Elkhorn Slough Traditional Small Craft Association EventBy Tyson #726 "Jemima" (9ar)
I took a Friday off last week. I pulled Jemima out from beside the shed where she has sat patiently out of the way for the past two years unattended. When I opened up the access hatches in the rear air compartment there was standing water in there! Not terribly surprising, I should have left the hatches off for ventilation anyway. But fortunately I had had the foresight to paint inside the air compartments when I built her, and the decks are made out of redwood, so remarkably I found no signs of rot.
I took the rudder, leeboard, and mast that I had scavenged from her originally to put on the Mayfly12, and put those back on her. Then I took the 68 Square foot Michalak lug sail that he designed for the Piccup Pram, and which I had intended to use on the Mayfly12 (too much sail though for a 3-foot-wide bottomed flat iron skiff) and set that up on the Puddle Duck. It took me all day getting everything together, but the next morning I went to Elkhorn Slough for a Traditional Small Craft Association event. I arrived a little late and the "real" boats had already departed, but I had a wonderful day of sailing. The wind was I guess up to 18-20 knots (I learned from a TSCA sailor later) but Jemima handled it so comfortably. I had a real blast. I started out tacking into the wind, and it took a while to get about a mile and half down the slough from the dock. But then I got a really fun ride downwind back. It's cool to sail at Elkhorn Slough because there are sea lions and sea otters and pelicans and lots of cool wildlife right up close.
I would say that Elkhorn Slough is almost an ideal spot for sailing a Puddle Duck, except that it can be really shallow, and without a weight on my leeboard I had more trouble fiddling with the leeboard than I would have liked. Also there is current to contend with, and when that combines unfavorably with wind, it is impossible to row and make any progress. I wound up screwing up my return to the dock - I dropped sail too soon after beating back for a long time against contrary wind and current, and then got swept past the dock and stuck rowing for about a half an hour making no progress. I could have beached the boat and then hauled it back, but fortunately I was rescued by the skipper of a Redwood 18 motorboat. I should have just crash landed on the ramp instead of dropping sail and trying to row.
Anyway, it was hands down the best day of sailing I've had yet. I can't wait to get out again. Thanks Shorty!