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Keeping the flappy stuff up, the launch of the Jumping Duck


Al Stead
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Hey Bill, I finally did it. 

This morning when I woke up about dawn the wind seemed to be about right to try sailing for the first time in oh, forever.  So, I hooked up the Weekender to the toyota and took her up to a landing that I had scoped out a few days ago.  The trailer set up has been working great so I was only looking to try launching procedures at the very least.  By the time I pulled out of the driveway, the wind was a bit stronger, but no problem I thought. 

As I was driving over the causeway at the lake, I noticed that there were whitecaps on the west side.  No problem I thought, I will be protected by an island and the landing faces the right way for an easy getaway.  Before I had the mast up I got my first compliment on the Duck.  Kind of nice after all that work last winter.  I got her all rigged up and backed her into the water.  The water was not quite deep enough to float her off the bunks, so I had to push her into the wet. It felt pretty good to see her floating free for the first time.  I hand hauled her around the dock so that she was facing out and tied her off. 

She and I shared a toast and sailed away just like we knew what we were doing.  We were in a protected spot, so the building wind wasn't a big deal.  We sailed out to the main part of the lake and tried tacking into and running with the wind for a while.  The gusts were getting worse to the point that I had to let go of everything to keep her on her feet.  When I realized that my mouth was getting dry, I figured that it was time to head in.  The dock was dead into the wind, and I tried to tack right to the dock, but the more I tried the more dissheveled the cockpit became so I beached her and walked her back to the dock. 

Everything else went pretty much as planned at the dock.  We both had wet bottoms but were dry on our topsides.  I figured that I kept her flappy side up and her woody side down, so it was a successful morning.  I also learned that I need some instruction and advice on rigging the controls before I go out in the gusty stuff again.

Al

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I did this all on my lonesome.  I don't recommend it.  I guess I made it sound better than it was.  I spent the rest of the day fixing things that I didn't know I needed to fix and rigging a topping lift.  I only brought a pair of canoe paddles for backup.  Totally useless. 

When they tell you that if you get in trouble to let go of everything, they are so right.  Ducky rounded up into the wind so fast I couldn't believe it. I found out at that moment that I had cut the main sheet too short.  It took some doing to get a hold on it again from so far over board. 

Still, I can't wait to take another whack at it.

Al

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Experience is a great teacher! 

As you found out, the feeling of launching a boat you built is one of the most satisfying ones there is. 

You can paddle a Weekender, but probably not against any wind!  I have paddled mine in calm conditions, but current and wind would quickly overcome any propulsion I could provide.  You did the best in the circumstances by beaching the boat. 

I try to remember the three basic rules to sailing:  1) Put boat in water; 2) Put sailor in boat; 3) Keep sailor out of water. 

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Congratulations, Al!  There is no feeling like sailing a boat you built yourself. 

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.  Then you go sailing for the first time...  I spent the entire first season with SURPRISE making little changes so the sailing experience would be easier and more enjoyable.  But that's part of the fun.

Fair winds.

Bill

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I agree - a topping lift is a requirement on these boats.

One thing I've also done with all of my lines - sheets and halyards is to tie a figure 8 knot in them at the point where they have gone out as far as they every should.  I've had the mainsheet and halyards unreve themselves at ackward moments before I learned to do that.

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