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Thread: Testing out my First Mate

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Chesapeake Bay
    Posts
    271

    Default Testing out my First Mate

    I've had my Ross Lillistone First Mate completed for about six months, but before today I've only had it out three times on a vacation and that was just for pleasure sailing. For a while I've wanted to get hard data on how the boat performs so I can better plan some camp cruising adventures for next summer. Monday 10/28 seemed like a nice day, possibly one of the last opportunities of this year, so I set an out of the office auto email and went sailing.


    In my rush to get the boat ready for the vacation back in May, there were a lot of odds and ends that didn't work all that well but weren't bad enough to prevent me from using the boat. So I had a few days of repairs to do and then I re-rigged everything to make sure it all works. Furling the sail around the sprit works pretty well, but a brail line has shot to the top of the new list of things to improve.





    I spent two evenings fitting a trailer hitch and wiring to my car so I can pull the boat to various nearby ramps. Probably look ridiculous and my mileage drops from 44 to about 28. Fortunately I don't have to go far.





    There is a nice boat ramp on Windmill Point at the mouth of the Rappahannock that I've launched other boats from. Like I said, this was primarily a data gathering trip, so I recorded my GPS track with a really lightweight and simple phone app called GPS Logger from BasicAirData. It took a while to find a no frills app that didn't want me to make an account somewhere.





    Here's a satellite view of the area and my track for the day. You can see the marina at the tip of Windmill Point that I launched from. I grew up sailing around here in a 70's era Sunfish I bought with grass cutting money. Making day trips to Parrott island, Mosquito island, and Grog island or just around the bridge and back was how I'd spend summers. Sadly, Grog island has washed away and is no more.





    And here is the data I collected. GPS track, speed vs time, wind speed and direction, and tide. The winds started out pretty blustery in the morning, but they were down to 10-15 by the time I launched at 10am. Then later around 6pm pretty light to nonexistent. My total trip was 32.7 miles in just under 8 hours.





    From the GPS track I calculated tacking angles as best I could. The wind was pretty light on the return trip and the better tacks were when the wind picked up. I have no idea whether these are good, bad or indifferent. The 122.77 tack was when I had a terrible crease in the sail though. Making the snotter and downhaul run back to the cockpit is also high on the list of improvements.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Chesapeake Bay
    Posts
    271

    Default Re: Testing out my First Mate

    Blasting up the river on a broad reach. I had both the main and jib up, so just over 100 square feet of sail. Probably too much, but fortune favors the bold I suppose. For over an hour I averaged 6.5-7mph with a peak of 8.7mph. A few times a gust put the rail under, but the side decks gave enough margin that I could let the sheet out some. The extra wide rub rail that gave me so much trouble when I built the boat turned into a handy spray deflector. It was satisfying to see the water coming up the hull forced out nearly horizontal. Surfing down waves was pretty fun, although I'm still sitting too far back. A tiller extension makes it onto the list.





    Approaching the bridge. Things have calmed down quite a bit since the bigger waves closer to the point. Still doing 6-7mph.





    About a mile past the bridge the wind drops out and stays shifty. A small sailboat ahead of me takes down her sails and motors for Carter's Creek, but turns around and comes over to me to get a look. The skipper gives me a thumbs up and heads back. Credit to Ross, every time I've had the boat out someone has given me a compliment. Later I briefly tried to go wing and wing, although the jib didn't want to stay out. Should have used an oar to boom it out, but didn't think to.





    I make a wide sweeping turn across the mouth of the Corrotoman and start tacking upwind. Hopefully the tide change is helping me. I've got a pretty bad crease in the sail, so I try heaving to and adjusting the snotter tension. Heaving to works pretty well and I get the crease out, although fixing the crease would become a theme. I need to figure out where the snotter should live and epoxy a little thumb cleat onto the mast so it can't slip down. And run the line back to the cockpit.





    Little known fact, cardboard boxes are the epitome of high class yachting.





    See the line of cars? Traffic is eternally stopped on this bridge. Two years of painting the superstructure (which still bleeds rust), a year of repaving, and annual month long inspections. Back in the 90's they redid the deck by removing a section and you had to drive over the hole on these big steel humps. Like a little bridge on the bridge.





