15 December, 2010

Update, Late but better than never

Well, it has been several months since I updated this blog. Sorry, but I have been very busy and I am already making new plans.

At the end of September I participated in the Watertribe North Carolina Challenge. This was my first time in a Watertribe event. Since early Spring I worked at modifying my 14.5' Wilderness Systems creek kayak to compete in Class 3, Kayaks with sails and outriggers. All the practice and work on the boat paid out. I came in sixth in the race and first in Class 3. (22 Hours, 37 Minutes) The weather was challenging but far from the worst that I have seen in this boat. The first leg to Cedar island had no wind. I made the mistake of putting my sail up at the start. See the above picture. The Neuse River was all head winds. This is the worst situation for this boat because of the poor tracking. At Harlowe Canal I caught up and passed my chief Class 3 competitor, Whitecaps. We just caught the end of the tide and got a small boost throught the canal. In the Newport River I took a short cut through the marshes gaining a full half hour on Whitecaps. After we turned the corner in Beaufort the wind was 15 knots with us. The run down Core Sound was very fast. I should have reefed much sooner. Running into a Pound Net did not help and I had to flip the boat on purpose to keep the outrigger from getting torn off. It is not much fun to bail the boat in breaking seas at 2AM after paddling all day. I made it back to Cedar Island before sunrise. I will be doing the NCC again next year. This is a good fast race, a perfect way to get into the Watertribe experience. The logistics are much simpler because it starts and ends in the same place.

Now for the new plan. I will be doing the Watertribe Everglades Challenge in March. The boat will be a Hobie Tandem Island. It is a much more stable platform. I will run much further off shore. Practice runs will be through the winter. More to come.

12 September, 2010

Watertribe NC Challenge Practice

Last weekend I went to try out the NCC Course. It was the day after Hurricane Earl left the area so the weather was not with me. Bellow is a summary that I posted on the Watertribe discussion board:

So this weekend I went to Cedar Island to get some on the course practice.  Here are some of my observations:

1) It was the day after the hurricane. Areas of the Cedar Island main road were under water. Arriving in the evening  I was welcomed by what looked like a ordinary house fly. Do not let these creatures fool you. They are carnivorous! When the sun went down they were replaced by a swarm of blood thirsty mosquitoes. 

2) The camp ground is $20. You can not beat that price. When I asked about where to park my car and trailer I got the shoulder shrug. I paid for three day of camp ground just to be safe. 

3) The drinking water at the camp is nasty and has a sulfur taste. Bring in your water. 

4) Saturday morning I left from the campground ramp. You can see the SPOT track on the NCC map page. (Select Dogslife => Show Tracks and All Waypoints => Regenerate View) The wind was blowing from the west straight down my course line. The waves were one foot coming out of the cut east of the ramp, two foot passing the ferry and close to three foot between Cedar North light and the sand banks. The wave pattern is not the regular large ocean roll that I am use to at the mouth of the Chesapeake. There are a lot of reflective waves coming from different angles. I laugh when I hear about 34 pound boats. My 14.5' plastic pig that probably weighs close to 150 pounds loaded is no fun pushing into the wind and waves. I am waiting to see how Matt does in his inflatable. The only thing that I had to look forward to was rounding Piney Island and putting my sail up.

5) The waves were breaking on the beaches of Piney island. I had to put up my sail rig waterborne  while trying to keep from getting blown into the Island. I got a 1/2 hour of nice reaching down the Neusse River before the wind veered to south west straight down the river. "You have got to be kidding me". I must have really pissed off the weather gods some place in my past. They were not with me on this trip. I tried Hybrid sailing to windward (paddle/sail), I tried tacking toward Oriental, I tried everything. The minute I stopped paddling I lost ground. I pulled to the shore, took down the sail and paddled into the wind and waves up to Cedar Point. At Cedar point I thought that I might be able to close reach if I altered my route behind Great Island. I had to continue my Hybrid paddle. The sun was going down as I rounded into Clubfoot Creek and you guessed it the wind also turned but eventually died. 

