Sunday, April 10, 2011

Getting to know her

Today was a sailor's gift.

Temperatures reached 82 at the lake and winds started between 5 - 10 then soon provided a steady 10 with gusts to 15. A few hours later it was all white-caps for extended periods.

Did I mention that I headed up to Moraine State Park? Who would have guessed?

The little video clip of a nice broad reach as she is purring along quite nicely, don't you think?

You might say that I had an opportunity to take my little skiff  through her paces.

I am accustomed to boats whose bows slices the waves. This one goes up a hill and down a hill.

I am accustomed to boats that jump on a plane when they reach a certain speed. This boat seems to be planing before it even starts... albeit a "lightness of being" sort of plane.

Since the PMD has an exceedingly short water line, I suspect that under a number of circumstances, the boat might be faster with a second crew aboard since it would obviously lengthen the water line and thereby the hull speed.

So far, I have only single handed the boat.

Initially I expected more boat speed by simply heeling the boat since that would also lengthen its line on the water. However, from my limited experience so far, I did not find this to work the way I'd expect. The boat tracks better when sailed flat. Surely, the skegg has something to do with that result.

My preliminary conclusion:
The PMD offers a comfortable and relatively dry ride, even when "the sheep come out to graze".  I have no doubt that on most points of sail the gunter rig with jib will out-sail the lug-rig. Downwind is an altogether different story. On a broad reach and run, the balanced lug-rig soars.

If after a bit of sailing fun you wish to do a little rowing, you drop the spars, roll up the sail with spars and then pull out the mast and lay right on top of the sails, or the other side. Then you can row without the mast rocking

C-Lute is a lovely boat.

It's hard to think back now that in December I had only started to sand the bare wooden strakes.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What's in a name?

Okay, the question has been raised by many. I finally must divulge the name of what may be the obvious choice to the attentive reader of this blog.

However, before I invoke her name for the first time, a few words of affirmation are in order:

When I first decided on this design, I immediately said to myself ...I'll build her and she'll be called "in a nutshell". Hence the title of the blog. And a nutshell she is. However, I soon came to realize that other similar designs were in fact called "Nutshell" and thus this possible name seemed just too obvious.

So, Nutshell became strictly the "working title" and I hoped that her proper name would reveal itself in the process of building her.

When it became clear to me why I had chosen this perhaps less likely candidate over several of the other beautiful hybrid sailing/rowing designs offered by CLC as a kit, I resolved that the musical theme needed to be invoked by the name since I was, after all, building a "floating lute". Silly me!

My son Isaac suggested a name that I loved: No strings attached.

Upon further contemplation it seemed however simply incorrect since a sailing vessel does, in fact, have a few strings attached. Though they are not called so, try plucking the taut double-purchase downhaul on the boom (attached to the deck) and you'll get some resonance or two (to be sure) if not exactly a chord. So, strings are attached. Sorry Isaac!
Any lover of Renaissance or Baroque music will be familiar with wooden recorders being tuned generally either in C or F. Well, even though lutes generally have various tunings (to the best of my knowledge "C" not being one of them) my particular lute appears to be tuned most definitely in "C".

So, there you are: Her name shall be C-Lute lute musing in the tune of seas.

And I understand that she is promising to strike up a few alluring sounds for anyone who sails her.

Ta-taaaah !!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Boat floats

Moraine State Park
April 7, 2011
She's not sinking... my boat floats.

Okay, I'm not exactly surprised. In fact, I fully expected that result. Even so, after these past four months of regular ship-wrighting, it was gratifying to witness a positive outcome.

It had been several weekends of horrendous weather in these parts combined with the effects of a serious cold which conspired to delay the much awaited test launch.

Today, finally, on the tail end of my cold but with a brief opening in the weather window, I hooked up the trailer after a shortened day at work and headed up to Moraine State Park.

My first stop was at the Park Office in order to purchase a launch permit. Let's not risk the Park Warden confiscating my little lug-rig on its first day at sea, shall we?

Temps at 58 with cotton-ball skies and winds between 5-7 knots, it turned out to be an ideal first outing for this little pram-pup.

I wanted this first day to be private without audience and outside of a gazillion water foul, I found myself unobserved, able to mess leisurely with all the details of getting ready and figuring out

what to put where

and attach how etc.

Of course, on the down side, no action pictures of boat and skipper under away. That's for another time.

The launch was a cinch!

The wheel hubs did not even have to touch the water. I slightly lifted the bow and that cause the skegg of the boat to slide off the trailer rear roller... and off she swooshed into the water.

The rounded shape of the hull (without human ballast on it) makes it appear as though it's only skimming the water like a swallow briefly dipping into the waves in flight.

After raising the lug sail, inserting the dagger board and securing the oars, I pushed off. True, not much wind is needed to make her move. However, movement is all relative, isn't it? On one hand, she heeled nicely on easy puffs and conveyed the lovely sense of speed. Yet, after ten minutes of sailing on the same beat, I find that our little lake has gotten a whole lot bigger when sailed in the little nutshell.

Of course, as I freely admitted in the opening post of this blog, I am accustomed to hi-speed action on my Johnson-18 which readily jumps on a plane and under asymmetrical spinnaker broad reaches easily clocks close to 20 knots. I have no doubt that even a Sunfish would sail rings around the pram - and most certainly Garth's Goldberry.

As I develop a more intimate knowledge of the sailing characteristics of this design and the balanced lug-rig, I will talk shop in more detail. In the meantime, let it be said that I simply love the way it feels sailing the boat. The gurgles of the wavelets against the lap-strake hull are music to my ears. And - I love the simplicity of the lug-rig.

And one wonderful surprise! I discovered that the boat - perhaps aided by the tan-bark lug-sail - appears to provide an excellent camouflage cover for birding. Water foul was not alarmed at the sight of an approaching nutshell, bobbing along nearby. I had brought along my binoculars and spotted two pair of Northern Shovelers... not exactly that common to see in Moraine State Park. As I kept my lenses peeled on the closer pair, I failed to realize in my fascination that I was getting exceedingly close to a flock of about 200 double-crested Cormorants until a couple of them drifted into my view.

What a sight! Obviously, at one point, one Cormorant cawed to the other: this is getting too close for comfort... and started the mass movement, 200 large black birds, flying very low and close around me. Jaw-dropping view! I was in awe.

It was time to return and while winds had been sufficient to work the lug-rig, half-way back to the dock, I decided to drop canvas and try rowing. Around the dock there is generally little to no wind as was the case today or fluky puffs from all directions.

Dropping the lug rig is a piece of cake and you can easily stow it on the side out of the way. So, out come the oars and off you go ~~~ tracking rather beautifully.

The pram is a hybrid craft - neither a pure sailboat nor a pure rowboat. Instead, it is an all-around little ship to mess around in. It does both things quite nicely as long as you don't have false expectations.

I much enjoyed rowing my little vessel back to shore and happily declare the first outing a success.