Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seaweed, Trailers, Engines and other Sundries

No wind yesterday but since we needed to put the boat back on her trailer after my trailer modification spree, we went for a motor, anchor and a few beers at sunset.

New Tohatsu 3.5hp 4 Stroke. Not idling very well unfortunately, probably bad gas. I really need to get on the program with getting the right gas and treating it etc. These 4-strokes are so finicky.

Anyway, get to the anchorage, anchor up in a kind of weedy area. Realize, oh darn, that full tank of gas is almost empty, wow that was not very far on a tank. So now we have to go against 2 kts of current on the way back which ain't going to happen on what we have left.

Luckily some incredibly tiny cats paws start touching down on a few spots on the river so we decide to try to milk it with the sails. We catch a tiny zephr and the boat takes off sideways. Uh oh, weeds. Try to back her down, no difference. I jump over and see that the whole keel is covered in eel grass. Rip it off and voila, we are a sailboat again.

Anyway, we did get back. Reminds me why I like sailing and hate small engines.

Now for the trailer part. Got the boat on the trailer but it's dark. Backing into the spot is pitch black and tricky tight to back up. My buddy calls me on his cell from behind boat, I have hands free in the truck. What a great idea, 2 way communications and she snaps in perfect.

I just wanted to followup on the trailer. I moved the Axel in previous post ahead 14" whole inches. Wow what a difference. I have turning radius that makes sense, the empty tongue weight of the trailer is perfect at like 80 lbs. With the boat on it, it's now still too heavy for me to lift and I can stand on transom without boat tilting back. If there is still this much tongue weight, what was it before?

This is a huge improvement. Only other possibility is that it doesn't like the highway like this but I doubt there will be any issue at all.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Getting Dialed

Finally had a chance to test out the new rig tune on our wed night race. It's a success!

Night and day difference by being able to properly flatten the main, especially down low in a breeze. This was with a very light-weight crew.

Now we have a main that is responding to all the controls as it should, traveller, sheet, cunningham, vang both upwind and down. The upwind is balanced and getting effective helm. Downwind is better too with ability to adjust twist properly with vang. This is what I wanted it to feel like. Zero helm zen thing, letting the boat take the waves and move the helm itself with no corrections.

When we started the upwind leg I was sheeting in too hard with traveller too far down I think and we were not pointing or driving properly. Eased a small bit of sheet to induce some twist and pulled traveller up and the boat just responded very well now that the main is flat. I could put top to sleep in the big gusts or sheet in slightly and drive with it properly twisted. So driving with the bottom or all of the main but not luffing.

It is like only 3" of main sheet difference. With the old tune, we definitely did not have that setup at all. The old setup was like a bucket and wouldn't depower.

Even control on the start line is better. Using the vang when we need to make big moves in the breeze, also flattening the boat before the turn.

We did a slight recut on the leech of the main a few weeks ago. We moved the clew in 2.5 in so we could get more outhaul and took MAX 6" out of very broad mid section. 2" off #2 batten. This is to take the edge off around here and push the main slightly higher wind range. Added #1 reef. Thing is, with the old tune, it made no difference. It wasn't till this week that we could properly sail it.

We did try the #1 reef last week in 20-25 and it's really a nice option into the mid 20's and up. Was fast downwind too since it let the asym pull. Did not seem underpowered. We pretty much have to have this as we definitely will have races in low 30's at least. #1 reef setup was a lot flatter than full main even with old rig tune. I'm hoping we take the full main up to 25 in gusts and go with #1 reef if we are higher than that or are not racing and want to chill the boat out.

Lots to learn. Having fun though.

Hey, does anyone read this blog or am I talking to myself?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Trailer Modifications

Finally got around to modifying the trailer to fix the tongue weight issues.

The tongue weight was extreme and add to this the fact that the trailer jack was loose and prone to slipping made it just a matter or time before someone lost their foot.

So I jacked the trailer up on both sides in back to get wheels in the air, loosened the u bolts on the axel and moved it forward 14"!! It's still well in back of the keel and should be fine with the boat on it. We'll see soon when I put the boat back on.

In the photo you can see the 0" mark way back. This marker the forward u-bolt which is now at 14" forward. The brake line had enough slack to make the move and I only had to reangle the bracket slightly which was pretty simple.

I also moved the forward winch post aft 2". With the boat all the way forward, the speedo was halfway under the bunk which was not great. Boat seems to want to sit a few inches back anyway.

Lastly, I fixed the trailer jack and moved it in front of the winch post rather than behind.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

New Rig Tune

So I decided to go back to Alan's advise to make sure I can get the main board flat, especially down low at max tension. The way our rig was tuned still had shit tons of shape in the main at 10 screws on the jack and it was already maxed on. The tensions were like so.

