Monday 3 September 2007

The Onawind blues

It has been so long since I posted that not only had I forgotten my blogger password but also, having eventually accessed the site I found the blogger interface totally unfamiliar. It has taken me two days to post but here at last is a long overdue update of our adventures.

My dream of a lazy summer sailing Onawind blue didn’t materialize and hot sticky days working in Barcelona had me in the no-sailing dumps. But with a long busy August drawing to a close I have at last managed to get some sailing done, albeit with the single sail.

The wind has generally been light, except for one memorable afternoon with 12-15 knots from the southwest. The sun has shone and the Mediterranean has sparkled as Onawind blue’s brave little bow has slid through the water.

The backlog of friends and family waiting for promised rides has been dealt with and none of OB’s guests has been dissatisfied—the aura of good vibes surrounding a homemade boat never failing to bring a smile to those who sail in her.

I’ve improved my launching and retrieving techniques to the extent where we now both enter and leave the water, if not with elegance, then at least without looking a complete mess. I’ve sailed back to the beach, rather than rowed, a couple of times which, with the rocks just below the surface, the narrow navigation channel, the suicidal bathers and the unannounced steep rogue waves rolling in from motor yachts’ wake is invariably a dry throated affair.

We haven’t done a capsize test due to lack of organization and now the cameraman has gone off to India to make a documentary, (you can follow his adventures at Besides, with a small shark and a manta ray swimming on this stretch of the coast, it hasn’t been a summer for hanging about in the water. The shark, with a fishhook in its gullet and a harpoon wound in its dorsal fin, was eventually dragged from the sea near Tarragona while onlookers hurled insults, buckets, spades and flip-flops. The authorities took the fish to Barcelona aquarium where it died shortly afterwards. Poor sod.
I had another long solo cruise to Tamarit on the windy day. With a strongish breeze I was glad that OB was under canvassed. She sailed beautifully on the 5 mile beat, having some grunt in the sail improves upwind performance and generally makes for a more immediate and decisive boat. Off Torredembarra marina I was hailed by an Argentinean in a Zodiac with the words, ‘Is that an Iain Oughtred design?’ I hove-to and we had a brief chat about small boat design and building then separated with me shouting, ‘Take a look at The Invisible Workshop.’ above the wind. Once round the marina we had a clear reach to Tamarit. I was now about a mile from a very pretty cove locally known as ‘El Waikiki’. Access isn’t easy from the land—a 15-minute walk through pinewoods keeps the crowds away and the beach is the perfect place to camp for the night. But it would have been a cold, hungry night for me with nothing more than swimming shorts and a damp tee-shirt to keep me warm, a couple of life jackets for bedding and nothing in the food locker except a few of litres of water. I tacked and loosened the sheet for the long run home resolving to try and organise a night’s camping at ‘El Waikiki’ before the end of September. I made it back to my launch spot after a four hour round trip.

Now that the holidaymakers are heading back to the cities the workshop will come back out of the cupboard and hopefully we’ll get some pressing jobs done.

The light scantlings that support the thole pins have been severely gnawed by the epoxy coated braiding on the oars. Lagging with sections of hose hasn’t proved an effective or pretty solution and something more permanent will have to be found. A split has appeared in the mast step, I think this was caused by leverage from the mast when we capsized. It will be awkward to put screws in the step so I hope that filling the split with epoxy will do. There’s also a thin split in the after end of the centerboard case—a result of the centerboard being slightly warped and me forcing it in and out of the slot. The board is much easier to insert now that the case has split so again I’ll fill it with epoxy rather than trying to close it up. I also need to address a few other signs of wear and tear; the skeg gets a severe sanding on the beach with every launch and really needs more protection than the large epoxy filet that I gave it. The anchor chain rubs on the gunnels and people and gear have added a few bruises here and there.

I still need to make a new rudder and yolk but most importantly I must get the sails made for the complete rig. I’m tossing up between getting them professionally built or buying a sewing machine and trying myself. Realistically I think it will be quicker to go to a pro while I get on with the spars.

I hope that when I do break out the workshop again, unlike with blogger, I will remember how to work with epoxy and use my tools.

Here are some pictures from the last month.

This photo from regatta day turned up. The two windsurfing rigs weren’t very satisfactory either practically or aesthetically.
Here’s a lateen rigged boat seen sail in Barcelona’s large harbour. It’s a very attractive sail and in some distant future I might be tempted to build something along those lines, but please don’t tell the family!
OB’s launch trolley.
Rowing with my girl on a summer evening, mmm… what could be better?


Unknown said...

hola capitan !
good job ! Onawind blue's looks gorgeous, you must be proud and relieved... hopefully you'll manage to sail more regularly with far as i'm concerned, i decided i wanna live on a boat, or maybe i want to be a boat ! i came back the day before yesterday from a 2-month-trip on a beautiful trimaran (formarly british btw, "UMU pro jardin" or something like this, built by Morisson in the 80's, does it ring a bell ? anyway very big and very fast !) we staid in the Mediterranean sea (southern France, Baleares, Sicilia, Corsica, Sardegna) but i learnt a lot and i cannot wait to cross the Atlantic with Martial and his boat now... and then... get my own ! i wonder whether i built it all or if i buy an old thing to renew, i heard it's easier to find on the other side of the ocean ! would you mind letting me know roughly how much you've invested since you got started with Onawind blue's ? i know each boat has her own requirements but i'm preparing myself to those questions (which so far never came across my mind)... if i do it i'll have to plan time and space, organise things and money... any piece of advice is welcome !
take care, have fun and enjoy your boat !
hasta luego

Anonymous said...

Hi Aurore, it sounds like you've had a good summer. I'm not exactly sure how much money I've put into Onawind blue--I stopped keeping accounts when I went over budget at around 1200 euros and half of that went on epoxy (in my ignorance I bought the most expensive brand from the most expensive dealer). At a guess I must be up around the1500 mark, and I reckon I spent at least 200 hours physically working on her and untold amounts of time thinking things through. If somebody asked me to build them one I'd put the price at around 8000 euros. I still have to spend money on the sails, which could cost up to 600 euros, and, when I've recovered finacially, I want to buy a trailer(another 1000 euros). She certainly hasn't been cheap, but she's definately been worthwhile.
I hope that's been some help. Maybe we'll see you down here sometime before you and Martial cross the Atlantic.

Baddaddy said...

He Ben - I love some of the pictures but they're so tiny compared with your usual efforts.

I'm very, very pleased you are continuing to enjoy your boat. I know we talked about coming over to Spain to see her this autumn but with illness in the family and us moving house, I can't see it happening until the spring.


Anonymous said...

That's a pity Gav, but on the other hand I wont have to worry about you seeing the shoddy mess under the side decks. I hope the illness clears up fast and that the move goes smoothly. Maybe you can come in the spring when we'll have the full suit of sails. and the other issues will have been addressed.

Gaff Horse said...

Good to see you writing again here - it's been a while.
And good to see you enjoying the boat. Will you be able to sail much over the winter?
Things down here pretty much the same - I'm off to South Africa at the end of the month for some work, apart from that pretty quiet. How were Scarlett and Penelope?

Anonymous said...

Hi Gaff, nice to see you round here, did you have good hols?
I'll be sailing as much as I can throughout the year, hopefully with the complete rig. You must come for a sail.
I have a Catalan friend leaving for Jo'burg on thurs to stay a year. If you're in that area I'll give you his details.
I had a fun time with S and P. It was great to be involved and see the whole thing come together. It will be the first WA film that I actually want to see!