Wednesday, May 5, 2021

I am sailing

I bought an old sailboat.

When you turn fifty you're supposed to have a life crisis or just in general do something stupid, like switching out your wife or buying a  Harley-Davidson. I like my wife and have no interest in motorized vehicles, but I still wanted to use the situation to my advantage and bought an old sailboat, in fact a little older than me.

The boat is a Halcyon 27, a British design from the late sixties. It is a small boat, 8.23 m long and 2.34 m wide, based on the old folkboat design. Being long keeled, it has a fairly low draft of 1.20 m, which should allow some flexibility in choosing nature harbours. It should also be able to handle weather quite well, with a keel weight of 1360 kg lead (total displacement 3048 kg). Inside it is quite narrow, but a standing height of 180 cm isn't bad in this small a boat. Boats this old have in practice lost almost all of their value, at least measured in money, and can therefore be had cheap, typically 4000 - 7000 € in Finland for this particular class, not that there are many of this model left. The more popular and similar Albin Vega also goes for around the same price. The cheap price and old age also means that they might need a bit of money/work/love. This boat had a fairly new inboard motor, a Nanni 2.10 from 2011, which has run only a little over 100 hours, so that part is ok. The hull also seemed to be in fairly good shape, with only some cosmetic work to be done. Inside there is also some cosmetic work to be done and I do think the boat could benefit from a new main sail. The roller genoa seemed to be in good shape, and the self-tacking jib also was in excellent shape. I will probably find out more things to fix, but this package actually cost less than my most expensive kayak. Keeping a sailboat is of course more expensive.

During last weekend I sailed it home from Dalsbruk/Taalintehdas to Hirvensalo, about 57 NM. The previous owner was with me for the first section to Högsåra, about 16 NM. Half of this section was by motor, due to the headwind and narrow shipping lanes. Incidentally, the main wind direction during Friday and Saturday was NW, which is the general direction between Dalsbruk and Hirvensalo...

In Högsåra I switched out the genoa to the jib, since I was certain that the jib would be enough for the forecasted 10 m/s (more in the gusts) wind. Being an almost total beginner in sailing I didn't want to have too much challenges, since I was going single handed.

I got from Högsåra northwards by motor, since the wind came from ahead and there is limited room in the shipping lane. The plan was to raise sails after Norstö and go WNW and tack somewhere east of Ytterlanden. (Please excuse any terminology errors, in practice I'm learning the terminology in Swedish, Finnish and English at the same time, and I'm not there yet).

After Norstö I turned west to check out the conditions, but the wind didn't seem reasonable for getting where I wanted, so I continued a bit further northwards.

While I am a beginner when it comes to sailing, I do now how to navigate with a sea chart and I know these waters well from sea kayaking. Also, I think I have a good feeling for the wind from the sea kayaking. Still, there is a bit of a don't try this at home-warning over the whole thing, going single handed sailing without an autopilot and not having any real sailing experience.

After Sandskär I raised the sails and shut down the motor. The wind came from NW and I first went a bit west to get a good line to the north. At this point I had already abandoned my plan A to go to Dalskär, since it wouldn't be reasonably possible with this wind direction. Instead I aimed for Högland, which I thought would give reasonable shelter for the night. A plan C would have been to continue a bit further still, to a totally sheltered place in Attu.

Going west I got the wind in a good direction, easily going over 6 knots (the GPS logged 6.8 knots).

The boat does seem to potentially have a good speed going close hauled, even without me really knowing how to trim the sails. Maybe the narrow beam, especially in the bow, helps this?

I turned north, going along the pearl band of islands between Sandön and Högland on the west side. I did one tack to the west, in order not to get too close to the rock garden of Äspskärs reven.

I took down the sails just before the small harbour. By now I was pretty much done, after 32 NM, and only took a small stroll after having eaten before going to sleep.

I got up before six in the morning and made coffee and fresh croissants with the Omnia oven.

The wind now came from WNW, meaning that I would go by motor for almost three hours. Raising and lowering the sails alone, without an autopilot keeping the course during the operation isn't much fun, so you don't want to do it too many times.

After Lillmälö I raised the sails, and had quite good speed across Airisto, mostly over six knots after the Linsor islands.

There was a bit of a drama when I lowered the sails just before Samppansuntti. Still no autopilot and the engine didn't want to run on low rpms, but I managed. Diesel isn't what it used to be: Nowadays it contains enough bio components that bacteria and algae can grow in the tank, clogging the fuel filters, which I now need to change.

The final challenge was actually getting the boat into its place on the pier. A long keeled boat isn't exactly nimble in close turns, and going backwards it doesn't react to the rudder unless you have too much speed in a tight environment. Going forwards it does actually spin almost around its own axis, since propeller stream hits the rudder directly. I got it parked, though, and the boat was now home after a total of 57 NM.

There is a bunch of stuff to do on the boat and figure out. I haven't e.g. still found out how to get tension in the mail sail. The boom isn't fixed, but is rather in a channel and needs something to pull it down. I don't think the kicker is the correct solution, but I'm sure I'll find out.

That's it. I do still paddle, the day after I got home I had a sea kayak guide job for a full 12 h day.

No comments:

Post a Comment