Monday, July 26, 2010

What if?

What if you scheduled a holiday weekend around some mothing at a venue a number of hours away from your home? What if the breeze is a steady 6 knots? Do you blow off the sailing adventure or do you rig up and sail? What if the weekend happened to be a regatta weekend and the race committee heads out to set the course? If the forecast calls for a steady breeze with nothing over 8 knots, will you be relegated to lowriding or sailing insane angles upwind and down, trying to pump it up and dreading every drop off the foils?

Thinking about the possible "what ifs," and knowing my skill and experience will mean a certain lowriding event, I threw together an alternate set of blades and some old school rigging (2-1 transom sheeting and a block at the back end of the welll replacing the bridle.) Cost was close to nil - I used a busted strut, just having to clean up the bottom. The rudder is a piece of cedar covered with a couple layers of glass. The needed blocks, line, tiller and hiking stick material were laying in the garage from other boats.  I had a chance to sail today with the old school foils and found things to be just as I remembered them from the 1970s. A Hungry Beaver (similar to a Hungry Tiger) sailing to weather in 6 knots is a beautiful thing. Smooth tacks with a quick speed build. Tacking angles a tad less than 90 degrees.  After about 45 minutes the breeze started to pick up to foilable range and I headed back to the beach to swap out the blades for the foils. It only took a little less than 10 minutes for the change-out followed by a couple of hours in 10-15 knots. A great day. The ride height mechanism is working to perfection.  A couple of new delrin bits have reduced slop and the gybes are actually coming along. The telltales seem to help, especially in the low riding conditions. I leave for Harbor Springs a week from today.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mod 1 - Height may not be everything

I put together the first modification of the ride height adjuster by leading it outboard and including a view port on the bonnet. The short bungee is to keep tension. The test sail today verified that extreme height is possible -- I got the boat to fly reasonably well with the horizontals only 6 inches below the surface. But I seemed to be going slower, so maybe height isn't the end-all and be-all. Of course, it was also the first time I had the wand fully extended and I'm sure that added to the height. The ride height adjuster seemed to work fine, with one glitch. I had put the last threaded rod onto the ball connector with blue medium strength thread lock and found it started to come unwound. So the next trip out will be with the red permanent thread lock.  No clear pics of the attempt, but will try a better shot next time.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Weather Guessers

The forecast called for a north breeze, 10-13mph, beginning at noon and lasting until at least 7:00 p.m.   I though this would be a perfect day to sail along the north shore of the Norfolk's Ocean View (the "Big Bay" side.)  If anything broke I could just drift ashore. With the incoming tide, there was no chance of being washed out to sea. I arrived at the ramp around 11:00 with only a slight breeze out of the north. What the heck, I figured. Just rig up and wait for the wind. And sure enough, a half an hour later the breeze started to fill in. I promptly foiled off the beach and headed toward the ship channel and around Fort Wool.

View Wednesday's sail in a larger map

After skirting the OV fishing pier and sailing another mile or two, instead of continuing to build, the wind started to drop out and I couldn't keep the boat foiling. So, I turned around and started low riding back home. Even though I tried the pump, bounce, oooch techniques I just couldn't get the boat back up. I dropped a purchase to 2-1 on the mainsheet but just couldn't get the boat to fly. I also realized that telltales are a good thing in the light stuff (I hadn't really missed them in foiling conditions...)

For the next hour or so I got in some of the old moth balancing techniques from the 70s. My guess is the wind was around 5 kts. SO much for the forecast..... The one thing that's obvious to me is the the bridle makes low riding a pain. Inevitably it's in the way when trying to move to the center or to leeward. At any rate, once I got back to the beach I sat and wondered where the forecast breeze was. I rehydrated and thought about calling it a day, but decided to hold off for a half hour or so. And sure enough, the breeze shifted and started to build. I relaunched and head back out to Willoughby.

And then, despite any predictions, the breeze came in with a vengence. It quickly built to 15 with gusts to 20. I had to capsize and re-tie the mainsheet back to the boom for my 3-1 purchase. I spent another 45 minutes blasting around before I called it quits.  Why didn't the weather guessers foresee this breeze? Maybe it's still a black science...

On the equipment front, the ride height adjuster worked fine, with a few glitches. There is enough slippage on the barrel that I need to create a view port in my bonnet to actually see the amount of threads exposed. I certainly don't want to completely unscrew the final ball joint on the pushrod.  I also found that in marginal foiling conditions a low ride height may be preferred to initiate foiling, then once up and moving the height can be raised. I still haven't gotten to to the height that other have achieved. I read Chris' post about his rudder foil breaking the surface -- I'm nowhere near that height and not sure I want to get there...

