Wednesday, May 30, 2007

On the Water

After much thought and calculation, I finally caved in on Saturday and bought a new boat down in Woodbridge at Backyard Boats. Specifically, a sailing trimaran kayak, a red Hobie Adventure Island. My first boat was a Hobie 16, Inferno, and I miss her a great deal. This new boat, Betty, may be even better. I can use her as a normal kayak, as a nifty pedal kayak using the Mirage Drive, as a sailboat, or switch between all three on the water. I had her home by noon on Saturday, and was sailing at 3:00. I made it out again on Sunday. It was light to moderate air both days, and she still clips along pretty well. I made it from Gravelly Point to Georgetown and back on Sunday, and that was in the really fluky breeze north of the bridges.

I'm already extremely pleased with her. Like most multihulls, she doesn't point especially high, but better than I expected. She motors on reaches, and does reasonably well downwind. And I can't say enough about the flexibility of the design. With the paddle and pedal options, she makes for a forgiving platform for novice sailors - you can power through your mistakes. But the sail is big enough for the displacement that she performs to satisfy those with more experience. You can even use the pedals to improve her sailing - accelerating faster out of tacks so you don't lose as much going to windward, or increasing speed to shift the apparent wind to turn a downwind run into a reach.

The details are well thought out and executed, for the most part. The roller furling on the mast is quick and easy. Swinging the amas (sidehulls) in and out on the water is also quite easy. Assembly and derigging ashore takes only a few minutes, and requires no tools. And there is an insane amount of storage space in hull.

There are a few small nitpicks. The rudder control is often awkward to use, especially at higher speeds; it is mounted flush, and would be much easier to handle if you could get your hand all the way around it. A boom would improve downwind performance, but would also create a headknocker hazard. Perhaps barber-haulers on the amas would help keep main tack down when running with the wind. And the main hull (vaka) is essentially a normal kayak hull with crossbars (akas) mounted on top. Maybe it will plane at higher speeds, but planing hull might improve performance.

Regardless, for me this is a great pickup. This is my third sailboat, following Inferno (a catamaran) and Pegasus (a monohull Luger 16). In order to top Betty, I'd have to get a sailing hydrofoil for my next boat.

[Images courtesy Hobie and Google Earth]


UrbanFervor said...

In looking at your Family Circus-style sailing route, it occurs to me that sailing in a densely populated area must be very interesting. Are you allowed to sail into the Pentagon's little arena-like harbor? Or the Pool between the Jefforson Memorial and the Mall?

Dan said...

I can get to a number of places off of the Potomac. The Pentagon marina, known as the Columbia Island Marina, I think, is open to the public. The Tidal Basin by the Jefferson Memorial, though, is closed off. There are gates that allow water to flow into the Basin at high tide, the idea being the tidal action could be used to pump this water for city use once upon a time. But no vessels can pass into the basin. There are paddle boats for rent, though.

Anonymous said...

I'm speechless and jealous, Dan. Gorgeous boat. I didn't know they made such a thing.


PudriK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PudriK said...

Been thinking about a sunfish, myself, for fun as well as racing. What'd be super nice is a small dinghy with an erectable mast and rowing locks, but they ain't cheap. The only flaw with your sweet little ride is it only seats one. BTW, how'd you generate the sailing plot? GPS?