Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Fun with the Chute


The spinnaker (...or chute, or kite...) might just be my favorite sail of all.  Not only is it beautiful - it is light, powerful, and if you are flying it - it means you are sailing downwind, which is (usually) a very comfy and efficient point of sail.  However, as in everything in life - there is a yin to this yang.  The downside of this sail is also that it is notoriously tough to handle and can be dangerous if the sailor isn't in control of it.  Lots of cruisers seem scared of their spinnakers for some reason.  Being former racing sailors with a spinnaker tacker (see it on the furler?) we are not.

We knew we had a spinnaker, but we had never used it before yesterday.  We left Frazer's Hog Cay early in the morning with the hopes of meeting the forecasted 12-15 knots of north wind that were expected and taking them all the way to Nassau.  Alas, they never came and we were left with a meager 5 knots instead.  Sigh.  What to do?  We were fledging alongside our friends, Lara and Brian, when Scott got the idea that we should try to fly our kites.  Brilliant! The wind was light, the conditions were right and after some fumbling around with sock, I figured it out and got her flying.  Isn't she a beauty?  

We sailed along like this for a while, and while we were making good speed based on the wind conditions, we wouldn't have arrived in Nassau until today so we all opted to motor along to speed things up.  Kind of a bummer, but c'est la vie!

So we are here in Nassau, staging for the Exumas.  We are anchored in the harbor; running errands and getting a few things (like a couple of cases of delicious Kalik Bahamian beer!).  While prices are higher here than in the US, they are cheaper than they will be anywhere else being that this is the most populated city of all the islands (something crazy like 70% of the people who live in the Bahamas live here). One must-get item?  A (plexi)glass-bottomed bucket* which we now own and which I am VERY excited about!

Love, 

Brittany & Scott

*These (we hear) are great for checking your anchor setting when you don't feel like diving it, for looking for good snorkel spots, and just looking at sea life from the comfort of your dinghy!

8 comments:

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Spinnakers in use are beautiful! We have a great picture of ours in use... from the previous owner! We're still learning to sail, so we haven't messed with the spinnaker yet. Glad to hear all went well. You'll have to elaborate on the glass bottomed bucket! Have a beer for us!

Kevin said...

We also fly a symmetrical spinnaker, but we use the traditional spin pole instead of the tacker. Did you find that the tacker allowed you to sail a bit more of a deep reach? We've thought about getting one in hopes that it would turn our kite into more of a reacher/screacher/code zero type of sail. Opinions on the tacker vs. pole?

Crew of s/v Island Bound said...

We too fly a symmetrical spinnaker, but use the more traditional spin pole instead of a tacker. Do you find that the tacker allows you to sail on more of a deep reach? We've often thought about getting one in hopes that it would make our kite more like a reacher/screacher/code zero. Opinions on the tacker vs. pole?

Lisa Hanneman said...

Are you drinking warm beer? Is there something special about it that makes it delicious warm? I'm serious.

Uncle Al said...

I'm sure you remember my story about flying a spinnaker on my friend's boat - for the first time for both of us, where I read how out of a book. Their great, and may a sailor feel at one with the wind - a condition that only occurs for me under spinnaker or on a close hauled beat. In the spinnaker case, the sailor is taking as much out of the wind as they can, and when close hauled, the sailor is in reality, "beating" the wind. Nice going flying the "kite".........Uncle Al

Windtraveler said...

Lisa - warm Bahamian Kalik beer is delish with a lime...
Kevin/Island bound - I think we'd prefer the pole, because, yes, it definitely allows a deeper reach...but we have the tacker and it is easy and we are no longer racing sailors! :) But we have a pole and it's just a matter of time before we bust it out!
Al - yep, I remember - and yes, it is a great feeling to be, as you say, "one with the wind". :)

Windtraveler said...

Oh - and MLC, the glass bottomed bucket allows you to look to the bottom without getting wet, you can check your anchor, find cool snorkel sites..etc. I'll post about it a bit more in a few days or so :)

SV Estrellita 5.10b said...

A clear Pyrex dish also works for those that already have one onboard.

I think the asymm is a lot less scary for non-racer-cruisers than the symm spinnaker. Easy to fly and douse.

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