Otherwise things are working better. I did manage to saw through the cover of my rooster rope mainsheet where it was against the ratchet. So I end-for-ended it and kept on trucking. I was actually surprised how quickly the cover went. One minute I saw some fraying (it's taken perhaps 50 hours to get to this point) and just a few minutes later the cover parted completely. So here's another question for the mothosphere -- what's the mainsheet of choice???

Today I plan on sewing the kite blocks to the tramp to get the ride height control line led outboard. A doctor's appointment this afternoon so maybe I'll hit the water again tomorrow.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ride Height Adjuster, MK 1 Mod 0

I've concocted a shade tree mechanic's version of the elegant Swiss adjuster. It's made of some delrin rod tapped with left hand and right hand threads, 10-32, to fit the ball socket. With it I get about 20 mm of throw and it seems to work well with the boat on its side in the backyard. The whole shebang fits under my bonnet out of the way. Right now it's not led outboard. I want to try it first sailing so that when the Mod 1 (and 2 and 3) come along, as they inevitably do, I'll have a sense of where the leads should go without getting underfoot.

A new trick for me is to use a rope eyestrap. The turning blocks are fastened with some high tech line that's frayed at the ends, wetted out with some epoxy and taped down to the deck. We'll see if the method holds in the heat of battle. Another trick I learned from the latest issue of  Epoxyworks (the Project X fairing technique article) is to mix G5 five minute epoxy with some regular 105/205 mixture at 30% by volume to accelerate the cure. It seemed simple to do; the mixture kicked solid in about 20 minutes.

No sailing today as we're under a large high pressure dome and the breeze is pretty light. Maybe tomorrow?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Some height, Finally!

Another couple of hours this afternoon in a nice breeze of 10-20 (with some higher gusts.)  The addition of the new wand makes all the difference in the world. No hull slap and some nice height. I had put some marks on the struts at 8 and 16 inches above the horizontal. With the wand adjustment today I was consistently sailing (in flat water) with the top line a couple of inches above the water -- so the horizontals were about 14" below the surface. Not M2 range but a whole lot better than I was able to achieve with the wippy wand. Both the mainfoil and the rudder horizontal were at the same depth, and the boat felt good.  Thanks to Bruce for the suggestion of long and stiff; it seemed to work great. I have another four inches I can extend the wand and I thought about experimenting, but I wanted to get some measurements first. 

I have to agree with Chris' recent post about trying to keep the wand paddle on the surface. Things did feel a little wonky when the wand was completely clear of the water, and often a sudden crash resulted. The breeze was real puffy (there were moments when I wish I had the mini-rig, maybe gusts to 25??)  and I had a couple of instances where the rudder stalled and the boat just wouldn't come up in the slight lull. I'm going have to try sitting inboard a bit off the wind when it's honking.  I also found that what works well in flat water doesn't when it gets bouncy. When I snuck around the tip of the spit there were waves rolling in from the Chesapeake on the order of 2-3 feet.  I'm working on a ride height adjuster and hope to get it installed in the next week or so.

I had tightened up the worm gear as best I could. The addition of the stainless plate below the gudgeon helped remove some slop there. Of course, with everything beefed up the weak link had to appear somewhere else. And sure enough, the rudder horizontal was loose when I came back in. It's a good thing I didn't loose it! So, some more boatwork this evening. I hope to sail in some fresh water on Sunday - the Chowan River where my in-laws have a vacation cabin.  If this breeze holds it will be nice to sail where there's no salt and sand...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Getting Rid of Slop

I've dissassembled the worm gear trying to figure out where the extra play is coming from.  My best guess is that the primary culprit is the kludgy swivel shackle (a Ronstan part.)  Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to reduce the play here. I wonder what other home builders are using for the swivel... any suggestions???

Another problem has been the lower gudgeon. I'm using some G10 glass laminate with about eight layers of carbon cloth on the bottom side. The 1/4" hole drilled through this composite plate just seems to slowly enlarge. To hopefully get a bit more life (and reduced wear) I'm fastening onto the bottom of the laminated gudgeon a stainless steel plate from a old tang that has a machined 1/4" aperture. There seems to be just enough play to accommodate a few degrees of misalignment as the AoA is adjusted.

On a related note, I got some 10mm OD carbon tube from and I find that my existing wand from FC is way whippier than it needs to be. I don't know the specifics at to wall thickness and construction  (although the new tube seems just a hair thicker), but using the flex-in-the-hands test, it's appreciably stiffer. So, a new paddle on a new stiffer tube should help immensely. If things kick by this afternoon (perhaps with some heat gun assistance) I'll try it out this evening (the forecast is still calls for 10-15 kts out of the north!)