Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A nice day for a picnic

Is it a good sign when your friends take pictures of your boat?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tweaking the rig

I have been sailing twice more.  Both days were beautiful, one was with a good friend, and the other was solo.  I am constantly tweaking the rig and continuing to discuss it here, as I wrestle with sailing this boat solo (she sails great with a crewmember).  She's kind of beating me up, but in a good learning-curve kind of way.  Each time solo, I understand her better, rig her better, underestimate her less, and am having more and more fun.  It's summer, the water is warm, and now is the time to push it, so I can be safe when further from shore or when the weather goes bad.  This is the time to answer the big questions.

Next week will see some changes to the rig, some slight work done, and hopefully a good day with honking wind to experiment with.

No camera on the past two trips.  Too bad too, I had a great picnic anchored below some towering white pines in a nice breeze on a beautiful summer day.  Next time!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sailing time #3

Ok, back to some sailing today with my Goat Island Skiff!  I had to take a hiatus the past few days to take care of some issues, but this afternoon I picked up my sail from Withum Sailmakers, who added some grommets along the original reef points, and a third reef, which will be the new first reef, half-way from the foot to the original first reef.  See picture.

This set up came highly recommended by the sailmaker, and my buddies over at the Storer Forum thread where we are discussing the Goat's handling characteristics.  This will give me more options for reefing whether I am solo, or with a crewmember.

In addition, I've adjusted my downhaul.  Previously, I had a downhaul that also went to the forward section of the boom and this was affecting my ability to dump power when a gust hit, and this contributed to me dumping the boat in Force 3 when I was solo.  It was a frustrating day, and in so small way my downhaul had a part to play.  This is what the downhaul looks like now.  It's still not what I want, because I lack the hardware, but it's better than what it was, and it the difference was noticeable. 

Now there are some problems in this picture.  I need some more tension at the tack, and you can see the first grommet of the foot is pulled tight against the plastic zip-tie.  Either I need to tie down the entire foot, or re-enforce this area.  This force was created by the extra down force on the downhaul.  This extra force on the downhaul keeps the rig from swinging forward.  Though, as you can see in this pic of my going downwind, the downhaul is not parallel with the mast, because there is still not enough force, and by the end of the sail, the boom had inched forward.  More purchasing power on the downhaul will fix this.

OH! And here she is at anchor.  Pretty!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Second sailing, solo this time

 No pictures today folks.  I was too busy swimming or trying to stay dry.  What follows below I also posted at the Woodwork forum for Storer boat designs.  It sums up my second sail rather well.  A very interesting conversation is ensuing for those that are interested in handling the Goat Island Skiff.


I have extensive racing experience in Blue Jays, Lasers, 420's, FJ's, and recreational experience in Beverly dinghies and Beetle Cats. All marconi rigs except for the gaff Beetle Cat. I am an athletic 30yr old and weigh 150lbs.

The first time I went sailing in my GIS it was in a force 2- light breeze with my wife. The boat handled superbly.

I went sailing today for the second time in my boat, and I was by myself, and it was force 3- gentle breeze with some higher gusts. I got spanked by my GIS in ways I didn't even see coming, and I'm surprised and a little humbled. I went sailing planning on a picnic as I cruised up and down the lake tweaking the rig. Instead, I went swimming.

So, as I headed out things were looking good. It's 65F (18C) and overcast, with a good breeze and slightly chopped water. I was un-reefed full sail, sitting on the rail and humming along, with a little bit of heal. A gust came up that I saw coming and I let out the sail a bit. This did not stop the boat from going over. I completely let go of the main and dumped it, but she still went over. Water poured over the gunwale, and that was it, I was in the drink and my flip-flops were floating away. That was fast. I swam around and clambered up on the daggerboard, no problems there, she came right up but obviously swamped. Balancing the boat was precarious. The nose was down, and I feared a breach in the forward compartment. I bailed her out with my 5 gallon bucket, and checked the forward compartment, it was dry.

I decided to reef. My sails are the stock Duckworks sails, with no reef points except the grommets along the luff and leach, its the full-batten idea.

In my personal opinion, the full batten idea is not conducive to reefing underway, especially with a sail this large. I was skeptical when I ordered it but decided to go with it anyways since it came with Mik's recommendation and he looks so comfortable on his beautiful Beth. I found that that when situated in the bow of the boat the GIS is highly unstable due to its narrow beam in this area, and this was in only lightly chopped water. I tied off the "new" tack of the sail and then tied off the clew and re-hoisted the sail.

