Total Pageviews

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Came across a bookmark for this blog on an old computer the other day and can't believe four years have flown by since this adventure. Nor can I believe 17 odd thousand folk have passed by or that  maybe 1 person viewed it 17 thousand times.

So, the old girl is resting down the lake, waiting for me to regain some enthusiasm to jack her up on foils or fit that 49er rig, but in truth I guess that's not going to happen, so if anyone reading this fancies giving her a home, please don't hesitate to contact me.

A lot of drama has unfolded in my life in the past four years involving semi retirement from business,   domestic downsizing and a different viewpoint in what is enjoyable about sailboat racing. One day in the hopefully not too distant future I am going to build another version of this experiment, but the key design parameters have now changed and it'll be aimed more at the nip and tuck tactical racing that I so enjoy and something that won't involve me having to wear knee pads or worrying about it constantly trying to tip me out, yet will be easy to recover should that happen.

This blog is also on a Google account I'd long forgotten about and facebook these days offers a fast easier communication vehicle of my adventures, never the less I'll just bung a couple of bits about what happened since this.

From memory I bought an EPS which introduced me to well balanced una rig handling, then recently finally found a couple of craft that actually suit my build. The first was a Solution that I don't have any pictures of in action and the 2nd is an ancient MiniSprint which are temporarily filling the sailing void, so that brings things up to date for the moment maybe now I've re discovered this I'll swing back with more news as it occurs. The way things appear at the moment is me moving backwards in time, but with all things in this infernal sitting down lark there brings with it the inevitable learning curve.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Without any fresh pictures, or other supporting stuff like GPS tracks I've been loath to just bore all and sundry with copy, but another couple of weeks have passed, naturally not without incident so I ought to update this.

First a couple of weeks back we had a fairly fresh North Easter that saw my hands go early on, then losing the main sheet once more so failed to make the start of the race so returned and pfaffed about.
Since the debacle of the capsize I've been nervous so sailing defensively and nothing good comes from defensive anything, so after the race I let Dangerous Dan take it out a well known wrecker of kit Dan would likely bust it some more, but at least I'd know what it's potential for single handing in the control of someone with youthful experience can do.
He also suffered problems, kite candles, but appeared from the shore to be doing OK with two sails, up and back, but even in the gusts not really coming unstuck as it did that day in Calshot. he did come ashore eventually, was out some time, and insisted I come out and we give it another go two up.

With me playing the jib, even though there was the extra weight of us bother which you would have thought would slow it down, it had the opposite effect and after a while we had her tracking upwind and in one kite reach when we both got back about as far as we could, she came unstuck and went quite well, ploughing through and bouncing over the following sea, only the firing ranges stopped us from bothering Dymchurch with our presence.

He'd tied the jib sheet to the main sheet and it was with this assistance the following week, yesterday as I pen this, I took her out in a freshening SW rly determined to race  and mix it a bit. The race organisation at Hythe is such that we rarely get a course you can sail off in any other than one direction, usually port and usually with a pin end, so not wishing to introduce my rack width and not confident self tot eh start line at the gun, I contented myself with a rearguard pursuit once more into the entire fleets dirty air.

We can't point like a laser but then they go quite slow when they are stuffing it so managed to shake them off sailing bit low and pursuing a fairly low fetch to clear the dirty air, it was a typically short pathetic course (Another reason I'm attracted to the lake, they do at least have proper beats) and the top reach was another beamy Contender affair but we dealt with it, not at any speed but a triangle and a run later and I'm duelling with my pals in a Phantom and Laser, the Contenders, Blaze and Merlin are well gone.

The kite run didn't produce any magic for me, the now stayed stuck and I note even if I got right back, the water release, didn't get noisy which meant she was still using the mid section with the nose engaged and try as I may I can't get back far enough to lift it. the forward pressure of the rig, is stopping it, in fact I'm just thinking as I type this what's different between the boat now and at Calshot and it's just come to me, the jib, the jib is a lot bigger, now I wonder if I've just got too much canvass there now.

Anyway we had a kite mare somehow the sheet was under the pole then the bloody boat had sailed over it, then trying to fly it on the other tack it got stuck half up half down, so i had no choice but to go ashore and was going to call it a day, but... It was low tide I hove to at the waters edge the shore dump wasn't too huge at this point, so I free'd the kite, stuffed it all back down the sock and though bugger it I'm enjoying this for the first time I'll rejoin and at least finish this one, and so it was, a few had pulled out, the wind was taking it's usual toll, there were a few breakages and capsizes, probably pushing the top end of four by now out to sea which is fun sailing, it doesn't come any nicer than this, so I had to get some more.

