Saturday, September 09, 2006

Last details and the Long Awaited Launch!

Anticipating a Saturday, September 7th launch there were a number of little things left to do to prepare. First was rigging of the sail. Here you see the "foot" of the sail. We used a simple wrapping technique... starting at one end and simply pushing the line through each grommet, then wrapping it over the foot-spar on the way to the next grommet. Another option is to tie each grommet off seperately with short pieces of rope. For now, this technique seems to work fine.
Now both spars are rigged, and the sail is folded for easier carrying back outside. Here's a closeup of the way we tied off the corners of the sail.
And here's a shot of the entire sail.
Next was the rigging of the rudder assembly and rudder. I purchased gugdeons and pintles to provide for the hinging action of the rudder. There were designs in the boat plans to make your own and save some money. But I decided to go with the materials that I knew would work well the first time... rather than depending on my sometimes not so excellent wood-working skills.

You can see the gudgeons installed on the transom. If you look closely you can see a light pencil mark to ensure these are lined up properly with one another at a 90 degree angle to the ground.
Here's a closeup of the pintles, which I have carefully installed along the edge of the rudder assembly. It was a bit tricky to make sure these were spaced properly. The pintle to the right is a bit longer than the other... which makes it MUCH easier to slide them on the gudgeons!
Here's a closeup of the tiller installed on the top of the rudder aseembly.
And here you can see the tiller and the tiller extension... hinged for easy use from any angle.
And finally, the entire assembly in place. Thankfully, it swings freely. Notice that the rudder is "kicked-up". This is an ingenious part of the design. It is attached to the rudder assembly with a bolt and a couple of washers... and is tightened just enough to allow the rudder to stay in place under the water... but loose enough so that it will kick up if we accidently run into some shallow water.
Well, it's Saturday morning in this shot, and Josh is home... so we've put the boat outside for one last check over before heading for the lake. We have put the mast in place, and hoisted the sail. This allows us to make some last minute adjustments. She looks ready to go!
You may remember that one of the ongoing discussions between Dan and I early on was the "car-toppable-ness" of this boat. Late this week I built a couple of carpeted extensions for our van's roof-rack. As you can see, we have put the boat up and have it tied in place. The sail spars are so long (the longest is 14 feet, 7 inches remember!) that we had to stuff the sail up underneeth... inside the boat. It actually sits up in there very nicely.
Suffice it to say, Josh and I did find the boat quite cartoppable. It'll take some practice to put it up there alone... but that's for another day!
So, we were off to the lake for the much anticipating launching. And, wouldn't you know it. Dead Calm! That's life! High expectations are sometimes met with real disappointment! But we were not easily discouraged! It was a beautiful day... and we decided to wait it out a while. So, we ate some lunch... and as we did the breeze picked up a little.
Here we are rigging the rudder, the leeboard, and the sail.
And now, we're ready to launch. Thanks to my wife Leslie who was there to take pictures!!!
We're in the water! And it floats! And though there was still little wind, the boat seemed to use it quite efficiently. It carried us quickly away from shore! You can see here, I am lowering the leeboard as we sail away.
Everything was going along beautifully... for about 5 minutes, until we got a decent gust of wind, when suddenly stuff began to go a bit wrong.... No pictures here...

But, the sail assembly came crashing down!!! We quickly realized that it was because someone had done a poor job of tying the knot holding the pulley to the top of the mast. Yes, it was me! Unfortunately, we couldn't fix it on the water... so we had to paddle back to shore without the aid of the wind. Here you see us arriving back for the fix. My loving wife said, "Oh well, at least we'll have a fancy sandbox for our grandchildren!" A lot of encouragement there, huh?
Much to my spouse's surprise, it didn't take us long to get everything back in place... this time with a knot tied by my experienced boy scout son... and we're in business once again! I may be a bit prejudice, but I don't think it's a bad looking little boat. As you can see, the sail has a nice shape with the wind in it! We sailed around for 20 minutes or so... the wind was beginning to pick up quite nicely... and the boat was responding like a dream! When suddenly, in the distance, we heard the sound every sailor dreads. THUNDER! We knew it was supposed to storm today... but it wasn't supposed to hit till late afternoon. I love weathermen!
So, due to some masterful steering by Josh, we were able to sail back into the wind to get back to shore just in time for the rain to hit. Les got a nice shot here of the huge raindrops as we dropped the sail, and headed for cover.
Alas, our maiden voyage was over. It poured!
So that the end of our first sail in our boat. There are definitely a few kinks to be worked out on the boat to make it sail smoother. But overall, it was a blast... and we are thrilled with our boat. Can't wait to take it out again!


At 3:10 PM, Blogger Ron Paro said...

Nice job Dave!
I just found your blog link from the Nutmeg thread on the Small Boat Forum. I am wondering what your impressions and improvements are after a year of sailing your skiff.

I finished building a 13' skiff in July 2007, and I documented the build at

I am planning to update the blog after I get a chance to make some modifications and cosmetic fix-ups after a season of hard use by a first-time sailor.


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