IN the last chapter we have described the principal manoeuvres that must be employed on a small yacht. This chapter will contain a variety of wrinkles connected with the management of a yacht or boat which may be of service to a novice.
TOWING A DINGHY.— If a yacht is running before a high sea, a dinghy towing astern is apt to rush violently down upon the yacht at intervals and possibly stave herself in. Some give a dinghy a long scope of painter under these circumstances, so as to keep her far astern out of the way. But the long painter allows her more play, and if she does swoop down upon the yacht and strike her it will be with far greater force than if the painter were short. The author, having no room for her on the deck of his yacht, once towed a dinghy all the way to Copenhagen and back, and though on several occasions he was running before a high sea the dinghy never inflicted the slightest injury either on herself or on the yacht. The method which he found to be the best in rough weather, was to tow the dinghy with two very short painters, one to either quarter of the yacht, while an iron half-hundred weight was lashed to the floor of the dinghy close to her stern. This weight steadied her so that she steered straight, did not yaw about, and did not run down upon the yacht. The short painters kept her nose right out of the water so that she could not be swamped. If a sea had filled her — it never did — it would have almost all run out over her stern again. The yacht, it may be mentioned, had a pointed stern, a great advantage when a boat must be towed. Overhanging counters have caused the destruction of many dinghys.
Few small yachts have accommodation on deck for a wooden dinghy. A Berthon collapsible boat, which can be easily stowed in the cabin or laid flat on deck is therefore a great advantage for a small craft. For, however safely a dinghy may tow astern, she greatly impedes the speed of the yacht.
When a yacht is Iying at anchor with her dinghy afloat, it often happens that the wind and tide being opposed to each other, now one and then the other influences the dinghy most, so that she wanders in erratic fashion as far as her painter's length will allow, now scraping along the yacht's sides, and now thumping into her stern, much to the damage of the new paint.
The patience of the novice is often severely tried by such tricks on his dinghy's part. Half a dozen times in the night he leaves his snug berth and leaps on deck to shift the dinghy's painter from one part of the vessel to the other, first to one side, then to the other, then to the bows, and then back to the stern again, but all to no avail, for as soon as he has turned in, the dismal "thud," "thud" recommences.
If the yacht be a large one, and the bowsprit be therefore sufficiently high above the uater, the dinghy's painter can be made fast to the bowsprit end, and the dinghy will thus keep clear of the yacht. But if the vessel is a small one and this plan is not practicable, the following method generally proves successful. Drop an iron bucket with a line attached to its handle over the dinghy's stern. The bucket sinking in the water will offer so much resistance to the tide that the dinghy will ride to the tide only, and the wind will not have power to blow her over the tide against the yacht's sides.
FOUL ANCHOR.— If a yacht is at anchor in a tideway, the slack of the chain is very liable to get round the anchor and foul it when the vessel swings at the turn of the tide. It is therefore advisable to get in the chain at slack water until the yacht is right over her anchor. As soon as the new current has set in and the yacht has swung to it, the necessary amount of chain can be given her.
MOORING.— If it is blowing hard, or the holding ground is bad, it may be necessary to moor, that is, to ride to two anchors in different directions. Having come to with one anchor, pay out chain and let the vessel drop astern until you have out twice the length of chain you intend to ride by. Then let go the other anchor. Slack out the last anchor chain and heave in that of the first till the same scope of chain is on each. Moor with open hawse towards the direction from which the greatest pressure of wind or current is expected, that is, with a line drawn between the two anchors opposite that direction.
The vessel in swinging round to the tide may get a foul hawse, that is, one chain may take turns over the other. By steering the vessel, setting a sail, or by other means adapted to the particular circumstances, so tend her while she is swinging at each turn of the tide that she never makes a complete revolution, but swings backwards and forwards in the same semicircle. Foul hawse will thus be avoided.
TO UNMOOR.— Heave in on one anchor and pay out chain to the other, get the first anchor on board, then heave in on the other anchor. To ride easily in heavy weather put rope springs on the chain cables.
A coir rope makes an excellent cable for a small yacht. It floats on the water, and has plenty of spring in it, so that the yacht rides very lightly.
THE DROGUE.— When a small yacht cruises on broad and stormy seas such as the North Sea, it is advisable to have a drogue or deep sea anchor among her inventory. Many a small fishing boat has been saved from destruction by this precaution.
A drogue is a conical bag of stout canvas sometimes having its mouth bent on to an iron ring. When a little craft is far from the land and so high a sea is running that she cannot sail or even lie to with safety, the drogue is attached by a bridle to a hawser and let go over the bows like an anchor. It offers so much resistance to the water that as the vessel is driven astern by the wind the strain on the hawser keeps her head to wind and sea, and she rides safely and easily. A tripping line is attached to the pointed end of the drogue so that it can be capsized and easily hauled on board.
If an open boat is being pulled across the breakers on a bar so as to make a harbour, or is being rowed towards the shore before a heavy surf, a drogue or even a bucket towed astern will keep the boat's stern back and prevent her from broaching to.