I tried sailing upwind from the back, it certainly helped, there was no-one left to compare with by now as I was out of touch with the fleet, but for the first time my confidence had returned and hiking fully out of the rear quarter she seemed to revel upwind. With the jib sheet close at hand now I'm almost able to play the jib on the fly, the kite worked down wind I managed to sheet the main in the tiller hand and the kite in the other so got my best kite reach, still not fully unstuck but better.

I've built a twin hander here, I don't want to believe it, but the fact is it goes better with two as it is currently set up so I have to have a bit of a rethink, then as I'm coming ashore at the end of the race, (I had to come in whilst there are still folk about to help recovery) I came in on a bloody wave on my port quarter, I'd wanted to hove to again in the shallows, but the speed we were going and with the wave where it was, had I done so I'd have done a Tom so I had no choice but to charge the beach and in doing so there was a God awful graunching noise, our beach at low tide can reveal the most horrendous sharp stones and rock .. I've now got a Titanic graunch under the nose to deal with and there was a load of water on board..

Friday, 27 April 2012

Breezy April Sunday

Finally a day dawned, with Sun, a fresh breeze and a rising tide, could probably have done without the tide rising but that's another tale. The Boat was about as prepared as it has ever been, although I was shortly to find out one of my modifications wasn't up to speed, but never the less here I was at the waters edge, nervously considering a launch.
I'm not sure wether it was my kite accident, or the early years messing with an MPS trying to launch, but I do get serious 'butterflies' before launching. The same nerves that used to plague me whist sitting on the back of a ski boat from the days when the next event was a fifty mile race being dragged all over the ocean.
Mouth dry, looking around, wondering wether to ask for help or not, then suddenly spotting a flat spot about to happen in the shore break, I swung the nose and charged it into the water, whilst pulling on the yards of jib sheet more than I really need, to try and get the jib to bite and tug us over the first wave, which duly occurred.
This really was the first serious sea test, it was blowing about a Four maybe pushing Five, which is enough to kick up sizeable wave shaped objects which likely would disrupt all attempts at smooth sailing.
So with my usual panic to get the rudder down, I set off without a centreboard down, wondering why it felt so weird, the sheeting was stiff as well, I'd run an excess of sheet forward past the kicker strop and as the kicker tensioned it inhibited the run of the mainsheet. Then I had to stop to put the centreboard down, realised there wasn't enough mainsheet to fully sheet out and promptly lost the end of the sheet back through the pulley just as the jib uncleated and began its staccato machine gun chatter, at this point irrational fear of some other imminent disaster had to be suppressed by digging deep for resolve and pushing that 'stay calm and think carefully' button we all have for such emergencies at sea.
So eventually head to wind I managed to regain some control, in the rush I'd misrouted the main sheet, I'd managed to half secure the jib, enough to get under way and leave the lee shore far enough behind to regroup.
There then followed some of the most enjoyable yachting about I'd experienced, control issues aside, she felt really well balanced, happy to sit at an attitude that neither dug the opposite rail in, nor sat too flat to squat. The nose happily reared up and over rather than crashing through head waves upwind, the bear off was a tad scary without adequate jib control, but the acceleration surge was white knuckle inducing, definitely a thrill ride this.
As I was hooning about for half an hour or so, getting accustomed to a handful of power being delivered by 14 sq mtrs of Vortex main and Alto jib, the rest of the fleet were assembling themselves for the race start.
It is a weakness of mine, never to sail dinghies or any long sail powered race craft aimlessly about simply for the fun of it for long, so I went inshore a bit closer just in time to catch what I thought was the five minute gun, and set my watch. The start was way too close in for the conditions, which meant it would be a port hand pin end line up with no possibility of crossing on starboard from the beach out to sea, and there was a fair old tide running with it being on the shove, so I buggered off out to sea for a bit. Knowing the tide would hold them off the line, hopefully enough for me to come in and do a bit of last second arrival, pin end barging, there was no way I was going to take this monstrosity close in and risk a broadside white water escort to the beach.
Checked the watch 1 -10 to go, better start thinking of coming closer, then I remember thinking they're getting a bit previous as the whole lot of them were quite close to the line, I was still a fair distance out to sea at this point. Bang it was the gun, I'd caught the 4 not the 5 whilst I'd been pre occupied with my control issues and hooning about, they were off.
I caught up with the tail enders as they set off, swung round the start buoy and tacked off to get some clear air to see how she'd fair, no more than a couple of minutes passed before I tacked back onto what had previously been my guesstimate of the lay line to the mark they had been laying to weather when I'd been messing about before the start, by the time I clocked it, it was way off downwind, it had been a short fetch rather than a windward beat, I had to foot off, could barely hold the power as we reached back down to where either they'd re-sighted or it the buoy had drifted to and by the time I rounded, once more I was last boat round and nowhere even close, to the fairly short distance to the next mark where the fleet were busy gybing round with the usual chaos. So I set off in pursuit, enjoying the ride and wondering if the pressure from the main was making my hands bleed yet.
It gybed sweet as a nut picking up a few capsized stragglers in so doing, but nothing seriously quick to compare against, just a couple of lasers, the bottom mark quickly followed then it was up the beat for the next leg, still just a tiny short fetch which was really a bit tedious for a race course, typical Hythe contender circuit.

