First Overnigth Sail Trip ReportBy Scott Widmier #104 "Half and Half" (2es 1eo 7ea 2ad 23ar)
I hit the lake later than intended as I took the time to carefully go through and pack all of the gear I intend to bring along on the Everglades Challenge. The only exceptions were I only had a gallon and a half of water (I plan on three) and I only had two days worth of food in the form of bars and not the calorie packed ones I intend to bring. I wanted to see how the boat would sail loaded down and see how I would fit inside of it with all my stuff. The additional water and food will go in the side airtanks and, hopefully, their added weight will be compensated by my continued weight loss for a net zero for both space and weight.
I launched the boat at my marina and tried out the new raised oarlocks (pictures to be posted soon) and they worked wonderfully. I still have to sit with my legs tucked up as the duck itself lacks the length needed to stretch out. Later, when the wind died, I rowed and was able to average between 2.3 to 2.5 mph with a slow steady stroke. The fastest i could get the ECduck to move under oars was 3mph or a little over but I wouldn't be able to sustain that for long. I had John look at the trim of the boat with me on the designed thwart and he said it balanced perfectly with the bow and stern transoms just out of the water. The glide was surprisingly good on the boat between strokes on the smooth water.
Shortly after launching and before I was out of the marina I had another sailor holler some questions about my rig so I unrolled the sail so he could see it in action. The new one-line furling and out-haul line worked wonderfully though, later when wet, the jam cleats did show a tendency to let go of the line in light winds when I was messing with the rig. On the lake, I was able to roll up and let out the sail even while sailing from the comfort of the cockpit. Just a wonderful system! Since I had the sail out, I decided to sail out of the marina!
Once on the lake I found wonderful conditions for full sail though a few wind gusts did hit but the boat handled them well. I started sailing towards where I knew John would be coming from and, soon enough, heard him call on the radio. We linked up and sailed around as the wind slowly petered away. He may disagree, but I think the ECduck pointed a bit higher than his Coresound 15. Of course, his extra speed more than made up for any difference. In a decent breeze I averaged 4.5 mph with bursts up to 6 mph. When very closed hauled the speed dropped to 3.5mph and I really didn't look at the gps when dead downwind. My feeling is 4mph is a good estimator to use under sail. Right at the edge of what I need so it will be close.
During this time, I also tried sailing with my dodger up. As soon as I put it up, I noticed a big difference in temperature just from the dodger blocking the wind. There was also a greenhouse effect with the sun. I didn't notice adverse effects from the increase windage though it was a bit harder to sail when you can't feel the wind on your skin. One thing that worked well was the little wind indicator I mounted on the port side of the deck easily visible through the windshield. Once I get a little more practiced with the boat I should be able to match up the indicated wind with the proper angle of my boom both visible through the front windshield. What didn't work out well was the darn skylight as it was too far forward only giving me a glimpse of the bottom part of the sail. Not worth the aggravation and extra wrinkles it caused. I also tested out sailing with the back flap closed and it just brushed the back of my head. The deck/rowing thwart that is enclosed by the dodger made an excellent shelf for stuff including the gps, radio, and camera.
Another thing that didn't work was the stadium seat I got. It was too short to prop on the back deck of the boat when reclined for sailing under cover so tended to fall into the back storage area providing no support. The back of the lifejacket on the lip of the back deck sufficed for this short sail but I need to keep working on this. My next try will be a closed-cell foam pool lounge I used on Queequeg's coffin in the Florida 120. I plan on trimming the headrest more narrow but keeping it for comfort. The back, including the headrest, will get boards on the back for support and I am leaning towards slats. I will also put some slats on the bottom along with some straps so I can use it to lounge on the beach. The float is long enough to serve as a comfortable inch thick mattress when laid flat on the bottom so I will be taking out the z-lite pad and cushioned floor tile for a more uncluttered approach.
