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To Asymmetric or Not To Asymmetric

The wind died again at sunset, or just after, last night, I motored for an hour hoping we’d pick up a bree ze but didn’t and as I don’t have huge quantities of fuel I removed all sail other than the staysail, lashed the boom and went to bed with the alarm set for 0300 when, according to the forecasts was when a breeze was s

upposed to pick up.

It didn’t start til a little later ad was from the NE, I put up full main and left the genoa until dawn because I thought it would be just backing and filling as it would be blanketed by the main. At daybreak I put the pole up and we ran down wind goosewinged with main and genoa out on opposite sides for a bit but with the light wind there was still a lot of backing and filling as we rolled in the Westerly swell, after breakfast the wind veered a bit, I gybed the main and stowed the pole and things got far more comfortable, the forecasts continue to indicate I should stay relatively close to Portugal so I’m heading about South. Its warm for the first time , sunny occasionally too and I’ve been a good boy and put on some sunscreen. After breakfast the wind was fairly steady on the port quarter and quite light so I thought I’d put up the crinkly new assymetric sail. I had to remove half of the contents of the cockpit locker to get to it, and then lug it for’d. The solar panels get in the way of the sheets so I had to adjust them (I have two on each side and the forward one gets stowed and the aft one lifted right up, not elegant but it does work) so after so e faffing about with sheets, tack downhauls and associated blocks I was starting to hoist the sausagey caboodle aloft (the thing stows in a sleeve that once one has hoisted it, one pulls up out of the way to get it to deploy, and equally once finished with one pulls the sleeve down to collapse it prior to lowering it,) but it kept flicking behind the spreader and, at this point, there was a big P andO cruise ship heading towards us. The AIS alarm was going off to warn me of the cruise ship and I decided to abandon the hoist until it was past in case I needed to alter course so I lowered it, secured it with a couple of sail ties and set the genoa again whilst the cruise ship passed by which time the wind had filled in to about a force 4 and I decided I didn’t want to risk putting it up now. (On Freya, I’d frightened myself off Ailsa Craig by putting the assymetric up in a force 4, it filled with a bang, immediately overcame the autopilot and we rounded up in an unpleasantly exciting manner, when it collapsed and flogged for a bit whilst I regained the helm and headed back more downwind. Once we’d got to an agreeable angle for the assymetric it filled again, again with a bang and I couldn’t hold course either as we ran out of rudder, rounded up again, collapsed the assymetric again and tuned downwind again, the next time I was expecting it and was turning more down wind as it filled and just managed to hold her on course almost dead downwind and we shot off, overpowered with me wondering how we’d get out of the situation as engaging the autopilot or windvane wasn’t going to work because either took too long. We had about 15 minutes of exciting downwind sailing before the clip on the sheet which had one of those keyring type pins on it which I had neglected to tape up, caught on the genoa sheet, releasing the assymetric sheet. This proved to be a good thing as the clew flew off downwind and with no power in the sail I could re engage the autopilot, head back to the foredeck and pull the snuffer sleeve down to tame the sail And stow it .......)

....Apologies about that, the stupid program refused to let me see what I was trying to type so I sent that off to the outbox and am continuing here. Anyway the brackety description in the previous post was a long winded way of saying either: I let discretion be the better part of valour, or, probably more likely, I chickened out and decided to leave us as we had been under genoa and main and forget the assymetric for the time being. We are now dead downwind goosewinged again on the port tack.doing about 5 knots, fairly peacefully. Fore deck work in a swell, makes things trickier. My spinnaker poles, That I use for goosewinging are quite heavy lumps and one, although I thought that I had freed it off at home before heading out is now refusing to unlock its jaws. I had wanted to remove the end fitting and make sure all was free inside because, ashore, it was working but not 100% (it would open and close but not ‘cock’ itself whereby it is supposed to stay open until the sheet is put in the jaw which triggers a release to capture it) I tried to unscrew the set screws holding the end fitting on but just kept breaking the head of the impact driver so gave up. I’m not sure what the answer is but I daren’t use the dodgy pole now in case it refuses to unlock when needed. Will give it some thought.

Although it’s a lovely sunny day, the sun is, obviously, in the south, we are heading south, so the solar panels are in The shade which is a shame.

It looks like light winds for a few days, hopefully enough to keep moving ok and also I’m really hoping that the swell dies down so the sails draw better, every time we roll, we lose motive power however I don’t want to ask for too much and sound fussy, nice wind and sunshine is more than enough for a bit. Now some lunch and think about what to do with chicken breasts for tonight.

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