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This is for my friends who could not read Russian but still would like to know a bit more about my recent adventure...

(вы это все уже читали, с чуть большим количеством подробностей, по-русски)


Prologue

- Skipper, is that true that a hangover might increase my chances of a seasickness?
- Absolutely. That's why it is going be a dry boat. Well, almost dry.

Hmm..I probably should have practiced saying this. I feel like my lie was unconvincing.



Saturday, Jan 14th, 2017. Pasito Blanco, Gran Canaria.

Wow, I'm getting a new boat. Her name is Selenia. Dufour 410, one year old. 3 cabins (why the ensuite one is on bow? because a skipper is not supposed to be affected by seasickness??), two heads (why both of them are on port side? Looks like some people have never heard of upwind sailing and have never seen a boat heeling..), even a bow thruster installed. All cockpit jammers are marked (in German....).

A guy from the chartering company was trying to give a boat checklist to my crew, scaring him to death. Then I came back from the bow (all looks good there, the forestay seems to be OK) and took the papers.
- Give it to me
- Oh..so...*You* are the skipper??!
Two-pages checklist. Well, I had my own, twice as long. Everything looked good and in perfect order until we came to a Raymarine plotter. Pressing this button..pressing another one... as dead as a doornail...“Houston, we have a problem”. Support team came on deck, trying to do some repair - no success. I chose exactly that moment to mention that there are *no* paper charts on board as well. I'm a drama queen, for sure.
Well, strictly speaking, there WERE paper charts. 3 of them, as per the checklist. The only issue is they are all of the Balearic Islands, which is bit off course...So it looks like the boat was chartered for a while with a wrong set of charts and nobody had complained - why did it make me think about Vesta Wind? ;)

Thanks to my "Déformation professionnelle": being obsessed with an idea of redundancy, I had a Navionics on my phone. Just in case, in addition to paper charts and Raymarine plotter I was expecting to find onboard. That's just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that.

Finally we were done with the checklist - just in time, the rest of the crew got back with food (and wine indeed). I carefully prepared a victualing shopping list, using this very useful picture as a reference:




Then I had to walk around panicking, looking at all those lazy lines and desperately googling 'stern-to' and ' Mediterranean mooring' - never seen it before, never tried. Where do all those lazy lines come from? How do I pick them up? How can I avoid getting them around prop (and the bow thruster??). Like I was not stressed enough already...

The safety briefing took a while: the crew of 3 guys, only one had been on a sailing boat before. My friend K. had given me a great idea how to start the briefing:
- There is one very important maneuver, called "Man overboard". I'm not very good with it, to say the least. That's why we all are going to wear those funny things called 'lifejackets' and even stay clipped sometime...

This 40ft looks sooooo small and forgiving, after Clipper 70. At the same time the boom is high enough, so it saves me the headache..

Sunday, Jan 15th, 2017. Pasito Blanco, GC - Puerto Rico, GC
Just remembering that morning still makes be feel a bit sick. It was a bit....well, hectic to say the least.
First, it was blowing around 20 knots.
Second, I make a mistake in slipping lines.
Third, all that theoretical knowledge about 'the wind tried to blow the bow off" suddenly became a horrifying reality.
All I wanted to do is to slip the lines, full throttle, keep to starboard (plenty of space for the catamaran on my stb side had left for Tenerife already), and we are on our way out. Well, that was a plan and nothing goes as planned. Not in my case.
SLip the lines (damn, too early). Full throttle, turning the help to starboard hard - bloody hell, where are we going? The bow kept moving to port, the stern - who would have guessed?! - to starboard, no way I can make my way to the exit. The bowman is yelling "turn right!!!", I'm yelling back "I'm trying, I'm trying!!!".

