12th August: Flying in Sea Lightning!

The remnants of hurricane Bertha have resulted in a few days of strong winds so this afternoon I took my sailing dinghy out for a “burn-up” on the river! My weather station recorded average winds of around 16 kts with gusts reaching 24 kts. “Sea Lightning”* was really bouncing over the waves as I planed back and forth. Only nearly lost her once when the main sheet slipped out of my hand and my body hit the water as she heeled to windward. And I did mess up coming in and rammed the side of my shed (only gently!). But great fun!

* “Sea Lightning” is my nickname for my Seafly when I sail her using the small rig which came from my (now sold) Lightning 368 “Seabee”. I’ve made a second mast step in the Seafly to take the unstayed carbon-fibre Lightning mast and the sail is the same size as a laser radial. Normally the Seafly would have a deck mounted, stayed alloy mast. This enables me to go under the Northam Bridge using my electric outboard, and then mount the mast and continue under sail. The small Lightning sail is easily enough to get the Seafly planing in a moderate wind, and the matching mast is light enough to easily lift into place while the boat is on the water.

The smaller sail area compared to the Seafly rig, coupled with the stability and power of the Seafly hull (similar in size to a Finn), means it’s possible to sail her in strong winds despite the gustiness out on the river. One day last summer I sailed out to the Bramble and coming back I was keeping pace with the IoW ferry for quite a time, using her wake to surf/plane along with spray flying every which way!

The rig is also a good one for teaching people the first steps in sailing since the Seafly (a very forgiving boat in any case) is even more stable with the smaller rig. Also in the event of a capsize, the boat is much less likely to turn turtle with the buoyant carbon fibre mast rather than the Seafly’s alloy mast which quickly floods.