August 16, 2013

They're not all perfect

THERE IS SOMETHING in common between a woman who knowingly marries an imperfect man and a sailor who knowingly buys a boat with bad weather helm. Both are under the impression that they can change things for the better. Both are likely to be disappointed.

Owners of yachts suffering from weather helm are a tight-lipped lot when it comes to discussing their boat’s fault, though they’ll participate quite happily in any critical review of someone else’s problem.

Weather helm is the amount of rudder needed to counter the boat’s tendency to round up into the wind. Anything greater than 4 degrees slows down your progress and generally makes for heavy, unpleasant work at the tiller.

There are many causes of weather helm, most of them interrelated, and there are several things you can do to lessen it, including adding a bowsprit or moving the mast forward, but most skippers resign themselves to suffering in silence.

It’s almost impossible to know at the design stage whether a hull will suffer from excessive weather helm, so those sweet boats that lack it are usually the result of pure luck on the naval architect’s part. There is almost nothing in this world that is perfect. Why should we expect our boats to be perfect?

Incidentally, a boat with bad weather helm should be reefed early and sailed as flat as possible.

Today’s Thought
So who’s perfect? . . . Washington had false teeth. Franklin was nearsighted. Mussolini had syphilis. Unpleasant things have been said about Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde. Tchaikovsky had his problems, too. And Lincoln was constipated.
— John O’Hara

Confucius say it is better to have loved and lost than to do homework for six kids.

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


Edward said...

", so those sweet boats that lack it are usually the result of pure luck on the naval architect’s part."
Pure Luck sounds a bit harsh.

Reminds me of the golfer who when asked how he was so lucky stated " the more I practice the luckier I get".

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, women with imperfect husbands don’t seem to be at all reticent about discussing their problems in public. And sailing husbands do tend to start out pretty imperfect to begin with....