(An old joke:
Two mountaineers, a boy and a girl, are hanging off a cliff face.
The boy: "tie a bowline, quick!"
The girl: "I'm trying!!"
The boy: "Do NOT try, just tie 15 granny knots!!"
)


OK, change of plans. Let's turn to port, between the pontoons, then reverse out. The idea did make sense, the implementation did not. At least I managed to turn the boat around almost on the spot, exactly as I was taught, in the right direction even, letting the wind to help moving the bow.
Then another gust pushed us sideways, to another moored boat. All my crew on that side and two guys on that boat, we all managed to push us away - our transom slightly touching their pulpit.
At that point I found myself doing three things at the same time:
- trying to helm;
- trying to operate the throttle;
- pushing our boat away.

Had I developed the third hand? If I had, I was pretty close to badly broke that new limb, as I was pushing the boat putting my hand between Selenia's transom rails while the boat was accelerating...

Finally we were on our way out of the marina. Did anyone shoot a video? Am I on Youtube - one of 'look at those freaking idiots on a sailing boat' hits?

It took me while to stop shaking and announce to my crew that from now on we are going sailing for a week non-stop for I have no desire to enter any marina ever again!

However just in a few hours I was parking Selenia (slowly but safely) alongside the reception pontoon in Puerto Rico.
- Would it be possible to get an easy mooring, please? It's my second time mooring... I asked a lady in the marina office.
- Sure! she smiled. - Go straight ahead, then right, the marinero will be waiting for you.

Well, apparently my definition of 'a pontoon easy to get to' needs to be revised. Tried once - could not make it. Turned around (at least I'm getting better at u-turns...), tried once more - failed again. Finally the marinero gestured meaningfully to the huge place where any other skipper would fit a multihull. His suggestion was very welcome, and a bit later (smth between 5 mins and eternity, I'd say) all mooring lines got secured, I turned off the engine, dropped my lifejacket on deck and whispered 'I need a drink. Now. Where are bubbles?'.

- Hey, why didn't you use the bow thruster? asked me a Russian guy from the boat next to us (he was a bit involved in the whole mooring process, just to make sure his boat is not in danger).
- Oh...I forgot. I completely forgot I have that weird thing, never used it before. Too much operational load.

(A car has 4 corners. A singlehull boat has only three. Why is it soo much difficult to look after 3 corners than 4??)

At the end of the day I was quite determined to conceal the actual size of my boat and only tell marina officers (while asking for a berth) that I have 50ft multihull.


Monday, Jan 16th, 2017. Puerto Rico, GC - Puerto de Mogan, GC

At 8am we slipped the lines, left the pontoon (slowly and quietly, trying not to wake up neighbors), went alongside the reception pontoon, returned the shower key (30 eurs back) and left the marina.

- I think this time our departure was...well, acceptable.
- Comparing to what you did in Pasito Blanco almost *any* departure could be considered 'acceptable', I'd say...

The weather was nice, the wind was fresh.
- 5 knots...6 knots..wow, 7 knots - we are sailing!

Actually my plan was to go to Tenerife but as you might have noticed, nothing goes as planned.
In just a few hours the wind died while we were still in the vicinity of Gran Canaria SW coast. Even most optimistic calculations gave ETA after the sunset and the last thing I wanted to do was to enter the unfamiliar marina in the dark. So I made a decision (wow! new experience! I'm beginning to enjoy my responsibilities...:)) to heave to, open a bottle of white wine and have a lunch. Then we turned around, sailed a bit and arrived in Puerto de Mogan.

There I made another amusing discovery (there so much to learn). When I called to book a berth, they asked the length of the boat. Quick googling gave me an answer (which agreed with my calculations of '40ft / 3 = 13') of 13m. Apparently there are boat lengths and there are boat lengths. Overall length. Waterline length. Hull length. Anyway giving them the highest number seemed to be a good idea (I gave up pretending I have 50ft multuhull at that point). So I told them '13 meters' and even managed to get into the allocated place with almost no drama onboard. However a nice lady in the marina office was very confused and checked the folder with boat papers 3 or 4 times..
- Oh...I don't know why but....we gave you a place for 13m boats...and your papers say it's only 11.85m
- That's my fault, I told you 13 meters.
- But..but..it will be a bit more expensive, I'm sorry
- That's OK.

