Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Element Moves to Colorado

I've been slow to post an update on the latest happenings with Element, but I assume most of you who read this also read my other blog http:tiki26element2.blogspot.com about the building of my new Tiki 26, which will become Element II when completed. If so, you know that I sold Element, a couple of weeks ago, and she is now sailing on a lake in Colorado.

Even though I decided to build a Tiki 26 while I was still refitting the Tiki 21, I had envisioned keeping the 21 until the new boat was almost complete. But the reality is that paying docking fees, worrying about hurricane season, and keeping up with the maintenance on the 21 was taking time and money away from the current project. I was beginning to think about advertising the boat for sale anyway when I received an email from someone interested in buying my Hita 17. Since I sold it just last November to Bill Barker, of Colorado, it was no longer available, but I said I would sell the Tiki 21 if I could get my full asking price. As it turned out, the interested party (ironically also from Colorado) was serious and quickly arranged a trip to Biloxi to see the boat and go for a demo sail. Element, of course, met all his expectations, and after an afternoon of fine sailing we closed the deal. I went back to the coast the next day with my trailer, and with the help of my sailing buddy Artie Vaughn, disassembled the catamaran and brought it home.

Last day of sailing in the Mississippi Sound. That's me with Element on the beach at Deer Island during a break in the demo sail. We had strong SE winds that day, and averaged 10 knots and higher reaching back and forth between Deer Island and Point Cadet.

Element on the trailer and ready for the long road trip to Ft. Collins, Colorado

Part of the deal I made with the new owner was that I would meet him near Okalahoma City, the approximate halfway point between Biloxi and Ft. Collins, Colorado. I drove all night to avoid heavy traffic and at dawn I was in the open country west of Oklahoma City. The boat trailered well and I had no problems pulling it this distance with my Mazda pickup.

Here is Bill Cotton, the proud new owner of Element with his new boat. This photo was taken in Calumet, Okalahoma, the tiny rural town we chose to meet at so we could swap the trailer from my truck to his. Bill is an experienced multihull sailor who has owned several trimarans, including a Farrier Tramp and an F-27. The Tiki 21 is his first catamaran, and he chose this design for its stability and seaworthiness. In addition to sailing on his local lake in Colorado, he hopes to trailer the boat to bigger waters such as the Sea of Cortez and possibly Florida.

Bill Cotton didn't waste any time getting Element back in the water. This photo was taken the very next day by Bill Barker, who bought my Hitia 17. Bill Barker and his son Houston drove the hour and a half from their home to Ft. Collins to help Bill Cotton put the boat together for the first time. Since they helped me launch it back in November off the beach at Biloxi, they knew a lot about it and everything went together as designed. They went sailing that afternoon and Bill Cotton has reported that he's been sailing several times since then. I'm glad he's happy with Element and glad to know he will sail her.

I will be without a boat for awhile until I can get Element II completed and in the water, but I'm okay with that, because at last I will have the boat I've wanted for years. Losing my 26 foot monohull Intensity to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 put me back on the path to a simpler kind of sailing, and restoring and sailing Element solidified my choice of designers, bringing me back full circle to Wharram catamarans, where I started when I built the Hitia 17 in 1998...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Changing Halyard Blocks on the Beach

I've had difficulty raising the mainsail ever since I re-launched Element after the refit. The problem is that there are two halyards for the main, one for the peak of the gaff and one for the throat. In the Wharram plans for the Tiki 21, Tiki 26 and Tiki 30, maybe other sizes as well, a side-by-side double block is shown hanging on a penant from the masthead for the purpose of handling these two halyards. The problem is, the double block wants to twist and bind, even if you try to keep equal pressure on both halyards when hoisting the sail. This is especially true in stronger winds when singlehanding and it's difficult to keep the boat headed upwind when raising and lowering sail.

From reading of other Tiki owner's experiences on the forums, I determined that it would be best to do away with the double halyard block arrangement and replace it with two separate single blocks, one for each halyard. I put this off long enough, so during my 4-day sailing trip last weekend, I decided it was time to remedy the problem. I didn't have any extra single blocks on board, so I decided to "borrow" two from the mainsheet traveler arrangement. The winds were near calm this past Sunday morning when I woke up at anchor off Horn Island, so I moved the boat as close to the beach as possible, set my main anchor off the bow and pulled the stern to the beach until the rudders were stuck in the sand. I set another anchor off the aft beam, carried ashore onto the beach to hold this position, and lowered the mast so the masthead was hanging over the beach to make changing the blocks easy.

