ECDuck - First Test Sail and Tweaks NeededBy Scott Widmier #104 "Half and Half" (2es 1eo 7ea 2ad 23ar)
John Bell took these photos and more are available at John Bell's Flickr Account
So, the launch was very successful despite having the normal long lists of tweeks and fixes. The duck was nice and stable, behaved very well when hove too, balanced on the helm, easy to get out of irons, and sailed well. The cockpit was a very comfortable place to sit and far enough back to stay dry despite the high winds and bashing into some waves. I was able to adjust the balance to the boat mostly by moving my legs but sometimes by shifting my body. I didn't try hiking out on the first sail. I didn't have a GPS onboard to measure speed but I was marginally slower than John Bell's Coresound on a broad reach with him doing around 5mph. My biggest problem, as John mentioned, is leeway which was really evident sailing hard to windward and when the wind gusted.
I had this issue on another boat equipped with this escape rig and I think it may be a too-tight leech line is creating a cup at the back of the sail which captures the wind rather than letting it flow nicely off the trailing edge. I have had recent experience fixing this on another boat. My Suncat, as delivered from the factory, made horrible leeway and I noticed the sail was cut very full for a four-sided gaff rig. I ended up buying another sail (bigger one also) that was a lot flatter and now the boat tracks great. I also need to install a cleat for the roller rig and work a bit with the mast step to get the collar on the roller mast to lock in fully.
I am not going to limit the fix to the leech line, however. I also plan on making new wider leeboards for the boat. The leeboards I made are rectangular 10" wide by 42" long and look kinda weird on the sides of the duck. It just begs for shorter, wider, and more curvy boards to match the character of the boat. I will make the new ones out of plywood glassed for strength. I also had issues with the board staying down when the boat was charging through the water. I depended on a shockcord to keep the board down with a line to a cleat to raise it. Using the autorelease clam cleats from Duckworks, I will reverse this setup so the line is used to keep the board down and the shockcord (along with the flotation of the board) will raise it when the line is released.
I gave the mast more rake on this boats than on the previous boats I have used this rig on. This lead to the boom being too short which wasn't a problem given I had to reef the sail to keep the boat upright yesterday. So, I need to lengthen the boom. I also need to swap out my 2:1 mainsheet for something with a bit more purchase and possibly (gasp) a cleat so I can block the sheet off. My arms are still aching from holding that mainsheet.
Tried out a fishtail drive and it did work but will need a lot of adjustment to make it practical. It sockets into an oarlock on the transom so is easily removable but not easily stowable. I used oars instead and was happy with the trim of the boat using the front of the cockpit as the thwart. However, I need to raise the oarlocks and move them aft to get clearance for a full stroke. The breakdown oars worked well and store easily downbelow. I will also try the Scullmax I bought from Duckworks on this boat as I could "motorsail" with a sculling oar. I can use the breakdown oars for the scullmax so don't have to carry any extra parts. The oarlock on the transom also allows me to use an oar for a backup rudder.
The rudder worked well in the high winds though I need more than the one very solid gudgeon and pintle. I have a duckworks gudgeon for a weekender and it held up well but I want to add another purchase at the bottom of the rudderbox to take the slack out of the system. I may build a new rudder system using one of the butcher-block laminated leeboards as the blade for looks and sturdiness. The rudder lines worked but there was a lot of friction in the system making the boat a little tiring to steer. I believe this is due to an angled pull on the rudder done in order to keep the transom clear for the fishtail drive. If I drop the drive, I can definitely remove this friction. I may also add steering levers to each side of the cockpit replacing the dowels I have tied into the steering rope for handholds.
The boat is revealing its own character to me and it is a good one. This also will help me decide on a name for the boat. One that rose strongly to my mind given yesterday's experience is "Steadfast." The definition of this adjective is: "Resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering: "steadfast loyalty"