Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sailing clear blue waters

A few years back I did some paddling with Malcolm.  It was great stuff because Malcolm liked to paddle in the bigger stuff.  Two years ago he bought a sailboat and he hasn't paddled much since, for obvious reasons.

A little while ago he mailed to ask if I'd be interested in doing some sailing.  Today it happened.  We met at the Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club at 8:30.  I looked around marveling at the $$$ tied up.

A few instructions as to my duties upon return, Malcolm started the engine and we heaved off the mooring lines.  The rules are specific - leave the harbour under motor power.

We motored out into Conception Bay where I assumed my first responsibility - hold the yacht into the wind while Malcolm raised the mainsail.

We set sail for the south end of Kellys Island.  After a bit Malcolm asked if I'd take the tiller.  Having never sailed before I felt  little intimidated because only so much can go wrong in a kayak but so much more can go wrong on a 28 foot yacht.

It turned out the angle to the wind on that heading was good.  Enough wind to keep the sail full and make good headway.

We got around the south end safely with my hand on the tiller.  It was interesting getting in tune with the boat, getting a feel for how the rudder affected the direction of sailing.  In a quartering sea in my kayak I edge into the wave as it approaches to keep the stern from being pushed downwind and level again as is passes.  Its easier than sweeping.  I found myself trying to make the sailboat do the same thing but with the tiller - steering the bow downwind and pulling it back as the wave passed.  Don't know if that's correct but seemed to work.

I expected to be a passenger more or less but I kept to the tiller while Malcolm keep an eye on proceedings.

We sailed around the island and Malcolm suggested we sail upwind and around a couple of vessels anchored in the bay.  That meant we were going to have to tack to beat our way upwind.

We tacked, if memory serves me correctly, three times.  Again, a similarity with kayaking.  Get up some good speed, sweep and bow rudder.  In the sailboat its also gather some good speed and then smartly pull the tiller to effect the turn while trying to maintain some speed through the turn.  I think we made one very good tack which I felt good about as a newbie.

After rounding the anchored vessels we returned to the harbour as another sailboat was leaving.

All in all it was a great experience.  I found there was more "work" involved in sailing than I imagined and I only had to handle the tiller.  Malcolm had to keep an eye on everything and trim sails etc.  A challenge for a single handed sailor but I'm sure no problem as experience is gained.  Malcolm is well on his way in that department.

Thanks Malcolm for the opportunity.


  1. I had the opportunity to be on a sailboat once about 20 years ago... I was only a passenger but I do remember the captain and his mate seemed to be a little busy with the things you mentioned... and I do remember it being a fun experience. Over the past summer I have actually been toying with the idea of getting a kayak sail in the future... I am quite sure a kayak sail would be much less involved than a proper sailboat, but it may be a bit of fun nonetheless... Glad you had a good day sailing.

  2. A good day on the water Dean in a vastly more upscale boat. Kayak sailing could be fun and certainly more affordable. I've been thinking, not about a sail but a kite.

    Tony :-)