Sail the boat you have

Sail the boat you have

Date: Thursday, May 10, 2018. 0936Z
Location: 53.1631° N, 9.0760° W — Aughinish
WX: 251° (WSW) at 15 knots. Clear sky. Cold. Waves: &lt 1m

On Sunday, a good friend of mine lost his six year battle with cancer. The following is a copy of an email I sent to club members, about Henry Lupton.

I remember having a conversation with Henry after Wednesday night racing. We were discussing the relative merits of a Hallberg Rassy 42 over a similar sized Najad. The abstract debate covered things like build quality versus brand premium. I neatly segued into a series of complaints about my own boat, an Achilles 24. A boat which is still by the side of the house, unfit for sea, despite Henry’s best efforts. I compared my own humble craft with the salubrious Rassy.

Henry looked at me incredulously. “Sail the boat you have, Dermot. Not the boat you want!”

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Nobody touch anything!

Nobody touch anything!

Date: Friday, May 4, 2018. 1121Z
Location: 53.1631° N, 9.0760° W — Aughinish
WX: 12 knots from SE (235°). 14°. Waves: 0.5m

“Nobody touch anything!” was Niall’s clear instruction to one and all.

It was a strange perspective, sitting on the high side of a Sigma 33, staring down at the sea directly below. As a dinghy sailor, I’m used to capsizing. I’m used to that slow-motion car crash as you traverse through the mental states of “yes, we can hold the spinnie on this reach”, through “I don’t think we’ll make it” and eventually “we’re going in…” Before I sailed and raced dinghies, I had expected a capsize to be a dramatic, instant inversion. One minute, you’re upright, sailing along enjoying the scenery. A brief nanosecond later, and you’re in the water with sail and boat on top of you. As it happens, it’s not like that. The boat heels and heels some more, releasing pressure as she increases the heel angle. But eventually gravity and Newton’s Laws intervene, and over she goes. It might take seconds, but it does indeed feel like minutes. There have been times when the capsize has been quite dramatic, explosive, even. Including that one particular time when Morgan and I decided to run dead downwind under spinnaker, in a Force 6. It was during the Laser II Regionals, and we smiled and laughed at the other boats under white sails, gybing their way downwind. Pride comes before a fall, as they might have said to us.

But this was different. This was a large, heavy keelboat on her ear. The technical definition of a capsize is the masthead is in the water. This wasn’t quite a capsize, then, but the masthead was definitely on the verge of going for a dip. The result of a nasty broach under spinnaker while ten miles offshore. Ten miles through bleak, drizzly Irish summer weather. The Mizzen Lighthouse was to the North of us, indistinct on the horizon. It’s an odd sensation, seeing the starboard lifelines under water, waves lapping over the winch and into the cockpit, even threatening the companionway, noticeably missing its washboards.

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Engine hatch cover replacement

Engine hatch cover replacement

Date: Tuesday, May 1, 2018. 1118Z
Location: 53.1631° N, 9.0760° W — Aughinish
WX: 12.5 knots, 192°. Cloudy. Cold. Waves: 0.5m

So, yesterday I found a little bit of time to go and figure out what to do with the engine hatch cover. A bit of background might be in order, however…

The Achilles 24 comes as standard with a long-shaft outboard engine and an engine mount in the sole of the cockpit. This presents itself as a hatch towards the stern, which when removed, allows you to mount the engine in the little compartment, and when lowered, the prop is approximately in the same position as an inboard. It’s a big improvement over the typical outboard bracket on the transom, as the prop is less likely to come out of the water in a big sea.

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Working From Home

Working From Home

Date: Wednesday, April 4, 2018. 1445Z
Location: 53.1631° N, 9.0760° W — Aughinish
WX: 18 knots from N. Cold, but Sunny. 8°C

A long time ago (no, not in a galaxy far away, I think I was in Boston), I had a conversation over a beer, about working from home. At the time, the Internet had reached a sufficient speed and VPN technology was to a standard that you could work from home and achieve the same productivity as the office. Probably even more productivity than most offices I’ve frequented. I’m sure many people before me had also pondered this question, but it came as a revelation for me. I think it was around the third beer that a cloud lifted. A whole new vista opened up before me. “You don’t actually need to be at home to be Working From Home…” My sage colleague nodded in agreement. As if to say “of course! Everyone knows that.” But to me, life would never be the same, again.

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Sailing and Arriving

Sailing and Arriving

Date: Thursday, March 15, 2018. 1052Z
Location: 53.1631° N, 9.0760° W — Aughinish

There are two types of sailors. Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.

Sorry, old joke.

There are actually hundreds of different types of sailors. Even within the racing fraternity, you have your speed demon athletes, like the Volvo Ocean Race nutters or the America’s Cup sailors. Then there’s the club maniacs, the guys who’ll drive their J-109 to within a hairs breadth of the committee boat in order to win (for a year) a 30 year old tin pot and a club tie. Not to mention the ones who politely sit back on the start line, courteously allowing everyone to go on ahead, while they wait for the wine to chill and the wind to ease.

But I’m talking about cruising sailors. Those ladies and gentlemen who like to put miles under their keels. Those people who throw the hook out in secluded anchorages, admiring the sunset from the cockpit with a chilled gin and tonic.

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