Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Sailing Boat Mainsheet Modifications

Following the launch and maiden voyage of Susan (of the Seas) my refurbished Westerly Nomad, I’d like to report on the several short shake-down passages I have made. I’d like to --- but in truth there haven’t been any. Why not? Well, I had the boat modified to carry an outboard in a well and there were unintended outcomes. The outboard performs well and pushes the boat along without problem but the mainsheet was attached to the transom and, because the boom doesn’t extend so far, the surplus rope hung directly over the outboard. 

When we launched the boat and motored up the estuary it became obvious that this was a safety hazard. I could easily imagine how under power, a loose mainsheet could snake its way down into the well and then tangle with the prop. At the time I merely thought that this was simply something to be aware of and cautious about. A few days later though, I invited a few guys to share a sun-downer beer on board as a way of showing off my new vessel; the evening was warm, the conversation excellent and the beer tasted good, along with the peanuts, crisps and slices of dried sausage.There wasn’t a great deal of room in the cockpit and so the sausage on a wooden platter was placed on top of the outboard casing. All was well until a passing boat set up a wash, rolled my boat slightly and plosh! Down went the sausage into the outboard well - to the delight of a large shoal of Mullet who thought that Christmas had come early. The conversation turned to outboard wells and their ability to act as magnates. The collective view that evening was that if anything is likely to fall on a boat with a well, that’s where it will fall.The rather large dried sausage also had an unfortunate effect on the harbourmaster here, she was convinced someone had evacuated their sea-toilet in the marina (bad etiquette)!

So, for my peace of mind, the mainsheet would have to be moved before further trips could be made. It turned out to be an easy job because the boom already had a fitting to take the mainsheet tackle half way along its length right above the bridge deck. So I have bought the gear and fitted it and I am much happier, although the cost of the rail and the mainsheet car was exorbitant (more than 200 Euros). I have also removed the now redundant rail from the transom and altogether I think the arrangement is neater, cleaner and much safer. Now I have to fill in the holes left by the previous fitting and then I will be ready to sail. At the moment though, the UK and France are being battered by the remnants of Hurricane Bertha, so I won’t be putting to sea for a few days yet.

Meanwhile here is a picture of a gift from my good friend Alain, given to me for my new boat. It comes from an eighteenth century Newfoundland Cod fishing vessel – a three masted tall-ship. Alain tells me it was used to control the wind. A slight turn here or there can change wind direction and strength, just what you need on a small sailing boat. Problem is where to attach it? Apparently the guy who knew died a long time ago!