Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Manchester Race

On Saturday I attended the Sound Rowers Manchester Race with my V15-6m.
This race is notorious for having lots of weeds near the boundaries of the routes the ferries ply between Seattle and Bremerton.

It also is notorious for having lots of aquatic vegetation and randomly placed rocks in the shallow cove where one launches and retrieves their boats at the beginning and end of the race.

Anyway, with the help of another person I lugged the boat from the parking area to the beach. I then placed the boat on my old Cadence dolly and assembled the outriggers, intending to subsequently roll the dolly and boat into the water.

This was an utter failure. What was worse was the fact that placing the boat on the webbing on the dolly caused the weight to end up bending the propeller shaft where it is tubing. After the boat was in the water turning the cranks caused a nasty and loud hammering effect as the shaft swung about wildly.

Only after the race started did I finally figure out what had happened.

After stopping at a rocky point of land at the edge of the cove I removed the stabilizers, causing the boat to float on its side (Hatch side up). This let me access the prop shaft where the bend was easily observed.

After about 5 minutes of attempting to bend the tubing back into a more or less straight configuration, taking care to not apply excessive force against the stuffing box tube, the shaft was able to turn fairly smoothly without a ridiculous amount of wobble.

I reassembled the stabilizers and got back on board. Ten minutes and 27 seconds after the start of the race, and roughly 9 minutes after arriving at the impromptu pit stop, I continued after the other racers.

Since I'm the club photographer, and I had a cheap (i.e., really crappy) 14 megapixel Fujifilm waterproof digital camera with me, I chose to go counterclockwise around Blake Island as everyone else went clockwise. The prevailing logic was that the currents were better in the clockwise direction due to the flooding tide.

Regardless my speed around the island was between 6 and 7.5 mph, though at points on the return leg the GPS indicated a speed of up to 8 mph when I started pushing a bit to try to catch some of the other boats.

The final time for this roughly 10 mile long race was about 1 hour 39 minutes, which is a little slower than my personal record of 1:34 in 2004, and about 9 minutes slower than Dick Lyon's record of 1:30:36, also in 2004, with similar conditions. I encountered weeds a few times, but they seemed to slough off fairly easily. The small kelp-like leafy weed that caught on the bow needed me to go in reverse a little distance before it let go. It created a fair bow wave when it was stuck in place.

Photos and my stats are on the Sound Rowers web site.

Shortly after leaving the rocky point with the somewhat less bent shaft the cadence sensor stopped measuring. I'm not sure if salt water entered the casing or not.

Other feedback:
1. The thicker, layered seat cushion is much better. I now have two layers of closed cell foam (roughly 3/4 inches) over an inch thick open cell foam pad. The combination is contained in a mostly sealed shrink wrap plastic case that is duct taped to the wooden seat of the boat. My buttocks are much happier with this.

2. The quad thickness closed cell foam pad is OK, but needs to be a little thicker and taller in order work well with my PFD. This is duct taped to the seat back.

3. The deflector panels make a great area to hold water bottles. I'm planning to mount bottle holders there.

4. One can almost hold water bottles below the prop shaft atop the torque box just aft of the gear box. On my boat the bolts from the coupling hit the single-use sized water bottles, causing a little noise and friction, but it is an OK place for one to temporarily store a bottle.

5. Lowering the stabilizers the measly 1/2 inch made all the difference in the world for stability over how they were in the trials at Lake Union last weekend. Some of the photos while under way seem to show the stern tips actually out of the water.

6. The lower propeller position (about 3/4 inch below the bottom of the hull) did not ventilate at all, even when going through light chop and boat wakes.

7. The difference in efficiency with no wobble and with the moderate wobble the shaft now has seems to be moderately significant. I don't have actual numbers, but the pedaling effort to reach 7.5+ mph seemed to be higher than I recalled from Rat Island.

8. The boat now wants to turn slowly to the starboard. This is far less than the tendency it had earlier to turn to port, and can probably be eliminated by careful adjustment of the strut - again.