The following pics were from what happened next, which, in brief involved a beat an attempt to put up the kite, the realisation the main had gone out to far and the knot I'd secured the main to the jib sheet had come undone, stupidly hardening up whilst at the same time going amidships to grab the sheet end, with the jib fully cleated for the first time, a text book idiot move that should never be done and the slow realisation that this seemingly un tippable craft could and would in fact go over especially with nothing to climb put the sides with as she slowly reared onto one side...

This shot before the 'start'

The next bit is an approach to and rounding of the bottom mark.

Note the necessity for good teeth control when mark rounding, and the slack forestay and jib.

Above I'm struggling to cleat off the jib via my bright idea of routing both through an old laser kicker block I used to use for a downhaul control on my race board, not so hot for boat use and caused no end of issues later, it's back to the drawing board on that control.

Back under way again and a reasonable windward performance followed.

Then the silly incident with the main struck and over she went, note the driver standing on the mast trying not to get wet thus ensuring a full turtle.

Which then involved considerable pfaffing about with the Hythe gutless rescue boat, a pathetically heavy affair with a 20hp motor totally unsuitable for the conditions we get at Hythe but you can't tell them.

Including at one point a nice wave surge with the tow line coming right up between the legs of the driver in a full frontal assault on the crown jewels.

None of this of course had gone un noticed by a couple of old boys in their quaint old clinker built sailing bucket, chortling as they sail past at the antics of those young windsurfers, what will they get up to next?

Finally with the line secured to the rack on the far side, with a bit of a following wind and some extra effort the little rescue boat and gallant crew haul it up and over..

Back up, the kite sheet had at some point engaged the prop of the rescue boat, can't say I'd noticed it at the time, but it may have had something to do with its lack of power...

Either way there was a nasty mess of twisted ropes and we still had the rising tide and nose straight into the beach to contend with so, slacking off all the foils, there was no real alternative but to beach and call it a day. Hindsite being an exact science something I probably should have done once it became apparent the rig controls were not functioning as they should, but Hythe beach is something you only really want to leave and return to once in conditions like this, so it was what it was. A baptism of fire which had the control problem to caused the capsize it would have come through with flying colours.

As it was, a taste of excitement, a rapid learning curve and a fun exercise despite the problems, better that than wandering round a slightly hilly course hitting a deformed white ball with a bent stick..

Credit to Mat Mackenzie for the Pics.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Short bit of video from last weeks 'race' not a lot of wind, and what there was buggered off just as the gun went, had a couple more problems, the spinnaker jammed as the gun went and the jib didn't sheet, had to tie it off with the jib out haul.
 So I've just spent Good Friday and Saturday thoroughly overhauling the jib sheeting, re-positioned the spinnaker pole blocks to ensure the pole goes out as far as is possible and I'll build a longer pole from a carbon mast top I have as soon as I get my hands on a rivet gun.

Have moved to aft sheeting, done away with all the deck clutter, run the cunningham leads out to cleats on the racks, this has two functions one getting them closer to me when I'm out on the rack and helping keep the racks more secure. Have drilled and secured them with pins.

It was raining, cold and dead onshore today so the racing was cancelled not that i was that keen, after the last six weeks of sunny sundays to be confronted with crap visibility, pouring rain, freezing cold and a southerly slop which lifts over the shoreline, the boys launched their new Merlin but they didn't appear to be going anywhere fast, sitting here typing this I now wish I'd gone out, but it would have been crap and those that did didn't stay out long..

So another week and we'll see, it doesn't look too bad in that clip where we had some wind, but the jib sheeting is all screwed, hopefully that's now sorted.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Its looking a bit more business like with its new kite chute and rack tramps, the weathers great but still no rescue facility down the club until sunday when you can bet your life there will be snow on the ground and no wind.

Since last trip the kicker and cunningham shackle failed as soon as we got a puff of wind and got her up on one sponson with the resulting boom catastrophe. I've rigged a new takeoff point from one I found already drilled up the top of the mast which accommodates my Alto jib, so with any luck it'll not only look nicer but there will be sufficient power for me to get on the racks in less than 12 knots and get a hull out of the water. Until you get one side clear it doesn't really come unstuck I've found on the fresh water of the lake.

So it's this sunday we launch and hopefully nothing else to traumatic goes wrong.

This was lasts weeks pfaffing about..

