31 December 2011
It was a busy year for me so I was not able to sail my Raptor at all. I had to build a new dock and patio roof so wasn't able to store my Raptor in the garage, but I made some further modifications to make sailing it more comfortable.
(1) Stays. After some trials in the summer of 2010, I got rid of the side stays, as they did not help and just got in the way. I still have the front one but after further testing this year I'll probably remove that too. After removing the stays my Raptor seemed to point better, but by that time it was the end of the season. The last trial notes I made showed there was too little difference to keep the stays. I would attach and tighten the stays to see what I was gaining in speed (using my knotmeter) and pointing ability. The difference with full sail was negligible on different occasions and various wind speeds. The boat also seemed slower with the three stays in front of the mast when they were not being used. The forestay did prevent the mast from raking back by up to 24" but I did not see any benefit in that.
(2) Rudder lock & uphaul/downhaul system. The previous rudder lock (my "poor man's autopilot") did not work very well and got in the way when I hooked the rudder downhaul bungee cord to the hook in front. Also, the rudder downhaul did not have enough tension so that, when going through light weeds, the rudder would lift a little causing some weather helm until I pulled on the bungee cord to lower it again. The new system gets everything out of the way to allow easy insertion or removal of the daggerboard. I just clip the bungee onto the hook, pull back on the cord to whatever tension I need and lock the cleat. A quick pull on the cord releases the cleat and I can then raise and lock the rudder in the up position with the other cleat or unhook the cord entirely to remove or install the daggerboard. It works really smoothly when sitting in the boat.
I also always wanted to be able to sail the boat sometimes from the sidecar in light air but there was no way to steer the boat that way. The problem was making a system that was out of the way when paddling. For the rudder lock to work well the tiller had to go back and forth in a straight line and I wanted to use a lightweight tie rod. The system I designed takes care of all those problems. The tiller and tie rod are made from some very lightweight cross-country ski poles. For the tie rod I cut two poles in half and made a 4" sleeve that fits inside each end and epoxied them together. I drilled out each end and epoxied a quick release ball end onto each. The tiller has a quick release ball on just one end and a handle slipped on the other end. These stainless steel quick release ball joints on both tiller and tie rod allow them to be unclipped in seconds if not needed but I plan to leave them on all the time.
I can now steer using the foot petals or by hand (so I can still steer if a rudder cable breaks for some reason), and I can lock the steering in any position with no slop on the rudder. I can sheet the main sail from the sidecar and can also steer from there using the tiller, which can be lifted out of the holder by unscrewing the knob further. The tiller is long enough to be able to steer the boat when sitting or lying down on the sidecar but I will try it out and if necessary design a way to extend it by just pressing in a pin. I have most of the materials needed to fabricate this extension.
I tried sailing from the sidecar in 2010 with the rudder lock on and sitting with my feet on the main hull just in front of the seat. I also sailed while lying down on the sidecar with my head to the stern and using my life preserver as a pillow. This was in light air doing 2½ to 5 knots and the new system worked very well. I will only sail from the sidecar on those days when I'm in the middle of the lake in very light air and I want to take a break, stretch my legs or just want to relax and lay down. This way I can still sail instead of furling the sail and just sitting there.
(3) I modified the shorter daggerboard that John made for me three years ago, removing the rubber stops, filling the holes with epoxy and epoxying a carbon fiber plate to the top end. This allows it to sit flush with the cockpit so that it now protrudes about 29" below the hull, compared with 31" with my original daggerboard (which broke in 2009). Here (near right) is a photo of my new daggerboard on top of the original one. My rudder uphaul/downhaul system no longer holds the daggerboard down. I made a little stop (above right) that I rotate over the top of the daggerboard plate once it is all the way down, preventing it from lifting while sailing.