Thursday, June 30, 2011

The importance of good anchoring skills

From Pasman island we proceeded towards south and in the evening we anchored in the bay of city of Primosten. Bora (local SE wind, always blows from land to the sea) was blowing pretty heavy whole day (which made Tomaz happy) and the forecast was that wind will blow even harder in the night. We have plenty of trust in out big new anchor (33kg Rocna), nevertheless when we set it we always reverse the boat quite strongly to test the holding.

We were having a quiet evening after the dinner, Tomaz fiddling about the boat and myself battling with mobile internet to finish some mails. It was at about 10 in the evening as Tomaz shouted: "Watch this!" I looked into the darkness and saw a boat, almost as big as ours, drifting with the wind, obviously without the crew and without any lights. It missed our boat by 2 boat lengths and took direction towards the boat anchored next to us. I started shouting to alert the people on that boat and Tomaz brought our big lamp to light the drifting boat. The people from neighboring boat came out, only to see, how the drifting boat missed their boat by inches. The drifting boat then managed to miss two other boats and drifted towards open sea. We were all very happy nothing happened to our boats, especially our neighbors since they didn't even had the time to get the fenders. And after few minutes we saw a dinghy with couple of men paddling fast towards the run away boat. They were twice lucky - they saw what was happening pretty fast and they were able to catch the boat before it sailed all the way to Italy!

Then they motored the boat back into the bay, without any lights, of corse, and after several attempts they were happy with how they anchored the boat. And i was happy they didn't anchor in front of us (in the wind), but several boat lengths to the side. So if it was to happen again, they would surely miss us ....

And the next morning Primosten looked calm and peaceful like nothing ever happened .....

Great recipe for a big octopus

Our friends Irena (lovely lady on the left) and Pik (nice man in the middle) took good care of us, while we were staying with them. Food was plenty and excellent, drinks as well. We really had a good time - as it can be seen from our smiling faces ...

One day we bought a big octopus, and i learned a great recipe for preparing it from our friends. By the way, our octopus weight  2,7 kilo.

The octopus is washed, put in pressure cooker, in goes the generous portion of good olive oil, then the lid is closed and put on stove. When the pressure builds up, turn the heat to minimum, and cook the octopus another 15 minutes. After letting it cool down sufficiently to open the cooker, take the octopus out, use the best pieces for delicious salad, and the rest - together with the stock - for most yummy risotto you ever ate!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

First week at sea

Kvarner bay on a peaceful day ....

So, here we are.... It's been a week since we sailed off from Koper marina. At 6pm last saturday exactly. Last days before that were exhausting, we were working hard and sleeping very little, trying to get the boat ready, to pack everything that we wanted to take with us and to prepare the house for new tenants. And an top of that there were all the emotions with saying goodbye to our families, friends, cats .... It was hard.

Some of our friends came to wave from the pier and they also helped us in finishing stage of packing - i don't know how we would have managed without them, by the evening of same day we would have killed each other or at least divorced... Mirjana, Natasa, Urska and Grega - many many thanks...

Our journey started with bad weather, strong SE wind was blowing when we sailed towards Croatia. We sailed on genoa alone, furled to third reef and our speed was still around 8 knots. The wind didn't bother me, but the waves did - they were 1,5 to 2m, coming directly at us, spraying sea all over the boat. And i thought to myself - what a way to start a vacation.... We spent the night at the buoy in Umag and next day sailed to Veruda near Pula. In the morning it was still windy and cloudy, but by the evening there was sun again. Next day we crossed Kvarner bay and anchored in Silba.

And the next mornig the summer begun .... Finally the weather was sunny and warm, the water nice and very clean, surroundings gorgeous ... And it got even better.... In the evening after the day spetnt mostly motoring we moored the boat at pier in Baratul on island Pasman. We spent next couple of days with our friends Irena and Pik, sailing, eating, having fun.. It was true summer vacation feeling, and slowly all the stress from packing, hard work and saying goodbye was disappearing ...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Folding propeller

Heron came equipped with a fix 3 blade propeller.
This is fine for motoring, but sailing with a fixed propeller is adding a lot of drag.
It is like dragging a large bucket behind the boat and some measurements showed that propeller contributes 40% to total boat drag.
This studies (mostly sponsored by folding prop manufacturers, of course) also suggest that replacing a fix prop with a folding or feathering prop will add almost a knot of speed to your boat.
One knot of speed does not sound like a lot, but at average boat speed of 5 knots this is a lot. This means that after full day of sailing you can land two hours earlier. This can be a difference between coming at anchorage at daylight, anchor and have a nice cocktail, have a swim, watch a sundown and then wait in the dark for your friend with identical boat and a fixed prop. You can make Atlantic crossing a few days faster.
Most manufacturers claim about 15% increase in speed.
Well, I was a little skeptical, although this study seemed a good one:
So, we bite the bullet (folding props are expensive) and we ordered a three blade flex-o-fold.

We had Heron on the hard early May and my wife and myself mounted it.
By the way - dismounting the old one is a good story for a long evening.

We also had our boat cleaned and had new antifouling - so I knew I can not expect a fair competition, but Wow!
I was impressed.
We can motor now at lower RPM and we can sail faster with less wind.
It feels like a completely new boat.
Boy, am I happy we did this improvement.
I sail only few weeks with this new folding Flexofold prop, but I am happy.
We also have less prop walk in reverse (which I kind of miss as I liked to come to the pier and with some reverse thrust I was able to move the stern to port (left).
But the boat is easier to steer in tigth quarters now.
And the true value comes when you kill the engine, put it in reverse for a second to stop the prop from spinning and then she just glides.
I really believe now in 15% increase in speed.
I now more often sail and I motor less as I can sail in very little wind.
We also have less vibrations - but that can be from havin a clean prop and hull.
I would strongly recommend a folding prop for every sailor.