Vanity on Valencia

~~~Snug up bends, hitches & knots

Originally published in SCA, January 2013

Sailing dinghy Valencia The last column about Valencia---the gift ten foot pram from Norway---ended with, "I'll...rig a leeboard and kickup rudder."

Everything was on hand except thirty five dollars worth of one and seven eighths inch OD PVC conduit (nominal 1 1/2" Schedule 40), and two PVC flanges, to join the conduit to the leeboards.

Across the sheer is a one and a half inch OD aluminum tube, held at its center by a galvanized steel strap screwed to the daggerboard trunk. Onto each end of the aluminum tube I slipped a foot and a half length of 1 7/8" conduit. These pass through a six inch piece each side, 2" ID by 2 3/8" OD, lashed between chocks to the sheer, under which I glued re-inforcing plywood. I slotted the inboard end of each 1 7/8" piece. A hose clamp grips the slotted part for friction on the aluminum tube.

Sailing dinghy Valencia Squeezing a leeboard's horizontal axle was Jan Gougeon's idea, used first on the Serendipity sailing canoe series. Later, Jan thought of using a nineteenth century 'cone-taper clutch' for leeboards. A cone replaces the cylindrical axle and is pulled into another cone by a screw thread. Goke Tomlinson made one for his "Bufflehead" sailing canoe, and Meade Gougeon built one for Woodwind, his Everglades Challenge boat---now with amas designed by Jan four months before he passed away in December. Cones are easier to mold, don't need athwartship structure, and seem to offer remarkably controllable, sensitive and positive friction.

Sailing dinghy Valencia To fit her existing pintles, the new rudder stock is glassed three quarter inch plywood. It has a swinging, eighth inch thick aluminum blade. The new tiller and sheer chocks are Ipe, a dense New World tropical wood with a fragrance when cut as pungent as Teak, but quite different.

February 8th, 2013, Valencia and I were at the Lower Suwannee NWR's Shell Mound, by half past ten. Mid 60s; sun in and out; west northwest six to ten freshening. I wanted to catch as much high tide as I could, so I assumed I'd sort out the boat's clutter at the first beach. Every line was tangled since I'd pushed the sail rig and oars barely out of the way for the leeboard setup. I re-lead the halyard and re-connected the boom's slide to the mast's seven inch track. Valencia and I were away by ten forty five.

Sailing dinghy Valencia Some fumbling, but, with the paddle's help I tacked twice at the "ramp" while standing at her new pivoting-up tiller. The rudder blade clinked on oysters and the leeboards scraped and bumped up as we close reached starboard tack, into the lee of Hog Island by eleven. We drifted out of it and bore off to the south. I was increasingly aware her draft had begun to feel like a good sailing canoe's.

Whoops! Damn. The boom flew out three feet from the mast, and shortly we crunched onto a grassy oyster bar. After shoving things out of the way, and stubbornly refusing to ease the halyard, I grunted the boom's slide back onto the track, and re-set its retaining screw.

At the south tip islet of Spanish Bayonet Island I worked a few yards to windward of it, and then curled back to glide smugly up into the lee of the two foot high beach, as one can on this coast when sailing with leeboards and a kickup rudder.

Lost oarlock, purple line dangling As I began to sort out the mess of gear---after twisting my wrist to pat myself on the back---I noticed the port oarlock was not dangling from its vibrant purple tether. Grump! Quick search, then frantic, then thorough. Bummed. Thirty years I'd had that pair of oarlocks.

But onward. Out around the islet, close reaching north into the now ten to twelve knot wind, resiliently bumping sand and oysters. Care-free compared to two months earlier.

Before I noticed water on my feet, I'd heard a coarse gurgle-splop from the open daggerboard trunk. Then I saw each wave seemed to geyser up a tea or coffee cup sized, somewhat hourglass shaped gob of water, most of which fell in the boat. I bailed.

A quick stop on Garden Island, and a pleasing reach back to the Shell Mound by one thirty, tide falling.

Be wary of springy line that doesn't stay snugged up. Beware, too, of soft slippery line. Jan would have been consoling, and not grinned too wryly at my purple line vanity and its cost. (If I'd had another couple feet of the purple stuff, I might have lost both oarlocks.) He, too, would have been excited, though, by my imaginary 'thought boat' from kickup-equipped Valencia: a simple ten and a half foot "Shell Mound Skiff." ~HH

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