I have been fortunate enough to have done some, well, a lot of sailing around the shores of England and Scotland. Naja refers to those adventures. The yacht ‘Naja’ was a bilge keeler [it had two keels] and is fast in its class if raced well. Many yacht clubs run a handicap system which makes a bilge keeler very competetive, but also very safe, as it almost impossible to capsize a bilge keeler. This can put massive stress on the mast, and a good skipper knows this and will either reef [reduce sail area] or go windward [head into the wind] to release the stress on the mast. In severe weather, if you sail too close to the wind, you are in danger of capsizing or doing damage to the mast. Many weekend sailors will drop all sails and motor back to port rather than risk damage to their yacht. Its a wise move sometimes, believe me.
I know there are a few nautical terms used here, which might leave some of you scratching your heads, if you want to know any meanings, leave a comment and I shall endeavour to explain.
This is a bilge keeled yacht, very similar to what we raced on every weekend. Its a Cobra 32 [hence the name Naja, French for snake]
The wind blew so’west along the beam,
The sun on ocean blue did gleam,
Main sail set, boom and horse secured,
Halyard taut, with speed assured.
Outward bound with spinnaker a’hoist,
Skipper at helm, instructions voiced,
Shifting windward, knocked off course,
Captain counters with tour de force.
Rounding buoy we come about,
Ahoy! Ahoy! the warning shouts,
Taking lee we rejoin the race,
Chasing down as we gather pace.
Tell tails flying, sails trimmed well,
We sprint forward across sea’s swell,
Gaining water, upon the hind,
We stand accused of stealing wind.
Gale force eight veering north-north west,
Reef all sails, quell the mast distress,
Storm approaching, we shall cry craven,
Off to harbour to find safe haven.
I hope you get the sense of speed and danger in this effort. Sailing is great fun, with some great sensations, but if you are foolhardy, it can be murder, literally.