Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Noon Position: 51 11' S, 44 44' W, SOG 6.5, COG 070, Day's Run 128nm.
It's a cold one today - the olive oil regained it's robust consistency
overnight, and even now, 1400 local, my toes and fingers are stiff with
cold despite the warm sun. Odyssey is rolling her way cheerfully
downwind wing-on-wing before WSW breeze, accompanied by a looming line
of darkness about two miles to the north, which seems to be content to
drift slowly parallel to us as it obliterates the horizon. In all other
directions, of course, there's not a cloud in the sky, and the solar
panels are soaking in the sun's rays, oblivious to the torrential
downpour just a few miles away. Sailing wing-on is not the fastest
point of sail, nor is it the most comfortable - the lack of stability
that reaching provides has Odyssey rolling consistently through about 20
degrees either side of vertical, but once the breeze gets up enough to
hit hull speed, it's certainly better than broad reaching 30 or 40
degrees off my desired course. The rolling makes moving about on deck
interesting - certainly not as bad as during a gale, when with just a
scrap of headsail up Odyssey seems to be rolling both rails underwater
at the same time as I crawl forward to secure some banging halyard, but
enough to make me appreciate being clipped in when working to leeward.
When on deck in anything but a flat calm I wear a webbing chest harness
with a pair of tethers, one 3 feet long and the other 6. Normally this
would be incorporated into an inflatable PFD of some sort, but with no
one else on board, if I get separated from the boat the extra flotation
wouldn't matter, so to save bulk and reduce snagging on various objects,
it's just a harness. On it I have a fixed blade sheath knife and a
winch handle on a carabiner, which lets carry it with both hands free.
In the cockpit are 3 padeyes to clip into, 2 at the forward end within
reach of the companionway, so I can clip in before going on deck, and
one by the wheel for working aft. For working forward, I've run a pair
of jacklines made of 3/16ths dyneema inside 1" nylon webbing. The
jacklines start at the bow cleats, cross just aft of the mast, then
terminate at the padeyes for the running-backstays near the forward end
of the cockpit. having the jacklines switch sides aft of the mast is a
bit of a pain, since it means I need to reclip to work on the fore-deck,
but the benefits are that if I'm on the 3 foot tether, I can't end up
over the side because the jacklines are near the centerline. The aft
end of the jacklines are far enough forward so that even on the 6 foot
tether, if I were to fall overboard I wouldn't drag behind the boat and
could still get myself back on board. The other important safety
feature that I've added is to connect the two lower shrouds on each side
with a piece of wood at the height of my lower back - this gives me
something to lean against while working at the mast, particularly if I
have to go to leeward, and goes a long way towards keeping me on my
feet. A last, unforeseen benefit that I gained by removing the canvas
dodger and building the small hard "hutch" over the companionway is that
it makes going forward a lot safer and easier - instead of having to
swing outboard of the running backstays with precious little room
between me and the rail, or jam myself through the narrow gap between
the runners and dodger, I can now just move forward over the cabin top,
with handrails to hang onto. I didn't really focus on it at the time
of construction, but this makes getting around the deck a lot easier -
I'm really glad to have ditched the dodger.

1 comment:

  1. Eric, Thanks for the description of your safety lines. It only
    takes one time for green water to wash one into the ocean.
    Your descriptions are so vivid I can close my eyes and imagine
    being there!