So, it’s been a while since there’s been a kite boat report….and normal rules apply. Delete now if you’re busy/not interested (and let me know if you’d prefer not to get these emails…I won’t be offended).
KitetiK’s first sailing sea trial was scheduled for this past weekend. Originally the plan was to exit the canal on Saturday (light winds), sail on Sunday, anchor out until another calm, then return to the canal. Not much of that happened…
With an inflatable with small outboard on each bow (or each stern if you prefer) of the long hull, we started heading out of the canal. The dual inflatable strategy only works if no engines stall….Having seen that the engine on the forward inflatable had stalled, yours truly at the helm should have put the main propulsion into reverse to stop the boat…but I was WAY too slow... It was only a very gentle nudge to one of the moored boats … no damage to it and minimal damage to KitetiK.
We anchored close to shore near the Newport leads with the breeze already up to perhaps 12knots. Crew returned in an inflatable about an hour later and the breeze was quite fresh. Drove out to clear (of traffic) deep water. Kitetik’s turning circle in 18knots with wind chop and no inflatable assistance….about 200m…but at least we could get around. Much more wind than that …and we’ll not be able to navigate under auxiliary propulsion. We’ll need a big rethink on rudders and auxiliary propulsion. Actually, rudders will probably be fine for sailing, but not for motoring. (Rick, how about 2 x 5kW electric steerable (180°) well mounted “outboards”, one at/near each end of the long hull?)
Having anchored for kite launch, we attempted 2 drift launches (14m, then 11m kites). The best option would be to anchor beam on to the wind (not very pleasant) and release the kite off a separately controllable 5th line to leeward. We didn’t do that. Both attempts to drift off two front lines to the stern ended in….not much success. All crew still have all their fingers (uncontrolled kite lines can remove these), both kites are still intact (that’s quite surprising!), nothing was lost (well, nothing physical. My pride took a serious hit for trying something that I should have known would not work!) and no one died – so it was successful by that measure.
Having retrieved kites, we drove back to pick up the inflatable (ponder coming alongside with a 200m turning circle!) then headed for the “Pond” to anchor. This is a largish area that will be developed for more canals. Wide canals to get to it and plenty of swinging room should have allowed a nice anchorage until calm would allow return to the (narrow) canal pontoon. But 3 attempts to set a (sand) anchor failed – maybe someone has put a concrete skin on the bottom! (Being Newport, perhaps they’ve tiled the bottom!) We’d held fine out in the mud in 20knots with quite a bit of chop but couldn’t hold in protected flat water! So that left us with a bit of a problem. Fortunately a few of the boats that make the home canal disturbingly narrow were not on their pontoons so we decided to return to base. With a single inflatable helping, that was actually quite a bit easier than we’d anticipated…so KitetiK is back on GS’s pontoon pondering her future….
LEIs (the type of kite we tried to drift launch) were never going to be the preferred kite for KitetiK. But drift launching in order to sail was intended to at least see how she would sail with a small kite. A rather more sophisticated launch system for single skin bridled foils is in development and showing some promise. But this will not be deployed until it has been refined on land. This will be better with a beam on orientation, but it might be possible to launch from a standard anchor (bow onto the sea) – or, with enough crew and adequate manoeuvrability, maintaining orientation to wind with auxiliary propulsion.
An immediate issue to deal with is the two sets of kite lines (aka birds’ nests) in the car port. Conservative estimates suggest that one of them is a 3 beer birds nest and the other possibly a 4. But, if I do them in series, it could well be that, even if the first transpires to only be a 2 beer nest, the other may turn out to be a 6 even though it should be a 3! Such problems to deal with! Perhaps I’ll measure the first one with (non-alcoholic) ginger beer in order not to bias the measurements!