21 March 2009

Lapras Digs In

Well, Dean and I finally got Lapras out for a higher wind test sail. Previously, 5 to 10 knots is about all we'd experienced with the new boat, and given some of the reports of how relatively tender these Catalina 250s are, I was eager to see what she would do. The nearest wind station trend shows that we were facing 20 knots gusting 25. Didn't seem that heavy, but it did have us on our ear a couple of times. The boat handled great. I'd read reports of Lapras' sisterships spinning out of control when they get past a certain angle of heel. We sheeted in hard and let her lay over past 35 degrees, and she just kept punching forward. Yeah, loaded up the helm a bit, but never felt like a wipe-out was imminent. Nice. Thirty-five degrees isn't particularly fast, though, nor comfortable; so, we tied in a reef (new dual line jiffy reef works great!), settled her down, and kept chuggin' West.

As the sun dipped near the horizon, the wind eased up. We shook the reef out, turned back up river, and had a beautiful evening run for home.

Overall pretty happy with how Lapras handled a decent blow. Still, a few minor tweaks to add to the project list: put a couple more turns on the lower shroud turnbuckles to take the sag out of the mast, rig an adjustable backstay to take the sag out of the forestay, and overhaul the main halyard clutch so it doesn't slip.
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03 March 2009

It's all relative

A recent post about going nowhere, but fast, by my fellow sailing blogger over at Love and Coconuts (love that name) reminded me that I hadn't yet shared the latest sailing outing on my local river. I'd been off the boat for a month what with bad weather and other commitments; so with a Friday forecast break in the weather I put the call out for would be crew hoping to find at least one person not wanting (or needing) to work that day. Joel answered the call and by two o'clock we were sailing, I mean pointing, upwind upriver bucking a max ebb. "I think I'll just crack off and duck that barge." "Uh, never mind, we ain't gonna get anywhere near it." With a wind speed on par with the current, we merely crabbed our way cross river relative to the land, and the barge. Our "tack" at the deep water side of the river resulted in another hundred yard loss. We were scooting through the water and going backwards. We were sailing and that's always better than working.

As I have one of those tank atop screwy things that O Docker describes, I wasn't too worried about progress, and we turned downriver downwind towards what looked like a stronger breeze. Now, I should describe the venue just west of Benicia. First Street bottoms out at a point around which the river hooks slightly North with the silt accumulating beyond in what otherwise looks like a beautiful open body of water. Check the charts and you'll see that you could get out and walk. Or, go clamming or something. After getting flushed halfway past this wide spot, and not finding the wind we'd seen prior, we decided to poke our nose back into it and see what we could do. Well after about three hitches of that and three times within anchor chucking distance of the same channel marker I was ready to fire up the iron breeze and bust out another beer. But Joel, the one was-be crew who doesn't need to work stopped me short and hollered, "Hey, let's bang the beach and see if we can make it." "OK, let's try it." We tacked back and headed for the shoals with a watchful eye on the sounder. "Four feet under the keel. That's enough for me," and we tacked back out into deep water and current. After a couple of tries at this and still no progress, my confidence in the sounder and trust that silt behind a point lays down in a nice smooth arc led us to progressively go farther on each successive hitch until we were tacking within a foot and a half of literally banging the beach. That was the ticket, and with a couple of lucrative wind shifts we were soon skirting the two foot contour and riding a nice eddy back home. And, busting out that beer--Joel will know what I mean.