(published April 2016)
Sun sparkled on the water on a perfect late fall day as I joined my friends getting a Hallberg-Rassy 43 ready in her slip and pulling the spinnaker on deck. We were soon clear of the marina and rolling out the in-mast furling mainsail and big orange and yellow spinnaker on its top-down furler. With the sails drawing, a good 10 to 15 knot northerly had us up and moving quickly and the boat gently leaned in and found her stride.
I’d never sailed this model of HR before and as she scooted along smoothly in the afternoon breeze near the Seattle waterfront, I couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be than in that moment.
After putting in a few jibes, we rolled the spinnaker up, unfurled its smaller, working counterpart and headed back upwind towards the marina. Tacking back and forth, we fiddled with fairlead and traveler positions and worked the boat into a groove so she was basically steering herself and only a slight touch was needed to keep her on course.
When we got close, we cracked off and reached past the breakwater at a leisurely pace, trying to eke out every last drop of a great day on the water. When the boat was tucked back into her slip, I poked around on deck, got a tour down below and relished in being on a boat that was far different from my own.
Of course, we all love sailing our own boats, but it’s also fun to get out on boats that aren’t ours with people we don’t normally sail with. It provides a new perspective, because every boat has its own setup, systems and quirks that are fun to learn about. And when sailing on other boats I often discover hints and tips to take back home with me. Sailing with new people also has its upside, too, as every sailor brings different experiences and depths of knowledge to the ride. Even the most experienced sailors can learn a thing or two from their counterparts.
I’d never used a top-down furler of this sort before and was taught the best ways for deploying and then furling the sail back up. Also, since my boat is an aft cockpit and this HR was a center cockpit, it provided a good look at the differences in steering, sail handling and maneuvering in close quarters. And being with someone who was well versed in everything Hallberg-Rassy-related, I was able to gain a lot of insight into the boat and its builder.
Whether it’s a day sail, charter, offshore delivery or race, sailing on different boats can also get you out of your comfort zone, which will only build your skills and knowledge. So the next time you get an invitation to go out sailing on a vessel other than your own, say yes. You’ll probably learn a thing or two, and if not, hey, at least you were out sailing.
Andrew, along with wife Jill and sons Porter and Magnus, are currently cruising the Pacific Northwest aboard their Grand Soleil 39 Yahtzee. Follow their adventures at threesheetsnw.com/yahtzee.