Champlain Sailor

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About Champlain Sailor

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  • Location
    Shelburne, Vermont
  • Interests
    Sailing in all forms (racing, cruising, iceboating), biking, & skiing.

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  1. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    Martin: I believe that you have the bushing in the correct place on the lower gudgeon. There should also be two bushings on the rudder, one each in the hole on the arms that connect to the gudgeons, inserted from the bottom. Since your rudder assembly is tight now, you likely have them all in place. Your son certainly seems to be enjoying himself on the UFO. Doug
  2. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    I just returned from 2 days of UFO coaching with the Fulcrum Team in Bristol. Seven other UFO showed up. Here are my top take-aways: 1. Tension the battens properly. According to Dave, the sails ship with the battens in their pockets and the batten tensioning screws just making contact. From this point, turn the top batten tensioner 15 half rotations, the 2nd batten 10 half rotations, and the remaining battens 5 half rotations. This will put a lot more shape in the sail and increase the power available in the marginal foiling conditions. Note that the tensioning wrench is included with the sail, tied on a loop to the outhaul grommet. 2. Check your shroud tension. Over the first few sails the knots in the shrouds slip a bit, and the shrouds will have too much slack between the spreaders and the hounds. With the mast down, loosen the knots at the spreader tips and pull the shrouds down until both sides are hand tight. Once the mast is up again, you may find that you have to re-tie the knots at the bottom of the shrouds that connect them to the purchase system. I ended up taking about 3" of slack out of each shroud. Dave states that you should likely do this after 3-5 outings on the boat. I have to admit sailing over 2 dozen times and not noticing that this needed to be done. The line that the shrouds are made of is sticky and stiff. A leatherman is helpful to loosen the knots. Its actually not as hard as it initially seems. Once this is done, put WAY more tension on the rig in 8-12 knot conditions than I was initially doing. The Spinlock Rigsense tool that Dave refers to is great. Now that I know what it 'feels' like, I don't think I need to buy one. But it would be a handy little tool. 3. Use the 'other' hiking straps. I know several folks on this forum are already doing it, but in marginal conditions, it helps tall people to use the 'far' hiking straps, so that you aren't putting your weight as far to windward. This reduces windward splashdowns and capsizes significantly. The downside, to me at least, is that the strap is much tighter, since your ankle is over the center arch, and you are really 'locked in'. When you do capsize, it is kind of claustrophobic, having the boat come on top of you with your feet locked in the straps. But they do slide out, and the panic subsides.... All in all, a very fun, productive weekend. I really enjoyed getting to know more of the UFO sailors. It is interesting how diverse the UFO owner's sailing backgrounds are.
  3. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    Maybe not. I used one once on a local sailor's boat that I tried out before I got mine. He really struggled with it, as did my son when he tried to help. I did see several comments from other posters early in this thread who struggled to get the pin through reliably. However, if you developed a technique to make it work well, I'm sure it is a pretty simple and robust mechanism once engaged.
  4. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    Martin: I, too, am bothered by the loose fit of the main strut in its housing. In Fulcrum's defense, it is not a problem once it is loaded up (when you are foiling). The strut hold down/pitch adjustment mechanism was upgraded at some point, The early boats had two composite blocks on either side of the strut with about 7 holes drilled in them. Getting the pin through both blocks and the strut proved difficult. Fulcrum upgraded to a system where 'gates' swing shut over the pin, and the rack under the gates has 5 positions for the pin to adjust your angle of attack. This mechanism is much easier to use, but the pin and strut still move around alot. The pin can wiggle to one side, and the gates can wiggle open. Dave is now providing some velcro bands to keep the gates closed. But I still am not satisfied with this solution... its one of the week points in the boat, in my opinion. It works, but I think it can be better and I'm going to try to design and build a better mechanism, I just need to find the time! However, the boat sails and flies just fine with the current design (pin goes in the middle goove 95% of the time). Your ideas on lifting the main foil should work. I find it awkward but very doable, but I'm a bit bigger than an 8 year old. The rudder is tougher. Most times the rudder will come up when you ease the downhaul, but sometimes it sticks, and other times if the wind is light you won't generate enough lift. Once up, the nylon thumbscrew retrofit works OK, but not great. It may be difficult for your son to generate enough force on the screw to hold the strut. It is also a foot behind the transom, so you really can't lean back and pull it up or the boat will flip over backwards on top of you. Most of the time I end up jumping in the water and manually lifting the rudder up before it hits bottom. I'm 6' tall, so I can jump in an work when its 5' deep. This may not be an option for your son for a few more years. Glad to hear that the first impressions are good! I'm sure he will love it.
