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Thursday, November 26, 2009

From Pete

Pete writes
I've been moved to write due to a distinct lack of something to do. I'm now towards the end of my two night watches, the sun is coming up, Alex has just appeared so I'll make my way to the fridge to extract a couple of Murphy's for breakfast.
Aggahhhh much better.
We put in a good days work last Sunday. By the end of my night watch the wind had dropped to 6-8 kts and boat speed was down to 3-4 kts, this was perilously close to "turn the key time" so a suggestion was made that perhaps a kite might solve the problem of keeping boat speed above the 4.8 kts required to reach Cape Town by Sat. the 5th.
Up it went a nice new flat assymetrical from the craft of Brian Shilland. True wind was a little aft of the beam so it wasn't long before we were getting 5-6 kts as the apparent wind increased and moved forward to about 15 to 20 degs ahead of the beam. We had a wonderful run all day but by 4 in the arvo wind was above 15 kts boat speed was mostly about 6 7 sometimes 8 and we were still up on course, as they say we were hoooooning along, with a huge grin and a "Whoooo Hooooo".
The problem with Berri and the old style deep keel mid to heavy displacement type of boat is that they have to push a lot of water out of the way to move forward. As a completely bare boat she weighs 5.5 tons, set up for a voyage of 14000 miles she probably weights in at say 7 tons. This means that she has to get 7 cubic metres of water out of her path. Of course pushing water out of the way is easy at low speed but as the speed increases it gets so much harder to displace the water quickly and eventually the boat reaches its maximum hull speed. The boat now moves in a trough created by the bow and stern waves.
If the wind now increases and the boat speed does not and you have a kite up then things start to go decidedly pear shaped very quickly.
The obvious question is how do you get the kite down with one steering and only one other to bring the sail in. How do you control the halyard drop and gather the sail at the same time.
Alex and I have competed the last 3 Fastnet races in the 2 handed division, you learn a lot from the single handers over a beer after the race. One trick we learnt was to throw the halyard in the water, first it avoids tangles as it streams out the back and a few figure 8s on the end puts just the right tension on to control the drop. The kite is then gathered in through the slot between the mainsail foot and the boom.
We had decided earlier on to pull the kite down at about 4.30 which would give enough time to repack the sail and tidy all the bits of string up before the bar opened at 5 for a G&T. The wind never got to the point where the sail was threatened and we doused it easily using the above method. I'll write more now as all the good books have been read and all the little jobs that can be done at sea are crossed off the "To do list".
A footnote to Allan. Fenwick are you OK we havn't had an abusive letter from you yet?
Woc. So you found me. Is Graeme back for Christmas and will the stock market have recovered by then?
Cheers Pete.