Sailing with Stuart and Turner

4th May 2014

A couple of weeks ago the cruiser race was cancelled due to fairly unpleasant rainy weather that the crews seemed resistant to going out in.

There was a cruiser race in the diary for today and I had crew lined up and ready - Stuart and Turner, who is 14 and seems to have several boats including a GP14 in the dinghy park and he's very keen. Lots of the boats are away this weekend on a cruise to Gosport or somewhere so we did wonder if any would show up for a race. Apart from us there was Nick in Free n Easy but nobody else. Today it was a smashing weather so we all said let's just go sailing anyway.

At 1pm we backed out of the berth and Stuart hoisted the main while we were in the river and Turner helped get the fenders in. The engine has a new 'high thrust' prop and it did seem to push us against the tide a bit better, though we noticed the engine revs more slowly and at full power the helm is very stiff. Out at sea we found about F2 of southerly wind and bright blue sky. Plenty of other boats were out, fishing boats, motor boats, and Free n Easy had come out as well.

Turner really wanted to see the Weather Station, and Free n Easy seemed to be headed that way as well, so we had a bit of an informal unofficial race to get out there. It's about 2 miles off Littlehampton, a yellow metal structure with some instruments on top. We had to tack a couple of times and tide can stream past the thing quite fast so we gave it a wide berth as we gybed around and turned North for a dead run back towards the Steel Can mark. Free n Easy was doing the same but they'd got a bit ahead of us. The wind was shifting and we gybed and goosewinged either side. Turner took a turn on the helm and I went down into the cabin to see how the world looked through the windows as Turner and Stuart handled the boat. We found the Steel Can mark using the GPS and hardened up around it for a westward close reach back to the river entrance, now with Stuart taking a turn on the tiller. The wind had stayed around F2 the whole time which is enough to move the boat nicely at 4 - 5 kts but she was not in the least over-pressed.

Once we were back near Littlehampton I wanted to practice a heave-to manouevre. On port tack I put the helm over, let the genoa go aback, then put the tiller down to leeward and let her sit hove to on starboard. This worked well.

The wind was dead astern as we motored up the river with the main up but sheeted in. As usual, we dropped the main inside the river and motored back to the berth arriving just before 4pm. The clubhouse was closed so I made coffee using the kettle on board and we sat and chatted to other sailors sat on their boats enjoying the peaceful sunshine.

An excellent sail, about 3 hours at sea, 8 miles logged on the trip meter, and all back safe and in great spirits.

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