Element backed up the beach with stern anchor set and mast lowered.

The new separate single halyard blocks. These are hung from the masthead on Dacron lanyards. The throat halyard block is positioned slightly lower than the peak halyard block, to prevent them from binding each other. This job only took a few minutes and the soon the mast was back up and I found the mainsail was easy to raise and lower, without any binding or hanging up whatsoever.

Here's a shot of the masthead showing the new halyard block arrangement, (Click on the photo to view full sized). This completely corrected the problem, and made me glad I had a boat small and simple enough to lower and re-raise the mast on my own, on a remote beach.
You will also notice the halyards are outside the mainsail luff pocket. I will put them back inside next time I remove the sail from the mast. I had pulled them outside the pocket due to the sail raising difficulties, but now know that this didn't have anything to do with the problem.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Here are a few images from my sailing trip on Element last weekend. I left Biloxi and first sailed to East Ship Island, where I anchored for the first night. The next day I sailed over to West Ship Island and went ashore to visit a friend who is one of the captains of the Ship Island Excursion boats. West Ship is the only island in the Gulf Islands National Seashore with regular excursion boat service, and as a consequence it is usually crowded with sunbathers and beachgoers this time of year. I didn't stay long before pulling up the anchor and sailing to Horn Island, where I spent the next two nights sleeping aboard at anchor. Horn Island is the centerpiece of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. It is a designated wilderness area, over 12 miles long and approximately 1 mile wide in most parts. It is superb wildlife habitat with forests, marshes, interior lagoons, dunes and beaches, and is home to such creatures as alligators, raccoons, otters, rabbits, ospreys and many species of wading birds. The photo below is from the north shore of the island, about half way between the east and west ends.

Horn Island offers miles of usually deserted white sand beaches and pine forests

Marshes like this are found throughout the interior of the island, making it difficult to hike across the island except in a few places.

Here's a shot of the "galley" on Element, a two-burner propane stove on deck. This worked great even in the 15-20 knot winds I experienced the first night anchored out, due to the windscreen formed by the stove's lid. Dishes were easily done in a bucket of seawater, followed by a fresh water rinse. Stainless steel cookware is the way to go.

Every night of the trip I had perfect sunsets like this. I anchored far enough out to avoid the mosquitoes that are thick at night on the beaches, so at night I burned a white L.E.D. anchor light just in case any powerboaters cruised through the area. This portable L.E.D. light was great. I burned it all night for three nights without having to replace the AA batteries. When I get to the point of outfitting Element II for cruising, all navigation and interior lighting will be L.E.D.

The water can be quite clear around the barrier islands, such a contrast to the murky waters off the mainland coast in Mississippi. This photo was taken just off the beach at East Ship Island. The next day while sailing across the same area of shallows on the way to Horn Island, I saw a large shark, approximately 10 feet long cross my path just ahead of my bows.

Element anchored off Horn Island.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Approaching Horn Island

Here I'm returning to the north shore of Horn Island to find a place to anchor for the night after a full afternoon of great sailing. I spent the last two nights of the trip anchored off these beaches, and Sunday night after the weekend crowd left there was not another boat in sight and I had the island to myself.

Reaching in a Good Breeze

Here's a clip from a fine afternoon of sailing in the Mississippi Sound just north of the coast of Horn Island. In this southeast breeze, I was maintaining a steady 9 knots. It starts getting fun at this point. The spray was just beginning to fly a bit, and I could tell the boat would really pick up and go if the wind would just increase another 5 knots or so.

Broad Reaching along Horn Island

What's great about multihulls is the ability to sail in shallow water. This is particularly true of Wharram catamarans, which have no underwater appendages like daggerboards or centerboards to worry about. On this trip I enjoyed a lot of sailing like this, cruising along the beach in 2-3 feet of water just as I would normally do in my sea kayak. The shallows extend so far out from these barrier islands that I could never get anywhere near this close in my deep draft monohull.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Four Days of Beachcruising

I just got back yesterday from a four day trip on Element. I went to the barrier islands off the Mississippi coast, in the Gulf Islands National Seashore. It was a great trip with near-perfect weather and good wind for sailing. I slept and cooked aboard the boat, and only made brief visits ashore at East and West Ship Islands, and Horn Island. I have lots of photos and some videos from the trip that I will post in the next day or two, so check back here soon.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More Photos from West Ship Island

I intended to include these other photos in my previous post about my day trip to West Ship Island, but I was having trouble with my connection and could not do it last night. I also have some videos I shot with a small digital camera while sailing out there, and when I get back to my high-speed connection in a few days I will upload some of those to You Tube and put the links on here.

