The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2017.09.03 - So How is it Going?

That is a very good question and to which the answer is very well, not so well and middling. As expected the time I get to spend on Naiad is quite limited, so that is not so good. When I do get to sail it is great but for the majority of the time I like having the boat but wish I could spend more time on her even for just a cup of tea.

The weather combined with the geography is the main problem. Naiad is a small sailing dinghy and cannot stand high winds. I put the first reef in at the top end of force 3 and the second reef in at force 4 and don't go out if it is higher than that. Or I would do if the geography would let me. You see, the banks of the river are around 2m above the level of the water and that causes one immediate problem. If the wind is blowing across the river then the top part of the sails, the part that sticks up over the banks gets a different wind to the rest of the sail since the wind blowing over the top of the banks causes the wind to blow in a different direction to that lower down. I had one occasion a few weeks ago where the wind at the windward side of the river (the side from which the wind is blowing) at water level was in the opposite direction to that blowing over the banks. The top of the sail was trying to push the boat one way that the bottom of the sail was pushing in the opposite direction and I had to resort to using a paddle as it was impossible to sail in these conditions.

It also means that even with a strong wind the majority of the sail is sheltered from the wind where the wind is across the bank and I have to put more sail up, but round the corner, where the wind is blowing along the river, the wind is now too strong and I have to risk sailing for the next 100m or so with too much sail up, sail with the sails slack to take some of the power out of the sail, or put a reef in. None of these are particularly good choices. Too much sail up is putting a lot of stress on the boat, sailing with slackened sails causes them to flog around in the wind and also stresses the boat and stopping to put in a reef for the next section of river takes time and is stressful since you know that you will need to take the reef out of the sail just a few minutes later.

So, I now only go out for a sail if the forecast wind is less than force 4. Force 1 or 2 gusting 2 possibly 3 is a nice wind for Naiad around here, but that doesn't happen very often. I decided a week or two ago that the best way to get a sail in was to get up early and have a 2 or 3 hour sail in the early morning and then return home to wash and get into a clean set of clothes to start work at 8am. I was only able to do this a few times before it became too dark in the morning to do this, but I know for next season that this is how I'll be sailing for most of the season. The wind at this time of the morning is lighter than for the rest of the day but even so, good winds do not happen that often.

The main sail needs to be recut. A job for the coming Winter, but right now it means that Naiad is not sailing efficiently as there is too much sail forward and I sail with the jib furled most of the time.

The plastic cover I made for the cockpit tore after a month or two and I had to make a canvas one fairly quickly as the forecast had lots of heavy rain in the following few days.

This is how it was first put on, you can see that the lacing was not bungee. I didn't have time to make that so I used a thin cord instead.

It seems to have worked quite well although I notice that it has become very dirty and needs a wash. Still, it keeps the rain out of the boat.

I was able to grab an early morning sail on 25th August, this was taken just before 8am as the sun was rising. Looking back over the stern at the Cruising Club with mist rising off the water. There was enough of a breeze to make the mist over but not enough to ripple the water.

This was the view forward at the same time. Naiad seems to move quite well in these light airs but often requires the use of a paddle to tack round. On this particular occasion I sailed almost up to the Ship Inn before turning and sailing back with the rising wind behind me and was able to sail into the berth, a delightful 3 hours round trip.

The next few weekends are going to be busy so my sailing time is going to be even shorter than it has been and I can see the end of the season approaching. That will be interesting all by itself.