Nice people, nice marina (they gave us a shower key w/o a deposit as we were planning to leave very early), nice village. The village actually was too nice. Almost unnatural I'd say.


Tuesday, Jan 17th, 2017. Puerto de Mogan, GC - Marina San Miguel, Tenerife

Next level of this game: leaving marina before sunrise - success. Avoiding rocks and lobster pots - success.
I can see the stress level slowly decreasing. Maybe not all my hairs are going to be white after this trip...

It started easily with quite nice night sailing, despite me being way too cautious with the sail configuration for I heard a lot about those wind acceleration zones we were supposed to cross. Then the wind died around the sunrise time - as per the forecast. At least something went as planned...

A bit of motorsailing (which helped us to avoid TSS and some big ships), a lot of dolphins ("Look, look, a big fish over there! Tuna, maybe? - it's not a fish, it's a dolphin, they are mammals"), and finally some good wind.
Learnt a new skill: singlehanded helming: holding the help with one hand and keeping a glass of wine in another.

As the docking was becoming less and less stressful, I got less and less to tell about the trip. We arrived to San Miguel before sunset, got the mooring line secured and I demonstrated that I navigate at sea much better than on land by getting lost on the pontoon (to great enjoyment of the whole crew indeed).


Wednesday, Jan 18th, 2017. Marina San Miguel, Tenerife - Las Galletas, Tenerife

The last night, before going to sleep, I double-checked the mooring lines to ensure that there is enough slack for upcoming high tide. However the morning brought some surprises. The place next to us, empty last night, was occupied with another chartered boat (the same company actually) and our starboard mooring line was not attached to the pontoon anymore...WTF??? Were those guys trying to put their mooring lines under ours and did not secure our side properly? Or what? To find out I needed to be on the pontoon but the gap was too big (low tide, plenty of slack on the single remaining stern line) and two things I do not do until there is a life-threatening situations are running and jumping. So I sent my first mate to do the risky job and guess what we discovered? That our stern line is still attached to the cleat, as well as a stern line from another boat. The problem is that the cleat itself got ripped off the pontoon. Allegedly the boat next to us came at night, during the low tide and left their mooring lines way too tight. Then the high tide came and the pontoon cleat became the weakest link...
We managed to secure those guys' line somehow while waiting for them to wake up and trying to explain what happened...


As one might have guessed it was not the last surprise of the day. We left the marina, planning to go north to Razadul - just 30+nm...Well, I was thinking that it was 30nm. What I did not take into account is that I just can not make Selenia to go upwind. I tried. I failed. So this and a navigational mistake on my side made it impossible to reach the next destination before the sunset (do my readers get that deja-vu feeling?). Fortunately we realized it early enough to adjust the plans and instead of racing to the marina, we spent the whole day practicing upwind sailing.

- hey, skipper, is it OK that the boat is heeling like this?
- actually we are not heeling too much. I'd say we are perfectly fine based on how I feel the helm...
- oh..ok...well, could you do smth so it is heeling a bit less?...
- let's get ready to take reefs then ;)

So we went to Las Galletas (just 6nm away from San Miguel) for the night, planning to leave as early as possible the next day to get back to Gran Canaria.

Whatever happens happens for the best - so if I had not make that navigation mistake we would not have visited Las Galletas (which, to my taste, was the best place we visted - not so touristic but very nice place) and would not have the best dinner for the whole trip.


Thursday, Jan 19th, 2017. Las Galletas, Tenerife - Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria

I have the best crew ever, for sure. Quarter to 5 am, the skipper was rushing from the shower, getting the jacket (freezing cold in the morning!!) and the gloves on - just to find the whole crew ready, the lines set up to slip, all in order. Why do they need me at all? They would have done it better without me...

I managed to get the boat out of the marina and avoid all those scary rocks - some of them you can even see on the surface, not just on the charts.

Course ordered: 90M (on the starboard compass) or 115M (on the port side). Yeah, I know the word 'deviation' but is it actually supposed to be 25 degree difference between two sides?

