My friend and I finally hooked up for a sail on his 36 foot steel
boat. It was my first time to sail steel
but I have known the boat since before he owned it.
The boat is either plans built or self designed. Laid up in New Zealand
and sailed to Asia
years ago. It carries a 3 cylinder donk and has been fitted with some nice goodies including full wind/speed/depth, autopilot
and so on.
First impressions are, big, heavy, solid, tank. Boy this thing is gonna go slow... We fire up the engine
and start to back down off the mooring
. The stern jumps to port immediately and the boat makes zero sternway. Reduce throttle and "coax" her backwards like a skittish horse. A big giant draught horse - LOL. Eventually 13 tonnes of steel starts to move backwards and we clear the pennant.
and wait for the behemoth to stop going backwards and start going forward. The nose continues to head
to starboard and liberal wheel
is used. It apparently has a smallish rudder
for her size and a full keel
. The steering
is hydraulic. Another first for me and I am surprised by how many "winds" of the wheel
it takes to make a correction.
However, I overcorrect and the bow is headed to port. I correct back. Soon we are getting 3-4 knots under the boat and I start to get the hang of the steering
- Input a lot, as soon as she racts, take the input out - wait to see what happens next.
a bit while our volunteers remove sail covers and get lines and sheets
sorted. I am still getting the hang of steering and starting to settle down. The beneteau
40 I sail on is like a go cart compared to this monster. But she is very stable underfoot.
bodes well and it has been breezy all morning. We settle into what will become a close haul and the main gets winched up. It is pretty massive. I only notice later that it has 5 reef points in it - wow!
The main gets up and I am motor
sailing and starting to feel effects of weather helm
. The genny is on a furling
unit and the genny rolls out nicely. The owner doesn't have a ton of time in the boat, predominantly because this boat probably needs 3 people to sail properly and I am respecting him as the skipper
but being cautious.
The bowl at the end of our channel is big and roomy and the wind
direction wll allow us to head
on a reach for Malaysia
. I see some occasional white caps and the wind
gauge is showing 17g20. We get a bit of heel and based on the rudder
responsiveness I'd prefer less power than more. We take in the (probably) 130 genny to about 100% and while I helm
and a helper take in the first reef in the main. He hadn't reefed the main before and while they got the tack down, it's a 2 line reefing system and the clew is not set. Additionally the first reef point is only about 4 inches of sail.
I don't like to butt in but I ask our helper to helm and talk to the skipper about getting a "full reef" in and taking a look at the reefing system. He's OK with it so we take the second reef in, get the clew nice and tight which was being hindered by the topping lift
and vang being still on, which we release and reset. He sail turns from a bag into a foil and we are in much better shape.
During this we have allowed a fair amount of leeway and we are in an area of the channel that I know to be quite shallow if we hold our course. We decide to tack. I lay in about 5 turns on the wheel and eventually the nose starts to swing to starboard. I hold the input too long and after the sails
pull through we are on a broad reach. Good thing we have lot's of room.
I get correction in and we eventually are close hauled on port tack. We got back to the right side of the channel and call for another tack. This time I start taking the input out as soon as the nose starts shifting and I manage to end up on a nice close hauled starboard tack.
We clear the channel, are in safe deep water
so I bear away to a reach and we can settle on this heading for the next hour or so. The two tack and the bearing away impress me how momentum plays a huge part of sailing heavy boats. It takes a while to make something happen and then it keeps happening until you stop it. Acceleration is freight-train-like. Eventually however with the genny furled and two reefs
in we are showing 6+ knots and the deck
angle is only like 5-8 degrees. Chop and waves from passing ferries and tugs are gobbled up like they don't exist. Walking around the decks at 7 knots in 17 knots of wind is like walking around my living room - almost - but very stable.
There are a couple of tows in the bowl. Heading opposite directions. On my boat I would have crossed between them. On this big machine we decide to duck the one heading out and parallel the one coming in. This works out beautifully passing astern of one and "racing" away and eventually crossing the incoming one.
After an hour and a half we turn to head back. Another broad reach turning into close hauled as we maintain sea room to the shallow bits. We clear the channel marks and head into the club. Crew busy dousing sails
, and stowing lines as we fire up the engine
is a breeze. Just go real slow, remember that 13 tonnes takes a while to stop. But when you stop at the pennant she just sits there, like a barge.
Actually under sail with stiff winds, it was a real pleasure to sail. The more water
running past the "arguably" undersized rudder, the more responsive she got.