Raptor UK canoe sailing

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August 2009

inaccessible eastern lee shore. In the process of paddling vigorously on my port side, trying to gybe back clockwise, I often simply ended up making rapid progress directly to where I didn't want to go. To prevent this it was easiest to wait until the gust had passed before attempting to turn my boat back to a southwesterly bearing.

I should have known better than to paddle on a starboard tack with the mainsheet cleated but still did so, with the predictable result that when a gust hit me I capsized before I had time to release the sheet. I managed to right my boat, although not as easily as on previous occasions, probably because of the strong winds. I had by this time progressed about 3 kms south of Tarbet and was approaching some houses at Stuc an t-lobairt, on the western shore of the loch, that I had spotted while looking for a place to stop for lunch.

Video clip: Large/small

I paddled to shore without further drama and luckily was able to borrow some tools from one of the houses (thanks Neil), which allowed me to make emergency repairs to my Raptor, by reclamping the cable to the rudder. Failing this Good Samaritan, I would probably have been forced to call a taxi and return to the campsite for my car. As it was, I was back on the water within half an hour, making rapid progress south. It felt wonderful to have my pedal steering operational again, although I was very gentle with the pedals! I asked Neil about the level of the loch and he confirmed that the surface height was very variable. He said that he had seen it 5-ft higher than it was at the time, which would mean much of the Cashell lakeside frontage would have been under water. He told me that he frequently had to use his own motor launch to rescue other boat owners with mechanical problems in that section of the loch. He had been watching me but thought I had things under control so hadn't come out. I was thankful to have been spared the indignity of requiring a tow.

Jan, Oliver & DaveP walked down to the beach to greet me as I arrived at Cashell, and I gave them an account of my day's adventures. Fortunately for me conditions were again very windy of Saturday, so no one was in any hurry to get on the water and DaveP was prepared to help me repair my rudder cables. The previous (bike) cable had started to fray so was unusable but luckily I had bought new cable with me. I have GeorgeF to thank for this preparedness.

He wrote to me after reading about my rudder modifications in July and warned me that clamping the cable, as I had done on the rudder, was likely to fail on a boat, even though this method of fixture works well on a bike. I agreed that swaging correct copper stops onto the cable would be better, as well as more elegant. I also thought (in hindsight) that the 1mm diameter bike cable seemed a little flimsy, so had bought some 1.5mm (1/16-inch) diameter 7x19 strand stainless steel wire rope, as well as some 1.5mm Nicopress copper stops and tin-plated oval ferrules. I've never used swage fittings before and was shocked at the price of the authentic Nicopress tools. Solway Dory don't use them on their own boats either. I therefore bought a cheaper crimping tool, believing that it would be adequate for such a small size of fitting.

I didn't think the thicker wire rope would fit inside the bike outer cable I had fitted in July so had also bought some new outer Bowden cable, designed for 1.5mm wire rope, from Speedy Cables. In the event this was not needed as the new wire rope did fit the previous outer cable.

I portaged my boat back to the side of my tent on Saturday morning and DaveP and I replaced the wire ropes and then swaged copper stops onto all four ends. We took turns compressing the stops with the swaging tool, simply applying as much force as we could. StuartS lent us his impressive set of tools, including wire cutters.

I was anxious to try out my new cables so changed into my sailing gear and portaged my boat back to the beach. Several members gathered to watch me leave, which of course was a recipe for disaster. No sooner had I jumped onto my Raptor, paddle at the ready, and placed my feet on the rudder pedals, than the port rudder-end copper stop slipped off the cable and I was again rudder-less. Obviously the light-weight swage tool I bought is totally inadequate for swaging stops onto a single wire rope, as it is incapable of applying sufficient compression.

With my boat back on the beach, Dave and I discussed the issue further and we decided to try the ferrules, reasoning that, because they applied compression onto two lengths of wire rope, they should 'hold' better. After a certain amount of trial and error, we eventually rigged up something that seemed to work.

To avoid looping the delicate wire rope (133 strands in the 1.5mm diameter rope) around any sharp

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