Sunday, January 30, 2011

An eventful day’s sailing

I went sailing on Grahamstown Lake near Newcastle yesterday. Conditions were challenging because the wind was was 0-15 knots, gusty and swinging through 120 degrees.
The inevitable happened. I had won the start of the race and while leading the fleet to the first mark, I was hit by a vicious gust just as I gybed at the mark. Splosh! I didn’t even get wet as I clambered over the gunwale as I went over, and was on the centreboard in a flash.
Then check out what I had scooped up!
The videos, in order are a cockpit view of sailing the GIS, “Splosh”, and what the Goat caught!
Cockpit view of sailing my GIS.
Too bad they weren’t any bigger!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sailing with Michael Storer

On the w/e of 8/9 January 2011, I was privileged to catch up with Michael Storer, the designer of the Goat Island Skiff. The Moth Worlds were on at Belmont Bay, Lake Macquarie, and Mick travelled up. We met at Belmont and had a great time checking out these fantastic craft and talking to a few of the Mothies.
What a fantastic day it was checking out what makes these amazing craft tick. As you all know, Mick is such a fountain of knowledge, so it was indeed a privilege to take in his comments while browsing amongst the Moths. We struck up some great conversations with some of the Mothies and got an insight into what drives them. Sailing a foiling Moth is clearly quite a learning curve. However, don't for one minute think that it's a young man's game, as we were told there are guys around 60 sailing them quite competitively.
However, we saw that sailing a Moth is a somewhat wet sport, akin to surfing in a way. Mothies go swimming an awful lot. They go swimming to launch. No retractable centre boards or rudders means they have to carry the thing into deep water. Same thing coming back in....they dump it over on its side and swim it to the shore. And this is after what is, for most skippers, a few dumpings around the racecourse. From what we saw, you are going to need to be pretty fit to sail a Moth competitively.

You can see some of Mick’s Pictures by clicking this photo. (Link will take you away from this page)

Later we rigged up the GIS, which attracted the usual sort of attention from boaties who are curious when seeing something new. The Goat was definitely the candle amongst the Moths both on and off the water. What amazed me this particular outing was the number of people who correctly identified the boat as a Goat Island Skiff, so I guess this is the internet at work and boaties are more knowledgeable.
We had a great sail together, Mick taking his pics while we sailed among the Moths. We watched them rounding the weather mark for one race before heading down to the start area for the next. Foiling Moths are very intriguing and I’ve added a sail on one to my bucket list.
The following day, we headed up to Grahamstown Lake, which is 45km north of Belmont at Port Stephens. Unlike Lake Macquarie, Grahamstown lake is a fresh water reservoir.
As I didn’t have any pics of the Hakuna Matata sailing, it was indeed a privilege to have Mick sail up and down providing me with the opportunity to snap some shots. I later discovered that I had made life very difficult for Michael because I'd rigged the ratchet block the wrong way. Check out the twisted sheet at the transom end. Sorry MIK!
It was great to see Hakuna Matata being sailed so competently by Mick so that I could get some rare shots from the shore. A 10x zoom with no stability control usually means quite a bit of camera shake is present, but I found a timber post to lean on and so eliminate most of the jitters. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that the post had been the recent roost for a seagull, so gull poop on my hands and face was the price paid for my inattention. But it was worth it!
The breeze started at around 12kts and later filled in to a very nice 25kts when we went 2-up.

Clicking this photo will take you to a photo-set on Picasa. (Will open in a new webpage)
Michael Storer sailing Hakuna Matata
Video made from still shots of Mick sailing Hakuna Matata

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Kim and I are back from Sydney having enjoyed the show we went to see, The Jersey Boys which told the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The show is just awesome and I can recommend it to anyone, even if they are not Frankie Valli fans as the music is just brilliant. I wasn't aware of their story which traced their rocky rise to fame, and which was interupted by stints in gaol!

Anyway Valli aside, sailing wasn't on the agenda today as there is no wind at all, so it was some more driveway development for testing maybe next weekend.

I've installed the vang, reconfigured the downhaul, moved the sail attchment on the front of the boom back a bit, moved the yard attachment back to the 40% position, and added a 2:1 purchase on the clew adjustment.

Just to explain, I have been having issues with lee helm when close hauled. Hopefully these mods will sort that problem, and introduce some desirable slight weather helm.

