Specify Specify (1) – The Sails

Vagabond made do with the standard two sails. A diminutive jib (the one at the front) and a large main (the one on the back of the mast). This was great in most instances but in light airs and downwind her performance was not that spectacular (it might have had something to do with the helmsman too….)

Riif Raff will be superior and have an extra sail which will be- an alternative to the jib in the right conditions . This third, lightweight, sail is known as an asymmetric (or a poor mans spinnaker). We should now go faster downwind in anything under a force 2 – assuming that I can eventually successfully hoist the thing – for they can be tricky to “fly”.

It’s made of several shaped panels in a specific layout: these can be of different colours. One is allowed a choice of three different colours plus white.

The flower farmer, now returned from Nova Scotia and living in the Borders* as a Shamanic Practitioner and author  (see her web site at  Plant Spirit Healing  ),  is the artistic one in the family. She has produced four versions of the pattern , shown below. Sadly her drawing programme has developed a flaw (or is it a bug?, or a glitch? or even a branch?) and the top quadrant of each has not been populated with the colours (or so I’m told).

RiffRaff spinnaker

Top left has it for me. Bottom left would be appropriate for a boat called   ‘Dennis the Menace” and bottom right has  “Super Hero” written all over it.

Now it needs a name….



*The Borders – the beautiful land between England and Scotland,  with the River Tweed running through it. Famous for the lawless nature of it’s peoples,  the Border Reivers, until a few of hundred years ago, it has been relatively peaceful since the Act of Union in 1707.  In this era of Scottish Devolution and Brexit will it remain so?

Orders Orders

The trouble with buying a boat.

If one chooses a second hand boat (sorry,  pre-owned as one really no idea how many owners have been involved) is precisely that. Were they all out and out racers, wearing everything out a super high speed. Perhaps they fancied their chances as rock or sand bank dodgers who may have been more or less successful – did they revel in surviving force 8’s on a regular basis or  sail sedately from one marina to the next, anticipating the next G & T? Was he/she  (it usually is a he) pride himself on his d.i.y.  capabilities and was his pride justified?

One knows none of this. There might be a sailing log which the owner might share with you – you might find a blog he/she has been silly enough to write. Either may or may not be true. In short you are in the territory that Donald Rumsfelt described as that of unknown unknowns.

Of course, one may have watched the boat with interest for several years and be on nodding (or even drinking) terms with previous owners.

None of this matters. What ever the situation the new owner will inevitably find something about the boat that he (it usually is a he) WILL NOT LIKE.

If, on the other hand, one chooses to buy a new boat, one only has oneself to blame (or the yard, or the weather). One does get the opportunity to have a boat built to ones’ specification. One has to, because the offer of a boat in  “sail away” condition usually means that it does not have any means of propulsion apart from the sails  and usually has no means of securing it on good old terra firma. Pas de l’ancre*, pas de ligne d’amarrage as they say on the other side of La Manche (where you’ll end up without either item).

So one has the delight of  SPECIFYING  what one would like on the vessel, only to find out that the money tree needs shaking some more.

That’s where we are at the moment. Doing the specifying that is, we’ll worry about the money tree tomorrow.

* Reminds me of a Goon Show joke (that shows my age)

They are at sea:

Neddy “let go the anchor”

Sound effect “Splash”

Neddy “Shouldn’t that have been tied on?”

Eccles “Yeah – it was no good anyway – it sank”

First steps

The order is placed (gulp) . The deposit has been paid. The colour chosen and the first to do list developed. I hope there are lots of discounts at the upcoming (as they say) LBS….

Terrance, the curmudgeonly trailer which carried Vagabond a few thousand miles (more than Vagabond sailed!),  has been upgraded. It (definitely not a she or a he, despite the name) struggled to carry Vagabond and I found out why – it was only rated for 1500kg and the whole shebang (Trailer and Boat)  weighed in at 1650 kg when I put it on a weighbridge a year or so ago. Since then, it’s had the “old man” electric winch and battery added.

Now I need to think of more names for the various bits of kit:

Boat:     Riff Raff         tick

Owners Agent:    unchanged     tick

Outboard :  not a Mercury, so can’t be Freddie: it might be a Tohatsu so could be Tottie – but that’s a bit sexually inappropriate these days.

Dinghy – a new one – can it be Doris 2? No I don’t thing so.

Enough. I need a cup of tea.