Friday, September 7, 2012

Maiden Voyage

From the Log of the Solitude III

4 September, 2012

Arriving at the boat launch.
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of boatbuilding activity. Painting, varnishing, drilling holes and installing hardware. My dad came up for Labor Day weekend, and together we made the big push to get the boat ready to sail. We were really close on Monday to finishing it up, so we both decided to take Tuesday off to get her done.

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Finally, in the early afternoon, we got the last bolt...the upper starboard bolt on the motor mount...installed. We put oil and fuel into the outboard, hitched up the trailer, and headed down to the 10th Street Boat Launch.  While we were casting off the tie-downs and raising the mast, a chap walked over asking, "is that a PocketShip?"

In she goes.
We got the boat ready to go, and I backed the boat down the ramp.  I had to back father than I though to get the boat to float off.  The rear wheels of the car were just entering the water before we finally slid the boat back and Dad tended the boat whilst I parked the car.  When I got back to the boat, I found that a kayaker had paddled up to ask, "is that a PocketShip?"  The boat is a minor celebrity.

Almost there...

Afloat at last!
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First on the agenda was to start the break-in procedure on the motor.  we sat at the dock for about 5 minutes while the motor warmed up, then it was off for a 15 minute cruise at idle speed.  I dropped Dad off on the dock at Jetty Island to take a couple of photos of the boat during this very slow cruise.  Finally, we got to open her up to 1/2 throttle for the trip out the Snohomish River into Puget Sound.  After a bit of boorishness at idle, she perked right up when I opened it up a bit and hit about 5 kts at 1/2 throttle. 

Puttering about.

Rudder tiller...motor tiller...rudder tiller...motor tiller...
Up go the sails.
Saw a sea lion on a yellow can.
After a quick trip downriver, we hit the Sound, turned into the wind and raised the sails.  The winds were westerly at about  10 kts and I had tentatively put in a reef in the mains'l back before we launched.  On hoisting the sail, though, it was clear that it wasn't required, and we promptly shook it out.  The jib came out and the sails filled as the motor shut down and we bore off onto a beam reach.  Solitude III jumped up to speed more like a racing dinghy than a cruiser. We sailed south towards Mukilteo, easily maintaining 4.5-5 kts.  This is a fast boat for its length!    Just off Mukilteo, we came about, heading NW close hauled.  Solitude heeled delightfully as she clawed windward. 

My dad taking a picture on a beautiful day!

One happy boatbuilder turned sailor.
The weather was perfect.  The wind was steady, the sky was blue, the air warm. Sitting in the cockpit, alternating between methodically experimenting with different sail trim and marvelling in shocked wonder at actually being in this boat that I have built, the evening was relaxing and peaceful.  There were really no major issues to note...everything worked well.  The boat sailed oh-so-sweetly.  She was responsive at the helm.  With the sails trimmed just right, she'd take off like a rocket.  Stable, fast, and able, this boat is a delight to sail.

The wind was fair for sailing back up the Snohomish.   I sailed up to the dock at Jetty Island again, and again let Dad off for an under-sail photo op.  Then the sails came down and it was quick motor back to the boat launch, just as the sun set. 

It was the perfect maiden voyage!

Unfurling the jib.

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