This pictures show the vang installed, and the downhaul moved to to the front of the boom. Here the downhaul is pulled on so that the luff of the sail is 200mm in front of the mast. This is 200mm further back than the standard position of 400mm in front of the mast, and demonstrates one end of the available adjustment. This position moves the rig back for close hauled sailing and to induce (hopefully) some slight weather helm.

This next picture shows the downhaul released and some vang tension applied. You will see that the boom has now moved forward to place more of the sail to weather of the mast. The object here is to help balance the rig for downwind sailing and reduce rolling from side to side. It also balances the helm. Of course, in between these extremes is the ideal adjustment for the point of sailing (ie. close reaching or broad reaching) and the wind strength on the day. I have already played with this in actual sailing, but without the assistance of the vang which now makes the adjustments easier, and provides more control of both the luff and the leach.

The pics above show how the rig is easily adjusted while sailing. Ideally, with this set-up, the downhaul should be attached in front of the mast. With the downhaul currently fixed to the original fixture on the deck just to the left of the mast, it is binding slightly when the boom is gybed to starboard tack. If this arrangement works well in sailing, I'll move it to the front of the mast. The vang attachment is on the deck behind the mast, and this proved to be the correct place for it as there is no binding of the vang at all.

Notice I have applied traditional systems and have not used a cascading system for either the vang or the downhaul. The reason is because the cascading systems could not cope with the large amounts of movement and are better suited where the adjustment ranges are small. As you can see I just bolted the two single pulleys for the vang together to make a double.

Once the system is proved, then I will bring the controls back to cleats on the front edge of the seat. I don't want to drill holes unnecessarily at this stage.

These next two pics show the effect of the movement of the rig on the mainsheet. I had already moved the sheeting aft last weekend and found that this worked better for me. The rear sheeting does not interfere with the tiller as much, but the main thing I wanted to achieve with this arrangement was to prevent the boom being pushed forward when sheeting in hard. This arrangement works well to solve that issue. I can't say it will suit everyone, but I like it. The traveller is also adjustable via a clam cleat located beside BH4.

Finally, here is the simple 2:1 adjustment for the foot of the sail. The line runs around a sheave set into the end of the boom.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


We launched on Sunday 20 June 2010! What a great day it turned out to be.
The day dawned with a heavy fog but by 8am it had cleared with a fresh breeze blowing in from the west. Our GIS had been loaded up on the trailer the previous day and already hitched to the car, so all we had to do was jump in and take off.

We arrived at Taylors Beach (Port Stephens NSW) to be greeted with a fresh south westerly of approximately 20 knots, so I decided that we'd better have a reef tied in for our first sail. Kim's parents, who had given us a 1948 Australian penny for under the mast, suddenly produced a 35 year old champagne for the christening! Wow, was it good, unlike any champagne I had ever tasted. I'll post a transcript of the ceremony in a subsequent post, but we had quite a few intrigued locals over to watch and help.

We named her Hakuna Matata! Means "no worries" in Swahili, and made famous by the song in the Lion King. We had decided a couple of months ago not to call her Shesha, for a number of reasons.

You would never have guessed it was mid winter on the water. Both water and ambient temperature were 20 deg C and a warming sun prevailed, so we didn't even need our warmies!! The splash was small, and she floated mighty high and we were soon off, lucky to be taking off on a broad reach so we could get over the shallows with just a few cm of board and rudder down. Once out in the deep, we were moving pretty quickly, with Kim sitting on the centre seat on the lee side and me on the gunwale. We cruised up and down, trying out all points of sailing. First impressions are how easily the Goat moves and the quick, unfussed acceleration when a gust comes, but at all times she was comfortable with the two of us and one reef in.

After an hour or so, we were signalled that a hot coffee was awaiting us on the beach so we pulled in. The tide was now fully in so the shallows were no problem any more. What happened next was hilarious. I was holding the boat in knee deep water and as Kim climbed out, a gust of wind hit us. Her foot caught on the sheet, and before we knew it we had managed to capsize her on the shore. Kim fell in and was well and truly dunked, much to the mirth of the gallery on the shore. It was a funny moment.

