Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Strings to pull

Yes, the Etchells is a special boat

This picture shows how the Etchells can be both simple and complicated at the same time. Above the deck, the boat is very clean. There is very little to trip over, very little to get bruised on, very little to get tangled up. In the terms used by mathematicians, the Etchells is very elegant: it has power in simplicity.

On the other hand, the Etchells also has a whole lot of controls that most boats, even most racing boats, don’t have. Very few other classes of boats allow racers to change the setting of the shrouds during racing, and almost none permit adjustments of the mast at either the partners (the joint at the deck) or the butt (where the bottom end of the mast rests) during a race. But Etchells sailors are permitted such adjustments. And then there’s the legendary fraculator – it’s the line that Etchells sailors point to when they really want to emphasize that this boat is different from all others. Yeah, some other boats have fraculators, but not many.

Here is a quick quiz: How many lines can you identify? If you can name at least half of them, then you probably already sail an Etchells, but if you don’t, you should get in contact with the nearest Etchells fleet, because some skipper there probably needs your talent. To make the task easier, I will list the lines, so all you have to do is match the names with the lines in the photo.

Aft mast block

Bilge pump

Boom vang

Forward dock lines

Forward mast block


Jib halyard

Jib luff


Mast aft

Mast forward


Port jib fine tune

Port jib sheet

Port spinnaker sheet

Port spinnaker twing

Port lower shroud

Port upper shroud

Port shroud keeper

Spinnaker halyard

Spinnaker pole keeper

Starboard jib fine tune

Starboard jib sheet

Starboard spinnaker sheet

Now, of course, there are some lines that don’t show up in this picture, such as the mainsheet fine tune, the starboard spinnaker twing, the starboard upper shroud, lower shroud, and keeper, the spinnaker pole topping lift, the foreguy, the backstay, the traveler, and the aft dock lines.

Yeah, when you sail an Etchells, there are a lot of strings to pull. Learning all of those strings is, for me, part of the beauty of the boat. It’s not a boat for sissies, and it’s also not a boat for intellectual lightweights. It’s a boat for people who think, and who have brains to process a whole lot of information very quickly and then translate that information into action. I’m only just learning, but I love all of what I have learned from Black Magic, and I plan to learn more.


Blogger EVK4 said...

there's a bilge pump line? Or is that a joke? I don't believe Etchells even have outboards, does it have a battery to power a bilge pump? Come on, there's two of you on that boat, give one of them a big gulp cup and send him/her below.

Wed Sep 27, 04:03:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

It's a manual bilge pump -- the line connects to the lever on the pump, and there's a bungee cord connected to the forward bulkhead on the other side of the lever, so repeatedly pulling on that line operates the pump.

Wed Sep 27, 07:22:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Gerald said...

Actualy, starboard jib fine tune is visible twice!

Thu Sep 28, 04:05:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Pat said...

Yep, the starboard jib fine tune is port and starboard, depending upon which one you're talking about, since there's the regular starboard jib fine tune to starboard and then the outer starboard jib fine tune to port. One of the chores of forward crew is to ensure that the fine tunes are uncleated when tacking. Glad to clear that up for people.

Fri Sep 29, 10:53:00 AM MDT  
Anonymous AdriftAtSea said...

Of course, the underside of the deck looks like an explosion in a spaghetti factory. :D Best description I've seen of an Etchells is "It is a 30' racing dinghy." Pretty much says it all.

Sat Sep 30, 11:52:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

We had the boat out today (Sunday) with a prospective crew member whose primary experience is in Lasers -- he seemed to feel right at home.

Stay tuned for details.

Mon Oct 02, 12:14:00 AM MDT  
Blogger JP said...

Tweak lines and tuners have come across but fraculator???

Sounds like Count Dracula's had an accident with a fraction.

Wed Sep 23, 01:35:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Cliff Clavin said...

Etchells Class Rule 7.6

Movement of the mast is permitted only in a fore and aft direction. The design of the plug at the heel of the mast and the shoe attached thereto is optional provided that the combined assembly of plug and shoe is attached to the mast step. Fore and aft movement while racing is prohibited.

Sat Mar 05, 01:29:00 PM MST  

Post a Comment

<< Home