The full-batten sail with two reefing points cannot exert enough pressure along the boom to keep the sail folded up. Despite repeated attempts at re-tensioning the clew and tack and "new" outhauls I was not able to get enough tension along the "new" foot of the sail to keep it under the batten. As the chop increased, it became a more precarious situation to sit up in the bow fiddling with the tack. I attempted to keep the boat pointing in the wind, but with the large windage in the bow, it kept falling off the wind. A mizzen in this case would have helped immensely. Kudos to Clint and John.

Sailing a half-way reefed sail with a large pregnant foot billowing out I sailed close to shore and dropped anchor.

Dropping the rig I sat up in the bow to re-tension the new tack and clew, and found myself back in the water, as I capsized again, quite unexpectedly. As said before, the boat is unstable with no one else on board and the sole occupant up on the forward seat. This happened really quick.

I bailed the boat back out and made the tension along the reefed foot as tight as possible. As I headed back out to sail some more, the boat really moved along with the first reef. Exhilarating! However, the sail pulled back out of the batten, and I got the "pregnant" foot again. This is not conducive to pointing into the wind. At one point, I could not even tack, the boat kept falling off. I was almost forced onto some rocks, so I jibed around to remedy the situation. This was immensely frustrating, as you can imagine. Was it due to the rather flat head on the Duckworks sail?

Needless to say, I found that the GIS exhibits the following attributes:

*Difficult to de-power the sail in gusts. (is this an attribute of the balanced lug? I have zero experience with this)

*Unsteady when sole occupant is in the bow.

*The full-batten two-grommet reefing idea is either frustratingly difficult to accomplish successfully or only viable when launching reefed-- reefing underway with this fashion system is precarious at best.

*Boat has difficulty tacking through the wind when reefed.

Obviously I would like these remedied. My multi-day Maine coast trip is at risk unless I can figure these out. I'm happy I didn't finish in March, or it would have been a very cold day indeed. My sail is going to get extra reef grommets immediately prior to any more sailing.

These are my first impressions of the GIS, but I would like to hear yours, or from anyone who can shed some light on this issue. The lug rig, as I understand, is a "reef early, reef often" rig, and I can attest to that. I would also like to know why I wasn't able to depower the sail to stop the capsize.

One thing I would like to emphasize:   This boat has 105 square feet of sail area.  Most boats this size have anywhere between 65-80 square feet.  This boat is overpowered, there is no doubt.  This makes it awesome in light airs, and it's a necessity to reef when it gets heavy, especially when alone.  Just something to keep in mind.

Laser:          76 square feet of sail (crew of 1)
Beverly:       66 square feet of sail (crew of 1)
Walkabout:  80 square feet of sail
Mayfly16     91 square feet of sail
Beetle Cat:  100 square feet of sail (and 450lbs hull weight!)
FJ:               100 square feet of sail (crew of 2)
420:            140 square feet of sail (crew of 2)

Oh, she looks really pretty at anchor as viewed from the shore, and I continue to get "thumbs up " when driving on the highway.  

Sunday, June 13, 2010


On June 12, 2010, I humbly presented to Poseidon my Goat Island Skiff along with the requisite champagne on the waters of Lake Sunapee, NH.  I now present to you,

I Am Zinea, Pterodactylus

May you enjoy fair winds and following seas,
High adventure and times of quiet relaxation,
May you always find the port before the storm,
and may you never abandon your crew in their most dire moment of need. 

What can I say, I enjoy long absurd names for my boats.  Pterodactylus was part of the pterosaur family.  Usually they were light, fast, small flying dinosaurs that have been widely hypothesized to live near the sea.  Some larger pterosaurs were definite coastal cruisers, so close enough for me.  I went to the American Natural History Museum in New York and spent some time enthralled with all the dinosaurs and pterosaurs.  They were cool.  My boat is cool.  It all works out.

Under rainy skies and low overcast, and when most lakes were glassy calm, we were able to find a fairly steady light breeze, and do some sailing!

My lovely wife also got me a wonderful present for the launching of the boat, and it was full of Pussers!

A salty gift if I may say so myself!


More posts detailing some fixes and other maintenance items, including sailing adventures are to follow.

