Saturday, 6 October 2007

Surfing again

The weather system that started on my journey back from Tamarit took a long week to develop and diffuse. Standing on the beach in the rain watching the wind and the waves I shivered to imagine Onawind Blue in the thick of it.

But anxious to learn more about handling OB in adverse conditions I took her surfing again when the sun finally reappeared. With conditions similar to those on our previous sortie I rowed out, taking a while to make myself comfortable in the aft rowing position. I find rowing from the forward thwart more comfortable, with decent legroom and at a beamier section of the boat I can stretch out and get a more efficient stroke. But for rowing in waves I wanted my weight further back, hopefully to slow the stern as it gathered pace on the wave.

As nobody could be duped into filming, my first run unfortunately went unrecorded. If every run were like that I would indeed be considered the dude on this beach. We avoided the bigger waves and I rowed hard to catch a smaller one. OB surfs easily on the right wave and with three strokes she was up, charging but stable. I stowed the oars and sat on the sternsheets facing forwards. The wave brought us right up the beach and I ran to the bows, hopped over and grabbed OB’s deadeye just as the wave receded. We were high on the beach and completely dry. I was amazed.

The second run was a total disaster. We started to surf, turned side on to the wave, went onto our beam ends, came upright half full of water and the next wave flooded over the stern leaving us brimful. I jumped out and used the force of the white water to try and beach her, but she was too heavy and the backwash dragged her into the sea. I dug my heels in.

A man stopped to help and after a long struggle we pulled her out and drained her. I know what I should have done though. I should have let her go back into the sea and then walked her over to a buoy, baled her from there and then come back into the beach dry, for another attempt.

Back in the garden I took her off the trolley, which needed some repairs, and had a look at her bottom. I haven’t seen this part of her anatomy since the launch and wasn’t surprised to find a significant amount of wear. Scratches, rubbings and fading paint, but worst was the end of the skeg which has lost its epoxy fillet and taken a few bashes right on the plywood.

Also achieved this week were a new pair of thole pins. Whittled from green olive and carrying no protection I wonder how long they’ll last. The epoxied oak pair that supported the oars on last week’s mammoth row now sport deep grooves where the rope has bitten in. I have repaired a couple of pins that broke but wouldn’t trust them to row with.

From left to right, repaired, oak, olive and the raw material for the next ones.

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