Early Season Sail

I took the boat out today at Veules les Roses, my usual haunt where I am on the board of the sailing club. Here, we launch boats from the shingle beach.

Conditions today were much calmer than the last time. I launched one and a half hours before high tide, of about medium current between the last spring tides and the neap tides in about a week’s time. The weather was overcast and the wind was blowing at about 6 to 7 knots with the occasional gust of about 10. The sea was slightly choppy.

I was able able to experiment with a new bilge pump, which seems to work quite efficiently, and makes a change from bailing. I began by heaving-to and photographing Veules.

sail20140307-01Veules les Roses is a seaside resort in the summer on the Normandy coast to the east of Saint Valéry en Caux. There is one fishing dory that is pulled out of the water each time by a heavy tractor. Though the sea front was quite heavily damaged in 1940, many lovely houses of the early twentieth century remain. It is a very lovely village, and I recommend it to anyone spending his holidays on the Normandy coast north of the Seine. This is the east part of the beach.

sail20140307-02Here is the west part of the beach with the slipway, the sailing club and the fishermen’s workshops where they gut and pack the fish. For the rest of the outing, I have kept just two photos.

sail20140307-03This one look east towards Varengeville and Dieppe. Sotteville is hardly discernible on the cliff top. Saint Aubin sur Mer is a little further, which boasts a fine summer holiday resort and beach.

sail20140307-04This photo is taken off Saint Aubin sur Mer, and looks towards the Sotteville headland. Veules les Roses is hidden behind the headland. The most distant headland is the fishing port of Saint Valéry en Caux.

It was a peaceful outing and gave me plenty of opportunity to think about the Sarum Gathering and the spirit I want to start it off with. I was most clear this morning as I awoke, but the sea also brought counsel on this Friday after Ash Wednesday.

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4 Responses to Early Season Sail

  1. Fr. Lawrence B. Wheeler says:

    It looks like that was a cold day much too early for the sailing season. Brave soul, I assume that you donned your wetsuit before launching. The only boats that I have had luck heaving to have been full-keeled blue-water cruisers. Was it easy to heave to with your dinghy?

    • No, it wasn’t too cold – about 11-12°C. I have gone right off wetsuits, and prefer waterproof trousers, a mariner’s shirt and a hoodie, then of course the lifejacket. Of course, one has to be sure not to capsize because the water is cold – hypothermia would set in within about 10 minutes at about 8°C, perhaps a little more. So far, I have not capsized my boat in the 5 years I have had it.

      I don’t know if we understand the term “heaving-to” the same way. In the case of a dinghy, you just release the sails and push the tiller over to lee and lash it. Normally the jib is opposite the mainsail, but that doesn’t work too well on my boat. I heave-to to do anything for which I need two hands – bailing, tidying up a mess, taking photos, taking a leak, eating food, etc.

      • Fr. Lawrence B. Wheeler says:

        Let’s see…(12×1.8)+32=54 degrees Fahrenheit. Right, that’s not too cold, if you can manage to stay dry. Good for you, keeping that dinghy upright all these years! I used to sail a Sunfish on the Gulf Coast of Florida and later a Yamaha Seahopper II on Lake Suwa in the Japan Alps. Both had large mainsails, but no jib, and I was very good at capsizing them. I can picture your method of heaving to and I see with my mind’s eye how it works. I never liked to simply release the sheets, because then the sails would flog like crazy. The breeze that you had yesterday probably did not have such an effect, though.

      • The Sunfish must be a little like the Laser, and I capsized all the time during my week at the Glénans. However, the school boats had radial sails and not standard sails, and I pack a bit of body weight!

        In a light breeze, it suffices to release all. In anything a little stronger, I take in the sheets just enough to stop the sails flapping wildly. The boat drifts slowly, but nothing to worry about if you’re just having a short pause for some necessity.

        There’s an extraordinary fellow who is one of the leading members of the Dinghy Cruising Association, David Sumner. He has a Mirror dinghy and has equipped it with amazing imagination. He has given me lots of tips for my boat. Do you remember the Mods and the Rockers? He calls two of his videos Mirror Mods. Here is his Youtube page. I think he is a retired engineer and quite an inventor! He quite likes complex things, and I prefer to keep a boat simple – so that there is less to go wrong. But, I find him extraordinarily ingenious.

        Dinghy cruising is definitely my “thing” rather than racing or spending a lot of money on a yacht.

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