Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lessons Learned

Experiences always provide benefits - an opportunity for lessons learned. To not learn from one's experience is an opportunity lost.

Tight Schedules and Sailing Voyages Don't Mix

Recreational Sailing is very prone to weather which can be very unpredictable. Good sailing conditions are very dependent on the wind. When the wind is calm or too strong -- say over force 5 the sailing conditions are not suitable for a comfortable or effective sail. During this voyage the wind conditions were exceedingly variable. Possibly half the days allowed for nice sailing conditions.

May Month is bad for Sailing Near Shore

During the months of May and June the waters within 5 nm (8.3 km) from shore are often littered with lobster pot marker buoys. These are not safe to sail through since the rudder and propeller of the vessel risk fouling (get tied up) in a marker line. One of the other sailors that we met in the harbour related a story where he was sailing across the Northumberland Strait from PEI to Nova Scotia. It was beautiful sailing weather his boat had a nice lean and was making good speed. Then he suddenly noticed that the boat speed came to a stop and yet the boat still had full sails. Suspecting that the rudder was fouled he donned his diving suit and went in to look and found a lobster trap line stuck to the rudder and acting like an anchor for his boat. as soon as he released it his sailboat took off. After much difficulty getting back in the boat as it propelled forward under sail and exhausted he sailed on home.

Cotton clothing

A lesson learnt was to not wear ANY cotton in cold and damp situations. On this trip I had pretty well converted all my gear to nylon, polypropylene or spandex with the exception of a cotton undergarment. When totally drenched from the spray you can imagine that it was the only clothing that took forever to dry and remained cold and uncomfortable for considerably longer. All other parts dried relatively quickly and were never really uncomfortable.

Expect delays for Repairs

Although we likely had longer than normal repair delays, one must always allow for unexpected events. During these repairs we ensured that the repairs were permanent and proper, taking the extra time to do it right. A number of minor failures were also detected and repaired during this run which though minor remained troubling. The vessel is now in better condition than when we began. It is now ready for a great sailing season.

During this trip, skipper and I both read some books of other sailing expeditions, and both experienced frequent technical failures regardless of preparation, so I consider it the norm.

About Fitness

At the start of the trip I left my desk job with my computer keyboarding calluses on the finger tips and nowhere else. Sad to say I sometimes had difficulty walking up 5 flights of stairs at the office without a rest - pretty pathetic I say. During the trip we were continuously busy, always climbing aboard over things, walking to the wash house 300 metres away, sometimes contorted trying to fit in the engine room etc. Of course while at sea one was always balancing on your feet, or holding on with one hand and doing something with the other. Yet at no time were we really exerting ourselves along the lines of "no pain, no gain", but rather keeping a steady pace of activity.
I was quite surprised to find that when I returned home I had lost easily 10 pounds for starters. Much of that may well be due to the motion sickness, but I also found when back at the office I was never winded as a result of climbing the five stairs as I was before. What a bonus.

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