Friday, July 26, 2013

Boat hook - not whatever else it might look like

Boat Hook – Friday, July 26, 2013 – Yes it is an improved boat hook, not a prosthetic device for Pinocchio.  Tony had trouble getting the blunt point of the boat hook into the jib clew ring when we need a whisker pole for the jib. This new one was fabricated this morning.  We’ll try it out next week. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Emails of note

Some emails of note--Monday, July 22, 2013.  Received the following emails after I explained why I was thinking of looking for another boat already.  Yes, it has only been in the water three times--which translates to about $1000 per outing.

From my friend Fred sailing around the world slowly on his 43-footer:  Ha! This makes me chuckle. Two-footitis already.

Well I hope you stick to nice old boats which don't cost much and avoid the temptation to buy a $60,000 high performance marvel.

From my friend Tony who builds lovely cedar kyaks and crews in the C-Lark:  In his first email he asks if I am crazy.  A day later he says let's build a Flying Scot this winter.

From my son Bill: Please cut your Man Card in half, package it in a Pamprin box, and mail to my PO Box in Yelm, WA.
No danger there, Fred.  Tony, I just finished a project boat--let's buy something ready to sail.  As for you Bill, I will not mention the details of certain concessions you made to get me to drive you on your paper route one rainy afternoon back in the day.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

For Sale -- Sunday, July 21, 2013

For Sale -- Sunday, July 21, 2013 --It takes forever to sell a boat, so I listed the C-Lark today.  I hope it doesn't sell until after the August races.  It may take years to sell, and we will keep racing the boat until it does sell--and we will keep improving it. 

We are hooked on racing, but the C-Lark is just too athletic a boat for our old bones, and no way will Patti get on anything this small.  So we will be looking for something a little more "wife friendly" and something that demands a bit less agility from the crew.

In the mean time, I ordered some kneeling mats for the cockpit floor and the location of the outhaul cleat is going to change so it hits the helmsman's head less often.  The knee pads kind of worked, but pads should work better.

 Tried on my old life jacket; it is less likely to snag on the boom during tacks and jibes so it will go back into service and the new jacket will go on the shelf.

Also thinking about having shortening the sail by six inches so we have a little more headroom.  I noticed that this sail is at the absolute max allowed by the class rules.  Every C-Lark picture shows less sail.  Six more inches of headroom would cost us less than 4.5 square feet of sail area and vastly improve our work in the cockpit.  If we do that, it won't get done until after the racing season.

On an up-note the weather helm disappeared when the tiller was shortened.  It moved the helmsman back a foot and that balanced the weight of two people--tending to confirm my idea that the tiller was extra long for single handing.  Here is the Craig's List ad:

14-foot C-Lark Sailing Dinghy - $1800 (Olympia)
This 14-foot dinghy is great for cruising or racing. It is a nice little boat in good condition for its age. I bought it and rehabbed it so I could race. It is a lot of fun, and competitive, but wife wants a something more like a Buick and less like a Miata.

Custom cut main like new with adjustable leech and foot lines.

Like new jib with roller furling.

High-performance Harken traveler. High-performance internal main halyard.

Brand new polyurethane paint on the bottom and cockpit.

Trailer is like new (maybe better)--completely refurbished all new bolts, paint, lights, etc.
Lights are detachable so they never get wet. New tires, new galvanized wheels, two spare tires.

Large tarp cover.

One person can step the mast and have the boat sailing in about 15 minutes.

I spent $2800 to fix it up -- yours for $1800.

If you are interested, I can link you to a blog that shows the entire rehab process.
Will consider trade (boat and cash) for San Juan 21 MK I or other wife-friendly boat of similar size.



Friday, July 19, 2013

2nd Race--Less mistakes but last

2nd Race Night--Fewer mistakes but last in class -- Friday, July 19, 2013 -- Last night there wasn't much wind and it really hurt us.  The C-Lark has a very small jib and doesn't perform all that well in whisper light air.

