Waiting for the tide
The battle of the bodge
The editor’s welcome
It’s funny how the idiosyncrasies of your own boat become second nature. It’s only when you step onto someone else’s boat that you realise your own bodges are perhaps not the best way to do things.
For years, to get my boat to go ahead you had to drop the engine briefly into astern before engaging forward gear – a state of affairs that came to seem in the natural order of things. It was only returning from a spell sailing on other boats that prompted a few Morse control tweaks – and she went forwards when you pushed the lever that way. A revelation!
It’s rare that you step on any boat that doesn’t have its own peccadilloes: I’ve sailed on boats where a special lone deck shoe has had to be wedged under the throttle lever to keep it at full power, another where there is a very peculiar sort of movement needed to shut the sliding hatch, and others where a secret series of clicks and shakes are needed to ignite a reluctant gas lighter that really should have been binned years ago. I’ve also seen forepeak lights that need a particular thump to get them working, and a clothes peg used to keep a dodgy engine stop cable ‘calibrated’.
Step onto another boat with these kinds of bodges and you’ll be immediately irritated: but on your own boat use makes master, and you become blind to the inconvenience. There’s almost a perverse pride in knowing the secret handshakes, as it were. Most of us live with these workarounds for years, and it’s only a rainy day in a dreary port that gives us the time and inclination to fix them properly. Of course, once mended you soon realise that you should have fixed them years ago!
Getting the forepeak light to work is one thing, but sometimes there are more pressing issues. So it was with reader Alan Ward, whose smartly refitted Fisher Northeaster ketch, North Star, was proving reluctant to tack without the aid of the iron topsail. Frustrated, he got in touch with PBO’s Sail Clinic to see if there was anything he could do to encourage her through the eye of the wind.
To find David Harding’s tips and tweaks you’ll need to read the article (page 66), but it’s safe to say that after a day on the water, he and Alan had worked out how to get North Star to go about smartly. Over the years David has helped multiple ketches to tack, improved the windward performance of a score of other boats, helped owners sail single-handed, thought out masterplans to get into tricky berths and cut the passage times of many sluggish craft. If there’s something that has you stumped, get in touch!
Elsewhere this month we’ve finished the hull skin of our Secret 20 project boat, David Parker shows how he removed and safely refitted his boat’s heater, David Pugh fits a new, British-built roller-reefing system – and that’s just for starters. Enjoy this issue: and if you’re gale bound, maybe it’s time to have a go at that dodgy switch!
You become blind to the inconvenience