Day Sail!! and with Wind Vane Steering

    Yesterday Lynn and I did something on Celebration that we haven't done since we started cruising full time. No not that! Our kids might read this!!  We went for a day sail. Yes, pulled up the anchor from the clay of Charlotte Amalie St Thomas and are now on a mooring in Christmas Cove St James Island.  We had a beautiful, slow, comfortable sail in between as we tacked and tacked windward to get here.
    Why? Both why; as in why don't we day-sail more? And why; as in why today? Why not more day-sailing? Well it seems like every time we anchor somewhere, things just appear. Things from in cabinets come out....like tools, spare parts, project lists, lots of stuff like that. Then there are things that in a place like Charlotte Amalie appear from off the boat...like the 1.75 liter bottles of Cruzan Dark rum we found for $9.95 each, a few extra groceries for the next trip, and always a couple of bits needed to keep the good ship operating properly i.e. ready for the next voyage. So to leave even for an afternoon, all these things have to be put away. Otherwise when the boats heels (leans) with the wind, they will noisily find their own temporary home at the lowest point below. Not a great sight or sound and definitely not fun to clean up afterward.
    Why today? After a couple nights in Charlotte Amalie which we love for the people watching, restocking, and finding needed parts and pieces, we need we also needed a little break. Carnival is gearing up thus so is the music in both hours and loudness. We love it and the party atmosphere. But Sunday night it was loud and going until 0200 in the morning. The day before 0345, the same on Friday. Nice, but with a break.
Line routing and Quadrant driving rudder post
   But the real reason Lynn was able to get me to break the anchor loose is that we needed a test of the new (to Celebration anyway) wind vane steering. After years of looking, setting the boat up for it along the way and not being able to afford one, not liking most of the commercial solutions, I found the "perfect" match. An old Aries lift up unit which needed a LOT of work. I often say "I have more time than money" so it wound up on celebration courtesy of a fellow cruiser/guitar player in Grenada for the tidy sum of $200 and a bottle of Clarks Court Dark. Weeks, actually months later, all the parts were broken loose (hammered in many cases) reshaped, refit, modified, Teflon coated, assembled and appeared to be working. A couple of custom brackets and a self designed quadrant for getting the unit connected to the rudder and we were ready for a test run. The journey from the bottom of someone’s bilge to the stern of Celebration, to even include the recast of the lead counterweight using a tin can and the BBQ grill,  I'll cover in some detail on another blog dedicated to maintenance and refit stuff. Today we'll settle for a photo of how it's rigged to the rudder post and hopefully a brief video.

    I have to say that I had never sailed with one before so really didn't know what to expect. Surely there would be some tweaking with my "one of" design, and I'd heard and read all about the wandering course many of the wind steering units take. So I expected the worse, probably a whole day of figuring it out, followed by some redesign and reworking parts. Well to make it short, we headed out, set sails, Lynn held a course while I tensioned and cleated off the control lines. Next I heard from Lynn was "it's steering isn't it? Lo and behold it worked! What, can't be that easy. So after an hour we tacked with no problem, tacked again and again. Eventually we sailed along relaxed and trusting this new thing to steer. No beeps, no clicks, no whirr of the linkage, nor whine of the motor, best of all no amps consumed and no squiggly little lines on my weather fax. Tonight we will christen it after we come up with a suitable name over cocktails. We'll let you know.


Jim P said...

well done! actually looks somewhat simpler and sturdier than the commercial ones I have seen, everything exposed and out of the way. good for the long slog north?

Anonymous said...

Nice job Steve! It looks very well laid out and easy to handle. The name I picked for my wind vane (if I ever get it installed) is Helmer Fudd.


Equinox Crew said...

Bob and I have said it before and we'll say it again: You are one of the wonders of the world. Is there ANYTHING you can't do? That is SO awesome. Congrats.

Steve said...

Thanks everyone, but you give me more credit than due. A friend loaned me a book all about how to build one for your boat from scratch. This was easy compared to that. And driving the rudder vs the wheel was a requirement IMHO instead of runnning it via the steering cables as my electronic Autohelm does. Backup, and simple works.