Launch


...or How Ignominy Breeds Humility

June 29, 2003. The day has arrived. I begin by putting the boat on the trailer. Upside-down is best, so it takes me a bit to figure it out. Of course, it'd only take 15 seconds with another pair of hands, but none are available. Then it's a nice drive to the carefully picked launching ramp at First Landing State Park. This area is surrounded on all sides by land and has heavy boating traffic on the weekends. In case I run into trouble, it wouldn't be much of a swim.

So I arrived at the parking lot. First order of business is to get the boat off the trailer and onto the nifty Seitech dolly. Paint and asphalt don't play well, so after a few scratches on the gunwale, the boat was now upright on the dolly. Then I noticed that the trailer bunks rubbed off some paint near the stern and bow. Arrggh!

After rigging the sail and rudder, it was time to dunk. While rolling down the ramp I said a quiet "May this boat be blessed and all that sail in her." Then, Eistla was floating.

Next order of business, raise the sail and get underway. Winds were very light to non-existent, and lots of traffic made for lots of wakes. I tried a new technique with the halyard attachment, but found when the sail was raised that the upper spar did not rest on the mast where I had put chafing gear. The result could only mean more scratches and varnish worn off. Double Arrgghh!

The ramps were busy, so I tried to get away as quickly as possible. After lowering the rudder I cast off the painter so I'd drift away from the dock while I finished rigging. The area around the dock was shallow, so I figured that I could put the daggerboard down a little until I was in deeper water. So I proceeded to put the daggerboard into the trunk.

I tried again to put the daggerboard into the trunk.

And I tried again.

I had installed strips of carpet on the fore and aft part of the trunk to prevent the board from banging around. Now it made the gap too tight and board wouldn't go in. Triple Arrgghh!

I immediately went into modification mode and started pulling off the aft carpet strip. It was glued on; it came off reluctantly for the first few inches, and then it was too hard to grip the stuff in the tiny space. So then I started jamming the board into the trunk to help peel away the carpet, with limited success. I still needed to attack it from the bottom.

About this time, Providence struck up with a very light wind that carried me around the corner from the ramp to a nice beach. I hauled the boat up the beach and tipped it on its side to start pulling the carpet from the other side. Seemed to work, most of the carpet fabric was soon removed. The daggerboard now fit.

With Eistla upright and back in the water, I tried sailing again. The wind was still too light and fluky for my tastes, but a few puffs did make us move. Eventually it became just too frustrating, so I thought it was time to try out my rowing configuration. This involves striking the sail and mast, tying them athwartships, then breaking out the oars.

I then rowed myself to another patch of beach where I took these 2 pictures. The sailboat down the beach is indeed high and dry, a victim of a recent storm.

The closer pic shows the rig lashed to the after deck. I found that this interfered a bit with rowing, so I eventually moved it to the forward end of the cockpit. The spars are then slightly higher off the water and they don't get hit by the oars.

Trying to make this experience end as soon as possible, I started back to the ramp. I noticed as I rowed that since the oarlocks are on the inside of the gunwale, the oars rub the outside of the gunwale, scraping off paint and leaving black smudges from the rubber buttons. Quadruple Arrgghh! One last observation: the cleat for the mainsheet is in a bad spot and could cut a leg open. Quintuple Arrgghh!

So. Despite all these calamities, there were a few bright spots. Rowing Eistla is fairly easy. The oar length feels about right and they fit easily in the cockpit. She's fairly stable. All my wrestling and stomping around with the daggerboard was done while standing up and I never felt in danger of swimming. Definitely more stable than a Sunfish. The one puff we got made Eistla accelerate and start chortling water, so she's not underrigged. Other attributes will need to be discovered another time. For this adventure, the boat and I survived, and that's the important thing.

Back to the shop. Modifications are in order. Halyard, oarlocks, mainsheet cleat, daggerboard trunk, varnish, and paint. Capsize tests are also needed to determine how much water I'll have to bail. Have I left anything out?

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