6) Paddling the Harlowe Canal in the dark is a experience. My GPS map was not too accurate at the entrance and I did hit one blind cove. The current was going against me but not too strong. After the 101 highway bridge it started going with me. 

7) I had some prospective camp sites on the Newport River. They all turned out to be bunk. They were all wet maybe because of the storm. Lots of oyster beds along the shore. I gave up and headed to Beaufort. 

8) Beaufort was hoping with Labor day parties. All I could smell was the fried food rounding the point. By 1AM I was spent. I filled my water bladders at the check point and found a dark dock to crash on. Too tired I wrapped a tarp around me thinking that the mosquitoes were my biggest enemy. A hour later I was shivering. My rashguard is a pain to get off so I left the wet thing on. Big mistake. I put on my sweater and used my space blanket to keep warm.

9) In the morning it was dead calm. Entering North River the wind started blowing from the North East. I paddled to the Harkers bridge and then put the sail up.

10) My boat can sail closer to the wind without the outrigger in light winds. I sailed close hauled like that to make Marshallberg point. As I rounded the point I got slammed with the wind and promptly flipped the boat. 

11) The wind was blowing hard straight down Core Sound. I tried tacking up but my course made good was too slow. I had to reef my sail. In three hours I made only three miles on my route line. My progress was quickly getting behind my schedule.

12) Stopping at the Core Banks I decided for Plan B, my bailout plan. Oyster Creek ramp was one of my emergency haul out points. As I crossed my intended route line I took a bearing on the wind. Straight down the line. I had to work the lee shore at Davis to make the boat ramp.

13) I have not hitchhiked in over 30 years. That was a experience by it self. A old fisherman gave me a ride up to Sealevel. He was quite the character. From Sealevel I walked over a mile getting attacked by mosquitoes. My legs were covered by blood from smashing them. Then I was picked up by this couple in a pickup truck. "Can you ride in the back?" The back was loaded with stuff. I squeezed  into tiny space thankful that I was getting away from the mosquitoes. Next time I am bringing hitchhiking clothes. No one wants to pick up a paddler who looks like they just washed up on the shore.

14) Lessons learned: I should have paced my self on the first leg. Thinking that thing are going to get better around the first corner is not always true. Take the old canal route instead of fighting the Pamlico. I had way too much extra weight. Less food and water. I tried to follow the Chief's list and went too heavy. Someone needs to look at the requirements for a 2 day trip vs one week for the Florida challenges. My SPRINT cell phone was useless until Newport River. My Verizon computer card had one bar at the campground. Make sure you do all you reporting around Beaufort. Sandybottoms is correct. This race is very different from open water sailing. The conditions are constantly varying and there are few rest spots at the 50% point. I think that I could have made the 2 1/2 day time line. I just hope that the weather gods and mosquitoes are more forgiving on the day of the race...

22 August, 2010

More Kayak Sailing Videos

It has been raining all morning. Not a fun day to go out and train. I agree that I should be out there in all sort of conditions but after moving my daughter into her collage room yesterday I need a day to recharge my batteries.

I have posted two more sailing videos on you tube. I am finding out that it is much easier to take video than it is to produce one.

The first is from another Chesapeake Bay excursion for my continued Watertribe testing. I am getting to a point of almost no breakdowns. Now to gather all the required equipment and pack it all into the boat.

The second video is from a little expedition trip with my son to the Easter Shore of Virginia. The ocean side has numerous barrier islands. Most are owned by the Nature Conservancy and have very limited day access. I know of only one that allows remote camping, Mockhorn Island. Located at the southern end of the peninsula. I have been thinking about a overnight Kayak trip, leaving Lynnhaven, cross the mouth of the Chesapeake and though Fisherman's Island Channel up to Mockhorn. Camp on the island and return the next day...

This video was shot in HD. Blogger limits the size of your display. I had to play around with it to get it to fit. The video does show some new angles of the boat that I was unable to capture before. It is also enjoyable to pass on to my son some of my sailing experiences.

Labor day weekend I will travel to Cedar Island, North Carolina to familiarize my self with the Watertribe North Carolina Challenge race course.

23 July, 2010

Kayak Sailing Video

I have finished my latest Kayak Video and posted it to You-Tube.

