Monday, February 27, 2012

My Make-Shift Mast!

"What if I had been demasted out in the middle of the ocean - what would I have done then?" So began my construction of my make shift mast! 'Sailing' or should I really say 'rowing' my Columbia 22 boat out into the marina late last night, I decided to work on my idea out there and still get my sea time. It was a beautiful night and I was the only one out on the water. Even not having sails, I still enjoyed the wind on the water and the night light reflections. Rowing against the light wind blowing was a little difficult but I soon got to the top of the finger channel and could just let the boat drift. In the quietness, I started going over in my mind all the different possibilities for building the make-shift mast. It was a little rough going as not many ideas were taking shape! And then the thought of standing the broken mast up against the bow pulpit started becoming a possibility. Laying out two boards horizontally for the mast to lie against (actually the mast was fitted snug between the two and could rest there), I then got the halyards secured at a metal eye at the top of the mast. Then while drifting down the harbor and trying to maintain some course, I lifted the heavy mast up and secured it quickly with strong rope. Suddenly I realized the boat was drifting too close to a boat on the dock and had to run across the deck and into the cockpit and turn the tiller. Meanwhile the mast was only secured half way and leaning dangerously close to shifting and snapping the wood and falling into the water. I had to move fast and carefully so that I didn't rock the boat. Having done that successfully, I then came back and secured it all the way. Having to strengthen the bow so that the weight of the 100 lbs mast was pulling against the forward shroud cleat and the two bow port and starboard cleats - instead of leaning its weight on the bow pulpit - took a lot of time and thought. As it was, it took me hours to make it properly secure and it wasn't till 3:30 am in the morning when I rolled into my dock! All the time I had doubts as to getting it up and how tight it was and if the make shift shrouds would work and if it would fall and pull the pulpit right off the deck! But after all that, I had done it and it was secure! But 'beautiful' it was not - unless you like 'pirate' looking rigging! So then I had to figure out what kind of sail to give it. At first I was thinking that an asian lanteen sail plan would work really well - but it didn't. Then I got out my small storm sail and ran that up the mast. It was okay but after taking it for a test run, it pulled the bow down and would not run into the wind. Later I learned this was because I have a fin keel and the mast being at the bow was not at the center of gravity/effort. So instead of pulling the boat, the sails power was turning it. Interesting huh! Well at that point I was out of ideas. So then later, I saw in my sailing book a make shift sail that had a spinnaker pole put up off the stern with the bottom edge of the sail taken up the halyard and the length of it pulled out to catch the wind across the deck. Not sure if you can get the picture of this but the sail is up - just the wrong way! So that gave me an idea to try my full sail and put it up the wrong direction from my mast at the bow. I guess I was hoping that because a lot of the sail caught the wind along the waist of the boat that it would drive the boat even into the wind - but no. I did get more power going across the wind and downwind though. So as of the writing of this - I still don't know how to get the boat upwind with a make-shift sail. You know on the ocean, that would possibly mean having to go hundreds or thousands of miles in the wrong direction just to get to land! So if you have any good ideas - leave me a message! I would love to hear them. :-)