Launch number six occured on a beautiful day last week, gloriously sunny with a 10-15mph cool breeze from the east. I had the new polytarp Gibbons-Dierking sail and steering gear as mentioned last post.
I also wrapped two more layer of glass around the spar. It is heavy but you could tight-rope an elephant across it now.
Rocky jumped aboard with no encouragement from me. The only thing he hates more than sailing is being left behind on the beach.
Much better. I was soon hurtling along parallel with the beach. Steering was easy but only once I was in water deep enough to fully drop the rudders – in the surf this would have broken them, so I was out of control where I need control most. The rudders do have a halfwaydown position but did not perform well like this. More thinking required here.
Up and down the beach like a rocket. The batteries in the gps died early but I’d say I went over 20kmph frequently. I landed in front of Gringo Jack’s house and picked up his security guy Sobi, who seemed a bit bewildered on board (I learned later he was terrified, though an ex-marine). Muy rapido! he kept exclaiming as we charged along, sometimes with the deck a little submerged but showing no signs of digging the bow under and pitchpoling (somersaulting forwards). It was a great deal of fun, zipping along almost noiselessly, the boat rising on the swell then plunging down the other side. Very little spray. Big ocean swells are going to be truly thrilling. At one point the mast fell down due to a bad knot and I had to swim the boat to the beach to re-rig, later the sail fell off due to chafe. Towards the end of the day there was a horrible noise as one of the rudders snapped in half – something of a surprise because I’d really thought they were tough. I broke out one of the oars and lashed it on to the rudder support bracket with my trusty strips of inner tube; this enabled me to land to drop off Sobi, thence to relaunch and return to my part of the beach.
The inner tube strips are handy but do not last long in sun and seawater.
One of the images that has most sustained this dream is that of surfing through the waves Fantasy Island style to land on a sun-kissed beach. The surf is small here but it is still everything I imagined. Approaching the beach I may be doing ten or fifteen kmph and then the waves catch the stern and lift her up, so the boat surges forward with a thrilling burst of speed and I charge up to the sand like a runaway train. I am usually loudly singing the Hawaii-Five-O tune at this point. People on the beach gape then come over with their cameras and help pull me out of the water.
All in all, very encouraging. I feel a bit more positive about the boat, though it is still a loony and impractical craft and will never really be comfortable or safe. The true test will come in more severe waves…will the outrigger stay on or be torn away, will the rigging hold up or thrash itself to pieces?
This launch occured on my birthday and its success was the best present I could have had at this time.
For the past six days I’ve been piddling about doing little but waiting for inspiration as to how to build a steering system that works properly in shallow water as well as deep, retracts when I want it to but not when I don’t, can take a severe knock without damage, and can be fitted to the boat without compromising the hull. I find these design jobs tiring.