Indeedee do it does! What with the rotten weather I hadn't been afloat to test my latest rigging concoction for the Flying Crutchman -- but today with a weak breeze to harness I disembarked from my usual launching place.
Then sailed up and down the coast in the face of a very weak onshore north easterly. Maybe blowing under 3 knots. I sailed north and south then north and south again.
Seven kilometres to the south east a squadron of yachts very much larger than mine -- were caught in the lee off Scarborough. So I got to compare my craft's performance with their's. And I was doing OK.
They just sat there conferencing while I scooted parallel to the coast. Every time I looked, despite their full sail, they weren't going anywhere.
Sailing north I had to use a bit of paddle steering and pulling forth against the wind. The conditions were pushing the bow inshore and I can see why canoe sailers need leeboards to hold a course. Using the paddle wasn't strenuous and the now-and-then dips moved me forward at a comfortable speed so that I was sailing and paddling better than if I was doing one or t'other by itself. The sail harnesses energy to drive the craft forward even when sailing against the wind.
I look up and wonder: how is it doing that?
When sailing back south I could have stretched out for a snooze as the craft steered itself and held a steady straight course without any blade work required at all. I thought I'd approach a flock of pelicans two kilometres away but the birds were denied my presence this time as the wind dropped further and a calm set in.
With my present rig I need to master a paddling technique that takes best advantage of the various forces in play. Single blade paddling is way different from the standard double blade work normally done by alternating pulls each side of a kayak. With the wind moving you forward the paddle dips are more about counter balancing the beast against the wind and waves in a forward preference.
To state the obvious, you pick a feature on the horizon in the direction of travel and hold that course.
Would a rudder be preferable? Not with only one pair of hands it wouldn't. Using a rudder and paddling is a huge ask. But I gotta get myself a paddle leash as without my trusty blade I'd be lost at sea. I made myself a make-do one today which worked fine but while I can do a better home made job of it, I'm thinking that since mine is single blade I may invest the $25 and get myself a leash that has a very firm hold on my paddle and has concertina/stretch cord.
Since the rig 'works' I guess I better (finally) prep and paint the wood I've used -- the cannibalized crutches -- as everything was thrown together temporarily while I fiddled with the design.
Finally (!!!) I have resolved the main challenges and have myself a sailing rig that works. How about that?
An inch here or there matters and moving my rear steering blades closer to -- or further away from -- the hull may be warranted. But the addition of noodle floats seems to offer better lateral resistance in the face of a cross breeze than if the paddles were allowed to set their own depth (I know this because I sailed today with and without this added floatation and 'with' is better.)
I'm thinking of adding a seat of sorts so that my bum if off the deck. With sit-on-tops you paddle/sail while in a sort of bathtub at low tide and while I'm not complaining about the ergonomics -- I sail semi recumbent now with my back resting on a stowage barrel -- I'd like to be a free of the waters but not too high in the saddle that I cannot easily see under the sail to the leeward.So while I don't need back support, I'd like something nice under my buttocks.
A kids car booster seat perhaps?
The Day After: Another day on the waters. Same route. Wind fresher (by very little) but still inconveniently from the east and onshore. The craft sails akin to its performance the day before. I'm learning to sail with paddle and such to better effect as I merge with the forces that are upon me and begin to take their measure. While the wind was maybe blowing at 4-5 knots, my section of Moreton Bay is its widest east to west so the waves get traction ahead of the breeze. So that I may have a breeze but more chop than what the yachts get in the lee of Moreton Island which is the preferred sailing habitat in this northern section of Moreton Bay. The game for them is launch on the Redcliffe Peninsula and head off to Moreton Island as a sailing option. But for me my sailing speed is handicapped by the waves' resistance when I'm sailing against them. So I guess I'm gonna have to lean some useful tacking maneuvers in order to improve my journey speed A to B. With much stronger winds forecast for tomorrow -- and from the south west -- maybe some buzz can be had afloat? It will give me a chance to really test the rig.
Sailing in today's conditions may have been slow but the casual nature of the breeze made for contemplative instruction in way of DIY. A paddle dip here and there; consideration of what course to follow; navigating between the shoals....I'm learning.