Monday, August 31, 2009

Damn the Torpedoes

Though I should be out in the garage figuring out how to beat Dave Lister on the water, the urge to take up arms in defense of Blogdom is simply too enticing to resist. I feel like Obi-Wan by the Tractor Beam: "You can't win, Dave. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine."

And so, proceding with reckless abandon, we put to the fullest test the canard that the pen is mightier than the foil. I am reminded of Rear Admiral David Farragut, who, if Wikipedia is to be believed, ran full throttle through a minefield with an entire fleet of warships to take victory in the battle of Mobile Bay. When one of the ships hit a mine (known as a "torpedo" at the time) and sank, causing the other ships to falter, Farragut yelled down from the rigging of his own ship "Damn the Torpedoes...four bells Captain - full speed ahead!"

This brings to mind my most recent lake foiling experience, during which I managed to foil through the lee of Greg's catamaran, only to discover that a) Carolyn, not Greg was driving the cat and b) she was headed straight into shallow water with billions of small dead trees sticking up from the surface. What to do - tack and risk coming off foils, or Damn the Torpedoes? I think you know the answer.

In trademark style, Tom Petty used Farragut's quote as the title of his groundbreaking 1979 album, Damn the Torpedoes. Living in Southern California always lends a bit of extra relevance to Mr. Petty's lyrics, given the freeway running through my yard...

And so my fellow bloggers, take heart. Lister may be fast, but he probably doesn't sail in your neighborhood, so you won't have to find out precisely how much faster he is than you for a good long time. In the interim, take up your pens, and answer the call. Losers may blog, and bloggers may lose, but no less an authority than Petty would be quick to point out that in Mothing, as in the rest of life, even the losers get lucky sometimes.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cold Infusion

Yes I registered for Worlds; no I am not there. Sorry if you were expecting to see me; with any luck we will catch each other in Dubai.

Sailed on a lake Sunday. Extremely puffy, 0 knots ambient, with foilable puffs. Sort of frustrating Mothing, but good practice. New spring held up well after a little maintenance.

Managed a gybe or two - nothing spectacular. Boat is much more stable after putting some more black stuff on the mainfoil at the hull exit - it used to wobble around alarmingly during gybes, then the uni started to break and flake off - always a sign that some beefing up is in order!

Ski is going OK once on foils and is awesome offwind. Transition to foiling is another story.

Somebody was giving me a hard time about the bowsprit crossing centerline. I always figured the wand tip was the thing to put on the centerline! Looks pretty close here:

No smarty pants comments about the line dangling from the leeward wing please - in common parlance that would be the adjustable ride height, but I don't use it much.

One day I'll get around to shortening the bowsprit. One day.

I am so sick of the twist grip tiller and short rudder! Making new rudder. Wetting out 9oz uni is always a drag, so I decided to trade one kind of pain for another and infuse the thing. Time will tell whether I got it hot enough; multiple layers of uni are always a bit tricky!

Monday, August 3, 2009


Sort of like machismo, but more pain and no bad cologne. Wind from Sunday:

18-20+ mph from due West, regular as Clockwork this time of year, but not always that strong.

Some really good foiling with Richard out on his Bladerider doing some work to windward and sticking a few downwind runs in for good measure. He seems to be making great progress on the boathandling front and will no doubt soon be even more difficult to keep up with. Our fleet being quite small and me sailing Inspector-Gadget-prototype mode has heretofore kept me from comparing speeds against other Moths, but suffice it to say that the boat seems to have decent pace. Richard sent me a file (see below) of his fastest runs with several over 20 knots and I seemed to be going as fast as he was occasionally without pushing super hard, so the boat should do 25 without much fuss, and I still have yet to install the new rudder. Rohan seems to be going these speeds uphill lately so I clearly have a long way to go, but I am pretty happy whenever I can go out and sail these speeds with any semblance of control:

Overall I'm starting to feel like I can trust the boat offwind, which is a huge step forward. But there is still a lot of tuning to do.

It all started to go wrong very subtly when one of my control set points shifted, changing its effective range and launching me into the sky. The effect was almost imperceptible at first and I was tempted to put it down to poor sailing, but no, the boat was actually was trying to kill me! The mainsheet has been sticking lately also, just to make life more exciting, and the rudder flap had started to lose its flap down also, though I didn't realize this until much later.

At one point I pitchpoled in a new fashion. It involved bearing off, accelerating to warp speed, then capsizing slowly to leeward. I was looking a long way down at the shroud thinking "that could hurt" when of course I was thrown off the wingbar down on top of the wire. In the end it didn't hurt, but I did manage a complete cartwheel around the shroud before hitting the water off the bow. First time for everything I guess.

I was pretty much as tired as I have ever been when I got back and was very happy to have Richard and Nat come down and help me onto the dock.

At this point, after at least a year of weekends building and messing about with the tilting foil system, all I can say is that a Moth is about the worst platform for foil system development ever conceived. My hat is off to anyone who does something fundamentally new on this boat and makes it work, because the boat and the speeds it achieves will absolutely kick your ass if the control systems are not functioning perfectly - and they never are in the beginning.