Between Places

March 1, 2015 at 8:53 pm

One evening last week I was bored by TV offerings and took to Vimeo to try to find something interesting to watch and I just have to share this gem I found with you.

There is something in common between the arts of climbing and sailing.
The sea and the hills offer challenges to those who venture upon them and the acceptance of these and the meeting of them as best he can lies in the sailors or mountaineers reward.

So as I run my own outdoor clothing company I’ve had enough contact with climbers and mountaineers to recognise that they often seem to feel exactly the same way about mountains as I do the sea, so when this quote was shown at the opening of ‘Between Places‘ it really struck a chord with me and I was hooked.

‘Between Places’ is billed as ‘An Adventurous documentary about Arctic mountaineering and sailing along the Greenland coast’ but that doesn’t really do it justice at all.  It is beautifully shot, with stunning scenes. Even on my little iPad it was breathtaking. Importantly though too, it’s great story telling. I loved the human aspect as well as the landscape shots.

I do recommend you find time to watch it. There is something in common between the arts of climbing and sailing.

Between Places (English subtitles) from Pixl Family on Vimeo.

Sail Trim for (Singlehanded) Cruisers

February 14, 2015 at 10:16 am

I’ve never been on a racing yacht (well only tied to the dock at a boat show), and I never really did dinghy’s… To say I’m not that competitive is probably a bit of an untruth, but more likely the thought of going backwards and forwards ’round the cans’ is pretty boring to me.  I like the adventure and freedom of sailing, of travelling to new places or at least seeing places from a new perspective.

However, one of the disadvantages with this lack of “discipline” is that I’m aware that my sail trim is definitely not as sharp as it could be. I know how to trim the sails with the sheets according to the tell-tales on the luff of the genoa and mainsail, but the finer points of sheet car and mainsheet traveller positioning have eluded me. When I had the UV strip replaced on the genoa last season, the sail maker replaced the luff rope and I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know what it was for…

It can’t be that complicated, surely? I reckon I’ve a pretty good ‘feel’ for how the boat is sailing and can definitely tell when the boat is ‘in the groove’, it’s just finding it has always been a bit of a lucky accident so far!

But there’s loads of info out there… I bought the RYA Sail Trim for Cruisers Handbook at the end of last summer which was very illuminating, with lots of clear diagrams.  It will definitely stay onboard with me, but it does seem quite complicated, with lots of jargon, and I think lots of differences for different boats. It definitely seems more of an art to ‘tuning’ the sails, than a science.

Sail Trim for Cruisers

Recently I’ve also found a series of videos on Youtube and I’ve found it really helpful to see it all in practice. I warn you, they are a bit ‘Howards Way’ though, made back in the 90’s clearly before roller reefing and lifejackets were invented. (And try not to get distracted giggling at the historic technology like I did either…) But I’ve watched them all a couple of times and it’s definitely making more sense to me now.

Final note though, at the end of the last video on trimming the mainsail, the presenter is shown in charge of the mainsheet traveller control continuously trimming it, in continuous communication with the helmsman. In my defence, there’s a lot more to do and think about when you’re singlehanding so I think that level of perfection is a bit unobtainable.

Can’t wait to put all this new knowledge into practice though… Anyone else got any tips?

How Does She Sail?

September 27, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Chris sent me a lovely email yesterday:

“Hello, I discovered your blog whilst searching for information on the Hurley 22.  I’m looking for my first cruiser, single handled mainly, Irish sea and the west coast of Scotland. How have you found Duet? Not quite a long keel, but as near as damn it. How does she sail?”

Great question Chris, I thought it deserved a post:

As some background, this season was really my first proper season in Duet and we did a touch over 500 coastal miles in a range of conditions, some of which were actually pretty challenging for us.  As some background to my own sailing experience, I have done some miles but in a rather narrow range of boats.  I have done a little school stuff in Jeanneau’s, and a Greek flotilla in a Jaguar 28 but most of my formative sailing was done in a Trapper 500 which is a 28 foot 1970s cruiser racer, a lot lighter displacement with a deep fin keel. Duet is my first boat, my first time skippering, and first experience single handing.

So with this context, I found that Duet actually sails really well, and she clearly loves to be sailed. There is a point somewhere around a force 4 that she definitely feels like she picks her skirts up and skips on.  (But I did have her bilges full of tins and tools this summer and the Hurley 22 is pretty heavy displacement for her size anyway.) Being heavier she feels like a much bigger boat in a chop, and I was surprised to find she actually felt bigger and often safer than the Trapper 500! I’ve never had Duet slam, which I have experienced on the Trapper and the Jeanneau’s too, and I definitely felt like she was able to look after me.  I will admit on a couple of occasions it was all getting a bit much for me and I dropped the sails and just lay ahull where she sat quietly beam on to the waves and I collected my thoughts, took a deep breath and put in a reef or had a cup of tea or whatever.  She also heaves to quite nicely.