The boat ghosted well in light winds though John and his Coresound 15 quickly pulled away from me. As the wind continued to die I broke out the oars to row the rest of the way to our chosen cove. Ironically, all the extra time John gained was used up in tiding up his sails so we ended up going into the cove together. I nosed the ECduck up to the beach and exited over the bow. The deck is plenty sturdy to take my weight making this a wonderfully easy boat to get on and off of dryfoot. I took my food sack, water container, hypothermia kit, and cloths bag up onshore and sat down comfortably leaning back in the stadium seat I used in the boat. I gathered some firewood somewhat damp from recent rains and started a small fire using a pinch of vaseline soaked cotton ball, three sticks of fatwood, and a small lighter. Took a little while for the damp wood to catch but the fire was welcome by both John and I as we ate our dinners. I was glad I had brought my clothes bag as I kept putting on more layers as the night progressed!
When we finally snuffed the fire, around 8pm, it was cold!! I boarded the boat and tucked my clothes bag and hypothermia bags up in the very bow out of the way of my feet. I then paddled out so I could sleep at anchor. I threw out my mini claw anchor with chain and parachute cord for rode. One modification will be more substantial anchor line both for peace of mind and abrasion resistance. I also need to make a mesh bag to store the anchor and rode on deck rather than on my bed! As I said before, the duck is an amazingly stable boat making it possible to sleep at anchor comfortably.
I got out my thermolite reactor sleeping bag liner and put it on first. I had to sit on the back edge of the cockpit in order to slip down into the bag. I repeated the procedure with the 30 degree synthetic mummy bag. I cannot draw up my knees far enough when in the boat to do this so getting into my sleeping stuff under the bimini will be near impossible. This is why I was thinking about NOT using a sleeping bag. I need to look closer at the bag and see if it has a full-length zipper so I could use it as a quilt relying upon the closed cell mattress mentioned above as the insulation between myself and the bottom of the boat. I also have a nice wool blanket that is a little bulkier but more user-friendly than the thermolite reactor liner. Ironically, I was thinking that I could actually sail the boat while still in the sleeping bag! I scooted down into the boat and put up the dodger (takes a second or two) and zipped up the back flap. The length of the boat is good for sleeping even with the storage lip in back. That area behind the cockpit turned out to be a great area for storage of items when sailing or for the night. I do need to work out some net storage on the sides or under the deck for small items.
One thing I forgot was to get out my wool socks so my feet started out fairly cold but eventually warmed up. Also, my handwarmers were in my hypothermia kit up front so I couldn't use those either. Finally, I had left my stocking cap in my clothes bag. Some lines from the cockpit area are needed so I can retrieve this stuff in the future! My thin sweatshirt had a hood which sufficed until around 1pm at which point I used the hood on the sleeping bag. That bag is just big enough for me...no extra space to heat up which is good in a way but bad, if like me, you tend to roll around. Speaking of, I did find out I needed an extra inch in height to be able to roll on my side in the boat. I do need to train myself to sleep on my back as that position requires less padding but I would like to be able to curl up.
John and I discussed this the next morning which is when we looked at the trim of the boat when rowing. One solution would be to remove the rowing thwart opening up the cockpit all of the way to the curved windshield of the dodger. For proper trim for rowing this would require a removable rowing thwart which does complicate things being one more thing to store when not rowing and one more thing to have to get out when rowing. I could try rowing from a squat though.... The other solution is to take out the center part of the 1 1/2 " tall support beams using the remaining part in combination with an extra piece of 1/2" ply in the middle. What does everyone think?
I had to row pretty much all of the way back to the marina that morning and parked the boat in an unoccupied slip so that I could sail my suncat in the races. No, I was not going to make everyone wait for my puddleduck to finish! John had some amazing starts and I kinda blew all of them. Both of us were hampered by not being able to point as high as the sloops and lighter displacements that reduced our ability to coast through the dead spots. Despite these handicaps, John did a great job of sailing his coresound 15 and will only get better as he gains familiarity with the boat. There was one funny incident when he rounded the weathermark first and then lost all way as all the bigger boats behind him stole all of his wind.
I experimented sculling the boat using the starboard oar in the oarlock. Despite the lock not being in the best of positions for a full sweep and having to replicate the sculling movement with my wrist, it did surprisingly well in moving the boat. Not as quick as rowing but an easy way to move the boat through dead patches on the water without having to reconfigure for rowing. I will put an oarlock on the starboard side of the transom (I am right handed) and use a scullmax device I bought from duckworksbbs with my spare oar and the handle portion from another oar. I will have to test out speed with this but, based on my experiment this weekend, should be able to sustain a speed of 2mph.