First Boat Outing of 2014

This January is incredibly mild as a result of Storm Hercules which is blowing strong winds to Europe, causing widespread flooding and damage from giant waves hitting the west coast of France, Ireland, England, Spain and Portugal. This weather system is causing the US and Canada to be abnormally cold.

A break between two SSW gales and temperatures like those of March and April, no translating orders – and there was only one thing to do. I didn’t dare venture to sea because of the massive residual swell from last night’s storm and in advance of tonight’s big blow. I therefore went to the Lac des Deux Amants near Poses, a village not very far from Rouen. This lake is one of the biggest artificial lakes in Europe, several gravel pits knocked together and closed down as an industry in the 1990’s. Its area is 400 hectares. The whole complex is a leisure centre that caters for water sports, fishing, many other sports and nature conservation. The only charge is 4 € to park a car for the day. Launching a boat is free. Boats may be propelled by sail, oars or an electric motor. In this way pollution is avoided on this lake.

My Christmas present this time was a waterproof digital camera, therefore one that can be taken on a boat without ruining it. This is the first time I have taken photos while sailing.

poses01I have just launched the boat and am on a starboard tack going towards the Seine. It’s all grey and overcast, but this is January, and this mildness is as abnormal as the frigid temperatures in North America! They’re driving cars on their lakes!

poses02View from the starboard beam towards some little islands that are hard to distinguish.

poses03View from the port beam.

poses04Lots of funny little ropes…! I assure you that each has its use. All right, here it goes.  The white and red rope going to a cleat on the foredeck is the Cunningham for tightening the luff of the mainsail. The blue rope is the outhaul. The yellow rope going to a clamcleat higher up the mast is the reefing rope for the tack of the reefed sail. The red rope on the port side of the mast is the jib halyard. The other red rope is the reefing halyard and the white rope on the starboard side of the mast is the main halyard. I’ll leave you to look up the nautical terms!

poses05Another one from the port fore quarter – and my jib.

poses06The place where I launched the boat. The big building is a botanical garden, and the white speck under it is my van.

poses07Some of the essentials for a day outing: picnic, bailer (not used today) and my plastic container for tools, camera and everything that has to be kept dry. In the foreground, my centreboard well with copious repairs done on it.

poses08By this point, the wind had dropped and I was “ghosting” (sailing on very little wind by fine-trimming the sails) and sometimes had to get the oars out and row.

poses09Coming up to the little islands. No landing allowed – this is a nature conservation area.

poses10Looking again towards the Seine and the cliffs with the same strata as sea cliffs. Thousands or millions of years ago, the sea would have come right up to Paris and filled the whole Seine valley.

poses11This is a grainy shot obtained by digital magnification of hundreds of water birds. I tried to sneak up on them silently under sail, but the water got too shallow.

poses12Please excuse the Oedipus Complex, but I was experimenting with the camera’s self portrait feature!

poses13After the shallows round the bird sanctuary, I turned back to where my vehicle and trailer were. Another nice shot of my jib!

poses14The wind started piping up a little, so that made a change from “ghosting” or rowing.

poses15A nice little shot of the boat’s wake, just with the rudder. I have no engine.

poses16Here’s the boat just prior to unrigging to go home. I now have a simple topping lift to hold the boom up when the sail is down. It now takes me only seconds to get both sails down, either after landing or whilst at sea. I can also reef the sail and take down the jib whilst at sea – essential for cruising.

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6 Responses to First Boat Outing of 2014

  1. Juan de la Fuente says:

    Didn,t know Father Christmas brought you a camera for christmas! Just seen theese pictures for the first time. In short I will be finishing my Mirror rigged Tabur 320 project and will send you some photos. Am still waiting for a couple of things from eBay UK I needed to finish the protoytpe before trying it out on the water, which I,m really keen on.
    But yes Sir, there is a second mirror rigged Tabur just about to be launched on planet Earth.

    • Please send me some photos, and I’ll write an article about your boat. Please also send some nice accounts of sailing with the new rig. Would you like to come to the Route du Sable – – in Brittany? If so, you must register before 15th June and send money (15€) for the evening meal if you want to participate. Use the address indicated for this purpose on the website – not through me. Camping is free on the Saturday night. I will be at the Route du Sable. Our boats need to be fitted for rowing (when there is no wind or if we are going against the wind, or if the rig has to come down for going under low bridges). We will be mostly French, but a few English perhaps. A Spaniard would be a plus!

