If you are a dreamer, a doer, a horizon viewer - come in! come in! Announce yourself and let it be known.
The seed of adventure has been sown.

The goal is to take this boat on a trip that no other Wharram boat has taken.
From Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories up the MacKenzie River to the Beafort Sea
and westward to the Bering Sea and south to the inside passage on the Alaska and British Columbia coast.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Yesterday I had my first strong wind sail on Tsunamichaser. Not only was the wind hitting twenty knots plus but we sailed the boat out a narrow harbor. Long Harbour, which is two nautical miles deep and as narrow as 500 feet at one point though much of it is about 1/4 of a mile wide, was a good spot to test tight quarters sailing to windward. We were six on board (probably 800 pounds of human ballast) and sailed off the beach under the long noses of the adjacent "Royal" yacht club! Anyone who thinks that cats, particularly Wharram cats, can't go to wind are wrong. I've talked to some who are good monohull sailors but who have likely never set foot on a Wharran let alone a cat. Tsunamichaser not only sails to windward but pulls into the wind with noticeable acceleration and without much leeway once at speed.

The wind for this quick sail around the bay was right on the nose. The trip which started out with full sails bent to quickly became a single reef in the main and the jib rolled in half way on the furler. The boat, with full sails set, was sailing just fine but the lee rigging was hanging a little slack. A good indicator that a reef was justified, we luffed up, rolled up the jib, reset the main and then reset the jib as we fell off to starboard by backing down - smooth. Though not feeling too overpowered at the speed we were going, the width of the channel was making it feel like one continuous session of coming about. Reefing did little to change that though. She was still ripping along. I can say with certainly that when the wind gets a hold of the sails she leaps ahead! As one old, now decaying fishboat liveaboard ex 17' Pyver-sailor we met; who claimed to have sailed such a craft from the westcoast to Hawaii in '65, said "I'd like to get my hands on one of these sports cars!" Even with the reef in, Tsunamichaser was making between seven and eight knots and the tacks came in rapid succession. If I can figure out how to get a screen shot from the GPS, I'll post it so you can get a feel for how well the tracks played out.

We made the mouth of the harbor in 18 legs which was fine sailing. Long Harbour's shore varies from steep sides going straight into the water to submerged rocky ledges to shoaling gravel bars that are exposed at low tide. You need to play the channel with close attention though the 1'6" or so draft makes that less important. Few sail out the harbor as it makes for tense sailing though many will sail in if the wind is from the south and on their tail. The tacks we made were all clean and they go smoothly if you wear her around by letting the jib back. We failed to do this properly on one tack so instead sailed backwards with the helm down. That brought the nose around quickly and once the wind caught the right side of the jib we shot forward.

Long Harbour is filled with obstacles; crab trap floats, mooring buoys and a ferry terminal and its outlying pilings and crash boards. We weaved our way around these and past some folks pulling their crab pots. All good fun but the best was sailing right over some of the unoccupied mooring buoys taking them between the hulls. That gave the monohull sailors aboard a bit of a start!

As some of the crew where under-dressed for the trip (hey isn't it suppose to be summer - read warm - in August?), I took pity on them and spun us around at the harbor mouth for a nice quick sail back to the beach we had left from. We didn't bother shaking out the reef or set the spinnaker as we held to our seven plus knots of speed on the run. We waved to the passengers on the deck of the ferry departing the docks bound for Vancouver taking the shallow side of the channel. Rolling in the jib as I approached our departure beach and further reefing the main, fisherman's style, we coasted up on the beach once again before the watchful eyes of the "royals". Ah the discussions that may have followed over tea. Sailing right onto the beach! No proper yacht there, is it. And that's the point.

I've now sail on and off beaches seven times. In a couple of hours, when the sun starts to show signs of rising and the tide starts to fall, I plan to go aground, high and dry, so I can take a look at what all this beaching is doing to the bottom of the hulls. Hopefully all is well.

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