  5. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    Great photo Martin. I'm all in favor of you getting your 8 year old son up on foils and have no doubt he will master the UFO within weeks. However, it appears from the photo that you have greater ambitions. Is that a stroller-bound UFO pilot that I spy? Perhaps you are pushing the youth foiling envelope just a bit too far.... (kidding, of course....) Looks like an amazing row of foiling cats. I'm hoping you have great wind to allow those who make the trip to really enjoy themselves in great company. I'm looking forward to the reports and comparisons. I'm headed to Bristol tomorrow for the next Fulcrum clinic. Dave states we will have over a dozen boats for the weekend, so I'm looking forward to meeting more UFO pilots and learning some new techniques for rigging and sailing these remarkable little boats.
  6. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    Tacking can be a challenge, no doubt. The fool proof method I've found, which is not particularly fast but will always get you through, is to use Dave's technique as follows. Throw the helm to leeward to start the tack. Pull the sail over your body before you move to windward. Let out plenty of sheet and lean your shoulder into the sail. Put one hand on the boom and push it to the new leeward side, even if you are backwinding it. Most of the time, the boat will be going backwards by now, so reverse the tiller to begin to steer the bows down on the new tack. To be sure you will not go into irons, let the sheet out ALL THE WAY and push the boom out, it will go almost 90 degrees. When the boat stops moving backwards you are almost at a beam reach. Center the tiller, move your body to the windward hull and forward, then pull in the main sheet slowly. You'll begin moving forward and should have flow attached to the rudder. If you sheet in too quickly, the rudder will stall. As you gain experience, you begin to get better judgement of how far off the wind you need to go before you sheet in. In some conditions, no backward travel is needed.. I find that in very light wind and heavy wind, successful tacks are slow and deliberate. In moderate breezes, particularly in flat water, you can get away with much quicker, smoother ones. Gybes are almost always much easier! As for weeds, I don't have an easy answer. Late in the season we have troubles with them here too. The hydrofoils are really effective at catching them. In our lake, the weeds seem to to grow to the surface in water shallower than 5'. So I can sail into 5' of water. In heavy wind, I can power through to 3' of water (with foils up). In light wind, I need to jump out and walk/swim the boat in or out, as the weeds will simply stop me. Its the price we pay for sailing in water that doesn't require a dry suit, I guess.
  7. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    I can't speak to fitting out the UFO for someone your son's size. From the videos you have posted of him sailing with you on the Whisper, and the videos Dave has posted of junior sailors jumping on the UFO and foiling away on their first outing, I suspect he will have a ball on it, and his learning curve will be much faster than yours. Good luck keeping up with him!
  8. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    The straps are tight, compared to most boats, but I'd recommend trying them before you change them. I'm 6'1 with size 11.5 shoes, and have really grown to like the straps. 99% of th time I can slide my toe under the strap and get my foot in smoothly. The other 1% my foot cramps and I wince and reach down with my hand to pull the strap over. In general, the ergonomics of the UFO felt all wrong for the first 2-3 outings. But as I've gotten used to it, I've grown to like it. Some taller folks use the far strap in marginal conditions and the windward strap in windy conditions to get their butts further out. I've always used the windward strap, and simply bend my legs to move my butt in if it lightens up. It seems like the more I sail it, the less time I spend fully hiked. I'm not sure if I'm getting more efficient, or if this is just the seasonal summer light winds effect. I guess I'll find out when the wind builds up in a few weeks. In any case, my advice is to try to sail it with the existing straps. The elastic standoffs do a nice job of raising them just enough to make getting in them easy. I will say that I've had one or two sudden stops where my feet get stuck in the straps and can see the possibility that it could tweak an ankle or knee pretty good. Same basic problem as tight footstraps on the racks of skiffs or cats. When you have a firm connection to the boat, and the boat decelerates rapidly, sometimes YOU become the weak link. So sailor beware.
  9. Champlain Sailor

