Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sailing Around Australia; Shaky Shake Down

5th January 2015  Crown Marina Adelaide

Shaky Shake Down

Before our sailing around Australia adventures began, we took Easy Tiger out for several “trial runs” or “shake downs” as those in the know call them.

Having been parked up in Adelaide for the best part of six months, we thought that a shake down sail would be a really good idea.

With the weather gods playing their part and eager crew in Ian and Sue Sulley, we plotted a course to Port Vincent. Port Vincent is a small town on the western side of the Gulf of St Vincent, a 30 nautical mile trip.

Last year during our journey we drew up a checklist of things to do and check 12 hours before sailing. As we hadn’t been out in so long, the list proved a handy reminder. We worked our way through the list while it blew 30 knots in the marina. I hoisted our multi purpose sail, Leanne charged everything electrical and we nervously waited for departure time.

We recently moved from one marina to the other. On that short trip we found most things we used had suffered from a lack of use. Things like a seized water pump. the Dinghy stopper button and the mast cars on the main sail. This experience caused great nervousness as we prepared for our shake down sail.

After a fitful night of trying to sleep, were up with the sun, ready to get going. We were both showing our nerves though as our guests boarded and the ropes were released.

Fortunately, everything went according to plan. Even though there was a serious lack of wind, we ambled along with one motor going about three quarters throttle. Ian rigged a lure and we trawled our way to Port Vincent. Unfortunately it was to no avail.

5 hours later we arrived at Port Vincent. We found a mooring, tied on effortlessly and all enjoyed a bbq lunch. Leanne and I both let out great sighs of relief.

We had planned a couple of nights on the mooring, but the weather bureau updated their forecast to read 30knots expected for Port Vincent on the morning we were to return. That would be a bit boisterous for our shake down sail. The decision was made to return a day early.

The return leg looked like we would get a sail in. After a wander around the Port Vincent Markets, we let go of the mooring and my trusty crew (Ian) pulled up the main sail. Here we found what we had been dreading. A problem. The reefing lines would not let the sail all the way up. We sailed with a half a main up and one motor on half throttle. As usual half way back to Adelaide the wind turned into our face and then dropped out completely. 

After arriving back in the marina we had a social day. We have two big blow up chairs ( like swimming pool toys) that we blew up and lounged around under neath Easy tiger. Who needs air con. But the elephant in the room all day was waiting. Once again out with the tools to determine the problem with the reefing lines.

Reefing lines are ropes that attach to the sail, then end up at the cockpit. As the wind picks up force you pull these line in to decrease the amount of sail up the mast, therefore decreasing the speed of the boat and the pressure on the mast and rigging etc… They are supposed to allow the sail to go all the way up though!

As usual, as my mate Noel would say, “it starts small but ends up big”. After several hours of staring at the reefing system I felt that I was trying to solve a brain game puzzle.  I worked out that actually the reefing lines seemed too short. But how could that be? It all worked really well previously.

Then I remembered that I had changed them at Port Lincoln to different points on the main sail. Whoops. We actually haven’t used the main sail since then and therefore hadn’t tested the reefing system out until now. DOH! Off we went to the chandlery to buy more rope.

Our boat maintenance budget was about to be shot for another week, but that shot became an explosion. Leanne found a much better pair of binoculars. As Leanne wears glasses and hasn’t been able to use the pair we had, I, the budget nazi, relented. Out of the chandlery we staggered with a receipt for $300.

A couple of hours, balancing on the back of the boat with one foot in the dinghy, desperately trying not to do the splits, were spent feeding the new rope and the old rope out. Around this pulley and through that hole and voila new, much longer reefing rope installed.

Now if the wind would relent for a while, we might be able to have another shaky shake down attempt, with sails that go all the way up, a salt water pump that actually pumps, the new stopper button on the dinghy and very clean mast cars. What's next Easy Tiger?

Able bodied and eager guests like Ian are always welcome
and put to good use.

As are sociable sailors who drink champagne!
We were all looking for some wind to try this sailing caper!

Port Vincent was a nice spot to "shake it off".