Friday, July 27, 2007

Rowing on the ocean

Yesterday, There was a rare occasion when the tide was high enough to use the launch ramp South of Campbell River. This ramp is out of the main tidal rush between Vancouver Island and Quadra Island. I saw the flags were promising sailing winds too, so I launched with great anticipation. Once I was in the water, I raised the sails and wondered where the wind had gone? I slowly drifted in the back eddies of the tidal flow until I gave up on the idea of sailing. I thought I would instead, treat the people walking on the Sea-Walk to the sight of a beautiful boat being expertly rowed against the tide. I furled the main, raised the rudder and the dagger board.

I worked on my technique and vainly tried to keep the boat going in a straight line, despite the cross currents. I was in shallow enough water that I could see that I was making progress and could see from my wake that I was really moving in relation to the water. Now and again I gasped as I glided over some boulders. I lasted for a half hour then paused for a water break. I let the tide move me back south then turned the boat and rowed out to where I thought I saw windy water. Found it was tidal turbulence and had a few minutes of rowing in a choppy river. Twenty minutes brought me back to the ramp. Despite it being as calm as the lake, it was great to be on 'big water' as it added to my confidence.

Small Improvements

It has always bothered me that the oars have no place to go when I am sailing. I think I have found an answer that is useful for most of the conditions I will be sailing in. When it gets really nasty, I may be in trouble.

I made a keeper strap with a loop at one end that slides over the handle of the oar. The other end has an 8 oz. fishing weight. When the oars are being used, this strap and weight slide up the handle and rest against the oar lock. When I am not using the oars, I slide the handle of the oar toward the bow of the boat and once there, slide the weighted strap up the handle too. The weight stays inside the boat countering the handle of the oar on the other side of the gunnel.

I have used this system for quite a few of my trips ad have had no problems. I find it is wonderful to have the oars already in place when I need them. Saves a few seconds of reinstalling them in the oar locks, and frees up the floor space as well as the side seats.

Second thing is the installation of a handful of the lashing hooks on the foreward side of bulkhead number two. We sewed up some 'restraints' to keep the gear stored under the deck from wandering around in rough weather and washing away if I do ever swamp or roll the boat. I used pieces of the tarp left over from the tent experiments.

Another Inversion Test

July 24, Diana and I took the boat back to McIvor for the afternoon. There was very little wind, so we lazed around trying to ignore the very loud motor boats and their annoying wakes. Instead of going to the shady swimming beach, I thought we might try tipping the boat over again. Once we returned to the launch ramp area and set all the gear ashore, I swam the boat with Diana aboard into deeper water. I left all sails up.
She stayed on the high-side while I pulled on the topping lift. It took much more effort to capsize the boat with the extra counter weight. Once the sails hit the water, they stayed afloat for a few seconds then settled into the water. I then saw that we were still too shallow as the boat came to rest at an angle instead of turtled. I swam around to the backside of the hull and grabbed the dagger board, leaning back with all my weight on the rub rail. I was not able to right it. Turns out that the mast had impaled the muddy bottom and I presume, worked its way into it. Diana had to help lift the mast, and once it was freed, the boat slowly came upright.
Once it was on its feet, I saw it had taken much more water aboard too. I wonder why. I was able to pull myself over the side, noting the gunnel went under water, but the air tanks on that side gave enough buoyancy to allow me to pull myself in. When I was in the boat, the water was above the seat tops, but the boat did not feel like it was in danger of going over again. If I had dumped it out in big winds and waves, I would have been very fearful. See then if my tiny brain can remember to bail as much as I can before getting back into the boat, and set the mizzen to keep me pointing into the wind and waves. Drop the mainsail.
Took quite awhile to bail the boat out, and by then it was too late in the day to try it again in deeper water. Next time. Final reminder of being too shallow came when I took down the main mast and a great muddy blob of mud hit the deck. At first I thought I was in the flight path of some enormous gull!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday Sail

The wind is strong today, and the weather site says it is still around 20 knots. I thought it was the perfect time to go to the lake and try out some of the high-wind skills. I made a few mistakes, but nothing serious. First mistake was in leaving the camera in the car. More about that later. Second mistake was in not reefing at the launch ramp.
I rowed out into the big winds then dropped the dagger board, cinched down the rudder and set the mizzen sail. The winds were blowing me onshore, so I had to row out into the lake again and raise the sail. I got it set just fine, but it was the full sail and again no room to pause and reef. As it turned out, the boat handled the full sail very well, scooting along without too much heeling. If I were braver, I may have left the full sail up.
I sailed up the lake to find some sea room then put in one reef. I was able to take my time with it as the boat was stable and drifting slowly back down the lake. Once that reef was in, the boat seemed to go faster? Can that be? Certainly sat up straighter and I was not at all spooked by the gusts! Great sailing back and forth until I waited until I was too close to the trees to come about, so I jibed and headed down-wind for a bit. It was then that I saw a disabled motor-boat trying to cross the lake, back to the launch ramp. The wind was on their beam and was sure to blow them far down the lake, past their ramp. I sailed close by and asked if they needed help. The skipper, stroking with a conoe paddle shook his head, but the two women on board nodded vigorously! So, one more tack and I was along side where they hooked their line to my stern cleat. I tightened the sheets and steered up-wind of the ramp and slowly towed them back to their truck. It was then that I regretted not having my camera! Who will believe me now?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Inversion test

It has been awhile since my last post, but I had not done anything significant in the past weeks. I have taken the boat to the local lake for some sailing and swimming, but nothing worth reporting. I now have the opportunity to do some longer trips in the next few weeks and realize that I have never dumped then rescued the boat. So, yesterday after a nice rowing session, I put on my old paddling wet suit and did it! I first emptied the boat of everything, tied an empty four litre jug to the top of the mast then, while in the water, pulled on the halliard until the boat came over. I saw the mast would have kept on going under water, so I was glad I had tied on the jug as well as tied the mast to the boat. I was able to walk away from the boat and grab my camera for the above shots too. It took no effort at all to push the mast back into the air and once it was clear of the water, the boat righted itself. The water in the boat was not up to the top of the benches. I pulled the boat over again, but noticed it took more effort to pull it over when it was full of water. Curious. I thought it would be less stable. This time, I righted the boat by pulling down on the exposed dagger-board. Hardly any effort needed again. Repeated the test with the dagger-board on the high-side of the upturned boat. I had to reach higher, but certainly not a problem.
Once the boat was carrying all that water, I pulled down on the gunnel and easily pulled myself over the side. With all my weight on the edge, I still could not pull the gunnel under water, but it came low enough to allow me to pull myself into the boat. I could sit on one side of the swamped boat and still have a few inches of freeboard. The boat holds a lot of water and would have been impossible to empty with my kayak pump, so I used a bucket.
I dragged the boat onto the beach and opened the hatches to the water-tight tanks. I was very disappointed to see how much water had seeped into every one. I brought it home and have it hanging one its side. I used the garden hose to fill the tanks and could see the water on its way out. Today I shall seal with epoxy the few areas and the funny corners that I missed before.