Once again everything is going as planned, even the weather. No wind till 11am then I started feeling smth, we got the sails up and in 10 minutes we got the good 15-18 knts and half an hour later I got that lovely feeling that we need to furl the jib a bit. Another 30 mins and I was started thinking about reefing so undoubtedly meant that I had to take reefs.

Let me derail the story for a minute and talk about that crazy invention of modern times, a furling main sail. Well, my opinions should be taken with a grain of salt for it was the very first time I used such setup and it took us a while toget used to it...However...I found it very confusing...The shape when it reefed, how you deal with outhaul, that stupid car moving around and ...I can not even play with the halyard tension, can I? In other words I do prefer a normal main with buttons.

Anyway the weather was getting better and better, just perfect, just as I love it: 20-25 knts, almost no waves (although my crew would disagree with that last statement...), blue sky. I even managed to get the main to the acceptable shape at some point.

The only scare moment was when I looked at the jib and what I saw sent a chill down my spine. Apparently this boat had not been upwind for a while for its forestay was visibly shaking. Seriously shaking, every gust trying to pull the forestay off the deck.

- Quick, that blue-and-white halyard on the starboard side...not that one, this one...On the winch...I'm coming up, up grinde-grinde-grinde-I'll explain later what the hell is going on...

Have I said I got a fantastic crew? Please excuse me for saying it again. They took the helm, they trimmed the sails, they even made some guacamole. So all I had to do was sitting there and enjoy. They even stayed clipped and asked me if I want to clip on (I had been clipped for a while at that point, but I appreciated that they care ;)

On the single tack (well, we had to tack couple of times to furl the jib as I could not furl it while on the port tack) till we reached the Gran Canaria coast, then bear away and ran to Puerto de Mogan.

We entered the marina before 4pm (some chaos was created when another boat cut in just in front of us and got mistaken for Selenia....one thing this boat badly needs is a handheld VHF...that cardio exercise of running from the helm to VHF and back..). At the sunset we were enjoying pur bubbles...And you know what?? I was rebuked by own crew for performing an additional maneuver instead of going straight to the pontoon. Did you get it? Five days ago just avoiding a serious collision was good enough, and now they are not happy because I wanted to be in the perfect position before reversing to the pontoon...Human beings are great adaptors.



Friday, Jan 20th, 2017. Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria - Pasito Blanco, Gran Canaria

It was one of these few days when we got some sleep. 10nm to go, the boat has to be returned before 5pm, so we enjoyed the village, the market, the coffee. Left round noon and I made the crew unhappy again for not performing the absolutely-perfect-leaving-the-pontoon-maneuver. Read this again: nobody got hurt. No boat got damaged. No risk of collision. No rules broken. It was just a premature line release (all my fault, I confess). I think they set their expectations way too high...


The way back was just champagne sailing. I finally discovered a leech line on the main (to my great satisfaction, for the main shape became just perfect), we were doing 6 knts straight to the destination. We even had time for heaving to, sugar-sweet melon and some wine, while keeping a sharp lookup (there was a sailing boat going right towards us, which concerned be a bit - not because of collision but because it was the very last bottle of white wine we were drinking...).

Finally we came here. If you think it was over you are under- (or over?) estimating my abilities. I slowly came alongside the fuel pontoon, refueled the boat and was ready to leave when...Well, it was my fault and my mistake. I did know what I should be doing. But when two of my crew (was it a good idea to have crew members with powerboat licenses??) were yelling at me - conflicting instructions - I failed to resist the peer pressure. The lesson learned: next time shut them up and do what you think is right, not what they told you. Failing to leave the pontoon when you are moored alongside is quite embarrassing I'd say - but all it took was some hard pushing, no scratches on Selenia's hull.

I think it was fair enough: both start and the finish were frantic but we survived, the boat is intact, the crew is happy and even asking me 'when is the next trip??'.

Summary:
- bloody hell, I know nothing! I've been sailing for 4 years but doing what you've been told and being responsible for the crew are two completely different things...
- it all went so well just because of my fantastic crew.They were awesome, I'd (or I will!) go around the world with them...
- nobody needs paper charts these days...



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Jen

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