Unlike around the mainland Mississippi coast, the waters around the barrier islands are somewhat clear, at least enough so that you can see the bottom in the shallows where the sand bottom is just a few feet down. I anchored in water about waist deep after first beaching the boat when I arrived. The wind was too strong to leave it like that, so I pushed the bows off and carried an anchor out to windward and set it by hand. Shallow draft is wonderful! The simplest way to anchor one of these catamarans is to bring the rode through a fairlead or chock on one side of the forward beam, then secure this rode to that same side on a cleat on the mast beam. Since wide-beam catamarans behave best on a bridle type arrangement, it is then a simple matter to take another line, attach it to the main rode with a rolling hitch, lead this second line through a chock on the other side of the front beam and then to the cleat on that side of the mast beam. The main rode can then be let out some so that the pull from both sides is equal, effectively creating a bridle in the middle and just forward of the bows. I should have taken a photo of this arrangement, but did not. Next time I'll try to remember.

This is Fort Massachusetts, which has been standing on West Ship Island since 1859. It appears to be relatively intact despite Hurricane Katrina's fury. The 5-foot thick walls of brick fared much better than the U.S. Park Service's modern buildings on the island, which were all swept away.

With the boat anchored in waist deep water, I was able to completely clean the bottoms of the hulls with a scrub brush. The anti-fouling paint is working well; there was only a bit of slime on the hulls and no sign of barnacles. It will be easy to keep the hulls maintained when a good scrubbing like this only takes a few minutes and doesn't require diving under a keel, as I had to do on my monohull. After finishing this simple task, I hung out for awhile, ate lunch while relaxing on the forward tramp, and then sailed back to the mainland on the same steady breeze that brought me out there. I'm planning to take a multi-day trip out around these islands sometime in the next few weeks while the weather conditions are ideal for it. And in the meantime I will be working away on Element II at every opportunity.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Quick Trip to Ship Island

I sailed Element out to West Ship Island yesterday. The weather was perfect, with temperatures in the 70s F, partly cloudy skies, and a steady east wind at about 10 knots. This wind was just right for a beam reach, both going out and returning on the 27 nm round trip. This was the first time I've gotten to sail Element in really nice, warm conditions, wearing shorts and going barefoot. It sure beats some of the cold daysails I had earlier this year. The boat handled great, averaging around six knots for the most part but at times running 7.5 to 8 knots. I sailed right up to the beach just east of the old fort and range tower, then anchored in waist deep, clear green water and spent a couple hours hiking. I had the place to myself, which is unusual on West Ship Island. There was not a boat in sight, and with the ranger station obliterated by Hurricane Katrina, there was no one working or livng on the island.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Element II

I've finally begun building the boat I've wanted to build for years, and the final decision was based on how well Element sails and my enjoyment of the restoration process. I love the elegant simplicity of these Wharram Tiki designs, enough to commit myself to building a Tiki 26 over the course of the next year or two in my spare time. For my needs, the Tiki 26 is the ideal size, still small enough to easily manage for maintenance and moving to different locations on a trailer, yet big enough to have good sitting headroom in the cabins, enough load capacity for long voyages, and the same shallow draft and light weight advantages of the Tiki 21. I still intend to sail Element at every opportunity, and I'm planning some multiday cruises on her a little later this year, but as time permits I will be steadily working away at building Element II. I'll be documenting the process here on a new blog:


Hope to see you there....

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunny Winter Day

I went sailing Friday. This was the first time I've sailed the boat in sunny weather since the launching. Friday's forecast was for stronger wind when I was planning the trip, but as it turned out the cold front that had kept the north winds at 15-20 knots the two previous days had started to blow itself out, and by the time I got to the coast, the wind was east-southeast at maybe 10 knots. The sailing was nice, and Element handled well in the diminishing chop out in the sound, but I still couldn't get more than about 6 knots out of her in those conditions. We'll see when I finally manage to get out on a windy day. I had a fine close reach back into the harbor at Biloxi, and was able to point higher than I ever imagined possible in the combination of light winds and smooth waters.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Nice Daysail

Although the wind was really light, maybe 5-7 knots and even less at times, I enjoyed some fine sailing on my most recent day aboard Element. It's amazing how well these boats sail in light air. This is because of the light weight and the slim, easily driven hull forms. In these conditions the Tiki 21 cruises effortlessly along at 5-6 knots, making very little fuss and hardly rippling the water in her wake.