Friday, July 15, 2011

Look at me... I'm sailing!!!

A few years ago I went to a movie featuring Russel Crowe and Paul Bettany called "Master and Commander: The far Side of the World" and instantly wanted to sail on a tall ship.  A good friend of mine we'll call "Morgan" informed me that the film was based upon a series of books know, collectively, as the Aubrey-Maturin Series by Patrick O'Brian which only furthered my desire to sail on a tall ship.  But alas it is my lot to live in land-locked Iowa where tall ships are exceedingly, nay exasperatingly rare.  So what is a bushcrafter to do when he has sailing blood coursing through his Scandinavian veins?  Why he needs to improvise a sailboat!

So I did, during a summer camp at work.

The kids, other naturalists, and I took a couple of canoes down to a lake found near our Nature Center and then set about to find sticks to use in lashing the canoes into a pontoon and for the mast for our sail.  The sail in this case was my ever present surplus poncho.

We lashed the two canoes together with assorted ropes and 550 p-chord and three, wrist diameter sticks each about 3'-3.5' long.

 The sail was supported by a frame made by lashing together four wrist-diameter hackberries (Celtis occidentalis L. ) that were being shaded out by some old cottonwoods.  In this picture you can see me and two other naturalists lashing the starboard (right-hand) mainmast to the thwart located abaft (behind) the bow seat.
 Once we had securely lashed the cross-braces to the canoes thwarts and attached backstays to the mainmasts, and the sail lashed to the spars it was time time to see if she was sea worthy.

 Here you can see two other naturalists lowering the sail after we'd paddled into the wind and swung the pontoon around.  The top spar (not in photo) is square-lashed to the two up right masts.  The bottom spar is lashed to the sail only and is longer than the distance between the two masts.  The overlap of the lower spar pushes into the mast when the wind fills the sail and pushes the whole thing forward.
 Look at me.... I'm sailing!!!
We didn't get going to fast, slightly slower than an easy paddling speed largley because of the way the wind acted on the lake that day.  With a larger body of water where the winds are steadier, and less erratic we could have gone much faster than if we had paddled.  I look forward to trying it again soon.

Anyone else ever improvised a sailboat?  I'd love to hear about it!


Deus Ex Machina said...

That looks like a blast!

Johnnyburn said...

Did you use anything for a keel? Without a keel to resist the side-force of the wind, you can basically only sail in the direction that the wind is blowing. (Although, canoes have some resistance to being pushed sideways, so I suppose you are partway there.)

Nice work. I am sure that it felt pretty great to catch the wind and use it to move!

world of bushcraft and camping said...

wow nice boat mate looks like alot of fun, i mite have a good crack at that come to think of it good job mate looks like a sturdy vessel

Anonymous said...

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