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قراءة كتاب Troubled Waters Sandy Steele Adventures #6

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Troubled Waters
Sandy Steele Adventures #6

Troubled Waters Sandy Steele Adventures #6

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 7

direction, toward the wind. When we hoist the sail, it’ll act just like a flag, and flap around until we’re ready to use it. Then we’ll make it do what we want it to by using the jib and controlling its position with the sheets. Look.”

Jerry hauled on the main halyard, and the sail slid up its tracks on the mast, squeaking and grating. As it reached the masthead, it fluttered and bellied loosely in the wind, doing nothing to make the boat move in any direction. Motioning to Sandy to take his place tugging at the halyard, Jerry jumped down into the cockpit.

The halyard ran from the pointed head of the sail up through a pulley at the top of the mast, then down to where Sandy was hauling on it. Below his hands, it passed through another pulley near Sandy’s feet, then back along the cabin roof. Jerry, from his position in the cockpit, grabbed the end of the halyard and hauled tight, taking the strain from Sandy. Then he tied it down to a wing-shaped cleat on the cabin roof near the cockpit.

This was done with a few expert flips of the wrist. The mainsail was up, and tightly secured.

“There,” Jerry said. “Now we’re almost ready. We won’t move at all until we get the jib up, and even then we won’t move unless we want to. When we want to, we’ll untie from the mooring and get away as neat as you please.”

They then took the jib out of its sail bag and made ready to hoist it. Instead of securing to the mast with slides on a track the way the mainsail had, the jib had a series of snaps stitched to its forward edge. These were snapped around the steel wire forestay, a part of the standing rigging that ran from the bow of the boat to a position high up on the mast. The jib halyard was fastened to the head of the jib, the snaps were put in place, and a few seconds of work saw the jib hanging in place, flapping before the mast. Then Jerry asked Sandy to pick up the mooring that they had tied to, and to walk aft with it.

“When you walk aft with the mooring,” Jerry explained, “you actually put some forward motion on the boat. Then, when you get aft and I tell you to throw the mooring over, you put the bow a little off the wind by doing it.”

Sandy untied the bow line from the mooring, and walked to the stern of the boat, holding the mooring float as he had been told. Then, when Jerry said “Now!” he threw the mooring over with a splash.

“With the jib flying and the boat free from the mooring and no longer pointing directly into the wind,” Jerry said, “the wind will catch the jib and blow our bow even further off. At the same time, I’ll steer to the side instead of straight ahead. As soon as our bow is pointing enough away from the wind, the breeze will strike our sails from one side, and they’ll start to fill. When the sails have caught the wind right, I’ll ease off on the rudder, and we’ll be moving ahead.”

By this time, the morning haze had “burned off” and the light breeze had freshened into a crisp, steady wind. As the head of the little sloop “fell away” from the direction from which the wind was coming, the sails swelled, the boat leaned slightly to one side, and a ripple of waves splashed alongside the hull. Sandy looked back and saw that the bow of the dinghy, trailing behind them, was beginning to cut a small white wave through the water.

“We’re under way!” Jerry cried. “Come on over here, skipper! You take the tiller and learn how to steer your boat while I handle the sails and show you what to do!”

Sandy slid over on the stern seat to take Jerry’s place, and held the tiller in the position he had been shown, while Jerry explained how to trim the sails and how to go where you wanted to go instead of where the wind wanted to take you.

“I’ll take care of the sail trimming,” Jerry said. “All you have to do is keep the boat heading on the course she’s sailing now. The wind is pretty much at our backs and off to the starboard side. You have to keep it that way, and especially keep the stern from swinging around to face the wind directly. It’s not hard to do. Just pick a landmark and steer toward it.”

He looked ahead to where a point of land jutted out some miles off the mainland. A lighthouse tower made an exclamation mark against the sky.

“Just steer a little to the right of that,” he said, “and we can’t go wrong.”

“What if the wind shifts?” Sandy asked. “How can we tell?”

Jerry pointed to the masthead, where a small triangular metal flag swung. “Just keep an eye on that,” he said. “It’s called a hawk, and it’s a sailor’s weathervane.”

“With one eye on the lighthouse and one eye on the masthead,” Sandy laughed, “I’m going to look awfully silly!”

He leaned back in the stern seat with the tiller tucked under his arm. The little sloop headed steadily for the lighthouse, steering easily. Every few seconds, Sandy glanced at the hawk to check the wind. He grinned and relaxed. He was steering his own boat! The sail towered tall and white against the blue sky above him and the water gurgled alongside and in the wake behind where the dinghy bobbed along like a faithful puppy.

“This is the life!” he sighed.

Jerry pointed out a handsome, white-hulled, two-masted boat approaching them. “Isn’t that a beauty?” he said. “It’s a ketch. On a ketch, the mainmast is taller than the mizzen. That’s how you tell the difference.”

“How do you tell the difference between the mainmast and the mizzen?” Sandy asked. “You’re going to have to start with the simplest stuff with me.”

“The mainmast is always the one in front, and the mizzen is always the one aft,” Jerry explained. “A ketch has a taller main; a schooner has a taller mizzen; a yawl is the same as a ketch, except that the mizzen is set aft of the tiller. Got it?”

Sandy shook his head and wondered if he would ever get all of this straight in his head. It was enough trying to learn the names of things on his own boat without worrying about the names of everything on other boats in the bay.

As the ketch sailed by, the man at her tiller waved a friendly greeting. The boys waved back and Sandy watched the big ketch go smoothly past, wondering how much harder it might be to sail a two-masted boat of that size than it was to sail a relatively small sloop such as his own. Certainly it could not be as simple as the sloop, he thought. Why this little sailboat was a whole lot easier than it had seemed to be at first. As a matter of fact....

“Duck your head!” Jerry yelled.

Not even stopping to think, Sandy dropped his head just in time to avoid being hit by the boom, which whizzed past barely a few inches above him! With a sharp crack of ropes and canvas, the sail filled with wind on the opposite side of the boat from where it had been a moment before, and the sloop heeled violently in the same direction. Jerry grabbed at the tiller, hauled in rapidly on the mainsheet, and set a new course. Then, calming down, he explained to Sandy what had happened.

“We jibed,” he said. “That means that you let the wind get directly behind us and then on the wrong side of us. The mainsail got the wind on the back of it, and the wind took it around to the other side of the boat. Because the sheets were let out all the way, there was nothing to restrain the sail from moving, and by the time it got over, it was going at a pretty fast clip. You saw the results!”

Jerry adjusted the mainsail to a better position relative to the wind, trimming it carefully to keep it from bagging, then he went on to explain. “A jibe can only happen when you’ve

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