    Cheap dollies

    I don't have any experience with these dollies, but I do have an older One Design 14 that is similar in size and weight to the Vector. I found a used Seitech double-tongued dolly with the biggest beach wheels. At 200 pounds, it needs all of that rigidity. I doubt that the amazon dollies will have the durability, particularly in the tongue to cross member joint, to handle the weight of the Vector, which is 180 pounds, I believe. Furthermore, the Vector is pretty wide, these dollies look quite narrow. I've experienced many of the inexpensive Laser dollies over the years. For a while they were importing some from Brazil at half the cost of the Seitech. Most of them worked OK for a season or two, but almost all eventually failed when a wheel got hung up in the sand or on a rock. The Seitech and Dynamic dollys do seem like a lot of money for such a simple device, but in my experience, they work well and I haven't found anything even close to the quality and durability of them.
  10. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    Yes, it is glued on. I twisted it with some channel lock pliers and it came off. Since I was eager to get back on the water (perhaps too eager!), I simply taped the top of the mast with duct tape. I'll glue the cap back on now that the mast is down for a bit. Once the cap is off, bolting the eye with stainless steel bolts, washers, lock washers, and nuts is quick and easy.
  11. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    We had an unfortunate incident on the UFO this morning. After several weeks of very low wind, we awoke to a crisp 12-15 knot NW breeze. My 19 year old son rose early and rigged up before breakfast. He had several nice foiling reaches across the bay, but capsized on a tack. The boat turtled, and as he was righting it, he notice that the mast was coming out of the deck. He didn't want to twist the top deck, so he let the boat go back into a turtle and asked a nearby fisherman to contact me to come and help. By the time I arrived in our Whaler he had removed the mast from the boat to minimize any chance that the mast butt would damage the mast step. I pulled the rig onto the Whaler and got the sail down and rolled. He righted the boat and we towed it home. The only damage we found was that the main halyard eye at the top of the mast ha pulled loose. No big deal, when I got home I through bolted it as several other folks have done. I rigged up and headed out. The breeze had softened to 8-12, and I was foiling nicely in the gusts. After about 20 minutes of sailing, I pumped the main to get up on the foils and heard a crunching sound coming from the mast. The mast was canting to leeward, and the deck was flexing. I immediately eased the sheet, stood up to stabilize the mast, released the downhaul, and pulled the rig up out of the step. I found that the mast had broken about 2" below the deck. The bottom was dangling by a few carbon threads and after one or two quick swings dropped clear and sank to the bottom of the bay. I set the rig down on the deck, once again awkwardly removed the sail from the mast, then stood up holding the head of the sail in one hand and the tiller in another to make a jury rig. I was able to broad reach home, making 1.6 knots according to the tactic. While this was not the sail I wanted, I was pleased that I was able to self rescue without too much effort. I suspect that my son did not have enough downhaul on, and it became uncleated when he was sailing. When he capsized, the mast moved up. I din't notice that it had been damaged below the deck fitting, but I assume that it was. So the lesson here is to make sure your downhaul is on, and is reasonably tight at all times. The primary downhaul line that comes with the boat is pretty short, so its hard to get a figure 8 knot in the end. I'll be replacing this with a longer line going forward. One SA contributor has talked about installing a lever/cam on the bottom of the mast that would keep the mast in, similar to the ones that hold the struts up. That might be a good idea! Hopefully Fulcrum can get me a new lower mast section quickly and they aren't too pricey. The damage to the deck looks pretty minor and easy to repair. Definitely a bummer, but I chalk it up to user error.
  12. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    I just saw Granite Guy's post, which went up while I was posting mine. Same exact location and concept. Granite Guy's looks MUCH cooler than mine, though, so I don't need to post my photo and I will gladly accept his design once complete and have my son print one out. Excellent application for the 3D printer!
  13. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    I mounted a 1st Gen Velocitek on my UFO, and find it very helpful, since once you are up on the foils many of the queues you are used to for judging boatspeed go away or get much smaller. I made a bracket that lightly clamps around the gantry for the wand. I cobbled it together from scrap wood and plastic, nothing fancy. Two plastic 'plates' go around the gantry, and a small piece of wood the same width as the gantry extends up about 6". I screwed a scrap plate of carbon fiber that is 3"X 5" to the wood, and covered it with Velcro. The bottoms of the two clamp plates are held tight with a bolt and wing nut. The Velocitek is easy to see from either tack, and relatively protected from flying sheets or my arms. I do tie a small leash to it, run around the gantry, in case it is knocked off the Velcro. I'll get and post a photo of it in the next few days.
  14. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    I agree, the boat does turtle pretty fast. I recall Dave, likely in the early portion of this forum thread, mentioning that having the boat turtle is safer for a solo sailor that installing a float to prevent the turtle. If you capsize and become separated from the boat in a decent breeze, the UFO (or most any light cat) on its side will blow downwind faster than you can swim, and you will be left on your own. So while mast floats are great for keeping your mast out of the mud, keep in mind that if you are out by yourself and capsize in a blow, your usually loyal UFO may take off without you. This is obviously an individual decision based on where you sail and how you use the boat.
  15. Champlain Sailor

    Steve and Dave Clarks Unidentified Foiling Object

    Glad you asked! This will change your UFO sailing life! As Dave already stated, yes, keep the mast up and foils in if your storage situation allows for it. 15 minutes from shore to sailing. One caveat though.... The UFO is quite light, and has a lot of surface area. If you keep the mast up (and likely even if you don't) I recommend tying it down. We learned this the hard way when our UFO was less than one week old. An afternoon thunderstorm and boom, its on its side. Fortunately, the UFO is tough, so the only damage done was a couple of scratches on the hull to deck joint at the transom, a cheap lesson.