Chapman on weather

Brushing up on Chapman’s

Sunday May 18, 2014

Chapman Piloting & Seamanship

I think it’s about time I became reacquainted with an old friend of mine, Chapman’s Guide to Piloting & Seamanship  A 900 page manual on everything boats and boat related. The how’s, why’s, navigation, weather, safety, ect. Chapman’s and I were supposed to become well acquainted back in 2010 when Matt had purchased the most recent volume for me and plopped it in my lap stating “Read this”. Right…this is exactly how I wanted to spend my summer. I did try though, really. There was actual effort put into covering the essential chapters, the ones that were going to teach me how to sail and read weather patterns. The only problem was I didn’t fully understand the information at the time, and therefore didn’t retain much of any of it. What I did retain was actual on the water sailing where I’d try and pay attention to what Matt was doing and figure it in to what I had previously read. Even that wasn’t…great.

Although I do now know all the lines on the boat, where they run to and from, and what purpose they serve…I’m clueless when it comes to sail trim. I have read the little annecdote on how to read tell tales numerous times, and every single time I get it backward in my mind which has me trimming the sails the wrong way, and the official sail trimmer of the boat getting upset that I still haven’t learned how to do it after five years on the water and almost two years cruising. Understandably as well. I know I would be very frustrated if it was the other way around. No more excuses though, it’s time, and I need to learn what I’m doing. There’s 3,000 miles of ocean coming up in front of us shortly and we can’t afford mistakes out there. Plus I can’t rely on Matt to always be there to fix everything for me. I need to be able to do it on my own.

During our days with bad weather in the Bahamas, especially the areas like Lee Stocking island where we were never even able to get off the boat, I’ve set myself down with as many sailing how-to videos as possible. Penny Whiting’s ‘Learn to Sail’ and ‘Annapolis Book of Seamanship’. I know, these are as basic as it gets and a lot of the information I do already know, but, it just gives me that extra visual so when I do pick up Chapman’s again, it might come a little easier to me. I can put an image in my mind of what they’re trying to describe. So with enough watching and reading over and over again, I might finally learn how to trim a sail to look like an airplane wing, or find out where I want the draft.  And then how to get it there.. Funny thing is, I feel much more prepared to handle sails in storm conditions than just cruising along. I think those tactics have been engrained in me long ago. But, if I can finally figure out how to get the sail back in perfect shape after it starts flogging without Matt having to yell out “Ease the main!!!”, then I will consider it a successful payoff.

Chapman's Seamanship

Chapman on sailing

Chapman on weather

 *Example: While sailing from Warderick Wells to Bimini, Matt asked me to move the main over as we set ourselves on a downwind course. I stared back at him with a blank face. ‘So I … walk it over to the other side?’ (No, I was supposed to trim the main to the center, and then the wind would catch it as I eased it out to the other side) To be fair, I had just woken up and also hadn’t eaten in 14 hours, so my mind wasn’t quite all there yet, but still. I know how to do that move when fully awake and full, I should know how to do it while sleep deprived and starving.