The First Test Sail!

Today was a big day; after a lot of hard work and preparations, it was time to take the boat out and test if the autopilot and wind steering really worked.

We woke up to a blue sky and barely a breath of wind, but started stowing the tools, food supplies, toothbrushes and anything else that might go flying once underway. At 10.15am, we slipped off the pontoon and headed out of the marina, along with a few other boats and training vessels.

Once out of the marina, we hoisted the mainsail and the two foresails, switched off the engine and were sailing! Yippeeee! The wind picked up just outside the harbour and we set off on a beam reach at a respectable 5.5 knots.

Sailing at last!

First to test was the autopilot, which held our course when we switched it on. Next was Paul, fondly known as our fifth crew member, the Aries wind steering. This was the more critical test, as we hope to use Paul for a lot of the crossing. (The autopilot is power hungry and might mean having to use the generator en route if we needed to rely on it, whereas Paul requires no power at all, not even Gill’s excellent fruit cake).

Paul getting slapped in the face by the Royal Ensign. He didn’t complain and worked like a dream.

To our great delight, Paul did his job sailing both up and down wind, close hauled through to a broad reach. What a star (and even more so, John, who has got him working again).

I don’t have John’s talent for technical explanations, so I’m really hoping that this video works and you can see Paul in action.

Once we had confirmed that both the critical repairs had been successful, and enjoyed celebratory tea and fruitcake, we each took it in turns to practice man over board procedures. We threw in Fred the Fender, and Gill and John both executed excellent recoveries under sail, and when it was my turn I rescued him under motor.

John relaxing up at the bow – all the hard work has paid off

All in all, a great day out in fine weather, deserving of ice cream, sea swims and a G&T (tick tick tick). We were even treated to John’s signature dish this evening, cheese omelette, which was met with 5 star reviews all round.

One very happy and very tired crew member, signing off

One thought on “The First Test Sail!

  1. You look so happy and well – Good Luck and Bon Voyage when you finally set sail. Louise Philps (mum’s work colleague)


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