18 February 2008

Esta Susana en casa?

Wow. Google that. Seems a lot of seriously messed up people have that introductory dialog stuck in their brain and it's driving them crazy. What's this got to do with sailing? I have absolutely no clue, but after a couple of Singha's after a couple of hours "sailing" with no wind in a couple of small boats, Dean and I spontaneously broke into, "Esta Susana en Casa?" "Si, Esta con un amiga." And, so on. That's creepy.

Sailing was interesting. We had about 2 knots of current in the river and about 4 knots of wind. Then, about 2 knots of wind. We were actually sailing backwards despite trailing a wake behind us. Provided a good chance to play with sail settings in light air--this time, with the old standard Megabyte rig. I had everything set loose. Off the wind, this produced a big crease going from the tack up and out to the end of the top batten. Very ugly. Pulling the vang on pretty tight bent the mast and cleaned that up. It's apparent that this sail is cut for when the mast is bent a lot. Upwind, I played with the traveler, vang, and cunningham. what I found looked good was no vang, traveler all the way to weather, and enough cunningham (quite a lot actually) to pull the draft a little farther forward in the sail. I tried using the vang upwind, too. Overall that improved the shape, but took all the twist out. In any case, one of the things that's so cool about this boat, old rig and new, is how easy it is to tweak. Now, figuring out just where to tweak it to, that's the hard part. Interesting stuff.

"Ay caramba! Cuando arreglan mi quarto, no encuentro nada!" No idea what I'm talking about? I guess you didn't take high school Spanish.

10 February 2008

Less Fussing More Sailing

One of the joys about small boat sailing should be the ability to chuck it in the water and go. Less time futzing with all the gear and setting things up means more time sailing (and practicing those high speed gybes!) Well, I finally finished futzing with my trailer. Now all the gear stores in, on, or under the boat on the trailer. All I have to do is hitch it up to the truck and go. The boat stays mostly rigged under the cover, and the launching dolly is strapped on top fully assembled and ready to go. When I get to the water, I can rig it in about the same time as it takes to get naked and pull on the wetsuit and all the other get up.

From Megabyte Trailer
From Megabyte Trailer

We Can Learn

"I can't do it. I can't do it!" My little four year old hollered yesterday as I tried to help her along on her bike without training wheels for the first time. "Of course you can, sweetie. We just need to practice a little more." I was struck by how little confidence she had and then remembered my own recent experience being pressed into a situation for which I had little prior practice.

Last Sunday was the third edition of the monthly Small Boat Midwinters at Richmond Yacht Club. As was the case last month, Sunday came on the tail end of some Winter storms, but this time we had some lingering strong winds and rain. When the heavy squalls rolled in, I was hurtin'. This boat is a bit too big for me when it's blowing like that. After a really bad start in race 1, I managed to finish second about a boat length behind a 17 foot Daysailor--a boat that is supposed to be slower than mine. It was really blowing hard for the second race, and I had a hard time keeping the boat moving well to windward. The Daysailor and a Flying Junior had a nice lead over me at the first mark. Then as I rounded, the "MonsterByte" leapt onto a plane and went screaming after the more stable and modestly canvassed boats. As I approached the leeward mark, I had the lead, but was freakin' over the impending gybe. "I can't do it. I can't do it!", my mind was hollering. I guess I coulda chicken gybed it (spinning all the way around and tacking), but went for it instead. Ended up spinning out but lucky not to capsize. Then, the rudder cavitated as I tried to get her pointed downwind again. Needless to say, the DS and FJ got past. Anyway, that was it for me. It was really starting to honk, and I didn't feel like going swimming in a "fun race." Went home and watched the Superbowl instead. What a wuss.

I was personally bothered all week by that poor gybe and early retirement from the day's racing. That is, until our little bicycle lesson yesterday. I realized that gybing a boat like this in a lot of wind is really hard if you haven't done it before. But with a lot of practice I should be able to pull off a planing reach to planing reach gybe and blast on past that Daysailor next time. And that will be thrilling, not scary. Kinda like learning how to ride a bike, I guess.