  2. Juan de la Fuente says:

    It would be delightful, but I very much doubt I could make that journey.
    But if you ever want to come to Barcelona you are most than welcome. Costa Brava is a dog for dinghy sailing; very dangerous indeed, too many thermal winds, but on the southern slopes of the pirineos we have some fantastic lakes for sailing and camping.
    Today I got my shrouds from UK and installed them. I am now doing all the adjustments, and will have it all ready in a day or two. (Everything needs testing and double testing to locate all posible problems before taking to the water). I hope everything works fine. It looks really fantastic, the combination of yellow and red!!

    I,ll send you the photos in a couple of days, of the boat in my garden, with plenty of close ups.


    • I doubt I’ll make a journey to Spain either. For lake sailing, we have the Lac d’Annecy and Switzerland. We have a small lake near Rouen where I have sailed once. The best places near me are in Brittany – on the sea and the “anses”.

      Good luck with the rig. Please send photos to my e-mail address and I’ll probably pick up any weak points. I agree that red sails go well with a yellow hull – and it’s good for safety. Red sails are much easier to see than white sails. They contrast against white skies and grey water.

      An important point is to make sure your forestay and shrouds are tight. I use a pulley and cleat device on the forestay.

  3. Juan de la Fuente says:

    La bretagne must have an ideal coastal line for dinghy cruising with so many sheltered bays and landing spots. Not like our wild and unpredictable Costa Brava (Brave Coast).
    Delaying those photos of my Mirror rigged Tabur 320 due to nasty weather over here.
    Been doing a lot of sewing on my standard Jeckell,s mainsail (for gaff lacing and reefing points), and instaling top lift, secondary halyard, outhaul and tack for reefed position.

    Have not yet tested on water, but I can already foresee that avoiding entanglements of so many ropes and keeping them tidy will be of utmost importance.

    As I now see it, the Gunter rig is a hybrid cross between a Bermudian profile and a Gaff configuration.
    It has advantages over the Gaff configuration for it obtains good high profile without the complications of a top sail. but it has a disadvantage: spar length and weight and the need of a second halyard for reefing.

    But lets face it, the only advantage over a bermudian is related to the mast length in certain situations under bridges, or reefed under rough weather because of its lower center of gravity, because for the rest it makes it look just like a “poor man,s” bermudian. Which is what it actually is: originally a whalers rig, not a yacht.

    The more I look into it, the more I think that if commanding a single handled Tabur 320 under fiery wind conditions one can actually master heaving to, rising, lowering reefing and un-reefing, with reliability in just a matter of seconds, by means of practice and acurate gear configurations, then the Mirror rig will probably take the Tabur hull to its maximum speed and versatility without having added too many “liabilities” on it.

    Adding extra sail areas above the original specs of a boat is always a daring bet, because one could easily end up narrowing the performance scope of the boat, making them better in some weather conditions but worse in others. A good boat is defined by its all round performance, and this is the most difficult balance to obtain on any DIY design; profilaxis.

    Looking forwards to get those photos for you and hear about your impressions and advice, as the pioneer and only experienced sailor on this original arrangement.


    • One thing the Mediterranean Sea lacks is strong tidal currents, but the weather and wind are more unpredictable. Brittany also has rocky coasts and strong currents, so you need to know the time and heights of the tides. I have been to the Costa Brava twice, but as a small boy with my family, in 1969 and the early 1970’s. There was a tiny beach, so most of us were on the rocks to sunbathe or jump into the water and swim. We had a boat outing which my father filmed on his super 8 cine camera. It was extremely pleasant in August. Other months, I imagine the gusts of wind from the land due to heat.

      Indeed, organise your ropes extremely well. You can hang them from pegs like on ships or use a cloth bag – so that the halyards are available and loose when needed. A sailor has to be very methodical, a man of routine. Always do things the same way, and things don’t get forgotten or rigged wrongly. If you are properly rigged, you can reef at sea, but keep the reefing halyard tight as you lower the “normal” halyard. To do this, you need to lash the helm to be hove-to and take your jib down.

      The gunter rig is the rig of a working boat. Its main advantage is going under bridges without taking the whole mast down, if you still have about 3.5 metres height. The other advantage is transport and everything going into the hull of the boat. You remain at the height of a car, which is the advantage when going through the toll gate on motorways.

      You will have the experience of the Tabur 320 being a very forgiving boat. It broaches slowly enough for you to react and prevent a capsize. I sailed in a regatta last August and the weather got quite nasty. I was one of the only boats that did not capsize – but I knew the moment to leave the race and head for the beach! The Tabur 320 is not an ideal cruiser, and not fast enough to be a regatta boat. It is a school boat with all the limitations that involves. It has the advantage of being almost indestructible if you take reasonable care.

      I look forward to your photos.

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