First race.  We were really on top of the start.  We would have been the second across the line, starboard tack, plenty of room.  Then these folks in a Flying Scot came bearing down on us from the start side of line--they were windward and port tack.  I hailed them three or four times and they did know we had the right of way but didn't know what to do about it.  So finally we had to gibe, turn a 360 and give way to a lot of boats we would have beaten to the line.  The Flying Scot people ducked across the line, tacked back and started way ahead of us.  We missed all the puffs and stayed in last place.  Our error was compounded by sailing for the wrong mark along with five other boats, which still would have been okay.  The wind was shifting and it looked like we would make the first mark in one tack--but alas the wind stopped, we drifted, we finally finished ahead of one super high tech boat badly sailed.  (It all worked out though--I didn't protest, but the FS people fell in the water trying to dock.)

Second race.  Same kind of deal.  The small jib killed us.  By the time we were sailing fast, we just headed back to the line and told the committee to give us a Did Not Finish so that we weren't holding up the fleet for the third race.

Third race.  A little more wind.  We did a little better.  We even got to use tactics a bit.  A Tanzer was right behind us as we went for the finish.  I reminded him that we were on the same tack and I was leeward.  I told him, "You know I am going to gently rub you off on the committee boat."  Fortunately he actually had a passing understanding of the  rules, and was fine with it.  So we actually were second to last twice and took a gentlemanly DNF to help out the committe boat.

Of course the wind picked up a bit later. We had a nice sail back to the marina and sailed up to the dock in about 7 knots.  The wind picked up to a steady 10 later.  We could see it from the bar.

No major screw ups.  Most of the little improvements helped.  Tony and I are really into racing, but we really need a more age-appropriate boat.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Handicapping--we owe time

Handicapping --  We owe time & an interesting blog--Wednesday, July 17, 2013 –The Portsmouth Handicap System is used on our races and I finally got around to looking at the race results for last week.  The news was not good.

When we race, there are many different kinds of boats: C-Larks like mine, Lasers, International 470’s, 420’s — and so on.  Some of these boats are inherently faster than others.  To make the racing more interesting and fair, each kind of boat has a handicap under the Portsmouth rule.  After you finish the race, your elapsed time to finish the course is corrected, and all the boats have their finish adjusted.  That is the corrected time.  Last week we were beat by an International 470; he beat us by more than we knew. 

Our C-Lark rating is 96.8; an International 470 has a rating of 99.7. 

To calculate corrected time you take your elapsed time and divide it by your handicap number, then multiply by 100.  Lower handicap numbers owe time to higher handicap numbers. 

So--on the first race last week we finished in 17 minutes and 22 seconds.  The 470 finished in 15 minutes and 29 seconds.  He beat us by 1 min 53 seconds.  BUT when handicap was applied, he beat us by 2 min 24 sec.  So we owe him 1.8 seconds for every minute we are out there sailing.  In a 30-minute race we could beat him by 50 seconds and still lose by 4 seconds.  Clearly we will have to do better in the future than we did last week.  I do believe the handicap number is probably fair.  On the down-wind legs, when we weren’t screwing up, we were able to gain on the 470.  We kept right with him when we did a good job on the up wind legs.  So—you hate to give time to a competitor, but the rating is probably fair even if we did owe time to every boat out there except the HLR.

Here is an interesting blog.  Jeff has a C-Lark and he had to rip out the entire floor of his cockpit to replace some wood.  Looks like he did a great job.

While researching our handicap status found the following official specs for the C-Lark.  I am thinking ours was built closer to 1964 than 1979. 

Hull Type:
Centerboard Dinghy
Rig Type:
Fractional Sloop
14.00' / 4.27m
14.00' / 4.27m
5.70' / 1.74m
Listed SA:
133 ft2 / 12.36 m2
Draft (max.)
3.50' / 1.07m
Draft (min.)
0.50' / 0.15m
295 lbs./ 134 kgs.
Don Clark
Clark Boat Co. (USA)
Bal. type:
First Built:
Last Built:
# Built:
BUILDERS (past & present)
More about & boats built by:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Many small increments of improvement

Small increments of improvement -- Tuesday, July 16, 2013-- Our first race was last week; our next race will be Thursday.  With the time available this week, we made a number of small improvements. Believing that three cycles of small improvements equals one break through, we hope they will help.

