Quote of the Month

"Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 1954.

“We must change our attitudes toward the ocean. We must regard it as no longer a mystery, a menace, something so vast and invulnerable that we need not concern ourselves with it … Instead we want to explore the themes of the ocean’s existence—how it moves and breathes, how it experiences dramas and seasons, how it nourishes its hosts of living things, how it harmonizes the physical and biological rhythms of the whole earth, what hurts it and what feeds it—not least of all, what are its stories.” Jacques Yves Cousteau, 1910-1997.

"It's the glory of the sea that has turned my head." Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, 1894.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Viento en Popa

There are basically seven points of sail. Each one is determined by the direction of the wind with respect to the direction of the sailboat. Where is the wind hitting the boat and how do I adjust my sails best to catch the wind? Viento en popa is Spanish for, literally, wind on the poop. According to The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea, the word “poop” is from the Latin puppis or stern. Now, it is used to mean a raised deck in the aft (stern) part of the boat, where “the master normally had his cabin.” As a verb, “a ship is pooped, or pooping, when a heavy sea breaks over her stern.” Picture a tidal wave hitting your sailboat from behind. You are pooped!
In English, viento en popa is known as a run. You are running with the wind. You and the wind are going in the same direction. It is like that Irish well-wishing expression, “May the road rise beneath your feet and may the wind be always at your back.” That was true for ancient mariners who, with their square rigging, could only sail on a run. They had to have the current and the wind going in the same direction as the sailboat; basically they had one good point of sail.
Sails went from square, to lateen, to the Bermuda rig, and the latter happened right here in the Caribbean. The Oxford states, “The ultimate development of the fore-and-aft rig was the introduction of the Bermuda rig, first developed in the West Indies at the start of the 19th century and brought to Europe for use in sailing yachts in the years just preceding the First World War (1914-18). It is now the most widely used rig in all sailing yachts, and during the last twenty years has been significantly developed on aerodynamic principles to provide greater driving power with a smaller overall sail area.” How cool is that, right in our own backyard.
Polito, Marisol, Eva (me)
Silvia took all the above pictures.
Friends joined me in Andariego to celebrate the changing of the season. Spring is just around the corner and northerly swells blend with eastern trades. After a lovely day in Palomino, we returned to Isleta Marina on a run. A beautiful way to catch the wind on a run is by setting the sails wing-on-wing. The jib and the main are juxtaposed, and Andariego is an egret (garza) gliding, white wings fully spread, chest proud, mates joining in the eternal sound. The ancient mariner in the Spanish Main yet calls out: ¡Viento en popa!
Egret or White Heron (La Garza)