Why changing tack takes a lot longer than you think

Knotty Girl
Thu 27 Jun 2019 21:40
40:56.177N 12:30.860W

The last 48h have seen us sail right across the middle of a large Atlantic depression. In the Northern hemisphere, winds cycle anti-clockwise around a depression, so we are currently in the southerly airflow on the east side of the depression. As we are heading east anyway, this puts on a starboard tack, reaching fast in about 20 knots of wind. The sailing is great, but it is very different to the past 4 days of sailing on port tack, where we have become used to a certain way of doing things. With “Knotty Girl" now leaning the other way, there have been a number of interesting consequences. Here are some examples:

1. Opening the fridge:
On port tack, one needs to merely touch the door handle for it to fly open and bury you underneath its contents. Now, on the opposite tack, one needs Herculean strength to open the door, as effectively you have to pull it up towards you whilst attempting to grab what you require before the door slams shut on your unsuspecting fingers.

2. Showering
On port tack, a reasonably leisurely experience can be enjoyed, until you realise that you are sitting in 3 feet of water because the plughole is effectively up a hill. The only option is to present yourself in the cockpit, covered in soap, to ask the helmsman if he can ease the sails out a bit so you can deal with the mini-flood you have created. Now, on starboard tack, it does not matter where you hold the shower itself, you are only ever going to wash your feet.

3. Going to the loo:
An art form in itself, but on opposite tacks it is the difference between being.wedged firmly on the thing, or flying off it in to a heap on the floor. Neither option is particularly appealing, so there is no more to be said on the matter

4. Moving about:
For the last 4 days, we have got used to moving up and down the yacht without too much of a drama. We have learned what we can grab, and where we can put our feet. However, lean the yacht over 25 degrees the other way, and the whole thing becomes an obstacle course of pending disasters. This will result in you arriving on deck for your watch with both feet in one leg of your trousers and all the lights on.

5. Sleeping:
Much has been written in this blog about the art of scaling something effectively the height of Mt. Everest in order to get in to your bunk. On starboard tack, you’ll find that you fall in to bed whether that was your original intention or not. Once in, there is no way to get out, so you may as well stay there and enjoy the rest!

Despite the carnage caused by being on the opposite tack, we have made excellent progress and are well on schedule for a likely arrival in La Coruna on Friday evening. Let’s hope we can remember how to stand up straight when we get there...