon is rough by comparison. As close to zero friction as I have found. In a flash I was on my butt. Then I made my second big mistake - I tried to get up and walk out of the water. This time I slammed face down, catching the fall with my forearms. Man it happens fast. Let's see, the acceleration of an object under the influence of Earth's gravity is 32 feet per second per second. I am under 6 feet tall, so all of me is on the ground in less than .2 seconds give or take. Damage didn't seem so bad - scrapes and cuts on the forearms was about all. We finished putting Bluesette to bed, and I went for a shower and a bit of doctoring at the clubhouse before heading home.

By the time we reached home, the "after effects" of my gravitational encounter with the ramp had kicked in. I now feel like I walked into a moving truck, with multiple joints and deeper muscles around my shoulders complaining of abuse - particularly my right arm, but oddly enough, not my previously sprained wrist. Another lesson learned the hard way. Now I know why the Hakutas don't wade into the water when pulling a boat out of the water, but just control things through the bow and stern lines and a bamboo pole. DOH!

Luckily, so far, we have not had any serious consequences from our mistakes. Hopefully, we will keep learning from the minor ones and never have any major ones.

Until next, sweet sailing.


Don Snabulus said...

I winced reading that last part. The older I get, the more I pay for falls, slips, etc. If it weren't for Advil...

HappySurfer said...

Ouch! Ouch! Hope you are healing well, PandaB.

In a traditional Chinese family, we would be using medicated oil (imported from China) for bumps and bruises. We get these from Chinese medical shops. I hope you too have these over there.

I bet Mama looks forward to seeing K and you every weekend.

May your sailing days be more fun and bump-free. hehe..

Pandabonium said...

Don - your recent hiking misadventure did come to mind. At least we don't have such a mosquito problem.

HappySurfer - I usually just try to relax, but I did put in an hour of yard work this morning in spite of the aches. The jungle never rests.
Did you see the blueberry bush pic I posted for you?

Anonymous said...

Reading this blog makes me feel lucky to be an "armchair sailor" but watching you go down would have been too much. Ouch ouch triple ouch, but if I had been there, how would I have supressed the belly-laughter?!?

Nice train pictures, how fortunate that they just put up a track instead of a highway.


Pandabonium said...

MF - you not being there to laugh at me make me glad your an "armchair sailor" too. ;^)

As oil gets tight again, I'm sure a lot of people will be glad the track is there. Now if we could run it on cooking oil instead of diesel that would be great. Everyone could bring their old oil to their local train station and JR picks it up to process into bio-diesel. I wonder how much they could collect.

bonnie said...

Sounds like a wonderful day, except for the fall.

Pandabonium said...

That it was, Bonnie. And a better one today which I'll post soon.