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Sadly my old app trail guru seems to have given up the ghost, but this cycling app seems to do the same thing, so here's a track of todays sail. Got the new spinnaker chute on which makes the boat look a bit more swish. It was another light day, quite warm spring sunshine and barely a force 1-2, we had a couple of puffs that got a hull unstuck briefly, to torment with what could be. A couple more issues surfaced, the top spreader is interfering with the sail downwind, not sure what I can do about that, Neal thinks it's an old 49er spreader, it's not adjustable and is really a lash up as are so many of the topside features.

The spinnaker also engaged with the spreader during a gybe, it wasn't that breezy so the gybe was fairly ponderous, but I had to drop the kite for fear of ripping it. I've always felt the pole Jamie just happened to have laying around was too short, and having taken it out for a short blast, it was Neals first comment, he did get a couple of lift off moments and it was interesting to watch someone who knows what they're doing sailing it.

So, we're getting closer, it is definitely underpowered for theses conditions and does just sit sucking deep in the water with way too much wetted surface and it needs space to really get going, then when it does, as neal found out with a close call near the bank, you very quickly run out of room.

So Still to do on the check list, red and black rack covers, bigger jib and now a longer pole for the kite, but I am at least a bit more confident that when the time comes she'll be OK on the sea, not long now, another couple of weeks...

Sunday, 26 February 2012

So I got down the lake early and got it rigged, there wasn't a lot of wind, but I thought it would be handy to tag onto the end of the race to get the feel for the controls in race conditions and such that if anything would be the boats worse performance.

So the gun goes and I'm stuck on the only shallows in the entire lake and they go 'oh forgot to tell you stay away from that post' as they drift off towards the 1st mark in the faint breeze which dwindled to nothing by the time they got there. We eventually got ourselves off the sandbank or whatever it was and drifted up to the tai lenders by the first mark, but it was such a raft, I thought better than try and barge through so I hung back and dwelt on other issues, one of which was trying to sheet the kite in, it was catching in the shrouds, because of the angle of the pulley I'd sighted on the racks.

Then the mainsheet came totally undone, and by the time we'd drifted down to the bottom mark and hardened up it was difficult to see any airflow, even the tell tales had stopped fluttering. Eventually a bit of a flurry filled in from behind which got us round the 1st lap, this eventually strengthened sufficient to get some directional stability, this bought with it other problems.

The stronger the puffs, the more weather helm became apparent, I didn't get that much last week in the quite strong breeze, but this light barely force two, had me constantly fighting which meant the brake was on the whole time and I'm now puzzled as to what's different. OK last week I wouldn't have been block to  block so the main power would never have been that fully sheeted and when it was I do remember a bit of weather helm, so I'm convinced I need a bigger jib, and the mast needs to be a tad more vertical.

I had a bit of a measure of that main, when I got home and even at two thirds base times height on a boom vee height measure only gives 8.8 sq mtr so I'm suspicious of the power of this rig, I don't think it's big enough. I barely got a hull flying last week and that was breezy, so I'm having a think at the minute. Brought back the Alto main (my small one) and it's way bigger than this Vortex 10.5 even on the same mast height, the Alto has a bigger foot, that in itself means it'll be more efficient, these high foot big aspect sails are only any good in a breeze, so it makes the acquisition of a more powerful jib more necessary if I'm going to have any traction in low wind.

I had one incident when the merlin that was being sailed by Neal and his crew came pouring past, they had a strange looking kite up on what was close to being a windward fetch and round bottom boats do well anyway in that stuff, but they shouldn't be coming past as fast as they did, well not and make me happy. So right now I'm thinking more power is required and of course less braking action from the rig being out of balance again.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Having met a real gem of a guy down the lake last week, Neal Gibson, he's a sailmaker, works locally has a small loft, and he came down today to measure up to get a proper spinnaker sock made and some decent tramps for the racks, measured up for a see through jib and talked about different ways to rig things, really interesting.

So I had a few things to sort anyway, the angle of the jamming cleat for the main sheet needed lowering, I wanted a second anchorage point for the lowers, so all the stress wasn't going through that one bolt, so it was off to whitstable with a list.

Got myself sorted with a rear mast support which will make travelling easier, all things being equal I want to do a few events with other boats to get an idea of where the handicap should be, and every time you go to one of these you learn so much about the boat bumbling stuff that I now need big time.

The spinnaker will still jam if I use it as it is, but that'll have to be a chance I'll take, it doesn't look that windy tomorrow and it's been fairly mild today, so off down the lake tomorrow, to see if i can get it rigged and ready in time to enter it's first race. Light conditions will be it's worse scenario, all that flat surface is likely to drag and on fresh water, unlikely there'll be enough volume to clear the rear, so it'll be a good test.

I'll try and get some pics this time if I'm not in a mad pfaff and I'll take my phone get some gps tracks maybe, if I remember it all.