Saturday, January 20, 2007

My 2nd Trial Sailing

And not as much fun as Snore's. Check out this video clip of Bill Herrmann's (WaterTribe name SnoreBringGator) 2nd sea trial off Everglades National Park in his new Prijon Wildwasser Sail Rig. This is not his second time kayak sailing, just his 2nd time sail training with this rig, his new sponsor for the Watertribe Everglades Challenge this year. Last year, Snore completed the 2006 EC in the same setup I'm paddling and sailing, a Kruger SeaWind with Balogh sail.

It was a sunny, cold (45 F), and windy day, NW 12-15 mph with gusts 20-25. I was toasty warm in thermals, fleece, and drysuit. There was lots of chop, and white caps.

Starting out a little nervous, I left the beach with one reef in the sail. The 33 sq ft sail has the option of 2 reefs. The first mile was uneventful, I was averaging about 4.5 mph, and feeling pretty good about it, I decided I didn't really need the reef. This time out I had really filled the inflatable amas tight and felt very secure with them.

The full sail was much faster, and out in the middle of the lake I was now sitting in the boat on one cheek, holding onto a little red rope as if my life depended on it. My GPS recorded a max speed of 8.6 mph, mostly I was averaging 6.7-7.2. I was sailing N, with enough wind off my right shoulder that my windward ama was high out of the water (no amount of shifting seemed to level it off), but still the downwind ama was not burying. However, no matter what adjustments I tried to make, the whole bow of the boat would dive and bury into the water. This I did not like. And there was this constant humming noise. What is that all about?

I sailed 4 miles, then decided to turn and paddle back. I had planned to do this 2-3 times, I'd get some good sailing practice and a good paddling workout up wind. I lasted one round trip. It was the fastest 4 miles down I'd ever gone in a Kruger, and the slowest 4 miles back up. After finishing the 8 miles, my overall average speed would have been faster had I paddled the whole way. Of course that included all the time I spent trying to get the boat to turn around.

Turning was not an easy thing to do. I must have tried to turn 4 or 5 times. Tacking into the wind like I had read about, and even with a running start, but, I would get to this point where the boat would not turn anymore, and, not move either. Paddling might have helped, but I was still holding onto that little red rope. Eventually I decided to try turning the other way, a jive (I think). I thought I had read that turning away from the wind is not easy, and it wasn't. I did finally make that turn, but it was pretty ugly as I fought the sail which wanted to wrap around the mast the wrong way.

On the return trip, I had hoped there would be enough of a W wind to let me sail a little, but not so. With the constant gusts, I was not feeling comfortable about tacking back and forth on a beam reach, and it was looking to be a very cold wet ride that way. Trying to paddle upwind, I felt like the sail was really working against me, so I finally pulled over and took the sail and mast down, deciding to leave the lee board and amas on. I have no idea why I thought this would be good practice, it was just a lot of work.

In the end, I was exhausted both from the stress and the hard paddle, and only 8 miles. I don't think I really had fun, and I don't think I liked it. Maybe I should just paddle.

And then I saw Snore's video. I'm not quite ready to give up yet.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Keep at it Dawn. You'll get better each time out, I'm sure. Keep in mind small boat sailing is an art with lots of little tricks to it to do well. If you're not a sailor, try taking one out with you, if possible, to help with those turns (I suspect the amas slow you down coming about making the whole turn stall. Try keeping only the inner one in the water if possible and swing the boat around it). When jibing (turning away from the wind) bring the sail right in tight, then slowly let it out on the other side as you go around.