Head Floats - A cheap aid to training? by Ian
I used a mast top float for the first six months of
sailing a skiff. I moved into the skiff from an RS400
having trapezed about 6 times before buying the boat.
I had visited menorca sailing before and seen the floats
that they used and felt that this may be a good idea
to save myself and the boat from too much damage.
I made myself a much smaller float than that used by
the sailing schools. I used the smallest buoyancy bag
I could find and made a webbing strap handle to attach
it to the main halyard shackle. This was still a bit
bigger than necessary but worked well.
The biggest draw back that the float seemed to offer
was that of giving the local sailors something to point
at between my capsizes. I would imagine that the float
could cause some problems if used in windy weather but
as a beginner this was not a problem as if the wind
got up I would generally think better of worrying the
rescue crews and either find a laser to sail or someone
to crew for.
It seemed to me to offer numerous benefits to someone
new to such a demanding class. Particularly someone
who was also new to trapezing and I am sure it helped
me master the boat quicker than would have been possible
main benefits I found were.
If you need a rest you can sit on the
upturned boat without any worries of inverting etc and
then when you are ready to start sailing again you can
right the boat and sail away. You should not need to
try to gain composure whilst trying to stay upright.
If you capsize there is no worries about
the boat inverting which is especially good when the
kite is still up as it allows you to pull it down from
inside the hull before righting the boat.
Righting the boat is made easier as it
will not invert.
You can also stand on the mast near the base and climb
over the hull onto the centre board. This is much easier
than hauling yourself onto the centreboard out of the
water and avoids any danger of damaging the hull with
your trapeeze harness.
All of this means that a capsize is less of a problem
and less tireing which allows you to stay on the water
longer and hence learn quicker.
The final advantage that I had was that where I sail
is quite shallow and there was never a concern that
I might brake the mast on the bottom.
There is also an obvious safety benefit in that if the
boat will not invert then you cannot get trapped underneath
Happy sailing and I can guarantee that it is definitely
worth sticking it out through the tough days as the
grin factor once you have mastered the boat is huge.
It's not all positive with a mast head float ... if
you get separated from the boat then the boat inverting
will mean it doesn't blow/drift away from you as fast
making it easier for you to swim back to the boat. As
with all these things you need to assess the wind, water,
rescue cover etc etc when going afloat. Safety first
of course ...
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