Saturday, October 31, 2009

Singlehanded Sailing

The reasons otherwise sane people do it
Humans are herd animals; we tend to gather together in tribes and maintain close social relationships. Why, then, would someone want to cross an ocean single-handed? What motivates them?American author and sailor Richard Henderson has closely studied the goals and achievements of single-handers. In hisbook
Singlehanded Sailing, he suggests ten reasons why an otherwise sane, reasonable sailor would want to sail off into the blue alone:

  • 1.For practical purposes. To test a theory, perhaps, or to gather material for a book or a study. To earn money or to win a race. Sometimes, because the boat isn’t big enough for two.
  • 2.Self-significance. To find one’s place in the world’s pecking order and acquire a sense of belonging.
  • 3.Curiosity and fulfillment. A desire to see and experience the thrills and moods of the sea, and exotic landfalls, for oneself.
  • 4.Recognition. A desire for fame that exceeds the search for self-significance.
  • 5.Independence. The need for the greatest possible freedom and control over one’s own destiny.
  • 6.Escapism. This is closely allied to independence, but includes a certain rebelliousness against routine, as well as a possible flight from personal and societal problems.
  • 7.Adventurousness. Adventure has always been strongly attractive to restless spirits with a desire for novelty, travel, and excitement. Solo sailing can provide all of these in large (and sometimes excessive) quantities.
  • 8.Competitiveness. This may take many forms, including personal competition with the ocean and one’s inner fears, as well as the desire to win races or set records.
  • 9.Solitude. Some introverts like being alone. Other people may experience the spiritual cleansing of a retreat that makes them more appreciative of subsequent human companionship.
  • 10.Mother Sea. All life came from the sea, and it still runs strongly in our veins. Some deep instinct, dimly felt and poorly understood, draws many people back.
As Henderson points out, all single-handers possess at least some of these motivations in various degrees and combinations. Most are braver than they know, particularly those who do itdespite their fear of the sea and the unknown.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hudson River Sailing: Sailors Thrive in This Tidal Estuary

By Dennis Wild

The Hudson is More Then it Seems
Hudson River sailing is not as easy as it first seems. For one thing, the Hudson is not a true river at all, but a tidal estuary. Running from Albany to New York City, the Hudson River flows into the Atlantic Ocean like many other rivers, but because it is deeper than the body of water it empties into, the Hudson River exhibits the same tidal flow seen along Atlantic beaches. The average tidal range on the Hudson River is a four to six feet difference between low and high tides.

Water in the Hudson flows north toward Albany on an incoming tide at a little over one knot. For land lubbers, a knot is one nautical mile per hour. When the tide turns on the Hudson and begins to ebb, the current flows south a tenth or two of a knot faster than it flowed north. The Hudson River provides drainage for many creeks, rivers and streams so there's always more water heading south than north.

What this means for sailors, depending on wind for power, is that heading against the tide means subtracting about one knot from your forward motion. On a practical scale, a sailor headed south against the tide at a little over one knot in a light wind, will find himself making no progress at all. On the other hand, if he tacks and heads north on the same tide, the waters momentum will be added to his speed and he'll ghost along at a cozy two knots or so.

On the Hudson River, what really makes things interesting for sailors is the direction and force of the wind and how it reacts with the tide. Since sailboat cannot sail directly into the wind, they must always move at an angle to it. Because the Hudson runs north and south the easiest wind to deal with is out of the east of west - wind that blows across the river. Many times an east wind will bring rain with it, so when a good west wind blows on the Hudson River, sailors take full advantage of it, with an almost erotic fervor.

When tides move with the wind the surface is usually calm. When they oppose each other trouble may be brewing. Waves and chop are born when surface water, pushed along by relentless tidal forces, is attacked by powerful seasonal winds going the other way. On the Hudson River, the friction winds out of the north exert on tide from the south can be enormous. Shortly after the tide turns, a calm placid surface can develop into a tempest. Storm winds gusting out of the north for a few days turn the Hudson into a wild place, marked by ominous four-foot rolling, breaking waves.

So, the next time you're crossing the Hudson River on one of its many bridges, or picnicking along its shore, and spy a sailboat lazily cruising along, keep in mind all the forces acting on it to produce that beautiful little panorama.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Athens,New York

Athens,New York, the place that I chose to call home . . .
Going by this report from 1824 it seems to me that very little has changed since then . . .
"Athens, Lunenberg, or Algiers; this latter name was given to it in consequence of the piratical practices of the inhabitants . . ."

Sailing The Hudson . . .

There's quite a few thing's about river sailing that I've had to figure out for myself through the "trial and error" method, snce nothing seems to be written on the subject and some of it's been downright frightening,both to myself and to those trusting souls who've been aboard with me . . .
Every now and then,thanks to the power and wisdom of The Googler,I run across something useful,mostly offhand remarks written by the captains of the sloops and schooners of the 1800's . .

One of the thing's that I was sure I've doing wrong was jibing while running before the wind,now after reading this account of the way it was done back in the old days, it turns out that I've been doing it right all along,but I think I'll pass on the part about getting my head yanked of by the mainsheet . .
"Novices used to be afraid to watch an experienced skipper jibe--change his mainsail from one side to the other while running before the wind. It seemed suicidal, even after trimming down the sheet, to put the helm hard up and let her swing to an angle of forty-five degrees. The wind would hit the loose sail and send it across the deck, the heavy ninety-foot boom swinging as if it were a fishpole. The sail would go thundering over the taffrail, obviously about to yank the mast out by the roots when it fetched up. Calmly the skipper would hold the helm hard up, while letting the sheet run freely. Just as catastrophe seemed inevitable the sloop would have swung far enough around for the wind to catch the sail on the other side and blow it all aluff. Then the skipper would throw the helm hard over, and as gently as a disciplined pony the sloop would take to her course again. That trick had to be played "mighty careful," though. A latter-day sailor, Ben Hunt, tried it once when he was at the wheel of the sloop James Coats. When the mainsail came over the deck a loop in the sheet caught him around the neck and popped his head into the river without taking the rest of him along."

So if you happen to come along with me,please resist any urges to scream bloody murder or to jump overboard because that IS the way it's supposed to be done !

My Purpose . . .

So what am I trying to do here ?
Well,alot of different things . . .
As the blog title would suggest,it's going to be mostly about the Hudson River, it's history and it's people.
I'm also a sailing fanatic and there's hardly anything written about river sailing . . .
So why not combine the two ?