It is with enormous sadness that I must announce the end of my efforts here, at least for the time being.
I am at a loss to explain myself. I find that I am no nearer to having a seaworthy vessel now than I was several months ago, despite endless hours of work and thought. This has long puzzled me – how I can put in so much time with so little real progress…I have now ground completely to a halt after the latest disatrous test, and after sixteen months here I feel I will lose my mind if I continue the struggle. At the very least, I require a long break from this place; accordingly a friend will store the boat whilst I return to the States, how I will feel about coming back here is anyone’s guess.
I took the boat out again a few days ago. It went fast but was a pain to shunt, and the new steering system, the sixth or seventh I have made, was clearly not working out, being heavy and throwing up a lot of spray. The dog would not be left on the beach but once aboard whined constantly…I’d had hopes that he would acclimatize but now I do not think so, he hates it more than ever.
I was dismasted three or four times, I think that this happens not just from backwinding but because the rigging stretches so much when wet, but also dries out at times so there is no way I can keep it tuned. Each dismasting resulted in new holes in my 40-hour sail, and the whole rig would become stuck beneath the boat, the wind pushing the boat against it making such pressure that it was impossible to get it back aboard. I had to swim around and below the boat untying the sail, the drag all the various pieces aboard one by one. The dog would leap overboard too whenever I did, and had to be rescued every time. All this, which was quite exhausting, with 3 or 4 foot waves and swell pounding at me all the time. One time it happened and I drifted over a mile before even managing to get everything back on board, let alone sorted out and re-rigged. Had this occurred off a reef or rocky shore it would have been the end of me.
The backwinding is a serious problem. Take your hand off the tiller or space out for a moment and you find yourself with the wind on the wrong side of the sail and in danger of capsizing by the outrigger being pushed into the sea. It happens too often for comfort.
One time the steering jammed and the tiller snapped off in my hand. We veered downwind and were back-winded, all the rigging plunged into the sea. I spent a long time in the water, but could not get the sail out. I felt an overwhelming sense of dismay and disappointment. Eventually we washed up on the beach, where I sorted everything out and relaunched, only to be capsized almost immediately, completely turned turtle. This was worse. I could not right her. Even in water no deeper than my knees I had to take the deck off before I could turn her back over. This final indignity really shredded the sail.
The boat is too heavy, something I have fretted over endlessly. She sits too low because she does not displace enough water. The rigging is too complex and unreliable. The outrigger seems to be vulnerable to unwanted separation and possible catastrophic damage. I can’t right from a capsize single handed. The steering is such a headache it makes me nauseous to think about it. I feel I can solve most of these problems, but it will take more time and energy than I now I have left, hence, sick with disappointment I shall leave in a few days. I wish that I had not chosen to build such a strange boat, or that I had spent the last sixteen months and all this money working on my house, for then I might have something to show for my efforts. I’m not too happy about disappointing all the folks expecting to make some sort of journey. I’m not too happy at all.
I do have the dog at least, and he will be coming with me.
So, my apologies everyone. Thanks for reading. Chris.