After bailing all the water out and warmed by a cup of coffee, I ventured out alone, still with one reef in. Kim by now was all rugged rugged up in dry clothes and with her dignity restored, but decided that was enough for one day.

However, the wind had died a bit and was probably down to 15 knots. Still, she was well behaved and I felt quite safe and in control sitting on the gunwale. I even threw in a couple of gybes without a problem. Time now to come in and remove the reef!

No sooner was I out there with full sail, than the wind abated some more to around only 10 knots, with just the occasional gust of about 15 knots to make things interesting. With full sail in this breeze, I really only had to hike out using the hiking straps 4 times as the gusts came through, and then it was down to sitting on the middle seat for the rest of the afternoon as the wind slowly dropped, and I only had an occasional opportunity to perch on the rail from then on.

Getting her out of the water and trailered up again was made easy with plenty of interested assistance from locals and folks out for the day having barbeques in the park beside the beach. There were no other sailing boats out there that we saw.

Driving home, we had a good laugh again as we remembered Kim's dunking, which of course was all my fault! I can't wait for next weekend, where we'll be taking her onto Grahamstown Dam, which is a large fresh water reservoir, well known for it's even breezes due to the low lying topography all around.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the camera took a dunking too when the boat was swamped by Kim's little episode, and it doesn't work any more I'll have to take the card to work tomorrow to get the pics off it. Luckily, it was a a pretty old, hardly used and cheapish 3mp Kodak and not my Fuji.
It was a pretty awesome day, so I now know how Christophe and John felt last w/e

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Sunday, June 06, 2010


I spent a great morning today fiddling with the rigging. The simplicity of the Goat Island Skiff is brilliant and I kept wondering what else I had to do. However, it was done! I just have to redo some of my knots which are not the best. The simple truth is I've forgotten how. I was a sea scout in my early teens and was quite proficient in knots, but all those skills have deserted me.

The yard is attached with cable ties. This was meant to be temporary, but to my surprise it is actually quite an elegant solution, so I might leave them there. See how nicely they hold the sail to the spar?

I also ended up attaching a small block to the U bolt on the tip of the mast, so it's now much easier to hoist the sail. I also added some leather to prevent chafing.

The 4:1 downhaul has nice power and works well. Unfortunately there was only a very light zephyr of wind, so I couldn't really evaluate the sail. My sail has a leech cord, so if anyone can give me some tips of how and when to adjust this, I would appreciate it. The sail has 3 leech battens and a loose foot.
I also weighed the completed hull, which is 49.5kg. The next step is to weigh the whole boat, including all the rigging and foils.
Next weekend is a long weekend. Here is Australia we celebrate the Queen’s Birthday. It’s not really her birthday, but what the heck, it’s as good an excuse as any to have a long weekend!

Here are some pics from today. The sunlight was dappling through the trees so the shots are not great.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Varnishing the topsides completed!

I want my boat to look nice, but I’m not beating myself up over a perfect finish. I just don’t have the time or inclination any more to spend hours achieving a perfect finish, but the boat has taken up a lot of my time to get it to this point, so I think it deserves to look reasonably good.

I feel that a gloss bright finish lets you get away with a few drips and runs here and there, so this was my choice. Out on the water I’ll be wearing sunglasses so the glare won’t matter :)

As was discussed in my post on 18 April 2010, the timber was first sealed with epoxy (West System 105 epoxy with 207 hardener), and then overcoated with Norglass Weatherfast Marine Varnish.

Here’s a short video of the GIS before I turned the hull to start work on the bottom.

Wind indicator

This is a wind vane that I made for my Goat Island Skiff sailing boat which hasn't been launched yet. It's made from a couple of 5.5mm plastic knitting needles, hot melt glue, and some odd scraps I found in my garage. You can easily make one in about 15 minutes, and if you don't have anything lying around, check out your craft store where you should be able to buy the bits for a couple of bucks.

For the joiner you can use a ball pen casing, while a plastic bead makes a nice low friction bearing. For the vane you can use any lightweight material. Plastic meat trays or ice cream containers are some ideas. You will need to saw a slot in the knitting needle to hold the vane, and fix it in place with some hot melt glue


Whatever material you decide to use, make sure you balance it reasonably well. Mine needed a bit more weight at the front tip, so I used some black silicon insulation tape, but a few blobs of hot melt glue moulded around the tip would work well too.