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@ 11:08 GMT
Position: 33º 10.227′ N x 64º 25.404′ W
Course: 159° true
Speed: 3.1 kts

Chart plotter

The last day and a half has involved a lot of problem solving. “Why am I so slow?” was the morning question. In yesterday’s blog post I discussed how we download wind prediction data and that with our properties of the boat we can calculate the best route to take. The properties of the boat are how fast she sails at different wind angles and wind speeds. These properties are entered into files called polars. In my chart plotter in the cockpit I have entered the polars so that as I sail the computer can tell me the target speed I should be sailing at with the wind speed and angle in real time. Right next to the target speed is actual boat speed. The goal is to achieve target speed, or better. This morning she felt slow and as I compared these numbers she was sailing at about 1.5kts when she should be at 3kts. What’s the problem?

My first inclination is to assume I haven’t trimmed the sails correctly. I re-trimmed time and time again, headsail, mainsail, backstay to no avail. I looked over the side and saw lots of Sargassum seaweed. Perhaps it had got caught under the boat on the keel or on the rudder? Out came the GoPro and with a selfie stick I took a video of the keel and rudder. Lots of seaweed on the keel.

How can I get it off? First I tried turning the boat in circles, then I backwinded the sails to stop the boat and hoped the seaweed would dislodge. I sailed again. No success. So I repeated. This time there was a significant improvement. Then I thought how about flossing the keel? I got one of my spare lines, dropped a loop over the bow, under the boat and held the two ends on the port and starboard side and pulled back and forth. Now she was back to her normal performance. 

During this time some boats have caught me which is really frustrating and I was a little down on my self. But I kept remembering what my Gran would tell me when I was a kid – I can and I will. 

At the beginning I wasn’t certain how to solve the problem – boat speed. In the end I just worked the problem until I found a solution. When Cepheus was back to normal speed I let a big cheer out and shouted “We are back!”

Gran, I can and I did! 
Sargassum seaweed floating on the the deep blue ocean

2 thoughts on “Problem Solving: Flossing the Keel

  1. Sargassum is becoming a big problem, it grows more and more, wevery year. Tourist industry is suffering, a lot, where I’m living, punta cana, the beaches get packed with it.

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