Professional Sailing Tips And Tricks by Olympic Sailor Ian Walker

Sailboats in Lefkas harbour

From how to lower the mainsail to how to anchor, Ian Walker gives his best tips and tricks for sailing from Lefkas in the final part of his blog series. Did you miss Part One and Part Two? Inside you’ll learn more about Ian’s sailing itinerary and the best places to anchor.

I would not profess to be a cruising expert as I still have a tendency to always want to go faster than anyone else and get to places quickly but here are my sailing tips and advice for enjoying your week-long cruise in the Ionian on a Sunsail 444.

Sailing Tip 1 - How To Lower the Mainsail

So this morning we've made our way from Fiskardo on the northern edge of Kefalonia and we've been sailing between Kefalonia and Ithica and now we're on the southern tip of Ithaca. We found a beautiful place to go to lunch so we have to take the mainsail down. Very very simple. But a couple of tips first of all is to be prepared for it and about the most important thing is to prepare your halyard so it's ready to come down. So one thing you never do on a big boat is to open the clutch without having the load taken on the rope so always poke the rope on a winch I'm just going to give it a tiny tiny click attention; that means I can easily open the clutch and then nice and smoothly feed the rope down as the load comes off. As the load comes off, you can strip the turns but I'm going to leave one on until we get right near the bottom of the mainsail. So we've got about 40 to 50 meters of rope and so we're going to flake it and I'm going to flake it in a figure of eight laying the turns on top and that way I know that when the sail comes down that we won't have any twists we got couldn't be much.

Sailing Tip 2 - How To Head Up Downwind

Of course one of the temptations, when you're cruising, is just to point at your destination especially on a beautiful day like this in the Ionians heading downwind. But we're on the way to Palairos, and whilst we want to go dead downwind, if we do that you can see the jib’s just going to flap. It's not doing anything for us. So Johnny just brings up the bow a bit, please. We'll just turn up a little bit higher maybe 20 degrees or something. We got the wind now over the aft quarter, the jib’s drawing nicely the only downside is we'll have to put a little jive in in order to get to the restaurant for dinner.

Sailing Tip 3- How To Fix Jib Leech

Whether you’re racing or cruising, you still need to set up your sails well. I can’t forget the racing and always want to go the fastest we can go, so here we go. I can’t help but look up and see the top of the jib really isn’t doing anything. That’s because the lead is not right. So, Will will show you how to pull the sheet down. That’ll give us a bit more room. The other way of doing it is simply to move the car forward. I can’t help but want to make the boat go faster. What I’ve learned from racing is you’ve got to set the sails up well. We’re sailing downwind here in the beautiful Ionians and I’m looking up at the jib here and see the sail is just flapping away because we’ve got the sail set up wrong on the leads. We’ll try to pull the lead forward. By pulling the lead forward, no we’ve got our jib set upright. Before long we’ll get to our destination.

Ian’s Best Tips for Bareboat Sailing in Lefkas

  1. Ordering some provisions online before you leave home is a lovely luxury if you want to avoid a major shop on arrival. Don’t shop in the closest shops to the marina as they may well be priced to suit.
  2. Do some research on where you would like to visit before you arrive but then listen carefully to the Sunsail skippers briefing and take notes. Their skippers are the experts and they will likely know the best anchorages, where to get water or other essentials and importantly which are the best places to eat. If you have done some research, you can ask some better questions.
  3. Revise your itinerary in relation to the weather forecast but also think about getting out of sync with the larger flotilla groups if you want some peace.
  4. Encourage your crew to save water – you don’t want to be forced to alter your plans to have to get water, fuel or food.
  5. Don’t forget to take an original copy of your ICC or equivalent qualification as required by Greek law.
  6. Don't forget to research the area. Do some research on where you would like to visit before you arrive but then listen carefully to the Sunsail skippers briefing and take notes. Their skippers are the experts and they will likely know the best anchorages, where to get water or other essentials and importantly which are the best places to eat. If you have done some research, you can ask some better questions.
  7. The most important skill in the Ionian is anchoring ‘stern to mooring’ with a long line to the shore. In a busy harbor with a strong crosswind, you can become quite unpopular if you hook everyone else’s lines or end up falling on to your neighbor.
  8. Involve the kids as much as you can. A roster for washing up, cleaning or making breakfast, lunch or dinner perhaps? Passage planning, helming, trimming sails, navigating can all be shared.
  9. When it comes to handling the boat, it is best to keep the same people on the same jobs if you want them done well. Driving, raising or lowering the anchor, throwing lines, taking the long line ashore (top tip – make sure they take shoes and can tie a bowline!)
  10. If you are going to Fiskardo or Kioni (and you must go to both) get there early (1400) to get a good spot. Pour yourself a cool drink and watch the fun unfold when the wind builds and space runs out!
  11. SUPs are great for exploring the many sea caves.
Author Name: 
Ian Walker
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