Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Rocket Science

In my exuberance to revamp my wand to a more functional state, I have concluded that a straight wand is better than a bent one. There has been much talk of straight wands being superior to bent wands in terms of performance, but my preference for the straight wand stems from the profusion of straight objects available for use as wands and the ease of attaching them to a pivot set up to accept straight wands.

Changing things around with your wand system is not without its risks, however, as became apparent when I reached the beach today only to discover that the quick release attachment to my main flap had vibrated off the cable and disappeared onto US 405 somewhere. Hmmm...must have been that lock nut I decided I didn't need to replace after trimming the cable...

Because I was late getting to the water in the first place, this was not good news: the sun sets rapidly in January and the wind was set to diminish rapidly. The situation called for a quick rummage through the tackle box to see what might possibly be substituted for a 10-32 threaded female quick release rod end. All was looking bleak when I spied - Yes! - those plastic batten ends from the carbon battens I inadvertantly sent to Australia with Lust Puppet! One looked like it might conceivably thread onto the end of the control cable with a bit of persuasion, and just like magic the ID was slightly smaller than the threaded shaft and it went on like a dream, giving me a slotted end to attach to the ball fitting on the daggerboard with - you guessed it - whipping twine, side-on, topped off with a layer or two of electrical tape for good measure and go-fast looks. It almost looked factory when I was done - sort of scary. But would it work?

The nearest NOAA buoy pegged the water temperature at 53.8 today, sort of chilly but in the end not too bad as I never got wet above the waist. In fact I was sort of hot in my fleece, with temps in the 60s and a 6-8 knot offshore breeze. There was just enough wind to get on the water, bear off in a small puff and - presto - up on foils we went, just like usual, except the downwind was dead easy in the almost perfectly flat water. Gybing was going almost frighteningly well but I only got about 40 minutes in before the wind went to crap and I did the usual pump around the harbor looking for any remaining breeze for a couple of laps before calling it quits.

Of course, whipping twine is a bit more difficult to remove on the other end, but nothing a pair of wire cutters couldn't handle.

I suppose the lesson here is that for all their subtleties, these boats are really not that complicated, and one can learn a lot about what is essential and what is not by removing bits and McGyvering around small problems. In similar vein, my boat seems completely happy without a May stick, which is not to say without a bungee. From this bit of information you can almost certainly guess which bit of the wand system I forgot to reassemble before going to the Harbor on Christmas Day...

Latest quest is for a testing platform for the new foils. Ideally a light, reasonably modern lowrider (I know -- starting to be an oxymoron) that I can cut the trunk out of. A current foiler would be fine also but it seems a waste of a main foil and one hates to take older foilers out of commission as they make great learning boats. Anyway if you know of any lowriders for sale in Australia near Melbourne for a decent price with a decent rig please let me know as the shipping from there would be relatively straightforward at the moment.

Hosted the Chesapeake IC contingent en route to AUS for IC Worlds this week - quick pick up at the airport, home cooked meal, then back to catch the connecting flight by 9pm. Nice visit but entirely too short. Racing begins in earnest tomorrow - catch the action on www.icworlds.org and www.intcanoe.org/forum .

More photos from Christmas Moffing:

And just to whet the appetite:

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