Shakedown / Maiden Voyage
How'd she sail?

  Journal Excerpt (Aug.4th):
It's hard to believe that our whole project, our home on water, everything we have done for the past 10 years,  is going to be floating around in the strait today! Relying only on water displacement. It's hard to imagine really. This boat is so big, yet we can take her, our home, anywhere the ocean is.
  We're a bit nervous, but Ian will be along to look at the rigging and mast, so he may also be the navigator of the river. We are pretty rusty on the ocean, having bummed around a lake for the past 5 years, and even then we only had a week of experience. There is a "strong wind warning" in effect but that's not until this evening, but the direction it's coming in might make things a little rough on the mounth of the river, tide going out against it and all. We'll see. Ian told us when he went aloft the other day that she feels very rigid, I hope she is then we can take some of the lead out and lower the waterline a bit. Everything is stowed, grip-it pads under the pots and pans and plates, all ready to go. I have butterflies.
  For some reason I was handed the helm to take her out. This is probably what James T. Kirk would have felt like if Star Trek were real. I felt honored that Gena let me. I pulled out of the marina like a pro. (lucky?) and proceeded into the channel headed for the merge with the river.

  The tide was almost out so Ian was pointing out hazards along the way which, to me, looked pretty benign. After a glance at the charts, one could see low tide depths of  less than 6 feet!

  As predicted, the mouth of the river was about 20 minutes of riding a roller coaster. As we crashed through the standing waves and confused waters, I was exhilarated by how much the boat moved, I mentioned in the journal that "I forgot my cowboy hat to wave around". Gena looked pretty concerned, but I knew that this was nothing compared to seas we'll see in the future, and because Ian didn't look too concerned...or he hid it well ha ha!

  Once we cleared the sand heads we hoisted the main and rolled out big "Jenny". The wind was pretty strong and the whole boat stiffened up like she was suddenly on rails. What power those sails have! Only the wind, waves, and the hum of the water generator can be heard.

  Wow!! Here we are, sailing at last! Not someone else's boat but our own. I held back the tears until I went below to "check for loose objects in the cabin". My confidence in the boat went up 500% after seeing how little she healed in such a brisk wind. "Our little 21' flat bottom would be on her side in this."  I thought to myself. A boat this size is a whole different world.

In the photo, Gena makes it look cold. That weather was fine but she can't bear the wind in her ears, it gives her ear ache. Fine condition for a sailor!

  The small photos are from the webcam mounted on a bum rail. The green water is in the river mouth, and we were surprised  to see the definite line to deep blue where the fresh meets the salt.  Further along is a line where currents meet in the strait. Here you can find wood floating, leaves, seaweed, and the dreaded deadheads. It's best to get through it ASAP.


  After 6 hours (which seemed like 2) we headed back and once again I was commissioned to steer her through the marina. I didn't do so well as a huge yacht had parked on the opposite pier and I couldn't see around it at all. I scraped into the wood dock, putting the first "learning scar" on the hull. That's ok though as we plan to re-paint her because of issues with the paint we used. I'm sure there will be a few more of those to come.

Next time I plan on not trying to back her in! A sailboat with long keel doesn't maneuver well in reverse. The rear tends to walk to the starboard side while in reverse.

  There were a few issues that need to be addressed:
* Where to put the solent stay is one. It was tied to a bulwark rail and the shackle promptly chewed a hole through the white paint there.
* We need a "slopper stopper" (as Ian calls it) better known as a gybe preventer, which is dangerous if used as that. The boom bangs a lot in downwind/rough sea conditions.
* The cork in the exhaust system proved to be a real pain in the butt. We couldn't lower the sails under power....not fun. Exhaust system refit.
* Jenny needs to be raised with a pennant on the clew. She is a nice big sail, but is too low. She is blinding.
* (This one is really silly!) Attach something to the deck to tie the clew of the sail to!! The solent and the staysail stays have nothing to tie the sails on to. Duh! See? we ARE amateurs.
* Attachments for the running backstays. This is just something the riggin' guys haven't done yet. We managed to find a temporary spot on one of the blocks on the track for the Genoa sheets.
* Most annoying. Find a way to get the Genoa sheet knots around the staysail stay. It kept snagging unless going downwind. I think a section of split plastic conduit would work. Either that, or furl the sail up every time which is a lot of work.


  There were a number of other small things not so important. Drink holders in the cockpit area would be nice. Find out what the heck is going on with the sonar and wind displays on the back of the pilothouse. They hung up, and the knotmeter kept cutting out. Damned electronics! Another thing, that was probably quite hilarious to Ian, was all of the alarms that kept going off inside and out. Most of that was because we hadn't set anything up i.e. anchor drag alarms on the radar and depth sounder inside, the wind speed warning after 20 knots was going, and the flux gate was in  "error" state... That is because, as we realized later, the septic tank level float is a giant magnet. Guess where both flux gate compasses are?? More on that on level.htm -solved!

All in all we are happy and high as a kite! She floats, she sails well, and is a smooth ride in all of her grace.
Next will be our little "voyages" around the coast, stay tuned!

Don't miss the video:
         Maiden Voyage in wmv format or on youtube or on our own youtube hosted page

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