Monday, July 13, 2009

Sailing the Whitehall

We took the boat (now named "Firefly") out sailing today. This was our second time sailing (plus a third time at Saint Mary's City with the boat overloaded). The wind was from the West and the lake runs North and South so we sailed up and down it a few times. Combining this with our experiences the first time we took it out on that lake I can say a few things about sailing the Whitehall.

First - when the wind is right it goes like a bat out of hell. We were overtaking the modern sailboats. At one point I was hoping to literally sail rings around one (or at least pass it, tack and pass it again) but the wind died and out boats separated.

It tacks poorly. Whitehalls are designed to go in a straight line. It overcomes this while under sail but during a tack you are sort of coasting, using forward momentum to carry you through the turn (for landlubbers, tacking is making a turn while sailing into the wind so that the wind is on the other side of the boat).

The alternative is to jibe. This is the same as tacking except the wind is coming from behind. This works fairly well although the boom swings rather sharply and I have to be ready with the tiller for when the wind catches it. We did this several times and it worked fine. I was just reading up on jibing and I see that it is recommended that the centerboard be raised for this maneuver. The boat tips as the wind catches it from the other side and that would help since the boat could be pushed sideways instead of tipping.

Firefly had been out of the water for three weeks in dry weather and it showed. A lot of water leaked through the seams. Pumping it out let me more tired than rowing would have.

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