Monday, July 30, 2012

My Yacht

I have not blogged during the last week because I was in France where I went to launch my yacht following a refit.  Although some of you readers may keep yours in Cannes or Monaco, mine is in Baden in southern Brittany.

Although I forgot to take my Abu Dhabi Sailing Club burgee I nevertheless managed to get my yacht properly fitted out and ready for a seasonal launch.  I accomplished the mise à l’eau using a borrowed trailer and with a couple of friends we got it down the slipway unscathed and launched it.  No champagne, but it was gleaming with a new paint job and it was a proud moment.  I provisioned it for the initial cruise by stowing 2 sandwiches and a bottle of water in one of the little open lockers under the forward seat/thwart/mast support.

Unfortunately a stationary high pressure system provided lovely, cloudless skies with wind that was coquettishly fickle, ranging from none to occasional tantalizing breaths that were more exasperated sighs than real breezes.   And the tides in the Golfe du Morbihan are not for wimps and more than once I was making going backward, waiting for enough breeze to make some headway.

But I enjoyed a nice shakedown cruise and everything worked out.  I made only one obvious mistake – noting a strange vibration coming from the dagger board, I realized I had inserted it backwards.  Luckily my crew was a first time sailor (photo below) and he didn’t realize just how stupid this was - I didn’t bother to remedy his ignorance.

My yacht is a classic French vessel belonging to an internationally recognized class –  a Vaurien
(Stock photo - not my yacht).
Designed by Jean-Jacques Herbulot, the first one was seen at the Paris Boat Show in 1952, built of plywood.  Herbulot is a French sailing legend, who competed in 4 Olympics and designed 70 boats (at least that is all his widow could remember when asked).  Almost every French sailor will have sailed one at some point. 

Over 36,000 have been built.  It was commissioned by Philippe Viannay, the founder of the famous Glenans sailing school, who wanted an affordable dinghy for his school - which would be the same price as 2 bicycles. The name was said to be inspired by the name of a dog belonging to Viannay and literally means “worth nothing” (vaut rien) but is usually translated “good-for-nothing” or “rascal”. 

My yacht is kept in a friend’s boatyard and I was lucky to be able to speak with Eric, one of his master woodworking craftsman who owns 3 Vauriens, including a wooden one.  He took a few minutes off from his work to give me some tips on dealing with the complexities of rigging my yacht’s sophisticated mainsheet system which starts with passing one end through a hole in the port side of the transom and knotting it  – then passing the running end through the block at the end of the boom and finally through a second block on the starboard side of the transom and then into the helmsman's hand.  This is direct sail control – no fussy traveller, jamcleats or other unnecessary paraphernalia to interfere between the yacthsman and his mainsail.  The jib sheets dispense with blocks altogether and rely on simple fairleads leading into jam cleats.   (A heads-up to the Harken marketing department - concentrate your efforts elsewhere.) 
The mainsheet system can be seen in this photo of the above-mentioned first-time sailor - an action shot I took for his mother to show how valiantly he mastered sailing on his first day out  - and never mind the limp mainsheet and total lack of any wake or ripple on the water.

1 comment:

  1. The Vaurien! I remember sailing one of those over 30 years ago at Minorca Sailing. It was actually one of the boat I learned to sail on.


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