July 13, 2012

The horror of hobbyhorsing

WHEN I WAS 15 or 16, I used to crew for an elderly gentleman on a 25-foot gaff-rigged sloop. He used to lure me aboard every weekend with what I thought was a fine lunch. It consisted mainly of egg-and-onion brown bread sandwiches. Same thing every week, made by his housekeeper.

We used to take the sloop out to sea, where she romped along beautifully when the wind was free, but when it came to beating, she had one very irritating habit.  She used to hobbyhorse.

Those of you who have experienced hobbyhorsing will know just how it drives you mad. The boat just seems to rear and plunge in the same spot in the sea.  No sooner does she start to move forward than another wave comes along and stops her dead in her tracks again.  All she’s doing is flinging her head up and down and going nowhere.

I didn’t know it then, and neither did my mentor, apparently, but in the absence of any major design fault, hobbyhorsing is caused by too much weight in the bows and stern, but particularly in the bows, where heavy ground tackle often accumulates. Weight aloft also contributes to the moment of inertia, which is the prime cause of hobbyhorsing.

When you lighten the ends of the boat by moving heavy weighrts more toward the center, and you remove excessive weight from the mast, the difference in performance—and comfort—is often remarkable. (And much appreciated by young crews who are beginning to wonder how much longer their egg-and-onion sandwiches are going to stay down.)

Today’s Thought
 To have a stomach and lack meat, to have meat and lack a stomach, to lie in bed and cannot rest, are great miseries.
— William Camden, Remains.

“Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.”
(12) “You don’t have to eat it, sir, it’s just for decoration.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

No comments: