Log: The Wire

Pros and cons of starboard tack… is port better?

I thought I could start with an insight into ‘Discoverer – Life on a Starboard Tack’. It has been the unchanging environment since leaving Hawaii, so we are all now well reacquainted with both the positives and downsides of below decks leaning 20° to port.

Starting from the front, the sail locker is unchanged, as it is an unfailingly awful place to be on either tack, so that sits firmly in the negative category. However, this is not exclusive to either tack, so only noteworthy in the sense that is a terrible place to be whenever sailing to windward. Then there are the heads. My favourite heads (i.e. the one without the squeaky handle) is currently on the windward side of the boat, so this is not good, as you risk falling half naked through the door should the boat decide to venture past a heel of 20 degrees.

When it comes to the crew cabins, opinion, it seems, is split. Ty prefers a starboard tack when not heeled over too much, as it means he can’t fall out of bed. However, if heeled over lots this means he sleeps on the vertical pole that bisects the outboard edge of his bunk, so then he likes the other tack more. I assume Cali feels the same, as he sleeps 12 inches above Ty. Stars is still adjusting to new pastures on the bunk front, with a foray into the inboard ‘coffin bunk’. This has now been declared incredibly uncomfortable on our current tack, so suffice to say, a definitive starboard tack con. I’m not sure what Henry prefers as he’s asleep right now so I can’t ask him. Judging by the way he’s currently cutely curled up, sucking his thumb, it looks pretty comfortable; therefore I’m going to put him down as the one unequivocal advocate of the starboard tack sleeping arrangements.

The nav station is not a good place to be on starboard, as you are constantly getting thrown out of it, and all the useful little ‘bits and bobs’ such as sat phones, compasses, iPads, and the like that sit on the outboard shelf rain down upon its occupant (i.e. me) when we go through a big gust.

The galley isn’t great. You are constantly thrown into the hob, rather than away from it, and the sinks don’t drain, as they are lower than the thru-hull fitting located on the hull centreline through which they supposedly flow. The main set of saloon seating is on the windward side, consequently trying to mostly eject you from it. The big winner in the whole starboard vs. port tack question is undoubtedly the fridge, or whoever is brave enough to attempt access when underway. The current situation brings a certain amount of confidence that if you open said fridge, the likelihood of it immediately dispensing the entire contents within over as a great an area as possible are reliably below 50%. When on a port tack, you can be reasonably certain that any attempt to access the fresh wonders within, however careful and delicately approached, will lead to the distribution of every item in it across yourself and as wide an area as possible, with a speed and violence that you would never believe a fridge possessed.

So, the conclusion I believe we have reached is that life on Disco is infinitely better on a port tack. This is a good thing, as we’re about to put in a manoeuvre that will facilitate exactly this. In three days time I shall no doubt write about all the bad things we’ve remembered about life on a port tack, and conclude that the starboard tack was in fact better after all.

Yesterday night saw some big squalls, with much rain, lots and lots of wind, rapidly followed large quantities of the antithesis of wind. This pattern kept us frustrated and annoyed for most of the darkness hours. In one particularly potent squall, the boat went far over enough to almost submerge me sitting at the leeward side of the helm, and the squall continued to do its best to flatten the boat. I did what every good sailor would do in this situation of being massively overpowered in a squall – hove to, lashed the wheel, and ran away to hide from the rain. No point filling your boots up with water unnecessarily is there.

Some of the crew are exhibiting signs of ‘starboard tack’ and ‘hard on the wind’ fatigue today, due to afore mentioned reasons and tiring conditions. Stars announced this morning she was ‘over sailing’, and Cali has requested sedation so he doesn’t have deal it any more. I suggested to Cali that he approach Stars for any sedation, as she is the doctor after all. Stars has refused to dispense of any such medication, as Cali is her watch partner, so to sedate him would be directly detrimental to her.

A brief discussion later, and the two of them petitioned me to ask if they could start sitting on the hob, as the only gimballed bit of equipment on the boat, with some crazy idea that this would make their lives more bearable. Believe it or not, I gave that idea short shrift, and have now had to introduce a new boat rule, yet another I never foresaw having to consider, being that no one is allowed to use the hob as furniture.

Their next jointly conceived solution was to comfort eat avocados. This is a much better idea, and one that I can fully endorse. I’m not sure it will make the sailing experience much better, but if their mouths are full of avocado then there can’t be any complaining for that short period of time at least. As long as not another spork isn’t broken trying to extract not-quite-ripe avocado. It would be the third this week.

I’m off on deck. Ty’s lost the wind again, so it’s time to shake a reef out and make that port tack a reality.



Date: 23rd June 2017
Time: 2206z
Position: 26°48.2N
COG: 120°T
SOG: 4.5kts
Wind: ENE 2-3
Swell: NE 3-5ft
Sky: Stratocumulus 3/8
Weather: Lots of squalls and showers at night, fair during the day.

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