I was hoping to cross the entire mouth of the Chesapeake and back. After braking the rudder I decided that it would be prudent to turn around.

I built a new rudder head that has double pintle/gudgeon support instead of one and added a pocket for the rudder blade for additional blade support. I will try to test this weekend but the weather is suppose to be ~100Deg F...

13 July, 2010

Watertribe Kayak Update

For the past few weeks I have spent most of my time tweaking the kayak and spending time on the water, trying to put as many miles under the keel as possible. The basic design is finished. I modified the outrigger float from digging into the waves by lifting the ends.

The first sail reef works well and is easy to work. I have used it several times already. To meet the Watertribe rules I need to install another reef at the next batten.
There are about ten weeks left until the North Carolina Challenge race. I went out this weekend into some rough waves and took some video. I will post it as soon as I edit it…

29 May, 2010

New Kayak Outrigger Test Run

My Watertribe Kayak is starting to come together. Yesterday I took it out on to the Lynnhaven Bay for testing of the new outrigger design. I made a little video describing the trip.

For this test I stayed in the Lynn haven Bay. The next step will be to go out in to the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay where the waves are bigger.  I have to find out how the design behaves under more challenging environment.

17 May, 2010

Watertribe Kayak Progress

The Watertribe Kayak Project is coming along. So far I have installed the mast, sail, rudder, daggerboard and associated areas to hold the equipment stowed on the deck. The mast, sail and daggerboard all came from E-Bay in the Wind Surfer Section.

The things that I still have to figure out or perfect are: 1) Sail Reefing – Watertribe rules require that you can reef the sail. The windsurfer sail has a sock that slips over the mast. I have installed reef points just above the first batten. The sock prevents the sail to fold on to the boom. I have cut a slot in the sock to allow for folding. Too much of a slot will ruin the sail shape. The distance to the second batten is much greater and the slots will not work. I might have to use a zipper or some other solution. 2) The rudder is home made. I do not have sliding foot pegs. Need to find some other type of system to control the rudder with my feet. 3) Sail works great at lower wind speeds. In higher winds or empty kayak the boat wants to go over. I need an outrigger to help stabilize the boat. It does not need to be too large.

27 April, 2010

Watertribe Kayak Project

Watching the WATERTRIBE Everglades Challenge last month has inspired me to do the North Carolina Challenge in September. The race is just the right distance and close enough to my home ground to be attainable.

I do not have a Kevlar Racer or a long distance cruiser. But my trusty Plastic 14.5’ Wilderness Systems $300 tub can cruise at 3.5 knots for long distances. It is stable and has the load carrying capability. With a nice sail I think that I can FINISH in Class 3.

My other recent interest is welding Plastic. Unlike Epoxy you can see the results instantaneously. I threw out the large heavy seat and replaced it with watertight compartments and foam built in seat. Everything has to have a purpose. The mast and sail are from a Windsurfer purchased on e-bay for lass than $100.

I have been reading all the Watertribe rules. The thing that attracts me to the Watertribe concept is the different ideas that people come up with. If I had the time I would love to build a Matt Layden style boat. The full enclosure has a lot of merit to a long distance passage.

Some things that I have to work out are the rudder, centerboard, and outrigger. To keep up with the plastic idea I am using all the old scrap HDPE plastic that I can find. So far I have used a old recycle bin and part of a old dog house that I had sitting in the back yard. At the same time I am trying to gather up all the other gear that an expedition like this requires. Then there is time on the water to train and work out the bugs.

I will try to post as I go. For a while my sailboat is taking the back seat. I have some unfinished projects before I can take her out. So many projects...

05 February, 2010

Making a Portlight Rain Shield

In the previous Blog I exlained how the Fixed Portlights were replaced with Beckson 5"x12" Opening Ports. I soon found out that when it rained the back rake of the cabin collected water in the Portlight coaming. The port could not be left open. The main purpose of the opening Port was to provide ventilation while keeping the nasty Chesapeake flying critters out.

