Friday, June 09, 2006

Blowin' in the Wind

Dear Tillerman,
What is the best kind of wind direction indicator to fit to your boat? A standard burgee or one of the fancy pointy things?

Dear Tim,
In the immortal words of well-known Minnesota sailor Robert Zimmerman, former owner of the Bequia schooner Water Pearl, "You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows."

And after you've been sailing for a while you really won't need a wind indicator, pointy or otherwise, to know which way the wind blows - at least in medium and heavy wind.

But light airs are a different story. When it's one of those hazy, lazy, patchy-wind days of summer and in some places there is a knot or two and in other places there isn't a breath ... Well, then you do need a very sensitive wind indicator to be able to detect the slightest zephyrs so you can trim your sails accordingly.

I favor using cassette tape, one indicator at the top of the mast, and one in front of the mast of my Laser at eye level. I use the lower one most of the time but if that one is hanging straight down I look at the mast-head fly and sometimes it gives me a clue of where the new wind may be coming from.

But here's the real secret. You have to use the right cassette tape.

I tried using a recording of the aforementioned Mr Zimmerman's Idiot Wind. Bad idea. "Idiot wind, blowing like a circle around my skull." Enough said. I also tried using some tape of his Blowin' in the Wind but judging by the results I must have accidentally used a section of Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall. Easy mistake to make.

Lately I have been having success with tape from Eric Clapton's Unplugged album. The tape is always on top of my sailing toolbox in case I need another piece.

At first I used a piece of Rollin' and Tumblin' but it made the boat very unstable - hate those death rolls. And the time I tried Before You Accuse Me I ended up in the protest room. And using Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out was a total disaster. All too prophetic, I fear. DFL.

But if you can stay away from those three tracks you will get good results, I promise.

If you can't lay your hands on any of the special light airs go-faster Clapton Unplugged wind-indicator tape, I can supply it at a special reduced rate of $5 per foot. Just send your bank account details to my email address and I will arrange the transfer.



Anonymous said...

Patsy Cline. It's all about the Patsy Cline.

Litoralis said...

In college I found that the best light air wind indicators were made from VCR tapes of old Olympic class promotional videos. The best bits to use were the sections with Flying Dutchman footage.

As far as cassette tapes go, the best I found was a was an old broken Gordon Lightfoot tape - Gords Gold II...the trick is to use sections from Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald before the actual sinking...that is the bit with
"The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too
Twas the witch of November come stealing
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the Gales of November came slashing"

Fuff said...

Poor Eric. Can you give me the heads up on The B52's please?
We rely on tell tales but in shifty,light airs it's frustrating to say the least.

EVK4 said...


I'd go Deep Purple...Smoke on the Water. With the added benefit that you can watch the wisps.

Zen said...

I would have thought the natural would be Bob Dylan's "blowing in the wind" tape

"the answer my friend
is blowing in the wind
the answer is blowing
in the wind"

It says it all right there!
what is wrong with you guys?

Pat said...

Billy Get Your Guns has
"There's Trouble Blowing Like a Hurricane"

Would that be enough wind for a Laser?

Tillerman said...

Bring it on!

Anonymous said...

What? You can't find an 8 track to use?


Ant said...

I favour using a microscopic sliver of CD covering from a Jack Johnson Album - it glistens in the sun real nice, preferably his early stuff before every-bugger started to like him...

Shopping City Chaplaincy said...

Thank you Tillerman.

I did wonder if you might take the bait and you did it nicely! I began to wonder if you were taking it a bit seriously (as most widups do) but the nice turn at the end was lovely.

For the record ("no it doesn't work with vynal" I hear you cry)...
For the record I don't use a burgee except if happen to be sailing on a pond.

It's all about the wind in your face. (No its not recoding by any artist I know)

Anonymous said...

LOL. Hello Tillerman your post is, as always, amusing to read. :) it'd be nice to have a "There's Trouble Blowing Like a Hurricane" or a "blowing in the wind" as a wind indicator, but jokes aside, my take on it is: Make your own burgee! The experience is all that counts and at any rate it may turn out much better than professional burgees! I made mine by cutting a triangle out of those plastic casing that comes with mp3 players or loudspeakers. And thick wire. It works wonderfully :)

And, an interesting fact: traditionally when there's no wind sailors stick knives into their masts and chant some funny things. You could always try that in light winds ;) oh and I read somewhere about peeing into the wind. But I forgot what exactly it's about. you could try it too ;)

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