Against the Weather

On the Monday after the JRSRC rally I attempted to sail north around The Naze against what developed into a force 7 wind. I wanted to go north for the next part of my summer plans, but I wanted to see what Tammy Norie could do. Here’s some of the story in video.

While I was out there having a good time there were two mayday calls.

The first yacht failed to reef and lost control, hitting a sand bank near Gunfleet Sands that knocked off their rudder. This call was quite distressing to hear, especially since the caller clearly had only a rough idea of their position. I put my engine on and motored in their general direction to see if I could pinpoint them and offer help.

A second yacht initially reported seeing the first but said they were unable to turn back and help. Then they called for help as well.

A ship and lifeboat reached the first yacht before I got close, and I turned back to get shelter from the seas that were preventing my progress. A second lifeboat and a helicopter were launched to help the second yacht, and I believe both crew were airlifted to hospital in Ipswich while their boat was towed to safety.

Meanwhile, someone in Frinton saw me beating not far off the beach and called the coastguard on 999, believing I must be in trouble. The coastguard sent a RIB to come over and check me out. I had a cup of tea in my hand as they approached and we had a shouted discussion over the waves, and I explained that I was making one last attempt on The Naze using the beach as shelter, but I’d likely turn back soon. They called out “have a good sail” and returned to base.

Soon after it began to get dark and I decided to turn back. Though I still reckon it would have been possible for Tammy to weather The Naze and beat up to Harwich I think it would have been foolish to try. With the wind in the North West it would only take a few mistakes to put me aground on a lee shore.

Speaking of lee shores, Tammy Norie is definitely having trouble getting to windward in the waves, and is having trouble tacking because of lack of momentum. I’ve heard several people say that a cambered sail makes a lot of difference, but I also wonder if she needs more weight forward as suggested by my friend Igor. These are the kinds of things I went out there to discover. I most certainly want to know that I can climb off a lee shore — that’s a matter of life and death.



2014-08-05 · 18:36

10 responses to “Against the Weather

  1. Antoine Maartens

    Good effort! Good decision to turn back. Too bad she couldn’t beat into the waves. On the map it looks like to made good progress at first and then stalled. 11 hours without reliable self-steering is very long time ofcourse. Maybe google on sheet to tiller steering – a fairly reliable and inexpensive way to get her self-steering. And unbrakeable too! Did you take breaks – heave to, grab a snack etc? Looks like we need a somewhat cambered sail to get a little more power out of our 18m2. I am thinking about putting the battery under the cockpit in some sort of “water tight” battery box. Put the all thath weight in the middle of the boat. Bummer about the engine – is it new – looks like it anyway. How big is it?
    Nice blog post this one! Just how a envisage how 80% of my trips will be – single handed and getting to know the boat better and better.

    • Thanks Antoine.

      I was using the tiller pilot or the “bungee pilot” most of the time and I was quite able to relax, eat, and drink the whole time. I didn’t really need to heave-to.

      The bungee worked very well when beating, balancing the sail against the rudder, but I later tried similar things off the wind and haven’t come up with anything reliable. A wind vane is definitely on the shopping list before I try the Jester Challenge next summer.

      I’ve already moved my battery to a new home at the back of the compartment under the cockpit, here , where it’s held with a couple of wooden wedges. It could really go anywhere, though, and if I need more weight forward I might move it to near the mast step.

      The engine is a 2002 Honda BF5, so 5hp. I got it second hand from Seamark Nunn in Felixstowe. They’ve been very helpful and will be having a look at it under warranty when I can get it to them. It’s been a good engine otherwise, but I kind of miss the old 10hp and will be fixing it too. A lot of junkies talk about using a yuloh to get around, but I’d hate to be on a lee shore in a storm with only a yuloh to keep me alive, or unable to reach someone that needs help. I’ll have to think about this.

      Can’t wait to see you on the water!

      • Antoine Maartens

        I sold my 10Hp honda with my Gig. Never used it much – far too big. Thinking about going electric for engines (and about avoiding lee shores).

        Don’t know how your Dutch is but I have a document describing all sorts of sheet to tiller techniques. Our “problem” is that we don’t have a second balancing sail to offset wandering-off tendencies.

