Slow, but nice
Statsraad Lehmkuhl is sailing up agains the wind, and have to zigzag forward. – Nice, smiles bosun Jo Leif Strønen.
With the wind blowing little aft across, at an angle from behind, both sailboats and sailing ships are fastest. The wind fills all sails, and the course can be set straight towards the next port.
But the wind can be quarrelsome. The last few days, Statsraad Lehmkuhl has been sailing up agains the wind, and have to zig-zag forward. For each zig and each zag, the sails are shifted over to the other side, in sync with the ship turning. This is called tacking.
- We turn the ship straight into the wind, and then out again, Strønen explains.
In a modern sailboat tacking is done in seconds. This is not the case with a sailing ship.
- It is one of the more complicated maneuvers you can do with a sailing ship. Many tasks must be performed simultaneously. All the sails are moved, some are taken down, and some must be slackened. We handle almost all the ropes we have on board, says Strønen.
- If the wind is good, a tack takes two to five minutes. In very light wind, it can take a quarter of an hour to twenty minutes before we sail on a new tack.
Only muscle power is used, and everything must be done in the right order, completely coordinated. That's how the shanty songs were made, they make it easier to "keep pace" when ten sailors are pulling the same rope.
- So yesterday it took a little longer than we had expected. The wind was nice in the morning, but when we were ready to turn, it calmed down a bit. So the waves pushed us back when we tried to sneak through the wind, Strønen says.
Several tricks are used when the ropes are tightened, only hauling at the end of the rope will not do. No knots are tied. The ropes are secured by crossing them over belaying pins, the wooden bolts on the side of the ship. Then the ropes are quick to loosen again.
You can watch the tack Strønen talks about in the video below.
It takes time to zig-zag along, but that does not bother Strønen.
- We have good margins, so in head-wind we tack, and if the wind settles completely, then we simply lay waiting. I'm very happy about having plenty of time, it lets us use the sails all the time.