mast stays straight and I actually increase speed going upwind. Adjusting the traveler is a joy now and works very well. The Spinlock clutch cleats work as advertised and it is very easy to set the traveler car to whatever position I need. I am able to raise the mast and go from paddling to sailing in seconds in shallow water. With the bungee holding the boom out of the way when paddling and no drag from the mast as it is stowed in its holders, I have one speedy machine when there is no wind or when traveling in a narrow channel.
Overall it is a remarkable machine that has no equal in my opinion.
16 January 2009
Just an update on what has been happening. This winter I wanted to make further modifications to my Raptor to take care of the last little problems that bothered me.
(1) I designed a water ballast system for my Raptor, self-contained in the ama, which I can fill and drain remotely. This should let me sail at greater wind speeds before having to use the foil. Some Raptor owners carry a lot of gear along so that makes their boats a lot more stable on a starboard tack, without having the ama come out of the water in lighter winds. I normally sail without anything in the sidecar as I have my cooler behind my seat. With my taller mast and larger sail it does not take much to lift the ama on a starboard tack. Using the foil slows the boat down a bit so I was looking for a better way when I am racing my boat. I also had many occasions when I would be leaning on the sidecar so I would not have to use the foil when going downwind in 10 - 15 mph winds. With a little ballast I will not need to lean over or use the foil while still still being able to have the full sail out, for maximum performance in a wider wind range.
Now if I am on a port tack and it starts to get windy I can flip the switch to fill the ballast bag before I go onto a starboard tack and in less than 60 seconds it will be like I just added 58 lbs onto the side car. With the switch in the drain position it will drain the bag in about 90 seconds (from a drain test) so I can quickly adjust how much ballast I need. I will still need the foil in strong winds but this will greatly expand the wind speed envelope for sailing without the foil. In a race, dumping that ballast on a long port tack will help in the speed department. With this added feature and the roller furling sail I can go from mild to wild in an expanded range of wind and sea conditions without over-stressing the boat. This will be the same as having the boat loaded up with gear. The only difference is I can make the weight disappear in 90 seconds if required. I talked to JohnS about it before starting and he thought it was a great idea if I could make it work. It has been done on catamarans before with great success so we will see if it works the way I think it will.
The ama with batteries installed now has a total weight of 44 lbs empty and the ballast system can add another 58 lbs to the ama when full, for a total ama weight of 102 lbs with full water ballast. The displacement of the ama is around 200 lbs so the additional weight should not be an issue sailing on a port tack when the bag is empty. By adjusting the amount of ballast while sailing on a starboard tack, I will no longer need to lean over in the lighter winds when I do not wish to use the foil for stability. This will make it more comfortable on a beat while on starboard tack. Also in very windy conditions I can add water ballast and reduce sail to have a very comfortable and safe ride without any worries about flipping it over. The beefed up ama I got from the factory initially weighed about 20 lbs. I still have my original ama that weighs 12 lbs. It would only take about 10 minutes to convert back to the original configuration (with the lighter ama), so I'll have the best of both worlds.
Here (below left) is the custom ballast bag I had made to fit inside the ama. It is made out of the same material as river rafts or ballast bags for Wake Board boats and is about 8" round by 30" long. It holds 7 gallons of water. The ring in front is to attach the bag to the front crossbeam socket, so it cannot move. Note the circular cut in the top, which lines up with the forward hatch.
Shown above (center & right) is the front hatch, which provides access to the inside of the water ballast bag. On the center top of the bag is a 4" opening, which is attached to the 4" hatch with screw lid. It is completely waterproof and if I turtle all I do is remove the hatch and do a normal recovery. All the water will drain out in seconds as the inverted ama is being lifted out. I also can use a kayak hand bilge pump to drain or fill the bag if something goes wrong with my electrical pump system. The bag is caulked and bolted through the hull and hatch, so it is completely sealed from the inside of the ama. The black ball in the center of the hatch is a ½" vent fitting, which lets me know when the bag is full and acts like an overflow.