The last of the major work

From the last post to Saturday morning (6/12), I have been either at work or home working 9am-1am to get my beautiful Goat Island Skiff ready for launching.  The weather is here, the time is now.  Basically, it's a bunch of small items that needed to be taken care of, like gluing the middle seat on:

This is the last time you'll see the my patented "Forest of Bricks" to hold down the seat during gluing.  I waited to glue this part because I wanted to make the varnishing of the boat underneath the seat easier.  Less bending and contorting to get under the seat, if you get my drift.

Wait, what? Varnish the inside? Yes, I decided to varnish the inside.  Using a roller, 3 coats, light sanding in between the coats.  It went on easy, no problems.  I also put a 4th coat of varnish on the floor mixed with non-skid grit, and it came out really nice.

These taped off areas got the non-skid.  I used the non-skid material for sale at Duckworks, it worked really nice in the varnish.

Another item of critical importance was a trailer.  So I got one.  A new one.  Holy Splurge!

It's a nice trailer.  I repositioned the bunks to perpendicular to the frame so the hull doesn't "hog" around the bunks.

Also, I needed a tiller extension.  Actually, what I needed was rudder hardware, but that's a post in itself.  BEHOLD!  My Battlestick!

I also had to figure out how to rig this thing.  It's a "balanced lug" rig, and I've never sailed one nor rigged one, so that took a few hours to figure out.  It's actually going to take a while to figure out to be honest with you, because there are a bunch of variables.  I just wanted it to be up and viable for a first sail.  Part of the fun is tweaking the rig as you sail along! 

Oh boy!  What next!

There's only one thing left (besides multiple small detail oriented tasks...)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

In the sun!

Enough said.

Interior Work

After much deliberation, I have decided to use varnish on the inside of my Goat Island Skiff (sorry Clint).

Originally I was going to use paint, primarily for the durability, and also what I figured would be less sanding.  However, after the exterior was painted I was acutely made aware that paint highlights every single defect.  Varnish doesn't as much as paint.  To make the paint look good, I would have to sand in strange and tight areas for long periods of time.  This is not something that interests me.  The lazy way out is to varnish so all the irregularities disappear into the grain.  Then, all I have to do is lightly sand the varnish a few times to provide tooth for the next coat.  I figure, 3 at a minimum for UV protection.  This means my white epoxy fillets which were going to be painted are now going to take on a yellowy color.  I'm ok with this.

Not to mention that pretty much everybody who saw the boat pleaded with me to keep it wood.  As the Aubuchon guy said, "Not enough wood boats in the world, you might as well show it off."  My wife's excitement at keeping it bright sealed the deal.

And BOY if it doesn't look good!

The varnish I use is Interlux Schooner Gold 96.  It goes on easy, I don't thin it, and it tips off really nice with a foam brush.  In the interior I used a West System foam roller, it's very thin and doesn't absorb lots of liquid.  I found this at Goose Bay Lumber.  The varnish went onto my sanded interior very easily.  It took a little over an hour to varnish the entire boat.  I then hit it with a little brush to make sure all the nooks and crannies got varnish too, primarily to protect the fillets and glue joints from UV exposure.  It's only the first coat so there are a few small holiday and some areas with more varnish than others but all in all, it looks great.  The best part is that you can only see the defects if you stare right into the glare, otherwise, it looks like a smooth surface!  Yes laziness!

Much time was also spent on a myriad of other small tasks that must get done for this boat to be ready.

I have rudder gudgeons coming from Australia, my hitch will be installed next week, and hopefully before you know it, I'll be sailing!  It can't come soon enough.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A better post for a new month!

The below was a crummy post for the first of June!  Here's to a better start to the first month of summer:

This is a Luna moth I found at a gas station fluttering uselessly against the lights.  I jumped out of the car and took off my shirt and chased it around the station until I caught it and brought it home (much to the amusement of my wife).  A beautiful specimen of a Giant Silk Moth (approx. 6" wingspan).  This one is a male, you can tell because it has well developed antennae.  It lives for about a week and does not eat, it lives only to mate.  I found a Polyphemus last year on Nantucket, but lost the pictures... boo.  But this is beautiful, my first one.  Another good way to start the summer! 

West Marine = Thieving Scumbags

I ordered some small parts (gudgeons for my rudder) for my boat from West Marine.

I received an email stating that the items have shipped.

I received an invoice in the mail stating the items have shipped.

After 10 days I called, looking for my parts.  "They're coming."

After 20 days, I called, looking for my parts.  "Call back next week."

I call back today, and they tell me that the items have not shipped.  They don't even have the items in stock.  There is no timeframe available when the items may be in stock.

They have my money, and I don't have any parts.  Need to find alternative plans now.