If a small boat be blown right out to sea and it is impossible to bring her back to the shore either by rowing or sailing, a floating anchor can be made by lashing the oars, the mast, and the yard with the sail bent on it, together. The sail must be loosed and a weight can be attached to its foot so as to sink it and offer more resistance to the water. A short rope secured to both extremities of the raft forms a span to the middle of which the cable is bent. Such a floating anchor breaks the sea in a marvellous manner, and small boats have been often known to ride out the most furious gales in this way.
BEACHING BOATS IN A SURF, ETC— The National Lifeboat Institution has published a very useful series of rules on the management of open boats in rough water, these rules being founded on information gathered from all parts of our coast as to the practice of the local boatmen and fishermen.
As a general rule, speed must be given to a boat rowing against a heavy surf. Indeed, under some circumstances, her safety will depend on the utmost possible speed being attained on meeting a sea. For if the sea be really heavy, and the wind blowing a hard on-shore gale, it can only be by the utmost exertions of the crew that any headway can be made. The great danger then is, that an approaching heavy sea may carry the boat away on its front, and turn it broadside on or up-end it, either effect being immediately fatal. A boat's only chance in such a case is to obtain such way as shall enable her to pass, end on, through the crest of the sea, and leave it as soon as possible behind her. If there be rather a heavy surf, but no wind, or the wind off shore, and opposed to the surf, a boat might be propelled so rapidly through it that her bow would fall more suddenly and heavily after topping the sea than if her way had been checked; and it may therefore only be when the sea is of such magnitude and the boat of such a character that there may be chance of the former carrying her back before it, that full speed should be given to her. It may also happen that, by careful management under such circumstances, a boat may be made to avoid the sea, so that each wave may break ahead of her; which may be the only chance of safety in a small boat; but if the shore be flat, and the broken water extend to a great distance from it, this will be impossible.
This may be defined as the safe method of running before a broken sea. But if a boat on being overtaken by a heavy surf, has not sufficient inertia to allow it to pass her, the first of the three positions above enumerated alone occurs — her stern is raised high in the air, and the wave carries the boat before it, on its front, or unsafe side, sometimes with frightful velocity, the bow all the time deeply immersed in the hollow of the sea, where the water being stationary, or comparatively so, offers a resistance, whilst the crest of the sea, having the actual motion which causes it to break, forces onward the stern or rear end of the boat. A boat will in this position sometimes, aided by careful oar steerage, run a considerable distance until the wave has broken and expended itself. But it will often happen that, if the bow be low, it will be driven under water, when the buoyancy being lost forward, whilst the sea presses on the stern, the boat will be thrown end over end; or if the bow be high, or if it be protected by a deck so that it does not become submerged, that the resistance forward acting on one bow will slightly turn the boat's head, and the force of the surf being transferred to the opposite quarter, she will in a moment be turned round broadside by the sea, and be thrown by it on her beam ends, or altogether capsize. It is in this manner that most boats are upset in a surf, especially on flat coasts, and in this way many lives are annually lost. Hence it follows that the management of a boat, when landing through a heavy surf, must, as far as possible, be assimilated to that when proceeding to seaward against one, at least so far as to stop her progress shoreward at the moment of being overtaken by a heavy sea, and then enabling it to pass her. There are different ways of effecting this object —
1. By turning the boat's head to the sea before entering the broken water, and then backing in stern foremost, pulling a few strokes ahead to meet each heavy sea, and then again backing astern. If a sea be really heavy and a boat small, this plan will be generally the safest, as a boat can be kept more under command when the full force of the oars can be used against a heavy surf than by backing them only.
2. If rowing to shore with the stern to seaward, by backing tlie oars on the approach of a heavy sea, and rowing ahead again as soon as it has passed the bow of the boat; or as is practised in some lifeboats, placing the after oarsmen with their faces forward, and making them row back at each sea on its approach.
3. If rowed in bow foremost, by towing astern a pig of ballast or large stone, or a drogue, the object of each being to hold the boat's stern back and prevent her being turned broadside to the sea or broaching to.
Heavy weights should be kept out of the extreme ends of a boat; but when rowing before a heavy sea, the best trim is deepest by the stern. A boat running before a heavy sea should be steered by an oar as the rudder will then at times be of no use.
The following rules may therefore be depended on when running before a heavy surf.
1. As far as possible avoid each sea by placing the boat where the sea will break ahead of her.
2. If the sea is very heavy, or if the boat is small, and especially if she has a square stern, bring her bow round to seaward and back her in, rowing ahead against each heavy surf sufficiently to allow it to pass the boat.
3. If it be considered safe to proceed to the shore bow foremost, back the oars against each sea on its approach, so as to stop the boat's way through the water as much as possible, and if there is a drogue or other instrument in the boat which may be used as one, tow it astern.
