Friday, May 24, 2019

Road Trip to Sail the Didi 29 Retro "Arabella"

It was my 70th birthday 2 weeks ago and I was surprised by my family with a totally unexpected visit by my sister Dorothy and her daughter Robynne from across the Atlantic, come to participate in the festivities and to help make it a very special occasion. Winding down Dorothy's trip, she and I made a brief road trip to North Carolina. We started off down the Outer banks, where I hoped to find some decent surf. The weather stymied that one with strong onshore winds, so we wasted little time feeling sand between our toes, visited the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras and arrived at the ferry dock to board for Ocracoke to find rows and rows of cars waiting ahead of us.

Innocent us, we did not expect a flood of people to be visiting this tiny barrier island. I expected to arrive at the ferry dock and be boarded 15-30 minutes later, then a short crossing, time to get lunch on the tiny island before boarding our reserved ferry to Cedar Island. Wrong. After sitting in the queue for a long time, the very accommodating NC Ferry staff let us jump the line to catch the next ferry, or we were not going to make out 4pm ferry. That short crossing to Ocracoke is actually about 4 or 5 times the straight-line distance because the ferry has to wind back-and-forth through the channels.
Satellite view of Ocracoke Inlet, Courtesy Google Earth. The Hatteras ferry dock at extreme right, Ocracoke ferry dock at extreme left. The sand banks and channels move around and the ferries have to zig-zag through them. 
So, we had a drive-through tour that really didn't do justice to the very cute little town of Ocracoke, arriving in time to check in for our next ferry, without lunch. The ferry route to Cedar Island was more direct and parallel to the barrier islands, in deep water.The main entertainment was a variety of seabirds soaring behind us and looking for food to be churned up by the propellers or tossed in the air by passengers.

Once on land we saw the results of the coastal areas that were devastated by Hurricanes Florence and Michael last year. Homes destroyed, most that survived now being jacked up 6-8ft to get them above future flooding.Trees still on top of some homes, no longer habitable. And our hotel still undergoing reconstruction, with water service disrupted at times and cold water coming out of the hot taps. But the beds were new and very comfortable, so we got a good night's sleep. In the morning, a short ferry ride and drive to a marina in Oriental.

"Arabella" is very pretty. She was built by professional boatbuilder Bruce Mierke as his personal sailboat, to our Didi 29 Retro design. He customised his build to suit his own needs, so she has a shorter cabin and some different detailing.
"Arabella" in her dock, retractable bowsprit withdrawn
Lifting keel in raised position, hauled up by a tackle system led to the cabintop winch.
Lifting rudder in a casette. Bruce modified this from my original design, to give some steering when the rudder is partially raised. There is an outboard motor well but Bruce has an electric pod drive installed.
With the short cabin, Bruce has kept his halliards at the mast .
The bowsprit retracts and pivots on an inboard traveller on the foredeck, with control lines led aft to the cockpit.

"Arabella" hard on the wind.
Very neat high-peaked gaff rig with nicely-shaped mainsail. All spars are carbon.
So, how did she sail? Wind was very light, around 4-5 knots most of the time. On the flat water that we had, she sailed close to the wind at 3.5-4 knots, with little wake and an easy helm. She cut through the occasional powerboat wakes of the ICW with little fuss or loss of speed. Once cracked off, we pushed out the bowsprit, set the top-down roller-furled asymmetrical off the end and rolled away the jib to allow the spinnaker to breathe.

She powered up and reached at just a touch under the apparent wind speed, topping out at more than 8 knots boat speed in 9 knots of apparent wind. That put her boat speed at well above the true wind speed in which we were sailing. She did this with no fuss and very easy control. The speed gave the feeling that the wind had picked up but with the bag stowed and back on the wind under main and jib, we still had the same light breeze as before. She just gets up and goes. She will reel off the miles if used as a small cruiser.

"Arabella" has the smaller of the two gaff rigs that I drew. This one is suitable for most small crews, for racing or cruising. The other gaff rig is larger and will need a larger and more experienced crew. We also have a Marconi rig with square-top mainsail.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

27ft Sportfisherman

I may not have been paying enough attention when I started posting about the 26ft sportfisherman project of Kevin Agee. When we first discussed this proposed design it was to be about 26ft, so that was what I called it. But it grew a bit between first discussions and agreeing the final lines. It is actually a bit over 27ft from stem to transom, so it is now the 27ft sportfisherman project. And that project is now moving into the final finishing stages.

Having glassed the console, next we took a skillsaw to it. That was not to destroy it but to form a concealed switch panel with hinged cover to protect it from the elements.
Console after cutting to form the switch recess. The removed part will be used to form a hinged cover.
This is the infill piece that will fill in the hole in the console, with the switches mounted in the horizontal surface. We made this from 15lb Coosa Board.
The infill piece has been glued into the console. When finished it will hold the electrical switches, including the key-switch for ignition. 
Work has also started on fairing and priming the deck and rubrails to ready them for final painting.

After two coats of high-build epoxy applied by roller, the deck is ready for sprayed fairing compound.
Kevin took delivery of his new double-axle trailer, which had been set up by the supplier to suit the hull bottom. We jacked the boat with trolley jacks, supporting it on boat stands and axle stands, then dismantled the cradle from underneath. Pushing the trailer in under the boat was an interesting process, with trolley jack and axle stand playing leapfrog with trailer frame and axles.
New double axle trailer.
Jacked and supported on boat stands and trolley jack, the cradle was dismantled.
Safely on its trailer, the new boat came out of its shed for the first time.
Showing its lines in daylight.
For the first time we are able to step back and look at the transom and engine bracket.
Launch is still a few weeks away. Plans won't be available until after she is wet and has done some sea-trials. See our full range of designs on our website or mobile website.