        For the Jester I wouldn’t leave home without a wind vane! The corribee people refer to a nice system that could be self build and maintained. This system is described in the AYRS documents and can be found here: Haven’t found the building specs for it as of yet though.

        Will be a while before I get to the water. Ripped out the interior lining as it was a smelly mess. Now working or removing the clue and foam remainder – a dirty job, let me assure you. Got a quote for soda blasting the hull. Working with a chap on the mast hinge. I will probably replace electrics and fittings while there is no interior lining. It was a good thing I took the liner off. The way the electrics were set up was a joke! Further, none of the fittings that matter have backplates to them. The paint job is easy enough to do. It is the trick to find the time to do these jobs while it is still warm out.

        So my expectation is to hit the water somewhere in octorber – but probably without interior lining. I would be happy if the mast works, the seacocks (correct word??) are replaced and all other holes (log + sink) filled, all fittings checked and where needed corrected and the boat painted. I’ll live with an iffy interior for a bit. Haven’t decided what to do with the wet room as of yet. Will take out the portapotti and turn it into a storage area for the Brompton(s) and other gear probably, leaving the boat uncluttered while underway.

        Will you make modifications before you set off for the Azores?

      • Antoine Maartens

        The Lehr is new for me. Drove an LPG car before.

        Sent the sheet to tiller document at your pobox mail adress.

        Your light plan makes sense to me. Think that IPhone, IPad, MacBook and Plotter would be the biggest consumers. Curious about navigation lights. I think some wiring can’t be avoided.

        Great clip there on YouTube. The insulation is important. In order of priority I am looking at hinged mast, drying out the hull and giving it the proper attention, wiring and finally the cabin insulation.

        Would you be sail her to the Azores in her current condition? I wouldn’t with Siskin – too many bodge jobs on her. Your “problem” (getting wet while running) is one a hear from other small boat sailors too. Good luck with your upcoming trip – Sea Paling sounds very nautical to me!

        • I run Trails on my iPhone as a non-essential record of where I’ve been. I don’t plan to have a plotter, iPad, or laptop. I will use dead reckoning and the sextant for navigation in the first instance, and check my working with a handheld GPS, using the iPhone as backup.

          I have the original stern and bi-colour bow lights currently with incandescent bulbs.

          Did you know that the next Jester Challenge in 2015 is to Baltimore (Ireland) not the Azores? The Azores will be 2016.

          Before the Jester Challenge I want Tammy to either be unsinkable or I’ll get the liferaft serviced and remounted. I want a Jordan series drogue for storms. I want wind vane steering with the tiller pilot as backup. I’d fit the VHF with a masthead antenna and an SSB receiver. Probably an EPIRB just in case. A bunch more spares, especially for sail and rigging repair.

          And more testing, of both the boat and myself.

  2. I like the idea of an electric but the batteries needed to provide range are heavy, bulky, and expensive. Petrol has a very high energy density! The other thing I’ve looked at seriously is a Lehr LPG engine, but LPG is quite inconvenient to get to a boat in quantity. One thing I really don’t want is diesel. I hate the smell of diesel on a boat, and it get everywhere.

    I can read a bit of Dutch and perhaps your document has diagrams!

    My headlining will not much last longer and will be coming out, but at least during the summer sailing is the priority.

    None of Tammy Norie’s interior lights worked, so I removed them. I have been using simple battery-powered stick-on LED lights and I might just keep those and have a small charger. Less wiring.

    Yes, all the deck fittings need backing plates, and I think deck-side padding as well. You can see me talking about this here

    In general I’m keen to preserve Tammy Norie in her near original condition without compromising safety. If I were starting from scratch the interior might be quite different, but I have no plans to rip out any joinery. That’s really a lot of work and I don’t have the skills (yet).

  3. Antoine Maartens

    Your approach is very good – all stuff that cannot break – I like it. However – I love my e-reader and the GPS batteries need charging too. Your approach is the better one on a small and potentially wet Coromandel.

    I didn’t know about the Jester going to Ireland. That makes it a lot more achievable I think – timewise that is. Good luck on your way north!

  4. Richard Kistruck

    I really enjoyed this!

  5. Pingback: Tiller pilot mounting repair | Tammy Norie

  6. Pingback: Engine starter fixed | Tammy Norie

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