Friday, September 5, 2014

Wooden Boat Festival Starts Tomorrow

Today I spent a very pleasant few hours sailing the Didi Cruise-Mini "Segue" on the very beautiful Puget Sound. She was lying on the dock of the NorthWest School of Wooden Boatbuilding at Port Hadlock and we needed to take her the few miles to Port Townsend, venue of the Wooden Boat Festival, which starts tomorrow.
Fine bow and beamy hull of the Didi Cruise-Mini "Segue"
 This was the first time that I had the opportunity to sail one of these little boats and it proved to be a delightfull surprise. It is a cruising version of our Didi Mini Mk2 design, with detuned rig and shallower but heavier lifting keel in place of the deep draft fixed keel. The water was flat and the breeze a very pleasant 10-15 knots. We were towing a 12ft dinghy that is also to be exhibited and which was probably knocking off about 1 knot from our speed. Yet she still sailed at good enough pace and heading to outsail other small cruisers that were heading the same way, both on heading and speed through the water.
Robust rig, with full-width swept spreaders.
 "Segue" was built by the NorthWest School of Wooden Boatbuilding for David Blessing, who completed her from the structure and interior that was supplied. She proved to be very stable, able to carry her generous full sail plan to windward even in the strongest gusts that came our way. I helmed from the leeward side of the cockpit, only moving to windward twice when stronger gusts arrived. She is very forgiving, with light and comfortable helm and just the right amount of weather helm to allow her to round up if the tiller is left unattended. With only two of us on board, she did not demand weight on the rail to give her power and was very easy to helm from leeward, for best view of the jib telltales. She has the feel of a much larger boat, giving a sense of strength and security.
Didi Cruise-mini "Segue" with her tag-along dinghy.
Overall, she showed me that she very aptly fits the fast micro-cruiser role for which she was designed. I would be happy to go coastal cruising on her, with her lifting keel and shallow twin rudders opening up many cruising areas that are totally inaccessible to larger boats. She can tuck into shallow bays, far from the cruising crowds. And when she comes out onto open water she can pick up her skirts and carry her crew to their next destination at better speed than almost any other cruiser of comparable size, as well as many bigger boats.
In company of hundreds of other wooden boats, waiting to show herself.
David Blessing sails her single-handed much of the time and at other times with friends and family. His comments to me have been that she is an amazing little boat and has not disappointed him in any way. I tweaked the rig and his sail setups during and after our delivery sail and am sure that he will find her even better now than before.

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