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October 2008

We set off on the second half of our journey at 3:10 pm. After consulting with Steve, Frank and Ed elected to paddle the rest of the way with their mast down, and, with the following wind, made good progress. I decided to stop using the Raptor's foil as a water brake, as it wasn't designed for that purpose and I didn't want to risk damaging anything. Instead I adopted the same strategy as Peter and Penny, tacking and gybing as required to stay close to Frank and Ed. Despite a peak speed of 8.8 knots, I found that, with my sail more than half reefed and a strong following wind, it was difficult to tack anti-clockwise, from a port to a starboard tack. Four times out of five I would end up in irons. By contrast I had no problems tacking in a clockwise direction, from starboard to port tack. The reduced sail area and the Raptor's light weight meant it had less momentum to carry it through turns and the increased drag in the strong wind caused it to frequently stall half-way through a turn. This didn't, however, explain why it could tack much more effectively in one direction than the other. I discussed this behaviour with DaveP and DaveS and they believe it was due to the asymmetry between the main hull and ama. A leeward ama caused a lot of drag as it turned into the wind around the Raptor's centre of gravity, causing it to stall head to wind, when coming about in an anti-clockwise direction. By contrast, when the ama was to windward of the main hull, it helped the Raptor to turn by catching the wind and pulling the bow around. After many cracks on the head from the boom while gybing over the past two years, I am learning to lean back in the seat as the boom swings across. Anyone over about 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) tall will need to take similar avoiding action when sailing the Raptor.

I left my anchor bag in the car this trip. Although I know (from Luing) that there is sufficient room on the sidecar, even when loaded with camping gear, I didn't think I'd need it. But I also keep a small drogue and line in the bag and it might have been interesting to deploy this from the stern to slow the Raptor, as an alternative to continuously tacking. At the moment though, I can only deploy anchor or drogue from the bow, so will need to devise a secondary stern deployment method. A similar system to the one I use at the bow might work, with a line looped around the aft iako and through a stern mounted block. This would need a new stern fixture (eye strap with backing plate), similar to the one installed by Hydrovisions at the bow. My new leech tensioning line worked well all weekend and, since I installed the new cleat with rope guide, I had no further problem with the line becoming accidentally uncleated. The leech line does at times lie on top of the furling line, near the cheek block on the port side of the boom, and this can result in the furling line becoming locked when the leech line is under tension, but this shouldn't be a problem as the leech line needs to be released anyway before furling or unfurling the sail. But I imagine this was the reason EddieVB moved his boom car line to the starboard side of his boom and switched his foil lanyard cleat to the port side of his hull. The boom fairlead prevented me from sliding the leech line block directly under the sail clew when the sail was heavily reefed, but it still provided a better angle of pull than the end of the boom and did allow adequate leech tensioning. I also found the direct mainsheet attachment to the main hull worked fine, even in the strong winds on Saturday. I had no problems sheeting in and the reduced sheet length gave a welcome reduction in cockpit clutter. The force required to sheet in the sail should never be excessive, since in stronger winds the sail will be reefed, and the line can always be cleated when required.

We arrived at the campsite at 4:35 pm for an identical journey time to that of the morning (85 minutes), and beached initially by the group section, before being told we needed to move around to the normal section. After a short paddle around the headland, we reached our final destination at 5:20 pm. DaveS, who has local knowledge, advised that all boats should be moved well up the banks of the lake, as he thought the water level was likely to rise due to the prolonged heavy rain and he was right: the level rose 2 ft overnight. Erecting our tents in the rain meant that it was impossible to avoid flooded groundsheets. I was carrying my gear in six dry bags, attached to the sidecar with Rok-Straps (a combination of 45 cm, 60 cm and 75 cm lengths), which made for rapid loading and unloading. Once unloaded, it was easy to wheel my Raptor up the lake bank on the boat carts, particularly with the group helping each other. My latest improvements to the carts (non-slip mats attached with cable-ties) worked well and I had no further problems with them.

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