There are several commercial rain shields available. The things that I did not like about them are the cost and that they block some of the ventilation by wrapping down around the Portlight. I had plenty of scrap Plexiglas around the garage. If you understand how to work with this material you can make some nice components for your boat. The hardest part is to cut the material. Straight lines can be cut with a plastic scoring tool available at your local Home Depot. Unlike cutting glass you scratch through the material multiple times until you are about half way through. To snap the piece I use two pieces of wood to support the edge. This is the hardest part of the operation. Practice on scrap material. Curves and inside corners can be cut with a fine toothed jig-saw blade. Again you run the risk of cracking the material. I usually cut outside the line and finish off with a sander or grinder. The edges can also be rounder with the same tools.

Above drawing is a rough template for a 5"x12" Portlight. First you cut out the main rectangle. It is easier to bend the plastic at this point. I found a piece of PVC pipe with the same radius as the Beckson Portlight corners. I marked the rectangle with the location where the radiuses bend start. (dashed lines on diagram) Using a Hot Air Gun I pre-heated between the dashed areas constantly moving back and forth. Be careful not to overheat and burn the plastic. The Plexiglas starts getting shiny and starts to bend. At this point form your curve over the PVC pipe. You do not have too much time. If too stiff continue to heat. Make sure that you have a nice 90 degree bend. Once I have my shape I dip the sheet and pipe in a bucket of cold water to freeze the shape. Test your creation to make sure that it fits snugly over the Portlight coaming.

You will notice that the rain shield points up. To give it a downward pitch you have to cut out two triangle sections across the back. Part of this triangle runs into the curve. First I rough cut the triangle off with a jig-saw. Using a belt sander I removed the final amount and tested the shade until I had a nice tight fit.

The jib sheets tend to get caught on the bottom corners of the shade. To keep this from happening I sanded a nice radius curve. You now should have a basic shade as shown in the pictures.
I wanted the rain shade to be easily removable without any special tools. This was done using four small cotter pins. I placed the shield on the coaming and drilled the holes using the smallest drill bit possible. Make sure that you have enough edge on the coaming. The pins do not snag sheets because they are protected by the shield.

DESIGN PROBLEM: Water tends to leak behind the top joint, puddle and run over the top coaming. The solution was to lay a bead of clear Silicone Caulk across the top. This made the shield less removable. I have towed the boat at highway speeds with the shields installed. No problem if everything is nice and tight.

Another problem: Water sitting inside the lower corner of the Beckson Portlight puddles and can flow over the window gasket with the Portlight open. I carefully drilled three small holes in the coaming to drain this water. (See above picture)

This might not be the best rain shade in the world. But, I do have the satisfaction of building and solving the design.  

29 January, 2010

Replacing the Leaky Portlights

The original windows on the Newport 16 were fixed port lights. The 1/8” Plexiglass is held in place by a plastic frame pop-riveted into the cabin side. The seal is a silicone bead under the frame. Unfortunately over the years the frame has cracked. The strength of these windows is questionable. The seal eventually leaks. I am not a fan of a wet sleeping bag. Later Newports made by Gloucester replaced the fixed windows with Beckson opening port lights.

I was able to purchase a set of used Beckson portlights on E-Bay. The gaskets were in a very good condition. I started the repair by removing the old portlight and sanding off the gel coat to expose the raw fiberglass. The fiberglass is fairly thin in this area. The removed portlight was used as a template to cut out a 3mm plywood insert. Small wood blocks were used to hold the plywood aligned in the hole. Fiberglass tape was applied, blocks removed, holes filled and the entire house side was covered with a new layer of cloth inside and out. The Beckson trim piece was used to lay out the postion of the new hole. To further strengthen the opening another plywood ring was cemented inside. Both inside and outside was sanded and faired to the existing gel coat. I had some graphite tape left from my Kayak Building days. Strips of that were put over insde stay blot holes to strenghten that area. Epoxy primer and Polyurethane top coat was applied.

I tried to keep my clearances tight to reduce any openings. The portlight was set in place with 3M Sealer and bolted. The exterior trim coverpiece holds only with sealer.
To hold the portlight in the open position I installed a single D-Ring that slips over the locking tab. Insect screen fits under the gasket.