4. Bring the principal weights in the boat towards the end that is seaward, but stot to the extreme end.
5. If a boat worked by both sails and oars be running under sail for the land through a heavy sea, her crew should, under all circumstances, unless the beach be quite steep, take down her masts and sails before entering the broken water, and take her to land under oars alone. If she have sails alone, her sails should be much reduced, a half-lowered foresail or other small headsail being sufficient.
The running before a surf or broken sea, and the beaching of a boat, are two distinct operations; the management of boats, as above recommended, has exclusive reference to running before a surf where the shore is so flat that the broken water extends to some distance from the beach. Thus, on a very steep beach, the first heavy fall of broken water will be on the beach itself, whilst on some very flat shores there will be broken water as far as the eye can reach. The outermost line of broken water, on a flat shore, where the waves break in three or four fathoms water, is the heaviest, and therefore the most dangerous, and when it has been passed through in safety, the danger lessens as the water shoals, until, on nearing the land, its force is spent and its power is harmless. As the character of the sea is quite different on steep and flat shores, so is the customary management of boats on landing different in the two situations. On the flat shore, whether a boat be run or backed in, she is kept straight before or end to the sea until she is fairly aground, when each surf takes her further in as it overtakes her, aided by the crew, who will then generally jump out to lighten her, and drag her in by her sides. As above stated, sail will, in this case, have been previously taken in if set, and the boat will have been rowed or backed in by oars alone.
On the other hand, on the steep beach, it is the general practice, in a boat of any size, to retain speed right on to the beach, and in the act of landing, whether under oars or sail, to turn the boat's bow half round towards the direction from which the surf is running, so that she may be thrown on her broadside up the beach, when abundance of help is usually at hand to haul her as quickly as possible out of reach of the sea. In such situations, we believe, it is nowhere the practice to back a boat in stern foremost under oars, but to row in under full speed as above described.
MANAGEMENT OF A YACHT IN A ROUGH SEA.— When sailing a small yacht in a rough sea certain precautions must be observed which we will describe as briefly as possible, for to handle a vessel properly under these circumstances requires a skill that cannot be imparted by books.
In the first place, do not carry on too much; for it will then be necessary to bear away or luff according to the seas, regardless of the wind; and if too much sail be carried this cannot be done.
A beam sea is the most dangerous. If you are obliged to sail in a direction that brings the sea abeam, keep a sharp look-out and luff up to every sea that looks dangerously steep, so as to take it at a sharp angle instead of broadside on.
To run before a high sea is also dangerous, especially if the vessel is a short and beamy one, for a sea may strike the stern on one side and cause her to broach to; or again the vessel may be pooped, that is, a sea may break on board over the stern, filling the well and even swamping her.
While running before the sea, steer with great care, so that every dangerous sea strike the vessel right aft, and not on the side, and be ready to meet promptly with the tiller any tendency to broach to.
If you are sailing with the sea on the quarter, bear away to every dangerous sea so as to bring it right aft.
To sail against the sea, as when one is close hauled, is the safest way of meeting it. A sea breaking over the bows can do little harm in comparison to one coming over the stern. Luff up so as to meet a dangerous sea nearly end on, and bear away after it has passed, but take care that the way of the vessel is not lost in doing this.
We have already explained how to heave to, the most prudent measure that can be taken in bad weather, provided one has plenty of sea room to leeward.
It may happen that when one is sailing along the coast for some harbour of refuge, the wind is dead on shore so that the seas are on one's beam. If the seas are so dangerous that it becomes very hazardous to proceed in this way, it is best to sail in a zigzag fashion towards one's port — that is, first to sail almost close hauled out to sea, then, having watched one's opportunity in a smooth, to bear away again and run right before wind and sea towards the shore, and so on till the harbour is reached.
The sea and wind are fortunately generally in the same direction; but what is called a cross sea sometimes rolls up at intervals, especially if the direction of the wind has recently changed. These cross seas must be carefully watched and steered for.
Always wait for a smooth before tacking in rough water. In open water there is a regular rhythm in the movement of the seas, and it will be observed that at regular intervals three exceptionally heavy seas will follow each other in succession. These heavy waves are invariably followed by short period of comparatively smooth water; and a sharp steersman will always wait for this smooth before putting his vessel about in rough weather.
BOARDING.— It will sometimes be necessary to go off in the dinghy to one's yacht when she is sailing or hove to in a rough sea, or one may have to bring one's boat alongside some large vessel in order to board her.
In doing this, certain precautions must be observed. In the first place, a vessel should be boarded to leeward, as the sea will not be so violent on the lee as on the windward side.
In boarding a vessel that is rolling a good deal, lower your boat's mast, if she has one, before getting alongside.
The line by which you make fast to the vessel must be long enough to allow for the rising and falling of the sea. Have this line ready to slip in a moment.
If the vessel is hove to, do not get alongside while she has sternway; wait till she has headway.
Sometimes, as in the case of boarding a stranded vessel, it is dangerous to get under her leeside, as the masts may fall on one, or the boat may get entangled among drifting rigging. It is the practice of lifeboats, under such circumstances, to anchor to windward of the wreck and veer cable until one can throw a line on board.