Duet’s a fin, and although I’m not totally happy with her rig setup and tuning, I was happy enough how high she would point, and didn’t observe much of a problem with leeway all things considered.  I didn’t measure this scientifically, but I did notice she wouldn’t point as high with a reefed genoa as full sail, but that will be the roller reefing. I’ve averaged out my passage times and we averaged something like 3.5 knots over the 500 miles which I don’t think is too bad for a 22 foot boat on passage.  It sounds obvious but the biggest negative is her length.  Once the sea gets up to “moderate” she does struggle upwind, but then to be fair often so do bigger boats… The sea looks bigger and scarier from a little boat too. I found it best to reef early, by about 14 knots the first reef was usually in the main and the second in well before 20 knots, with the Genoa reefed in between. I found her quite easy to balance, but she definitely lets you know if she’s over canvassed as she becomes difficult to steer and feels out of control!  But Duet’s set up for easy single handing, with the main halyard and topping lift led back to the cockpit. As she’s little I found I could also reef the main standing on the quarter berths in the hatchway so I didn’t need to go on deck.  From the hatchway I can reach the mast, which is much safer than going on deck.

The outboard engine has taken a little getting used to as I’m used to an inboard really, but it’s much, much better in the well rather than transom hung like it was last season.  In the well it doesn’t lift clear of the water in a chop like it does on the transom.  However, on a couple of occasions I had a problem with it not staying central in the well but motion of the sea was pivoting it to one side, which affected steering and sounded awful and I ended up turning it off and sailing a bit more off the wind.  But to be fair this was at the top of a force 5, with over 4 foot (?) of short swell. I need to put a bar in the lazarette locker to fix the outboard to stop it being able to turn like this. Not having an inboard that (hopefully) starts at the push of a button or turn of a key might also need some consideration, as it’s a bit of a process to turn round, open the locker, prime the bulb, set the choke and the gear, and pull the chord (a few times) and you need some room for this, but singlehanded it’s ideally best to plan ahead and not leave action to the last minute. I have a 4 stroke Mercury 5hp sail pro which pushes her comfortably along at about 3.5 knots without sounding like you are hammering the engine (to my ears) but I did find that I was better off sailing if at all possible, which is no bad thing… There are some Hurley 22s out there with inboards though, if you have stricter time constraints or less patience ;o)

One of the biggest issues that I had when I first got her was getting in and out of a marina berth.  With the outboard in the well behind the prop she just won’t prop walk like a yacht with an inboard, and with the long(ish)keel putting her in reverse is very unpredictable – you are never quite sure which way the stern will go. So I’m afraid you need to ignore most of the stuff in books, yachting magazine articles and from the RYA on ‘close quarters manoeuvring”.  However, as she is small she’s actually very easy to (wo)manhandle: I warp her round if there is the room (and this can be done easily in a standard marina berth if there is not a boat next to you, either between or around the finger pontoons).  Alternatively I have walked her out backwards with the engine out of gear and then used the boat hook to turn her and keep her clear of other boats.  Once the boat is clear and pointing in the right general direction I return to the cockpit and put her in gear.  Obviously every situation with wind, tide and surrounding boat overhangs needs to be considered but damage is caused by boats under way usually, rather than just adrift. Some might see this as unseamanlike but I believe you have to work with what you’ve got!  Springs can be useful in a tide, and I have found stopping is often a bit of an, ahem, issue (as I need to turn round and rummage in the lazarette locker at the last vital moment to find reverse on the outboard) but then you have to learn to use the tide and wind to your advantage if at all possible, and to do things as slowly as possible, just keeping enough way on to keep steerage.  I always put lots of fenders out and there’s definitely a learning curve to this…

Another area I was nervous about was weighing anchor single handed, but I have found that her keel holds her in the water and there is surprisingly little windage.  By the time I’ve sorted the anchor, closed the lid and got back to the cockpit I’m surprised how little she moves, even in a good breeze.  I know that in some of the situations we’ve been in, I’m pretty sure the Trapper would have skidded off and been on the rocks!

Accommodation wise, she’s a 22 foot boat with 4’9″ headroom which is what it is… But the forepeak berth is massive and I’ve also had a few comfortable nights in the quarter berth. With the paraffin lamp on in the evening she is cosy and snug, and after living aboard for 9 weeks this summer I thought the lack of space would annoy me but it honestly didn’t (and I’m 5’9″ and not exactly a midget).  I have a boom tent to cover the cockpit which effectively doubles your living space, and also gives you somewhere to hang wet oilies.  I would definitely recommend this.  The cockpit is quite spacious, and deep.  It would be comfortable to day sail her with crew, but as for staying over I think you’d have to get on very, very well. Great for one though!  After all, if you put 2 people on a 28 foot boat and there’s not really *that* much space each…

So, bottom line is I found she sails very well, better than I hoped if I’m honest.  You have to pick your weather ideally, and found that the sea state and direction of the waves was as important, if not more, than the wind speed for making progress in the direction you want.  But she did feel safe, and I felt she looked after me in some tricky situations with too much sea and too much wind and she was really good for my confidence. At one point though, after the 11 hour passage from Salcombe to Plymouth dead into a force 5-6, making 1.5 knots motor sailing against a significant swell, I did think I wanted a bigger boat.  But then the wind direction changed to more Easterly and we had some fabulous sails further West and you know, I think I’ll keep her for another year after all… She’s a lot of fun and adventure for her size, and certainly for the money!

If I’ve missed anything or you’ve got any questions or comments then I’d love to hear them below :-)

Hurley 22



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