99 Problems…

May 30, 2015 at 8:49 am

But a dragging anchor ain’t one…

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This is an anchor ‘angel’ or ‘chum’. It’s a lump of lead weighing about 15 kilos. You tie a bowline through it and round your anchor line and lower it down the line til it touches the bottom. Then you tie it off tight. So theoretically under the water you have your anchor, set in well, then a line of chain (20m in my case) and the chum sits at the end of the chain before the rode  comes up to your boat.

The idea is that whatever forces are at play on your boat, the ‘angel’ has to be lifted before anything can start to move your chain, let alone get at your anchor.

Works a dream. I sat out a gusty, veering f7 yesterday swinging in a much reduced circle around the ‘angel’ whereas without it we’d have been all over the place and probably pulled the Danforth out.

Anchoring problems? What anchoring problems?

Back problems, maybe…

Trouble at Cremyll

May 16, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Duet and I left the comfort of Plymouth Yacht Haven yesterday afternoon and headed over to Millbrook to pick up some stainless steel fittings for the Navik. I stopped to pick up Bill Churchouse who was anchored at Cremyll on the way, and we ducked in alongside at Voyager Boatyard at high tide, very conscious that it dries. All went smoothly and we beat a hasty retreat.

After dropping Bill back off on his boat I dropped anchor nearby in 8 meters, just by the entrance to the channel up to Millbrook, at the end of the Cremyll moorings. The SW wind was pretty fresh and I let out 20m chain and another 20m rope as the wind was due to freshen over night. It did, but we held fast. However, I was aware that with so much scope I was in danger of riding out of the channel and onto the nearby mud flats. Low tide at 11pm passed without too much incident. We touched briefly but right on low tide, and I started the engine and pushed us off back into the channel where I threw out the little Danforth kedge I keep in a bucket on the pushpit, to help keep us out in deeper water. I didn’t sleep at all well at all though. The wind did freshen and I was mindful of dragging, or swinging round on the tide out of the channel onto the drying mud. I slept with the anchor alarm set to 20m on my handheld gps under my pillow (so if we moved more than 20m it would sound and I would wake). But I still woke a good few times as waves slapped the hull. The wind in the rigging had an ominous tone and it was very cold, even with my hot water bottle and thermals.

By 7.30 I was up and we had swung round on the tide, as the height of tide had lifted the kedge out and we were only in 1.2m of water (under the keel), and with 3 1/2 hours to go til the next low tide I knew I was heading for trouble, so I pulled in the dangling kedge and then upped anchor and moved, anchoring again further out in 7m again, probably only 10m away, such was the steep sides of the channel under the water. I didn’t bother with the kedge again though I didn’t let out as much scope this time either.

We held again well in the soft mud, however at some point next the wind veered to the NW and was by now gusting a good, regular f6.

The effect of this was to push us round and up onto the mud, but I didn’t notice in time… At just after 10am I was lying in my bunk and could feel Duet was touching the bottom, just a gentle sticking in the soft mud and an odd motion, but the depth sounder said there was still 0.8m of water under the keel. Which was odd as it had been bang on in the night; I tested it with a weighted line.

By 20 past 10 I’d tried to motor off, and Bill had arrived by dinghy but we were well and truly stuck fast. I’d done a quick calculation on the tidal curve in the almanac and knew we still had at least half a metre to drop: We were in trouble.

As I’d come to accept we were stuck, but still had some side to side movement I’d stood on the leeward side, which also happened to be the side away from the tide so she would settle that side down and wouldn’t get swamped by the incoming tide later. It was pretty clear that with still more than an hour to low tide, we were going over.

So started our gradual incline. I say gradual but it was actually pretty quick… Bill and I prepared by lashing the jerry cans (my heaviest items aboard) to the high side rail. I shut the seacocks so they wouldn’t fill with mud, closed all the locker doors along the sides of the cabin and moved items from the high side of the boat to the low side as they started sliding about.

By 11am I was wedged in the bottom of the cabin sole as the boat was at more than 45 degrees and sitting on the bunks was by now impossible. And Bill was sitting on the cockpit floor. We had Radio 2 on and joked about making a cup of tea.

It was all pretty solid and actually quite peaceful with the tide tinkling on the last parts of the hull in the water. It was also interesting to see what moved, as might happen, worst case scenario, in a knock down. I was surprised to find jars came out of the lower lockers at a relatively benign angle.

I have to admit now, that I was persuaded to abandon ship just before low tide itself, and watched her refloat from the comfort of a neighbouring boat, drinking coffee… But it was pretty quick again, and she came straight back up with no problem at all. After all, that’s what the keel is for, and luckily we were in lovely soft mud. A rocky shore, or a bigger fetch and bigger waves would have needed different tactics to protect the boat from puncturing her side, but she’s solid and just lay on her side like an indignant seal.

The wind and the tide did try and push her up onto the shore as she lifted, but her anchor snubbed her and she righted with a little rocking motion.

By 1230 she was upright, and I was back aboard. No real drama, but I’ve learnt alot today.

And if it’s never happened to you; it will… And when it does; don’t panic ;o)

Thanks for the photos and the help Bill.

And Denis for the coffee.

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You can just see me to the left practicing my "Abandon Ship" drill. Smug bilge keeler to the right...

You can just see me to the left practicing my “Abandon Ship” drill. Smug bilge keeler to the right…

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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