Well since you ask, No, I have not read the book nor seen the film but one of the crew appears to have done and the first thing that came into his one track mind was ropes. Seeing we have rather a lot of the stuff on board of many varying colours, thickness's and uses the topic of our next (B)log (B-movie?)has begun to form in our minds. At this point in time, will all those readers under the age of 18 please now delete this email as we have no idea where this is going to go and we cannot be held responsible for any ideas we might put into your fertile little minds. This may not be a topic for the dinner table either. On the other hand for those of you over the age of eighteen and have read the book or seen the film, if we miss anything please send your comment or ideas on a postcard to: Sir Shaggy Beard, On the Left of the Harbour as you leave Pompey, Sowf Coast, Blighty.
It will surely find him and after sailing with us lot for a couple of weeks may restore his fine sense of humour (please note the letter "U" in the words Humour and Harbour!) DO NOT Reply to this emails as we all know what happens when comments go viral don't we!! Postcards on the other hand just make the Postman smile and give us a nice picture to pin up in the Little Room for our friends to chuckle at!
So, where shall we start? One rope that immediately comes to mind is the little bit of string called a Sheet that is sometime hooked on to the Spanker. Please NO wandering from the topic here. We are talking about ropes not sails. So you know the Spanker is a very useful if not very often used sail that all sailors over a certain age will remember and works a treat when things get a little frisky out there. So now back to the Sheet. Without sheets Grey Power would just not work. First just imagine going to bed without any sheets! I think you are probably beginning to see where this is going but if not I suggest you turn off now and go back to the day job, whatever that might be.
The next bit of sting that comes to mind is the painter. Often found on lesser vessels than GP and usually used to secure your dinghy to the dock when you go ashore to the local Pub. Painters have been known to use all sorts of mediums to express their art. Chocolate, honey and strawberries amongst them. The canvas for the art is your own choice and will give you hours of endless fun. Get painting!
Whipping! Now as every sailor knows each bit of rope needs to be whipped at the end otherwise things come unravelled fast. So think rope, think whipping. You can practice this sitting at your desk in the office. It helps you concentrate and is a bit like running worry beads through your hand (a practice all Greeks will be well used to just now as their savings dry up). There are many kinds of whipping. Some soft and some hard dependent on the type of rope but each one must be firm and applied in the correct way. Splicing is a bit similar but can leave you tied in knots and wondering which hole to go down next. Not only that but you will probably need a Fid too if you are going to do any splicing! A topic for another day perhaps, when, or if life returns to normal.
Now there are Sheets and there are Guys. The difference is obvious to all of those who are married (past and present tense can be used but has a slightly different connotation dependent on the financial effect it has or had upon your bank balance)The Sheet is used to control the Guy. Was it not ever thus? So the Guy is but the reason for the sheet as well as being the piece of rope that moves the Pole. Up, down back and forth. Quite an influential piece of rope really! No boat should be without is Guys. The Kicker. Now there's an interesting bit of kit! It stops the boom from flying around and going rampant when the wind blows and really if you think about it is a prevention to kicking and should be used most if not all the time when things get lively.
On the topic of the Boom, every one of them needs a main sheet. To those non sailors out there reading this gibberish the boom is long, hard and moves around a lot when the wind blows. The reason for its name is simple. When it hits you on the back of the head it makes a BOOM noise that you never forget. Gorrit? So a Main Sheet along with the Kicker keeps the darn thing under control. Well sometimes!
Sails are the horsepower of Grey Power and all sailing ships. They all are triangular in shape unless your boat is very old when they used to give you four corners and not three with every sail. So for every sail you now only need three bits of string. One to haul the sail up. That'll be the Halyard or for square sails with a log along the top (yard) a Haul Yard. So a sheet attached to the Clew that tries desperately to keep the ruddything under control, of which we have spoken, and then a Tack Line to hold the bottom corner down to the deck.
Let me deal with the Halyard first. Imagine finding yourself on your first date with the man or woman of your dreams. Apart from the mundane task of working out who is going to pay for the delicious dinner that you have already forgotten about, the next thing on your mind is how to raise the sails. This is what the Halyard does. Pull it and the glorious potential of the vessel of your dreams is revealed. Okay sails generally get hoisted up and clothes have a habit of succumbing to gravity and fall down but I'm sure you get my drift?
The other piece of rope you must have to control the sail is the Tack Line. Without it all Hell breaks loose and before you know what is going on you have bought the ruddy boat. Look on it as a sort of Condom or insurance policy against things getting completely out of control. Sometimes know affectionately as the Down F***er.
Last but by no means least is the Reefing Line. This is used to bring the mainsail under control when the wind picks up and the boat is about to fall over sideways from too much pressure. The best analogy I can think of is getting a mortgage on the house with your partner. Serious stuff this! It ties you in, shows commitment to the cause and can only be released when things get better. Only to used when working together with the rest of the team. Anchor Warp. Serious stuff this one! A last resort when things get desperate and the rocks beckon. Marriage guidance springs to mind here. So having done some of the many ropes on the boat the first chapter of Shades of Grey Power is done. For those of you who know of all the other bits of string you need on a boat and their myriad of uses, as I said earlier, answers on a Postcards please. We won't publish them while you are alive. Well not with your name on the bottom perhaps.
In the meantime, the last 24 hours have been frustrating. The obstacle in our path was a ribbon of light ad variable winds with enough rain to turn the Sahara into tropical forest. We could either divert north which lead us nowhere or just try and work through this zone. We chose the latter and had a frustrating time. However, as this goes to the send department, we are through the area and flying along very comfortably with a clear sunny sky and the finish line at the Lizard some 730 miles away.
Signed:- The rest of the crew