Tiller was shortened.  See previous post on this subject.

Centerboard lock-up pin added.  That allowed us to remove the lock-up line giving Tony more freedom to move in the forward part of the cockpit.  At a later time we may add that line back, but we are a long way from needing to trim the centerboard while under sail.

Added a thicker line for the main down haul to save our hands.

Changed to a larger ball on the end of the roller furling so we don't lose the end when trying to reduce sail on the way back to the dock.

Shortened the main sheet by six feet.  It is probably still too long, but it is much easier to cut it shorter later than to cut it longer.

Laminated  a copy of the schedule of starting signals.  There are nine separate signals and we haven't memorized them yet.

Purchased some high quality knee pads for our old bones.

Tony got a waterproof kyak bag so we can securely stow our junk under the fore deck.

Bought a new boat hook that can be used as a whisker pole for the jib.

Did not shorten the main outhaul because I finally figured out that the extra length would be needed if one did reef the main.  But, we will secure it differently this week so it isn't slapping the helmsman in the head.

Weather is supposed to be good Thursday.  I practiced trailer backing for an hour.  I am doing better in the driveway, but I doubt that I will do so well with an audience and great big boat-scraping wall to contend with. 

The lock-up pin will secure the centerboard from the ramp dock to the trailer, and it eliminates two lines on the cockpit floor.  We will stick with the lock-down line so the centerboard can raise itself if we hit bottom.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tiller modification

Tiller fixed, still stumped on weather helm -- Sunday, July 14, 2013 -- Shortened up the tiller by 11 inches which also meant shortening the hiking stick and making a new handle.  Pretty straight forward work, except it always makes you nervous to change something -- but what the heck, it's just a piece of teak, and if I screw it up, we can make another tiller in the shop.  Spent a bunch of time making a new knob for the hiking stick. Thankfully there is a drawer full  of sharp hand planes.

Weather helm issue:  I thought maybe the unusual sail construction had created an oversize-sail that put the center of effort too far aft.  I was wrong.  The sail measures slightly below the maximum specified by the class rules.  Well next time out we'll try using the second tack that is six inches higher up the luff.  At least that will raise the boom a few inches and give us some room.  If that doesn't work we will think about the mast rake and shape of the rudder.  Of course maybe we just had the main in too tight.

Next issue to tackle is the centerboard lock up without the need for two extra lines on the bottom of the cockpit.


Friday, July 12, 2013

First Race – We didn’t get our butts kicked, but — Friday, July 12, 2013 – Last night was our first race.  Tony crewed. We learned a lot, probably won’t learn that much again.  The wind was from the north and west, about 4 to 10 knots and frequently changed directions by 90 degrees or so.

·  The boat sails really well.  It can be fast.  Has too much weather helm—probably poor sail trimming and the forestay tension isn’t quite right—will need some tuning. Very surprised that on the beats we could keep up with the Lasers.  We could be faster if the boat didn’t have to fight its own rudder as it tries to round up.

·  We are old and the boat is small.  Our knees are killing us this morning.  The boom is low—we both got bonked once or twice. We will be getting knee pads.  After a few tacks, we got the hang of moving over and ducking—but

·  The tiller is too darn long.  Several times it got caught on my life jacket.  I am going to cut off eight inches.  And, the hiking stick is too long.  Will be ordering a telescoping model.  Getting caught on the jacket caused a major screw up in each of the two races--complete with round ups and unplanned tacks and jibes.  But we did discover the boat is very seaworthy and a little bit forgiving.  No actual water came over the rail that was touching the surface.  (I am guessing that the too-long tiller and hiking stick had to do with single handing by the owner who added the racing gear.)

·  Tony is a gamer—he trusted me that we weren’t in trouble even though the boat was in control instead of us for about a minute.

·  The boat is competitive.  Until I screwed up, we stayed right with an experienced crew in a similar size boat. We even gained on them during the downwind leg.  I did tend to sail too far away from the course to the mark.  Two times we tacked for the line and the wind shifted so we had to add a couple of extra tacks.

·  We need a spinnaker pole to wing out the jib.

