Cruising Tips: Carrying a Kite, Safety, and More

This month: carrying a kite; a shorter scope; steering tips; sail saver; using lights on the high seas.VisibilityTo Flash or NotFlashing white lights are far more noticeable than fixed ones and can be much brighter for the same average power drain. However, it’s dangerous and illegal to show anything that could be confused with a navigation aid, so
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

This month: carrying a kite; a shorter scope; steering tips; sail saver; using lights on the high seas.

Visibility

To Flash or Not

Flashing white lights are far more noticeable than fixed ones and can be much brighter for the same average power drain. However, it’s dangerous and illegal to show anything that could be confused with a navigation aid, so flashing lights of any color mustn’t be used anywhere in coastal waters. The situation on the high seas, where there are no navigation aids, is not as well defined. The International Rules state that the use of flashing lights for drawing attention to a vessel should be “avoided.” But if a vessel also carries the required lights, and if the flashing light does not interfere with them being seen or with the watchkeeper’s vision, their use isn’t actually prohibited. Unofficially, slow-flashing white strobes are used for various eye-catching purposes—on scientific and fishing drift buoys, for example. Masthead strobes are more likely to be noticed than ordinary navigation lights, and at a much greater range, so it’s understandable that singlehanders sometimes use them on the high seas, in addition to the regulation lights. A.B.

Safety

Carry a Kite

I’ve had great fun over the years flying kites from the transom of my boat in anchorages on both sides of the Atlantic, and I always carry one or two onboard. It’s a great way to keep playing with the wind, even when your boat is parked. The more acrobatic the maneuvers you attempt, the more likely your kite is to take a swim, but fortunately, modern plastic kites can easily survive these dunkings. It’s best to use slightly heavier string so you don’t lose them when hauling them back aboard. Besides providing entertainment, my kites double as safety gear. Flying a kite from a dismasted vessel, or—heaven forfend—from a liferaft, is a great way to make yourself more visible from a distance. Which is why I like to stash an extra kite in my ditch bag whenever I go offshore. C.J.D.

Anchoring

A Shorter Scope

It is well known that three times the depth of the water is a good starting point for determining the scope you need when anchoring with chain. This rule is not cast in stone, however, and you might safely opt for less scope if space is tight, so long as your anchor seems well set, conditions are not extreme, and you will be aboard at high water. This can be particularly useful when swinging room is tight and the tide is due to fall during the night, because you know then that your scope will increase for some hours before it begins to decrease once more. If your anchor is holding at bedtime, it should hang on until morning light. T.C.

Sailhandling

Sail Saver

If you have older Dacron sails, a good method of preserving them while improving their working ability is to treat them with a fabric spray (the type used for tents, shoes, or furniture). Most likely you will see a difference right away. During rainy weather the sails will shed water better, keeping them lighter and better shaped, and that can really make a difference in your boat’s heavy-weather performance. The fabric treatment also makes the sailcloth more pliable and easier to flake and fold. Several of my friends now regularly treat their sails and have commented that at about $20 for a couple of spray cans, it is the most cost-effective performance enhancement they can lavish on their boats. J.K.

Seamanship

Back on that Digital Course

Steering a compass course is never hard when you’re looking over the top of the compass card, as you do with an old-fashioned binnacle or a typical modern steering pedestal. Since the lubber’s line coincides with the boat’s bow, if it moves right of the heading, for example, it is visually obvious that you steer the bow to port to bring it back onto line.

A bulkhead compass or, an electronic readout can be more difficult, unless you remember this simple rule to get back on track. If the number shown by the compass or the screen of the digital readout is higher than the desired course, turn to port. If it’s lower, come to starboard. The only catch is that if the course is 355 and the compass shows 005, you should think of it as 365. The rest is plain sailing. T.C.

Words from the Wise

“It is critical to remove any tension aboard. This applies to interaction between skipper, crew, and family members. Most tension is the result of fear. The more experience gained, the more comfortable everyone will be aboard. If the captain exudes sincere confidence, the others will also feel more relaxed and secure. On the other hand, if the skipper shows fear, all aboard will be frightened. Confidence is gained from experience. Take as many long and short sails as possible. Each time you go for a sail, try to imagine a situation that could occur and plan a response. Ask all aboard how they think the situation should be handled. Listen to everyone; then act out each of the suggestions until everyone agrees on which technique works the best. This will help reduce many surprises and instill confidence.”—Roger Olson,Plot Your Course to Adventure

Contributors this month: Aussie Bray, Tom Cunliffe, Charles J. Doane, Capt. Jim Karch

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com The double range  Every skipper knows about ranging two objects in line to keep the boat on track in a cross-current. What’s less obvious is monitoring both sides of a gap such as a harbor entrance. ...read more

FamilyCruise

Bareboating on Puget Sound

Depending on where you are, Puget Sound can look no bigger than a mountainous version of the Intracoastal Waterway. That’s what I thought when I first laid eyes on it from the lighthouse at Mukilteo Park on a sunny day last July. Then I went to the top of the iconic Space Needle ...read more

Bali4point1

Boat Review: Bali 4.1

Coming fast on the heels of its predecessor, the Bali 4.0, the Bali 4.1 adds a number of improvements, many of them inspired by feedback from owners and charterers. She’s an evolution of a concept that has already proven popular and very many benefits from its builder’s ...read more

Headsail

Ask Sail: Silencing A Rattling Headsail

Q: Our Pearson 26 has a 110-percent jib that tends to rattle very noisily at the top hank. We only bought the old boat recently, but it must have been happening for a long time, since there’s a deep groove worn inside that bronze hank. The jib has an unusually large and wide ...read more

Alerion2048x

Alerion Yachts 33, the 90 Minute Get Away

Easy to sail, luxurious, and swift; the Alerion 33 is the solution to your busy life. The intuitive, simple rig design, easy set-up, and put-away mean there’s no need to wait for crew to enjoy a weekend, a day, or an hour out sailing. Her beauty and comfort are evident in the ...read more

anchor

Know how: Ground Tackle

Your ground tackle is like a relationship—the more you care for it, the longer it will last. So, how do you enhance the relationship? First up, think of the accommodations—a damp, salt-rich, often warm environment, just the kind of thing to encourage corrosion. What can be done? ...read more

DSC_7522

Boat Review: Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

The Beneteau sailboat line has long represented a kind of continuum, both in terms of the many models the company is offering at any given moment and over time. This does not, however, in any way diminish the quality of its individual boats. Just the opposite. Case in point: the ...read more