Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sailing the Whitehall

We've taken the Whitehall out the last couple of Saturdays. Last week there was no wind at all so I tried the rowing seat. It worked quite well with my legs doing most of the work. I rowed a mile and a half to two miles and I never had to breath hard.

This week there was some wind so I finally got to try the sails.

Technically it was what is know as light wind. I think the wind was in the 5-10 mph range. This is a good windspeed for trying sailing since there is enough wind to get you moving but not enough to cause problems.

The Whitehall sails really well. I was pretty much able to go anywhere I wanted. There were a couple of times that the wind died and we did one tack as the wind was dying. I was able to use the job to get us out of that.

When the wind was blowing from the side or slightly ahead of us the boat really sped along. A few times I was overtaking modern sailboats going the same direction.

I was cautious. I could have gotten more speed out of her but I didn't want to get the side too close to the water so I slacked off sail a bit. We still had to lean into the wind.

I was especially proud that I was able to pull right up to the dock and grab a cleat with my boathook.

I tried it with the centerboard up and down. I couldn't tell the difference. The Whitehall is designed to move in a straight line so the centerboard may be superfluous.

I ordered a couple of new cleats for the rail. I had been using a pair of cleats meant for controlling the job when single-handing. These are rather small and are forward of where I wanted them. I found some reasonably-priced bronze cleats on-line and got them in time to install them Friday. They helped a lot in controlling the boat at a dock. I really wonder why no one ever installed a pair before?

A couple of improvements I need to make before we go to the Hampton Blackbeard Festival next week - I improvised a brail line for taking in the sail in a hurry. I'm going to replace it with one that is longer and a different type of rope. I want to be able to identify it easily since this is what we will use if we need to take in the sail in an emergency. Along the same lines, I am going to use a small carabiner to attach the boom to traveler. I want to be able to detach this quickly in an emergency. Taking the traveler line free takes too long. Yesterday I had to use a marlinspike to get the stopper knot out. With the carabiner I can leave the line permanently attached.

I need some way to be able to tie off the tiller. I used the long one and it kept swinging wide. At dock it kept getting caught on the dock. When sailing it would swing out of reach if I took my hand off of it to pump out the boat. Maybe I can rig up something with the new cleats.

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