·  We need lots more practice.  The hot 420 sailor who single hands with a spinnaker wasn’t out there last night—when he shows up we probably won’t feel so swell.  Our starts were fairly competitive.  (I realized why the Lasers don’t bother with a lot of starting hoo-ha—they don’t need to—their boats accelerate like sports cars.  They can just sit on the line and go for it.)

Results: 2nd of three boats in two races.  Learned a lot.  Skipped the third race—had beer—debriefed—enjoyed the whole evening thoroughly—will be interesting to see the time corrections applied  I suspect that we owe the first place finisher a few seconds of time.  We both look forward to next week.

Perfect conditions for our first race.  Sunny and light winds varying to ten knots later.  Enough wind to go fast, but not so much that we needed lots of seamanship skills.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A few more improvements

More little improvements – Wednesday, July 03, 2013 – An unexpected day off.   So got a badly needed haircut and went to work on the boat.  New main halyard sheaves.  They were pretty beat up and the edges chipped; looked like the skinny little internal halyard might jump the sheave and get stuck.  Of course the new ones didn’t quite fit, but with a bit of sanding and filing they fit fine.


Installed a weather vane.  Usually summer evenings in South Puget Sound come with good breezes, but now and then the wind just whispers across the water so the vane will help.

Made up a chart for racing.  A copy of the race course marks laminated under heavy plastic and a grease pencil give you a quick way to write down the course and the passing side of the mark.

Still need a cheap, waterproof stop watch, but for now we’ll just try to stay a little behind the 420 guy that seems to be the best dinghy racer out there. 

Our strategy is to just lay low this year and pay our dues—unless by some fluke we have a shot at finishing first now and then.  

Sailing -- sort of

Sailing—sort of—Tuesday, July 02, 2013 – It stayed cloudy till noon so Tony and I didn’t get the morning breezes that often come up when the land warms. The tide was low, the water was shallow, but we did get a few puffs, and it sails. The no number C-Lark moves well in light air. No disaster when the center board touches bottom.

The last time I sailed a dinghy was 40 years ago; I was surprised by what I remembered. Without thinking about it, I kneeled in front of the tiller and gave Tony some pointers while I steered behind my back--exactly the way I did at Western when I taught sailing.

Need to email my mentor, Fred, with a question about the mainsail. Need a windvane--need a better chart--it never stops

More spreader issues. The homemade spreader tips the guy before Glen, the last owner, put in keep slipping off when the mast is lowered. I made new ones this afternoon using high density polyethylene—took a bit of machining, but they are attached to the spreader and allow the shroud to move. I’ll watch them for signs of wear.  These are better, but if they don't work out, I have an idea for a better variation on the design.
Trailer backing has improved to a solid D.

Tony had a good time and we were able to sail it up to the dock.

Monday, July 1, 2013

It Floats

It floats  -- Monday, July 01, 2013 – It took five months and some messing about, but the boat went in the water – well it took two tries, but it is tied up at the guest dock and my friend, Tony and I will go sailing tomorrow morning. 

About a mile from the house, I realized I hadn't added fresh grease to the wheel bearings.  Asked myself what else I might have forgotten--LIKE the RUDDER.  So turned around in a parking lot went back home, picked up rudder, and filled the bearing buddies on the bearings.

I got down the ramp bright and early this morning, 7:30.  It was surprisingly busy—I guess people wanted to take advantage of this week of good weather.  It took about 40 minutes to get everything set up—not bad for only the second time.  I looked up for one final check----damn, damn—enough to piss off a preacher—the port spreader had a big crack.  It is a small piece of tubing with a too-large hole in it--that makes it vulnerable.
After a few minutes of cussing, took the whole thing apart and restowed the rigging.  Headed for home; stopped by Zeigler’s welding.  Hooray!  I could find a place to park.  Double Hooray! The had some of the tubing in stock.  Went on home and made three more spreaders (two spares) with heavier metal tubing and smaller holes.  Helped the neighbor unload three logs and still got back down and launched the boat, but no time to sail. 
Only mildly embarrassed by my bad trailer backing.  Looking forward to tomorrow.
Lousy design--guaranteed to break.