Headstay 20
D1 21
D2 25
D3 14

The problem here seems to be that the D2's were too constricted and not enough bend into top of rig. I decided to start loosening D2s and D3s to try and get the main to flatten considerably while doing a dock tune.

In the end I ended up taking 8 turns off the D2!! and 5 off the D3.

This pushed my MAX to 11 turns on the screw rather than 10, however, it actually reduced the tension on the D1,D2,D3 yet increased my headstay tension which is awesome. It also flattens the sail board flat down low and nicely flat up high. I won't be able to tell until we actually go sailing in a breeze, but I'm optimistic. If need be. we can moderate the settings easily. The D3 might need a few more turns depending on how that works out, especially at the moderate breeze settings.

Here are my numbers at the moment in detail.

I think it also points out that the numbers themselves do not tell the whole story. The tune that I had and this tune are very very different, yet I probably could get to the same numbers as before by just going to 12 turns.

11 turns MAX

11 turns
28 headstay (MAX)
D3 7
D2 21
D1 22

10 turns
24 headstay
D3 6
D2 20
D1 22

9 turns
23 headstay
D3 0 - just loose
D2 17
D1 22

7 turns
20 headstay
D3 0
D2 8
D1 20

6 turns
17 headstay
D3 0
D2 6
D1 18

5 turns
D3 0
D2 0
D1 16

I can't wait to try this setup out. I'll let you guys know how it goes.

You can also see our new #1 reef in the photo. We have a reefing hook that drops on a line through the aft middle hole at mast base and goes down to a block and tackle. On outboard end, there is a floating block and a jammer mid boom. Pretty simple system.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rocket Report #10

Well #10 (Ex Shark) has successfully moved to the Pacific NW. Hood River to be exact. This will be the NW heavy air testing grounds. Indeed, this is one powered boat in a breeze.

First of all. The boat is amazing. The deck layout works fantastic. The build and rig, keel arrangement and everything are spot on. Now we need to learn to sail it.

We've been out now maybe 6 times. 3 races, although we were 8-10 min late on our first race and missed the start completely this last wed. Yeah bad form but I don't know, we are messing around a lot trying to figure it all out.

Race #1 : Light air 5-10. Late to start by 8 min. Boat was so powered in the light, we catch up to and passed most of the fleet and even corrected to 3rd (108 rating) after such a late start. Flew the sym chute which was ideal for the lighter breeze. Our rating though started at 132, was rerated to 108 on the spot for the race results, since dropped to 90. Fun night, the boat is a true rocket in the light. Definitely sails to its rating here.

Race #2 : 5-28 kts. Yeah, this is classic late night gorge. One minute it's hold on for dear life, next it's where's the wind. Then it's game on again. And lots of big gusts and shifts. Upwind, we totally don't have the heavy air trim. Cruising great in the lighter, getting flattened in the gusts. can't depower enough. We have 10 turns on the screw. Not sure yet how to find the heavy air groove. Downwind with the sym in gusty shifty breeze...challenging. Fall off a puff in a gybe, slow down, get slammed with another and bye rudder. Also, cruising with pressure and cavitated the rudder when the boat was feeling no helm and quiet. That was a surprise but apparently common with Melges 24s, so lesson learned. So two wipe outs downwind. Dropped halyard both times and quick recovery.

Race #3 : Weird stormy weather which is never good here. Big dark thunderheads, squally stuff blowing through and some rain. This usually doesn't mean big wind for us, more like bad rotten unpredictable wind. Go out early to practice and get hammered in 20-25. We are not being fast, we can't depower. Thinking that our max bend is not flat enough on the rig. Go upwind and try to throw in our new #1 reef to try it out. Mess around with it for too long since there is no specific reef system and have to move cunno and outhaul and safety manually. Already too committed to basically this makes us late for the start. We are successful though and it looks pretty damn good. The boat feels good too and our upwind is fast in the breeze. Breeze drops...arg! Screw it, lets pick up the fleet and sail the course. Paced a J35 pretty well upwind. Asym set downwind, start pulling. Nice drop back upwind again, set into maybe 18kts. 11s and 12s peak kts boatspeed downwind with the asym and reefed main, Oh that feels good. Finished mid fleet again after being many minutes late for start.

Lessons maybe learned so far.

#1 Sym kite is sketch in a gusty or strong breeze. Asym better choice for higher wind. Sym great for light.

#2 Rudder is tricky bastard. Learning a few things already though to deal. Like flattening boat heel before big turn. Fear the quiet neutral helm downwind. Asym is better for rudder in a breeze.

#3 We don't have a heavy air upwind groove yet. We need it badly. Will be retuning the mast this weekend in pursuit. I know it's there, we just don't have it yet.

#4 The boat is fast. The potential is so there. Rather to squander potential than to have none at all.

Best thing is that everybody is having fun including my wife who is a beginner sailor. It's a great boat for sure. Can't wait to figure her out.