Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Little Bit of Egret Sailing in St Joseph Sound

Last weekend was the inaugural WCTSS Meade's Island cruise.  Meade's island is a little spoil island in St Joseph Sound.  It has a real name but since it's practically in Meade Gougeon's back yard we are calling it Meade's.  This was the first time that I would be launching the Egret single handed so I felt pretty good when I had it rigged in 40 minutes.  That's when I noticed both halyards had run up the masts.  I had forgotten that I untied the halyards from the yards a while back.  Aaaargh!  Nothing to do but de-rig and re-run the halyards.  Another 30 minutes and the boat was ready to go.  Launching went well but backing out of the ramp proved almost impossible as I discovered the 8 horse Merc will not back the boat into a stiff breeze and chop.  The prop kept ventilating and I made a huge spectacle of myself but managed to avoid any major collisions.  Yep, I'm now one of those sailboters who are a danger to all, around docks, as I have almost no reverse.

The South wind was blowing straight up Clearwater Harbor so I had a nice wing and wing run all the way north, under the Dunedin Causeway bridge and into St Joseph's Sound.  The wind had picked up and was now blowing near 20kn.  While sailing around St Joseph's I met Dale Niemann with crew on Lively.  We just exchanged waves as they were on their way back to Clearwater.

Joe Milavsky was sailing his Tanzer27 and Meade Gougeon was sailing Woodwind so I stayed out and played around for a while.  The Egret is easy to balance and tracks well so a light bungee is all that's needed for self steering.  Once balanced the boat stayed on course indefinitely, at least in the flat water of the sound so I was able to walk around on deck and take some video and a few pics.

 Meade approaching fast in Woodwind.
 Joe passing the Egret upwind with ease.

Meade and I made our way to the island and were later joined by Dimitri on his Mac26X and Rick with wife (whose name now escapes me, sorry) on their Hunter 260.  While hanging out on the island Meade asked if I'd like to take Woodwind for a spin.  Heck, yeah I would.  What a fantastic sailing craft!  It's blazing fast, razor sharp but also super forgiving because of the amas.  I zigged when I should have zagged a few times with the push-pull steering but got it under control enough to get a taste of this wonderful sailing canoe.  Meade had graciously stocked the island with firewood so Saturday night we had a nice fire and stayed up late solving the world's problems.

Sunday the winds were still from the south so I decided to put Egret's upwind sailing performance to the test and tacked the full length of Clearwater Harbor.  With full sail up tacking into a 10-15kn wind Egret could only manage an average speed of 3kn.  I measured the angle between each of the tacks on the GPS track below.  Throwing out the best and worst tack the average angle is 123deg.  I suspect that the first and last few tacks were helped a bit by the tides so in reality the tacking angle is closer to 130deg.  Using a hand bearing compass I estimate that I was pointing at 100 to 110 so leeway angle is somewhere around 20deg.  While this performance is abysmal it's offset by the fact that, if you look at the depths on the chart, I was often sailing up wind in 2-3ft of water.  In the same conditions I would bet big money that Egret would beat the best keel boat in the world seeing as their tacking angles are not real impressive with the keel stuck in mud.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Thinking About The Approaching Everglades Challenge

It's barely a month away!  The starting lineup is always an amazing sight.  These pics were taken in 2008.  It was the most spectacular sunrise I have ever seen.  Which isn't saying much since I try to avoid them seeing as the early worm gets eaten and all that.... Here's hoping for good weather this year.