Setting things right

Before my next trip, I had changed the oar locks to the outside of the gunwale, replaced the mainsheet cleat with a cam cleat mounted on top of the daggerboard box, and repaired the various scratches. I reset the halyard so the upper yard would rest against the mast in the right spot. Several short sails and rowing trips have been successful. I have improved my technique of getting the boat on and off the trailer so I don't ding it up.

Recycled building materials and a Tale of the Scale

One of the fun things about building Eistla was the amount of the materials that were scavenged. The bulkheads were thicker plywood left over from building Egia. Some parts were pilfered from a church railing bought for $5 by my wife, and an old hardwood bed frame once used by my son was chopped up for various things. I probably didn't save much money doing this, but it was a noble challenge.

I bought a cheap scale so I could compare the designer's guess at weight and my finished product. There's no doubt that I expected Eistla to be overweight. I fiberglassed every exterior surface, added a stringer on the bottom, added the daggerboard box, and installed oversized bulkheads, so there was no doubt I fattened it up a bit. The question was how much. Michalak estimated an empty weight of 90 lbs. and his designed waterline was at 385 lbs. Empty, Eistla weighs 153 lbs. Together with the complete sailing rig, it tops out at 191 lbs. When I get in, I'm still about 25 lbs. short of the waterline. Twice I've loaded the boat to about 450 lbs. displacement, and Eistla did not behave sluggishly or overloaded, just a bit wetter.

The Ultimate Test

A 38 nm camp cruise through the unmarked backwaters of North Carolina and Virgina. That would be a good test of Eistla as a dinghy cruiser. Loaded with camping gear and 2 days worth of food, water, and clothing, I set off. I made it all of 200 yards before ordering a hasty retreat. The reason: beating into a 20 - 25 kn breeze for 38 miles was not my idea of prudence. Banging through a steep chop was pretty wet and the sail, even reefed, was too much for the conditions. Had the wind been from a more reasonable direction we would have been successful, maybe.

After that embarrassment I returned the sail to the sailmaker for another reef point. I also purchased 7 ft. oars to get a bit more purchase for each stroke. They even fit in the cockpit if you angle them a bit. I have since gone on a number of sailing and rowing trips, including one 24 nm passage through the Intercoastal Waterway along Eastern Shore, Virginia. I took all my camping gear in preparation to stay overnight, but the trip was a charmed one as it was completed in one day.

Rowing Eistla has been a good learning experience. Due to the amount of rocker it doesn't track very well, even with my addition of a full length skeg. But once the rudder is deployed, then it tracks a thousand times better. A small bungee cord to keep the tiller centered is also a welcome help while rowing. If you need to turn, you can steer temporarily with one foot.