Here's a mindbending brainteaser: (at least, it bent my mind, the one time it happened to me)
You're close reaching in strong conditions, in waters sheltered from the open sea. It's a reasonably tender
sailboat with a tall rig, so you're under triple-reefed mainsail
There's a bit of a tendency to round up – as you'd expect – but it's not unmanageable if you feather the sail, in a measured way, in the puffs. (Which is a big advantage of any sail which sets on a boom: in contrast with a jib
, which gets more camber as it's eased)
Then conditions deteriorate further. The wind
A killer gust comes through. The wind
strength is enough that you're no longer fighting to stop the boat rounding up, in fact (still on the same heading relative to the wind) it's all you can do to stop it bearing away.
! ? ! ? ! ? ! ?
There is no problem with the rudder
or the steering
mechanism, or any failure of the sails
. If anything the seas are flatter, as the crests are now being bulldozed off into the troughs.
What's happening, and what can you do about it?
- - - -
(By way of back-story: I woke early this morning, my mind travelling pleasantly over sailing lessons
which nature had dished out to me at various times. This one took place so long ago that, lying there enjoying the dawn chorus of native birdlife, I could no longer remember exactly what happened, or (more worringly) what it had taught me.
As wakefulness gradually seeped back, I mercifully gained the upper hand on the nocturnal ringwraiths, and patched together a memory which seems to ring true, even though the situation seems so counter-intuitive.
But I'd had a sneak preview, in my groggy state, of a time when some of those lessons learned in magical moments would be largely lost
So ... I thought I'd put it down here, and if it helps one other sailor, so much the better. I've always felt that counter-intuitive outcomes are the ones really worth analysing and trying to understand, given that informed intuition is a reliable guide to the rest.
And if it doesn't persuade anyone else to consider a new angle, at least I have the consolation that when (not if) I can no longer summon it up, I might still be able to use Google-assisted recollection!