Inshore sailing would be a fair description of
the sort I have indulged in, and I have recently bought a book
entitled “Coasting”, by one Jonathan Raban. It is
not solely about sailing, but has observations about Britain
as he sailed round the coast.
The first chapter has, as a heading, a marvellous
quotation from “Great Britain’s Coasting Pilot”
of the year 1693. The author was a Captain Greenville Collins.
It reads: -
The Marriner having left the vast Ocean, and brought
his Ship into Soundings near the Land, amongst Tides or Streams,
his Art must now be laid aside, and Pilottage be taken in hand,
the nearer the Land the greater the Danger, therefore your care
ought to be the more.
Being in Tides-ways, narrow Channels, Rocks and
Sands, I hope the ingenious Mariner will not take it amiss in
recommending this to your care, your Tides, your Courses, Soundings,
and the goodness of your Compasses.
SWAN SONG LINES
I have just about exhausted my memory banks of
Bits and Bobs for these columns for the present, so shall sign
out with a few one-liners (?) for the time being. It might well
be that I shall continue to dredge up from the memory banks
some ideas which I have found to be of value or interest, and,
if this happens, then I shall jot down the same, and forward
them along to Chuck for consideration for his excellent web-site.
For the nonce, then, think on these...
When building, or thinking about, a rudder stock,
then remember that a tiller, which forks, can break. Whereas
a tiller that sticks into a hole in the stock, can be jury-rigged
with any old bit of stick. Such as a boat-hook, or a spinnaker
Hockey as a game, not ice-hockey, makes use of
hockey sticks, which are easily obtained (in the UK, at least),
and make unbreakable tillers. I have acquired a few at the splendid
price of ONE UK Pound each.
As I may have mentioned previously, though, the
handle from a felling axe makes for a beautifully shaped tiller.
Bearing in mind that the surface of the sea is
much cooler than the shore, I have found that (in my local UK
waters, at least), it is better clothe myself in serge and wool
than in cotton jeans. I have, on occasion been caught out in
an overnight trip, and have been glad of the advice that I was
handed many years ago, by an old-timer fisherman, to wear woollen
clothing. AND do not forget something on the head.
When on a dead run in shallow water (or to use
the splendid Stateside phrase, thin water), if you can have
the boom on either side, then for Pete’s sake have the
boom pointing to the shore. If you touch the bottom, then heel
the boat, haul in the mainsheet and sail off. If you do it wrong,
then you will be pushed further aground with no chance of sailing
In Europe, to my everlasting regret, we have been
made subservient to the Metric System of measurement, which
renders useless the time-honoured method of calculating the
rise and fall, plus the speed of the tides. I refer to the TWELFTHS
RULE. In the old Imperial system, which is still used by the
United States of America, the Twelfths Rule provides a method
of calculating, mentally, the ebb and flow of tidal waters.
I stick hold of my old Charts, which are calibrated in fathoms
and feet, and wonder how we in England were ever conned into
accepting charts done with the Metric System. It is almost the
same as having Ohm’s Law, or Boyle’s Law repealed.
I shall not here go into the old Twelfth’s Rule, but if
it is requested, then I shall do a piece on it. Doubtless it
is available through Google, for those interested.
So to my last bit, for the inshore sailormen who
do it without electricity. Remember that a TRANSIT is the only
certainty in navigation. Everything else has a margin of doubt...