Susan Davis (futabachan) wrote,
Susan Davis

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Swallows and Amazons, for Grownups

linuxspice and I spent the weekend at the First Annual Kingston Messabout, in Kingston, Ontario, organized by a friend of mine from the bolger mailing list. We had originally meant to get up there on Friday in time for a 7 PM party, but I was detained with some final issues from work, and we were a trifle slow getting moving on Saturday morning.

We took two boats: Eugene the Dory, and a Cape Cod Frosty that I built for my Dad. The latter, at a total length of just 6 feet, was small enough to fit in the Aztek when we folded down the rear seats. We made the mistake of loading the dory on the roof rack right side up -- it kept shifting from side to side in the wind, and I kept worrying about losing it. We needed to be there by 4:30 for a "sail past" photo op, and arrived around 3:45 or so.

The "sail past" turned out not to happen (the winds were too high), but we launched the dory for the first time, rowed her around briefly with a crew of 3, and then just about everyone else wanted a turn while I set the Frosty up. I managed to scrounge enough line to rig the Frosty, and sailed about briefly, and fairly conservatively due to the wind.

Afterwards, linuxspice and I borrowed a Windsprint (16' double-ended sharpie catboat with a balanced lug rig) -- but not before I managed to capsize her while still tied up at dockside, without even hoisting the sail! This Windsprint was decked over forward of the mast partner and aft of the aft thwart (an entirely sensible arrangement), and I made the mistake of boarding her from the foredeck and trying to work my way around the mast. (It doesn't work in a Laser, either, btw.) Over I went, into the Rideau Canal, in full view of the entire gathering of 40+ boats. (Now I know what the Stanley Cup feels like.)

Once we dumped out the water, righted her, and bailed her out, though, linuxspice and I had a wonderful time sailing her. I'd guess that we probably had about 20 knots of wind, and she handled very nicely with a single reef, and with the two of us sitting down in the cockpit sole rather than up on the rail hiking as in other boats. She was a real joy to handle, and despite my mishap at the dock, I think that her reputation for tenderness is unjustified. It's a shame that I can't really justify owning one with the Shrike and Lightning #2033 in my inventory; I'll have to content myself with the thought that Shrike will probably have similar manners, but sail even faster.

We had some company for our sail, too -- Cream Cheese, a Michalak AF3 cuddy sharpie of roughly the same length, with the Windsprint's owner and Cream Cheese's aboard. We made lots of Swallows and Amazons jokes back and forth to one another (though I doubt that the Ruthless Amazon Pirates ever dumped the Amazon at quayside), and Bruce got to admire his boat from the outside, for a change. The AF3 stayed right with us rather well upwind, but the Windsprint planed away like a frightened jackrabbit when we turned around for the broad reach home. I was extremely impressed by the Windsprint's manners downwind -- with her sharp canoe stern and narrow beam aft, I'd expected her to be a bit squirrely, especially with the wind piping up like that, but she sat right where we trimmed her, and didn't roll at all.

After we got the Windsprint put away, a large group of us went out in a Brick Schooner -- two 8' Brick dinghies conjoined, with a small third section in between to hold them together. She was hilarious to look at, but fast (even faster than the Windsprint), stable, and very dry. I sat all the way forward in the bow, and we took no water aboard even when we slammed into waves, in sharp contrast to the single Brick that I took out on Sunday.

After the Brick Schooner ride, her teenage skipper wanted to try his hand at my Frosty, which gave me my first chance to watch her being sailed. Despite her slow speed, she looks fast on the water because her small size gives her the illusion of speed -- it takes fewer seconds for her to move forward one boatlength. Watching Spencer sail the Frosty, and talking to him afterwards, made me realize just how fussy and technical they are, a point previously lost on me because my instinct is to sail very technically, as if I were racing. By the time we put the Frosty away for the evening, it was time for supper.

To be continued....
Tags: meme

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