Monday, February 21, 2005

Additional things to add to the log-book

If weather conditions permit... take a digital camera along and when the trim seems just perfect on a beat or on a run, take a shot from the center of the jib-foot looking up (spinnaker if it's a run) to the head and from the center of the main-foot looking up to the head. Try to get the ends of the trim stripes at the luff and leach in the frame, so that we can process the photo with the UKSails Accumeasure (tm) program.
Log the following with the picture:
  • Date
  • Sail
  • Apparent Windspeed
  • Apparent wind angle
  • Halyard tension setting
  • Backstay tension
  • Forestay length.
Store the images in the archive directory of the boat laptop.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Surviving the winter...

TIME MACHINE has been under the cover 4 months now. Last weekend I checked on the boat and everything is fine. I made sure the cradle hadn't shifted and checked the load on each of the support pads. I checked all the lines securing the cover and then climbed into the boat through the stern opening in the cover. Over the years we have learned a few things which others may be interested in.
  • Remove the rudder and take it inside so that it doesn't freeze. If there is any moisture in the blade it will pop or weaken the structure. Since this foil is so thin, it's more vulnerable to moisture problems. It turns out that with a tiller boat, which we are, the removal and installation process can be done with 2 people in about 30 minutes.
  • Use a canvas cover that covers the whole deck and the topsides. We have a cover that was made for mast-up storage. Since that first winter we always pull the rig and setup a 4x4 'mast stump and a 2x12 'boom' with a scissors at the traveler to hold it up. This is very stable and makes a nice space underneath for working on the deck and interior. The canvas breathes, but keeps the snow and rain out.
  • Leave the hatches and port-lights open. Because the canvas breathes so well we leave the interior open. Things are probably drier now than during the summer. There is no evidence of mold at all.
  • Charge the batteries a couple of time during the winter. The batteries will self discharge, so it's important to trickle charge them a couple of time during the winter. We setup work lights (strings of 100W bulbs in cages) below deck and hanging off the 'boom'. When we plug into the shorepower to run the lights and heater, the battery charger is also activated.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

How long does a practice session last?

A good session will consist of the following parts:
  • 30 minutes to prep the boat.
  • 20 minutes to get out on the Lake and setup the course
  • 2 hours of practice
  • 20 minutes to collect the marks and pack the boat
  • 20 minutes of debriefing at the dock.
A concentrated 3 hours can be quite a workout and results in significant learning.

It's a good idea to rotate the crew who preps the boat, so that everyone becomes familiar with all the different systems.

What goes in the log-book?

The crew, who was at what position, the weather conditions, sea-state, what sails were used, setups that worked particularly well, errors that happened which serve as lessons learned, any hardware or rigging which needs repair or attention. In addition, the instruments will be set to log data throughout the session and archived.

So what are structured practices?

TIME MACHINE will be conducting structured practices which are based on the following schemes:

These sessions will be conducted with another J/35 or T/35 who will sail along side, with handheld VHFs in each cockpit. We will select an apparaent wind angle and then sail parallel courses staying as close together as possible without fouling each other's air. The faster boat will not make any changes while the slower boat changes trim and settings until they are faster. Then the roles are reversed. Each time a 'fast' setting is found, all the data is recorded (halyard length, backstay length, forestay length, jib sheet position, jib-car position, crew positions, shroud lengths, etc.) After a couple of cycles of trimming, change to another course and start the excercise all over again.

These sessions can be conducted alone, with a coach in a crash-boat (with video and still camera or with a partner boat). Set a windward-leeward course of between 0.75 and 1.25 miles (longer in heavier air). Start at the leeward mark, trying to shave the mark at 0 seconds at full speed. Tack at least 4 times, while staying in phase with any shifts. At the weather mark turn down wind and then gybe at least 4 times down to the leeward mark. Each mark rounding should alternate between a gybe-douse and weather-douse (leeward) and a bear-away and gybe-set (windward). The objective is to build confidence and timing during the roundings and to promote awareness of wind-shifts and conditions between the ends. At the conclusion of the practice, review the logged instrument data to see how much of the time we were on the correct board and how close to target speed we were sailing. Any settings which worked well should be logged on the water.

These sessions can be conducted alone or with a partner boat (more fun). Set a 15-20 boatlength startline. Start a 10 minute sequence, 5 minutes to 'sniff the breeze' and then a 5 minute starting sequence. The objective is to pick the favored end of the line, hit the line at 0 seconds and have at least target speed when crossing the line. Beat upwind until the first tack, as dictated by the wind shifts. Bear off and restart the sequence again.
The objective of this excerise is to hone the timing of getting the boat up to speed and to improve the awarenss of the wind shifts and picking the favored end of the line. Logging of the time required to accelerate to full speed, and settings is required. Log the time of each start to help with interpertation of instrument log. Full instrumenation logging and review during debrief is key.

Setup a windward-leeward course using the principles of the SAUSAGES and STARTS. These sessions are best done with a training partner. Initiate a 5 minute sequence, beat to the windward mark, round to the favored board, run to the leeward mark, round and get on the favored board, tack on the next shift and then return to the starting line. Repeat as often as possible. Use any crossings to work on tactical desicions.