Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bobcat sail #3

It was time to take Reid out & actually let him control the boat. The whole family drove down to the marina, and Julie helped rig. Launch went smoothly, and then Reid & I motored away from the dock. Once we were out of the marina, I let Reid take over. He was really interested in motoring, so I let him drive under power the whole way around the marina to the beach. We were going pretty much directly in to the wind, and we kept getting blown off course, which was challenging for Reid to handle.

When we got close to the beach, I sent Reid out on the bow with the painter. He threw it ashore to Julie, and we hopped out. The painter wasn't long enough to tie up anywhere, but I always keep a couple long lines on board, just in case. With a sheet bend in place, I tied up to a large piece of driftwood.

After 10 minutes talking to passers-by and using the shore head, I noticed that the boat wasn't rolling back and forth. The water level had dropped a little, and the boat was on the sand. A firm shove got it afloat, and I started to make plans to head out. Reid decided to stay behind and play, so it was just me for the trip back.

It was amazingly cool to walk down the beach with just my feet wet, with the boat by my side. Empty, with the centerboard up, it only draws a few inches. The rudder doesn't even have to come up, because it has an unusual design that keeps it very shallow.

With the sails raised, I shoved off the beach, and sailed away. The trip back was very fast... until I missed the marina entrance, and had to beat back up to it.

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If you've been following my story so far, you know that tacking this boat has sometimes been tricky. Well, now it was time to tack a lot. It took *forever*. A gaff catboat doesn't point nearly as high as a Marconi sloop with a big genoa, so you're making a lot less progress to windward on each tack. Also, when going slowly, the boat loses nearly all its forward momentum when tacking. And finally, sometimes things go all to hell mid-tack I the boat stops working and I get all stuck and confused. So, it took me like 20 minutes to go 50 yards. Sheesh.

I had considered trying to sail up the dock to the launch ramp, but after that ordeal, I knew I wanted to put the motor back in. I am proud of how that went, though. I made a plan ahead of time of what I was going to do. I tested the motor to make sure it was read, and sure enough, it was not. The leads had come off the battery. Good thing I checked! I reconnected and headed in to the marina. At a certain point I had planned, I took up the topping lift, scandalized the sail, put out fenders, dropped the motor, and headed up the channel. Arrived gently at the dock and tied up.

When loading on to the trailer, I finally got the trailer depth in the water just right. It needs to be deep enough that you can pull that boat on without superhuman strength. It needs to be shallow enough that trailer actually holds the boat, or the boat will just drift away. Bigger boats typically are pulled up with a winch, but I don't have one. Smaller boats are easy to pull on to a trailer, or even lift right out of the water by hand. I'm just in between.

It was about 5 hours from when we left home until we got back. I hope I can find ways to speed this up, since I enjoy sailing much more than rigging!

I need to figure out how to tack this boat well.

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