Raptor UK canoe sailing

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September 2008

I wanted to discuss the possibility of installing a traveller system on my Raptor with Solway Dory. Although EddieVB has done a fantastic job with his elaborate system, I didn't understand what benefit it would give, while adding considerable cost and complexity to the Raptor. However, neither DaveP nor DaveS could see what benefit it gave either, so I have put my traveller system plans on hold until its advantages become more clear to me. I like keeping the port side of my Raptor clear of rigging as it makes it possible to come alongside a dock or buoy and makes entering the cockpit from the water easy after a capsize. DaveS suggested I attach my Raptor's mainsheet to the hull eye strap, rather than to the boom block and through a hull-mounted block. Although this would require more force to sheet in, it would allow a quicker response and require a shorter mainsheet, reducing cockpit clutter. I tried this at Bala and it worked well, although winds were not strong, so I have decided to shorten my mainsheet by 2.65m (104"). Solway Dory mounted a new cleat on the port side of the deck, making a total of five cleats arranged symmetrically. Unfortunately, the line angle from mast step to cleat was too steep and resulted in the line pulling out of the cleat whenever the leech tensioning line was under strain. I asked them to devise a way for me to adjust luff tension and hence vary the position of my sail draft and they installed a simple Cunningham.

Solway Dory also did a couple of repair jobs for me. As mentioned in my August 2008 post, the plastic plug on the bottom of my mast step was not secure and would frequently fall out into the hull tube when I was rigging down. They made me a new plug with longer neck, allowing it to be secured it place with a rivet. The second repair was to the rudder. The uphaul and downhaul wires were both cutting key slots into the top aluminium rudder plate, so they riveted stainless steel bars in these two wear points, providing a smooth and durable surface for the wires to pass over. DaveP recommended replacing the stainless steel rudder cables with Kevlar cord when they wear. Mine are still in good condition but I'll consider his suggestion if/when they start to fray. DaveS lubricated my mast step with silicone spray to make unfurling easier. It certainly helps but is likely to attract dust and sand, so continued smooth action will require it to be kept clean. Solway Dory charged me GBP190 (US$330) for the modifications and repairs (hardware plus labour), which I thought very reasonable considering the amount of time DaveS had spent on the planning phase of the project.

I drove down to Bala on Friday and arrived early enough to take some photos after rigging up my Raptor and then to go out for a sail. There was a good south-westerly F3 wind blowing and I enjoyed the sail, experimenting with the new rigging options and attaining a maximum speed of 7 knots. Apart from the leech tensioning line occasionally uncleating, everything worked perfectly.

Saturday had very light (F1-2) winds: just enough for a group of us to sail to a café at Bala and then back to the campsite. I followed DaveS on leaving Bala as he sailed close-hauled back to the campsite and was pleased to find that I was able to point my Raptor to windward as well as he could in his Shearwater. Initially I was too fast (maximum 5 knots) and had to reef to stay behind him, but he eventually pulled away.

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