    By this point things were getting a bit old. What little wind there was had shifted to directly where I wanted to go, and I had about two hours of sunlight left. I was pretty sure I wouldn't have time to sail back to the point, so I did the unthinkable and lowered the rig to start rowing. The long straight section between hour 6 and 7 was me rowing at about 4mph. I definitely had some help from the tide though, so maybe actually 3-3.5mph? Anyway, the wind started to return a little, so I put up the rig. Unfortunately, the loop at the peak of the sail came undone and dropped into the water, so I had to sail with it scandalized for a while until I could make a new loop of line. That explains the track, no drinking I promise! The sun was getting low, so I decided to head for a friend's house and leave the boat docked overnight. No pictures of this section as I was kinda done.


    So there it is, the first data gathering sail over a fairly long day sail. Hopefully next spring I'll do some more of these to get a better idea of the boat and its capability. I will say that this trip reinforced my opinions about it from sailing it during vacation. I think it's a super capable boat and my sailing ability is the limiting factor.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    northwestern Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,709

    Default Re: Testing out my First Mate

    Thanks for posting the photos--your First Mate looks great. And after 1,000+ miles in my brother's Phoenix III, I agree that it's a super capable boat.

    You mentioned sitting too far back; just a thought--did you install removable side benches? I've found they really help in adjusting my seating position for proper fore-and-aft trim, and rarely have to use a tiller extension with a simple line-and-bungee tiller tamer installed.

    Do you have plans for bigger trips next year yet?

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Sound Beach, NY
    Posts
    4,618

    Default Re: Testing out my First Mate

    Cool pics and details. Thanks for sharing.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    Hyannis, MA, USA
    Posts
    50,589

    Default Re: Testing out my First Mate

    Finastkind.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Norwich,United Kingdom
    Posts
    8,481

    Default Re: Testing out my First Mate

    Looks good and the figures indicate a handy level of performance.The performance will be getting even better when you implement the small changes you have already identified.There are very few boats that don't benefit from a tiller extension as you can sit in a place that doesn't permit stern dragging.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Chesapeake Bay
    Posts
    271

    Default Re: Testing out my First Mate

    Tom, I haven't made the side benches yet, although I plan to as I'll need them for a sleeping platform. Sitting in the bottom of the boat is actually pretty comfortable, just my arm gets tired reaching back for the tiller. And I do plan to give your tiller tamer a try too.

    Do I have plans for bigger trips next year? Woo boy, how much time do you have? Haha. Lunch breaks often consist of firing up Google Earth and looking around for ideas. Admittedly, some of which are pretty crazy and little more than daydreams. Mostly I've been looking around for long day sails or overnight trips between different boat ramps so I can get a better idea of how far I can go for bigger adventures.

    Some of the more realistic trips:
    Leave West Point, down the York River, then up the bay to Windmill Point. 65 miles.

    I've been thinking ~100 miles from Fredericksburg down the Rappahannock River to Windmill Point. Or at least from Tappahannock. Probably a lot of rowing on this one, but the current should help for quite a ways.

    Go visit Tangier Island before it falls into the bay. A minimum of 14 miles of open water.

    We usually vacation on the Outer Banks every summer, it would be a challenge to leave a week or so before and go down the ICW to meet my family on Ocracoke or Hatteras with the boat trailer. Or sail back home from down there, depending on the weather. It would be about 200 miles.


    Some of the crazier ideas:

    Circumnavigating the Delmarva peninsula would be an epic 400 mile trip. I think I could do all of it without going into the Atlantic, but there would be a lot of rowing through tidal marshes and the current can be fierce. I took my canoe out to the Cape Charles lighthouse a few months ago and the current was something else. Definitely need a lot more experience before attempting this.

    Everglades Challenge someday? Although a $445 entry fee is ridiculous.

    I read an article where two guys took a Marsh Cat out to the Dry Tortugas that sounded pretty cool. They are out there though.


    Thanks all for the comments. I do hope to keep improving the performance and slowly working all the kinks out of the setup.

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