Thursday, September 18, 2008

And then there were three

Back down to three hydrofoils...this one's gone garden gnome.

Had some fun with the new ATC3K taped under the wingbar on Sunday; finally edited the video down.  It is quite possibly the most boring video in the world, but the soundtrack is pretty good. Anyway another vote for this camera - it rocks even though you can't see what you're shooting precisely, because there's no viewfinder or LCD. So it pays to have a laptop or some camera along that can play the card files when you are setting up on a small thing like a Moth, so you can set the angle and check it. But I got pretty close with the "Ah - that looks pretty good" point and go method.

Nothing earth shattering to report, boat-wise. Still plenty of work to do, but now I know what direction to go and what the priorities are. Greg showed up with his boat du jour and managed to shear both the propeller and the rudder off, but that was all sort of predictable as it was all only held together with bondo. It's always fun to see what propulsion system will show up on that thing; generally they last about half an afternoon, but are exceedingly cool and stylish before they burn out. It is like Mothing with Inspector Gadget as your crash boat - we're never sure who is going to have a harder time getting home. I was thinking of towing him at one point, but he got a good workout with the double bladed paddle, which is just as well as I've never tried to tow anything with a Moth before and I had enough trouble staying in the same zip code without trying to tow anything.

No mechanical failures or anything, but I deliberately set out for the lumpy stuff at the end of the channel and control system developed a flavor of post-traumatic stress disorder bordering upon catatonia. I have not pitchpoled at two knots since sailing Bill's Skippy II - reminded me of those fishing boats that get sucked under by submarines driving through their nets, disappearing without a trace.

Two industry guys here interested in putting a build program together, which is v. cool from my standpoint, as now I have some locals to chat Moths with. And a 3rd reportedly en route from points East - could go from zero to four boats in six months, which would be pretty good growth for a single club I think. And that is without anyone buying any boats.

John G. put in a Cameo out of the blue, literally, the way he usually does. Somehow it always works out, no matter how last minute or where he is holed-up on his hold-overs. I must not have enough of a life or something, but it is always great to see him and get the latest word from down there.

I thought I was over traveling but it would be fun to get down south and meet all these antipodean internet personas in person, as the class seems to draw lots of characters.

More testing on the wkend if I can get some thumbscrews lined up. Need to put pen to computer screen on that project.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Decided I was having some trunk flex issues with the new trunk so rocked the methacrylate and some old nomex/carbon plate this morning and gave it some little rampart-like buttresses, more horiz than vert if that makes any sense. 

I have learned from Gui not to let any repair job stand between me and the water if the wind is blowing - that guy is a genius at going sailing no matter what. Bill broke Gui's gantry one afternoon, and rather than pack it in, Gui took a few spanners, duct taped them onto the broken tube like his boat was the Terminator, and went right back out. The "Don't take no for an answer" school of Mothing.

So when it was time to put my thrice-repaired tramp back on and head for the club today, but the little voice in my head just wouldn't let me out of the garage without some little rampy buttresses, the thought of Gui's spanners, some Home Depot methacrylate and the belt sander somehow converged in my head, and BAM - a little carbon pyramid, minus a couple of sides. Perfect.

The boat is behaving itself really well for having just been gutted; not ready for prime time but in flat conditions doing everything a Moth should do, and some things better than Moths have done. So that is gratifying.

The lumps are more challenging but I am progressively coming to terms with them. Learning some lessons the easy way and some the hard; had one great pitchpole today which was fun as it hadn't happened in some time.

Upwind seems pretty well sorted though it had a mind of its own through the lumpy stuff at the end of the channel today and didn't want to stay in the water at times.

First foiling gybes on the new foil, which was sort of exciting. You don't do that with a Moth until you can trust it to hold altitude pretty well. Small step, but progress nonetheless - it's only the third time I've sailed the new foil so I feel pretty good about how things are going. 

