I'm a day late with this post (assuming it goes out today!) because I went sailing on Thursday instead of writing a blog.
I think I can live with myself.
I mentioned that I chewed up the daggerboard last time. In the interim I sanded it down and coated the bare wood with a new epoxy covering. I think I'm going to wait on varnish in case it happens again. For the most part the daggerboard spends it's time underwater and in the shade of the boat, so I'm not super worried about sun damage to the epoxy due to lack of varnish.
I did notice that the shape of the daggerboard hole might contribute to future damage. This winter I might see about making some modifications to soften the angle of the trailing edge of the hole.
For this trip, I went to the Falls Lake Beaver Dam boat launch. It's nice because there are no gas powered engines allowed in that area. South of the ramp there's a fence under an overpass which separates the lake. I didn't go too far in the other direction but presumably that whole side of the lake is open only to non-gas powered boats.
The wind was about 4-7 knots according to Windy, the wind app I downloaded. Except for launching and docking, didn't touch an oar all afternoon. There were some moments of calm, but for the most part I had a great time cruising about.
Am I... getting better?!
What I've learned about lake sailing is that the wind tends to change direction an awful lot. The shape of the shore is a big factor. When I move around a bend and a new expanse of lake opens up, I can expect wind blowing off that open area. Close in along the tree lined banks I find the wind running parallel to the shore, where as slightly farther out, the wind seems to blow in a more consistent direction. And for the best fun, in between all of these regions, the wind swirls and changes, gusts and dies off completely. This means more attention to the helm and the sail trim to get good performance and a great time!
I've also noticed that as I've sailed Bella Claire more I've started to get a feel for the tiller. I can tell without looking when I've got her rudder centered by the pressure on the tiller. I'm still not entirely comfortable with the push/pull tiller, but I'm definitely getting better at handling it. My sail trim is improving with my confidence, and understanding the wind patterns on the lake a bit better has improved that, as well. I'm much less surprised now when I go from a beam reach (that is, the wind coming from the side, perpendicular to the boat) to suddenly in irons (the boat heading directly into the wind, a point by which no sailboat can progress). Initially I was confused, thinking I had just misread the wind to start, but now I've begun to notice the conditions under which the wind changes so abruptly and adjust to the changes more readily.
I'm also happy to report that I had no issues with seasickness or heat. It was certainly lot (NC in July, after all) and humid, but I started and remained well hydrated. It helps to have a partner who is a hydration expert. All in all I had a great day and I'm looking forward to my next adventure!
Until next time, fair winds!