Monday, November 16, 2015

A short sail

After having such a lovely time in the morning rowing the pram around the pond, and getting inspiration from the amazingly pleasant weather, I decided that I needed to take the skiff out to the lake and reacquaint myself with her.
Sliding her into the back of the truck, I was reminded of how handy this boat is.  I drove to the closest of the lakes and launched there.  The breeze was up so I prepped the sailing rig.
Lake sailing.  This is the original cut of the sail
that is larger than the current sail.  The sprit is shorter now too.
We sailed the down the Western shore of the lake, the wind was out of the south.  A few little gusts kept me paying attention, especially as the water is cold again, and, there was nobody else on the lake, or it's shores.  When I reached the north end of the lake, where the sand beach is, I changed heading, gybing easily with the sprit rig and sailed across the wind skirting the beach along the entire north end to the eastern side where the dam is.  I beached the boat, dropped the sailing rig and rowed up the eastern shore.
On the southern end of the lake there are two large coves, or bays and I rowed up into the western bay and set the sailing rig back up so I could finish my circumnavigation with a sail back up the western shore to the launch site.
After hauling the boat from the water I spotted a set of antlers and the head of a deer swimming across the bay to get to the land on the other side.  He didn't need oars, but he could have easily set sails on that rack.  It was great to see him come out of the water and shake off before hopping right into the woods.
It was a nice way to end my sail.
Sailing along the sand beach was great fun and had such a different quality than sailing the  rest of the lake.  The beach was the lee shore today and the waves washed up on it making a sound and sight as if it were a much bigger bit of water I was upon.  Sailing along, with the bottom insight, sloping and sandy and the beach moving by quickly, was a bit exciting.
I have come to realize how much more pleasant it is to sail this boat with a minimum of complications.  The lovely rudder I built for it is not an improvement over using the oars as steering oars, each perched in it's after most oarlock.  It easy to switch between the two, or to just start using them both to row.  I still miss the ease at which the boat moved in light airs with the larger sail, but I do enjoy being able to sail in stronger wind.
I did not try to sail to windward at all, and being of the mind to row to wind kept me from worrying over a thing that this boat does not do well.
It was a very lovely day, a very "boaty" day and all in the middle of November to add.

While rowing the skiff I found that I should probably take the time to make a new middle thwart, just a bit wider to accommodate my big fat backside.  I made the thwarts the way I did, loose fitting so that they could be adjusted until the optimum position could be found, and so that the could be easily removed for sailing or lying on the floors.  This has all worked but I do sometimes wish that they were fastened tight so that there was one less thing to fuss over.  The middle thwart, the rowing thwart, needs to be about 6-10 inches farther foreward than I originally thought.  This would also have the affect of moving the bow down a touch, which would be a positive improvement.
I have decided that one of the things I don't like about this design is that the bow sits proud of the water.  This does certainly cause it to pound into the waves and it also gives much more area for the wind to get hold of her.  Instead of a sharp fine entry to the water she has a wide bottom that does help her to plane up over the water and makes her more maneuverable, but at the same time, takes away her ability to track.
In looking at the GOAT ISLAND SKIFF, which is a well reported sailing skiff,  I think it has less rocker, although  the stem doesn't quite make it down to the water, it exposes much less of the flat bottom to the oncoming water.
I do realize that by putting the sailing rig on this boat I was trying to get something out of it that it was not intended to do.  That being said, I have had some success getting her to sail.  She did better in lighter airs with the bigger sail, obviously, but she also seemed to go to weather a tiny bit better with that larger sail, probably due to the affect of the wind on the hull being so much less able to cause leeway.  But off wind and across the wind and in stronger wind, the current sail is much more comfortable to use.  I think it could be a bit longer at the foot, though the sheet lead would quickly become an issue, but it needs no more height on such a narrow beamed boat.
Although I do want to build a boat specifically for sailing and it may not be much different in form from this skiff (MAYBE THE GOAT ISLAND SKIFF)  I may still get the centerboard drunk installed and build a taller mast.
It was good to be out in her again.  It had been a while.  It was truly wonderful to have gotten to sail her.

The most pleasing sound of the day was when I heard the first bubble of the water along her hull as her sail started to pull and she began to make way.

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