Raptor UK canoe sailing

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May 2009

I normally attach a flare pack inside a dry bag to my rear deck during coastal meets, using heavy duty Velcro plus a tether for added security. It has become detached from the Velcro several times, which puzzled me, as this should be a firm attachment. Ellen alerted me when it happened again while sailing back down Linne Mhuirich and I finally understand why it has been happening periodically: the mainsheet hooks around it and pulls it off as the boom moves across, mainly when gybing. Now I know to hold the boom and check before moving it across during gybes. As I was passing the final headland before the exit, I thought I was just about far enough away to safely skirt it without needing to tack again. Despite checking carefully for rocks over my port side, I managed to ground my daggerboard and foil and, before I had time to react, had capsized. It would be better not to cleat the mainsheet if there is any chance of running aground, as releasing it will then quickly de-power the sail and a capsize might be avoided. The water was shallow enough to prevent turtling and my Raptor was easy to right, although my mast picked up a kelp rosette. My wooden daggerboard copes well with all of the abuse these coastal meets subject it to. It has a few chips and dents but is still quite useable. If I wanted to optimise my racing performance it might be worth having Solway Dory make me another daggerboard and keep it solely for racing.

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Video clip: Large/small

It took an hour to return to the exit. The tide was still flowing strongly through the gap but the following wind easily carried me through with my daggerboard raised. I beached my Raptor and walked along the headland to film the other two boats as they passed by. Soon after we had entered Loch Sween the wind died, leaving us with a longish (over 1 hour) paddle back to Tayvallich, where I arrived at 7:30 pm. Luckily the tide had almost peaked, making for an easy beaching.

The same strong winds as the rest of the week were forecast for Thursday, 28 May but they were not apparent in Tayvallich. Most other members decided to pursue alternative activities so I set off alone at midday. Low water was 2:30 pm but the 40-metre (130') distance I had to drag my Raptor was still exhausting. It would be much easier to slide over the mud without the carts fitted, as the wheels sink in and provide no assistance, in fact they increase the drag considerably.

I wanted to explore the middle arm of the top of Loch Sween and first entered a small inlet with various islands (Faery Islands) on the northern side. Although it was still two hours until low water, most of the 'islands' were now dry, so navigation was limited. By 1:30 pm I had reached the top of the main arm (by Strone) and I then returned to a beach by the islands for lunch. After a half hour (midge-infested) break, I set off back to Tayvallich at 2:45 pm and shortly after reached my peak speed for the outing of only 5.8 knots (6.6 mph) while sailing close-hauled on a starboard tack. This indicates how light the winds were in the morning.

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The forecast was for sunshine on Friday so I had decided to pack up my tent while it was dry. However, before disassembling my Raptor, I made a final outing on Thursday afternoon, together with Renate & PaulW sailing Coruisk and KeithM. The three boats set off from Tayvallich at 4:30 pm and we had a leisurely sail around Eilean Loain, taking over an hour to reach the southern end.

After circling Eilean Loain anti-clockwise, the other three planned to continue to the islands I had visited the same morning, so I left them and returned to Tayvallich, arriving back at 6:20 pm. Winds had been variable in the afternoon but stronger than in the morning so my peak speed for the outing was higher at 9.8 knots (11.3 mph) while on a broad reach, starboard tack in Loch a' Bhealaich.

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Portaging my Raptor back to the campsite on Thursday evening highlighted the importance of securing the mast. After it toppled off the back of the sidecar onto the road for a second time, I saw that the new webbing had also become abraded, making it obvious how the sail damage had occurred the previous day. I found that the mast could easily be immobilised by pushing it under one of the lines that attach my anchor bag to the inner sidecar rail and the lines securing the sidecar canvas to the rear iako.

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