Sail Handling on a Flicka 20, Part 1

Sampaguita, a Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20, and I went out for a sail one late November day in Port Townsend Bay, WA. I took this video with a head-mounted GoPro HERO 7 and have created clips centered around a few activities. There is no mood-inducing music added, just the sounds of sailing. Splashing water, roaring wind, flapping sails, winches and lines, my breathing, and the occasional talking to myself. And most of the bird-like sounds are actual birds. (If you must, think John Cage’s 4’33”)

These clips are not how-to lessons or the epitome of anything. They are “live” recordings, warts and all. No do-overs, no what-ifs. What struck me most when I reviewed these clips was how natural these maneuvers had become for me on this boat. It’s not that I am a spectacular or talented sailor. No, I am just well-practiced on Sampaguita. As I wrap up my eighth year with her, I have done these actions countless times, and my comfort with them seems evident, at least to me. It certainly helps that the boat is well-behaved, predictable, and easy to balance with the sails. This propensity to handle herself affords me the ability to handle lines and sails single-handed in a fairly low-stress, low-tech manner.

The knotwork is also second nature. Much of it occurs just off-camera. Figure eights on one end of the sheets, bowlines on the other. A reef knot here, a cleat hitch there. Wrap, lean, and pull.

It’s not all roses. The restricted deck space and rigging clearance require specific footwork, an inboard lean, and one hand for the mast. I have grown accustomed to this too. (The irony that Sampaguita has her lines led aft to the cockpit, but no roller furling headsail isn’t lost. Maybe I’ll make that change one day. Or not.)

Even when things don’t quite go right, like in Reef the Main (1’09”), the clew isn’t tight enough. It was an easy correction as if I had been through it before, many times. Or in Changing the Headsail (1’09”), the halyard doesn’t run clean. As soon as I felt resistance when pulling the sail down, I knew what was wrong and how to fix it. It wasn’t the first time.

The unexpected takeaway from these clips for me is the tremendous value in a boat I know. I will remember this the next time I wonder whether Sampaguita is the right boat to go voyaging in.

Reef the Main

Change the Headsail

Shake out the Reef

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s