Toward dusk with the wind fading I attempted to obey the 5mph speed limit coming back up the channel, but could not manage to go that slowly when foiling seemed possible. So I heated it up on a reach aimed straight at the windward rock jetty, which was only about 200 feet away. The fishermen and I are getting accustomed to each other; some of the kids freak out when they see me heading straight for them, only to pull a last minute tack or whatever, but mostly people just watch. This time I got airborne just in time to bear off in the lee of the rocks and go foiling downwind for a few hundred yards right along the jetty, maybe fifteen feet to leeward of it. I was so close I could hear people speaking quite clearly to each other in quiet voices as I foiled past. That was the only noise apart from the splash of my wand. Eventually a lull forced me to gybe away, heading straight for the other jetty now and a shoal, approaching rapidly. Pulled out the third gybe of the day and hooked back up in time to keep it rolling. Now I was perfectly lined up on the big boat finish line with a whole fleet of 44 foot whatevers behind me in the channel. The new foil holds altitude lots better than the old in the light stuff - kept thinking I would drop off foils as the breeze was really light now, but I just kept foiling straight across their finish line, at which point the RC were kind enough to give me a hoot and a cheer. Amazing how foilers continue to elicit these spontaneous gestures of support from people - I'd have thought fatigue would have set in by now. Then again, I am the only foiler here.

More sorting tomorrow. Still plenty to be done.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Feel like I've been derelict in blogging lately, taking advantage of everyone else's industriousness. So thanks to everyone who's been posting - I'm sure sometimes it seems a chore but I enjoy reading my way 'round the Mothosphere.

I suppose I should have an opinion on the new Payne/Amac effort, but a) who cares what I think and b) so far it looks just like a Guillotine. I'm sure it will do all the right things eventually; it will also do some things better than have been done before, if history is any guide.

What my own effort lacks in funding and sex appeal, it makes up for in chutzpah. I think I understand why Amac does this stuff though - it is hugely satisfying and great fun to design and build something and then sort it out on the water. Now if only I could find a way to get paid for it, we'd really have something. 

Whoever wrote that interview of the top BR and Prowler sailors on the UK site, my hat is off to you. Just the sort of thing the class needs to have as a resource. I have to admit that after reading the various opinions on everything, however, I was less convinced that anyone really knows what these boats actually do or why. You have a good sailor like John Harris with a solid boat but no real inclination toward design or construction win out over Amac, who has probably the most sophisticated technical understanding of Moths in the class, though it was obviously very close. I think what this means is that there is no substitute for sailing a lot if you want to win things.

Whilst sorting out my boat, Douglas Adams quotes keep coming to mind.  Though he is widely quoted as saying the secret to flying is to throw yourself at the ground and miss, the second part of this adminition is often overlooked. So here, to refresh everyone's memories, is the quote, which I purloined from some website claiming to purloin it from Hitchiker's Guide. As it is copyrighted, I will probably go to jail, but this is just too relevant to Mothing to pass up, and I'm certain everyone reading this blog has a copy of the book at home anyway.

How To Fly

© by Douglas Adams

There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] suggests, and try it.

The first part is easy. All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and the willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt.

That is, it's going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground. Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really trying properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard.

Clearly, it is the second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.

One problem is that you have to miss the ground accidentally. It's no good deliberately intending to miss the ground because you won't. You have to have your attention suddenly distracted by something else when you're halfway there, so that you are no longer thinking about falling, or about the ground, or about how much it's going to hurt if you fail to miss it.

It is notoriously difficult to prize your attention away from these three things during the split second you have at your disposal. Hence most people's failure, and their eventual disillusionment with this exhilarating and spectacular sport.

If, however, you are lucky enough to have your attention momentarily distracted at the crucial moment by, say, a gorgeous pair of legs (tentacles, pseudopodia, according to phyllum and/or personal inclination) or a bomb going off in your vicinty, or by suddenly spotting an extremely rare species of beetle crawling along a nearby twig, then in your astonishment you will miss the ground completely and remain bobbing just a few inches above it in what might seem to be a slightly foolish manner.

This is a moment for superb and delicate concentration. Bob and float, float and bob. Ignore all consideration of your own weight simply let yourself waft higher. Do not listen to what anybody says to you at this point because they are unlikely to say anything helpful. They are most likely to say something along the lines of "Good God, you can't possibly be flying!" It is vitally important not to believe them or they will suddenly be right.

Waft higher and higher. Try a few swoops, gentle ones at first, then drift above the treetops breathing regularly.


When you have done this a few times you will find the moment of distraction rapidly easier and easier to achieve.

You will then learn all sorts of things about how to control your flight, your speed, your maneuverability, and the trick usually lies in not thinking too hard about whatever you want to do, but just allowing it to happen as if it were going to anyway.

You will also learn about how to land properly, which is something you will almost certainly screw up, and screw up badly, on your first attempt.

There are private clubs you can join which help you achieve the all-important moment of distraction. They hire people with surprising bodies or opinions to leap out from behind bushes and exhibit and/or explain them at the critical moments. Few genuine hitchhikers will be able to afford to join these clubs, but some may be able to get temporary employment at them.