Final Test Sail and Overnight Camp

The forecast for Friday night was for a low of 44 degrees. Perfect to test out my modifications to the cockpit and dodger. So, I hooked ECduck up and headed to Lake Allatoona. The winds were real light when I launched and I had to row out of the marina to find enough to move. Once out I got treated to a wonderful sunset with geese honking in the background. Even the slow pace of sail made it absolutely enjoyable. I shot this video (to the right). I tried out the rear oarlock for sculling and was able to move the boat along but at a slow pace.

I wound up pulling my boat on a little private beach, practiced with my hypothermia kit by making a fire, and ate a little dinner. Perfect! The modifications made to the boat worked great. The enlarged cockpit provided enough room to comfortably sleep on my side. The vent on the top of the dodger did a good job in removing moisture though, given the temperature differential between the cabin and outside, I wasn't surprised to see a bit of condensation on the inside in the morning. Less than before though. Using the sleeping bag as a quilt worked great for warmth and was easier to get into. The hood I cut off the bag made for a great night cap to keep my head warm.

Next morning I woke, ate breakfast, and read for a bit all from the comfort of the cabin as I waited for the temps to warm up a bit. I was finally spurred into moving by the race committee boat which came by to see if I was awake. On the way back to the marina I forgot to lower the rudder all of the way and the extra pressure broke one of the cheap hardware store pulleys in half. I was suspicious of these pulleys and was glad to have my suspicions confirmed before the Everglades Challenge! I decided to make a quick run home to get some parts to improve the steering system and to pick up the scullmax device to try in the rear oarlock.

Back at the marina, I made some quick but much more durable modifications to the steering system and headed out under scullmax power. By this time there was a decent amount of wind I had to row into in order to get out of the marina and the sculling oar setup just didn't cut it. I have some other ideas that don't involve having to carry an extra oar or heavy stainless steel device. I went back to rowing, got clear of the marina, and rolled out some sail.

Our club's first race was underway by the time I got out on the lake so I sailed around visiting the committee boat and others making sure to stay out of the way of the race. I decided, with the approval of the race committee, to try out the duck versus the larger boats in the second race. Racing is a great way to learn about your boat giving the ability to see the changes in speed made by adjustments by comparison to the other boats around you.

I was a little slow on the start not wanting to get in any of the larger boats way. Despite this, I was able to stay in the race and finish ahead of two other boats, a Catalina 22 and a Catalina 25. Admittedly, not the fastest boats in the fleet but still a credible performance. I started the third race and, much to my surprise, finished the first lap ahead of one of our A fleet skippers in a Catalina 22! The wind died off after that lap and, with rain threatening, I decided to make my way slowly back to the marina.

I did bring my SPOT locator along and use it. However, only one spot shows up on the challenge tracker map this morning ( and click on the challenge mapper. If you are interested in seeing where I sailed you can go to: spot tracking website You can almost make out how the racecourse was set up. The easternmost point is where the committee boat was and where I visited for awhile before the second race. It is also where the start line was. A little harder to find the windward and leeward marks. You can also see the beach where I overnighted and the path back to the marina.

A great test sail day!