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Orca Sighting

As you know I had the assymetric up yesterday. It’s designed to be flown with it’s tack right forward, in my case close to the bow roller and is a downwind / reaching sail, good for relative wind angles of between about 80 and 130 degrees. It is also possible to put the tack on the spinnaker pole and cant this off to windward to increase the downwind angle, I had it set up like this yesterday, a trick Graham showed me. It worked well, it was set all day with the wind going from around 90 degrees to 170 and by adjusting the pole angle and height it was possible to keep it full and drawing.

I had decided I wanted to stow it before sunset as it’s more complicated than normal and having to fight it in the dark, although unlikely, was something I wanted to avoid so just before sundowners I went forward and started to pull the snuffer down to collapse it and begin the stow. I had just got to the flappy about bit when I saw an Orca surface close to the port bow. Golly, I thought as my heart missed a beat, I glimpsed it, or they (possibly two, I couldn’t be sure) a couple more times as they passed whilst I hurriedly secured the snuffing line having pulled it as far down as easily possible first. It’s a shame because all I could think of were Orcas attacking rudders and I was seeing it / them as a foe rather than enjoying the sighting. Anyway I rushed aft in time to see one now off the port quarter and swimming (if that’s the right verb) in the same direction as me. In my mind she, (I think from the dorsal fin she was a she) was lining up for a rudder push. Anyway, I have my bucket of sand on the stern with an empty tin of tomatoes in it and started to sprinkle some in the water. I carried on for a few minutes but saw nothing more. As I say I’m not sure if there were more than one, the one that I saw clearly had dirty brownish colouring on part of her white patch, and didn’t have the ridiculously big fin of a male so I think was a female, and I think I saw 2 initially. The sand theory I read online somewhere, it may disrupt their sonar and may discourage attacks but no one knows. My statistical analysis shows that 100% of possible attacks have been discouraged so far.

I then stowed the assymetric and set the genoa on the pole instead, I noticed that the genoa gave us identical speed to the assymetric so although it is possible to set it at deep angles, it’s probably not worth it.

I enjoyed a beer after the excitement, had leftover risotto for dinner and then when I started the engine to charge the batteries couldn’t pull out the knob which is used to give rpm without it going into gear, I had a quick look at the mechanism last night and this morning, gave it a grease but am not convinced that I have found the problem, it is now working but it was sticking rather than stiff, well that’s what it felt like to me anyway, we’ll have to wait and see.

It’s a cloudier and windier morning and we’re dead downwind in about 18 kts doing about 7 knots which is great, we are rolling about a bit but I suspect that is likely to be inevitable.

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04 oct 2023

Orcas at sundown?! Well done for settling down to your beer and risotto Jock. Sounds like a very discombobulating experience. Sounds like the poled out headsail is the best option downwind - and easier to furl in a hurry. Enjoy the last day or so before landfall. Atb, D

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03 oct 2023

reading spellbound about the orca(s) encounter. you are a very good storyteller. Amazing the sandtrick.

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