First sail of 2016

31 March 2016

Elsa has sat in the river on her own since October. I’ve had the engine off and serviced, and I took the sails and the rudder off to protect them from the storms, but put it all back together during March. I went around the boat with a pressure washer as she sat in the mud with the tide out, but there weren’t that many barnacles to blow off.

Today gave us a nice bit of sunshine and a northerly breeze so I decided it was a good day to go out and check everything out. Others had the same idea as four our five other boats were doing likewise. With high tide about 5pm I started her up and backed out into the river around 3.30 and motored up and down a couple of times, and then put out to sea. Northerly winds give us a flat sea with little swell. I had the mainsail rigged and ready to use but I still haven’t quite sorted out a way of hoisting and dropping it from the cockpit so I unrolled the full genoa and shut the engine off to see what she did.

The wind was a bit fresher than I thought at F2-3, perhaps more in the gusts. I set off to the East and saw 3.5 – 4.0 knots on the GPS (Speed Over Ground, SOG) and set a destination as our Steel Can racing mark which is about 1.2nm away towards Worthing. Elsa goes really well under genoa only, ideal for the lone lazy yachtsman, the helm is still balanced and in that breeze she even heeled a bit. I was at the mark by 4.20 and tacked around and headed back – with the tidal stream behind me now, she made 5.0 knots SOG easily.

The genoa wouldn’t quite roll itself completely away which was a bit annoying as I motored back up the river but once inside the harbour I realised it was just the spinnaker halyard getting entangled with the sail, so I was able to sort that out before going into the berth. Less wind in the harbour so an easy approach in the evening sunshine and back on the berth just after 5pm.

So we know the engine works well and the keel mechanism, rudder etc. are all in good shape. I’m not sure what 2016 will bring but I’m planning two or three overnight trips plus a bit of racing, and there’s the club’s diamond jubilee events to look forward to as well!


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