Wednesday 28 May 2008

A Breezy Broad at Barton Turf.

Well I dragged the canoe all the way to Barton Broad in Norfolk at the weekend. The HBBR had their first meeting of the year at the Barton Broad Adventure Centre. There was a good turn out with some old friends and a good few new people.

Saturday was a fine day with blue sky's but there was rather too much wind on the broad for a wee tippy boat like the canoe. So I had a couple of paddles up the river Ant which was realy interesting. Its an old cliche but you really do get much closer to nature in a canoe. I don't believe the holidaymakers in their cruisers saw half as much as i did.

On my first outing i didn't set any sail and just paddled, i found that she is affected by cross winds especially when trying to turn up-wind. When i later went out with the mizzen only she was much better behaved, the mizzen acting like a weather cock and helping to turn head to wind. I also got a very helpful push when running down wind.

I did go and stick my nose out into the Broad but it seemed very big and windy so decided discretion was the better part of valour and headed for home.

And here i am looking slightly gormless!

I also got the chance to helm for Chris Perkins in his Highlander 14 Polly's Folly. Chris is a somewhat in experienced sailor and I was a wee bit concerned that i didn't dump him in the water as he casually reminded me just as we left the jetty that he doesn't swim!

The wind in the cut leading out was very fluky which led to a fair bit of faffing about and a minor collision with a post. Chris's boats are finished to a very high standard so I was a bit embarrassed! Once out into the broad we took off like a train even with a double reef tucked in. The Folly was faultless, very stable and well behaved.

The conditions don't look too bad in the pictures, and really i suppose they weren't, but its worth mentioning that Tony broke his mast in his Joel White Shearwater.

and Wayne everhopefull didn't stop till he hit the catch net at the other end of the broad, and needed a tow back.

Wednesday 21 May 2008

Polly Wobbles but she doesn't fall down.

I had last week off work and we went down to Dartmouth for a couple of days, we even did the tourist trip up the river to Totnes which was really nice. I hadn't realised how big an expanse of water there was I'd really like to go back there in a small boat and explore. Maybe that's what made me finally bite the bullit and launch the canoe again.

The HBBR are having a meeting at Barton Broad this week end, and I'm planning to drive the 200 odd miles each way to take part. In truth this is the main reason for re-fitting the canoe and adding a sailing rig. So I thought I'd better try it out before going all that way and either sinking or turning turtle at the first attempt.

The Forecast was for 12 -15 mph breezes which was really a bit more than I wanted first time out, well actually it was a hell of a lot more than i wanted, but time was running out so nil desperandum or something. Of course the guys at the club didn't help my confidence much with their gentle piss-taking, old Barry asked if she had outriggers and just shook his head when i said no, he knows a bit does barry! I decided to give her a try under paddle at first just to remember how tippy she is and to try out the foot operated rudder mechanism.

Steering by foot is very strange at first especially working out which leg to push with to turn to Port or Starboard. I did a fair bit of adjusting the ropes to get the tension right but things soon settled down. Right then back in for the sails!

This is the first wobbly attempt which is why i look rigid with fear, but I was also amazed that she was actually moving, propelled only by a bit of polytarp. I was also quite surprised how stable she seemed. I've had a lot more kayak experience since i built her so she now feels stable and broad compared to the little ones we have at the club. Pretty soon it was time to either put in a tack or hit the wall so right foot forward and ....gradually........ round we went.
Things were beginning to relax a bit and I was really enjoying myself, I was really chuffed to bits. So back to the pontoon and on with the Mizzen.

Sunday 4 May 2008

Have you seen polythene pam?

There hasn't been a post here for months, its funny how time flies, during the intervening period I've spent a bit of time in the garage and decided I definitely prefer building to writing about it. Anyway this is what I've been up to.
I realised that Isla was getting a wee bit schizophrenic, and couldn't really decide what she wanted to be, so there wasn't much chance of getting her built in time for the sailing / hbbr season. I needed something I could take to HBBR meetings and at least hold my head up.
I'd harboured a notion for a long time to put a sailing rig on my first born canoe. So here she is! as yet untested and i must admit to being a wee bit apprehensive as she is narrow in the beam but hopefully everything will be fine.
This is the rudder mechanism. As you can see the aft stem has a steep rake and this made a rotating rudder slightly tricky so after pouring over all the old drawings in the Solway Dory publication "Over the Sea to Sky" I decided on a sliding mechanism. Phil Oxborrow himself a keen canoe sailor did me a favour and made up the metalwork in stainless steel for which I'm very grateful.
If you are at all interested in the history of sailing canoe's then get a copy of Over The Sea to Skye from Solway Dory, (see Links) it describes some of the adventures of the Clyde Canoe Club in the 1870's.