Trip on Lady Emma starting 2012-09-18 in BSAOct12

A Day Out with Tom Cunliffe Tuesday September 18th – report by Becky Goddard

Boat - Lady Emma (Barberis 42) Richard Romaine Skipper and 5 Crew

For those who don’t read the sailing press Tom Cunliffe is a lifetime professional sailor, a Yachtmaster Instructor and sailing journalist who will come out with you on your boat for the day and give hints and tips for you to get the most out of your boat. I am one of the crew who sail with one of the 7/8 owners who regularly sail on Lady Emma.

We had the kettle boiling when Tom joined us at Ocean QuayMap, Southampton and he started the ball rolling by asking what we were looking for in the way of help. The skipper wanted help with sail setting (Lady Emma has well used sails – a bit baggy!) Another member of the crew wanted guidance with prop walk and we all wanted to get to know more about Toms’ career in the boating world. All the foresails are hank-on on Lady Emma so the skipper asked me to specify the sail rig and take the boat off the mooring. We had a lovely bright day with about 18/20 knots of NW wind and no wind indicator or direction indicator. This focused the mind tremendously on real sailing! I was a bit trepidatious about the whole manoeuvre under the eyes of Tom and the rest of the crew (none of whom I had sailed with before!) but I took the boat off the pontoon with no mishaps and we motored down the Itchen river before getting the mainsail up with one reef. Tom asked questions about where we normally hoist the sails and why (So’ton water is very busy) and which side of the main channel we would use. This was where Tom really started work – he looked at the shape of the sail and spent some time adjusting the leech and the flatness of the foot. He tied a Cunningham at the base of the sail to keep it taut on the mast and he looked at the main track (so we could control gybes) as we would be sailing downwind for the early part of the day. Next came the No 3/4 foresail which is shackled to a strop on the foredeck before it joins the forestay. He suggested that we put a shackle from the toe of the sail to the forestay which tightened up the luff and gave a better sail shape. All this time we were sailing gently down Southampton Water – one of the crew wanted to practice gybing so he took the helm and we did a series of controlled gybes so both crew and helmsman were fully occupied for the next hour or so! Hunger got to us so we started trying to heave to (not an easy manoeuvre with Lady Emma!) so we could eat the packed lunches we had brought. Tom was a great raconteur and was happy to answer all sorts of questions about his experiences and his new boat which is being fitted out now.

After we had eaten we headed back up Southampton Water tacking all the way – the boat was definitely faster and more responsive with the new sail trim and we had an exhilarating sail back up to the Itchen. As we were taking the sails down in the river Tom showed us another way of flaking the main and foresail – rolling rather than flaking – but he is very tall and has no trouble reaching the piles of sail as they descend and making a Swiss roll of them! Another crew member put the boat back on the mooring about 16.00 and we needed another cup of tea before heading home! We asked Tom to sign the boom with an indelible pen for posterity!

It was a great day out and I know I came away with lots of new ideas which are relevant to many of the boats I sail on. It was also great to sail with a very nice man – thank you Tom Cunliffe!

Ocean Quay  50.895,-1.3909