Saturday, 19 October 2013

Sounds of the wind


Pronunciation: /ˈhaljəd/  noun a rope used for raising and lowering a sail, yard, or flag on a sailing ship. Origin:late Middle English halier, from hale2 + -ier. The change in the ending in the 18th century was due to association with yard1
Oxford English Dictionary.

When we were children my Gran would sometimes take me and my brother down to the beach near their bungalow. The beach was rocky and we would play happily for what felt like hours. On the way down the steep winding path we had to pass the sailing club, it was only small and the boats lived in a yard behind a high chicken wire fence at the top of the slipway, ready to be launched into the muddy waters of the Bristol channel. As we passed the boats they would always seem to play a symphony of jingling music, and as a child I believed that boats had bells on the top of their masts.

I understand now that a mast is hollow and the various ropes which hold things up or keep things down will strike the mast if they are too loose, this causes a noise which gets deeper the bigger the rope or mast is. If a rope is being blown in the wind it will set up a rhythmic tune, if several ropes are being blown marinas can become quite noisy. When it is on your boat you know that not only is something not tight enough but also that that rope is being damaged by being hit repeatedly against the mast and at night time the noise becomes annoying enough for you to leave your bed and investigate (or in my case usually kick the skipper out of bed so that he can investigate!).

As the winds outside reach near gale force and are expected to get stronger as the week goes on we’ll be checking and fiddling with all our ropes and probably listening to the sound of other boats playing along in the orchestra of halyards in the marina.


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