Sunday, October 5, 2014

Catching up on the news

Progress reports. I’ve been away, no excuse really for not having updated the blog other than its been a very busy time away in the Pacific North West.  I’ve lots to blog about,  and will be updating a couple of times a week until I’m all caught up.
I’ve had a couple of people ask how I’m doing health wise, the answer is that I sleep a lot, and the travel knocks me around a bit but I’m steadily improving with regular visits to the haematology clinic, and am gradually regaining fitness.  So, much better than I was, and the prospects of continued improvement are good. Thanks for asking.

I wrote this post intending to upload it that day it, but my camera with the pics ended up in one place, and me in another, then when I got home it was back to the clinic, then catch up with weeks of chores that built up while I was away.
Today I head out for Sail Oklahoma, then the Port Aransas PlyWooden Boat Festival.   Looooong flights, but hey, I don’t get to see all those people very often.

The SCAMP build class is not the only event here in Port Townsend that I am involved in,  the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival is another, and there is usually an event run by the Small Craft Skills Academy .
This year I also had the privilege of being involved in the SCAMP Skills class that Howard Rice was running, a course devised to teach SCAMP Skippers how to better handle their boats, teach them some of the special manoeuvres peculiar to the fat little boat with its unstayed balanced lugsail rig.
This was a three day course, a nice small class of great people and enough boats to have a really good time out sailing (practical, as opposed to classroom work,  “Homework” if you like. ) and even the antics in the classroom were fun.
An example, we had the group standing up and practicing gybing, walking away from the instructor with an arm out to represent the boom and performing the  “S Bend” gybe, same with “Parking” and “Flagging”.  All manoeuvres that are possible with unstayed rigs, and made easier by the soft handling and simple balanced lugsail rig.

Watch  SMALL CRAFT ADVISOR MAGAZINE for an article on these manoeuvres, while developed for SCAMP they are very effective on any boat with an unstayed mast.

Capsize recovery also involved some classroom work,  while SCAMP is unusually stable it is still a small open boat, and the waters here are cold so righting and reboarding is a necessary skill.  One that its hoped that will not be required, but good to have.
Again we “walked” the crew through the drill, then later in the day put each one into a dry suit and got them to “dump” SCAMP one on its side and reboard (Small Craft Advisor magazine allows us the use of SCAMP number one for demonstration and class use, thanks again Josh)

Pulling the boat up, the offcenterboard gives a lot of leverage and the boat comes up very easily.

 We tried a different approach for reboarding, if you look hard you can see a rope "sling" that the "reboarder " has his feet on, this sling to be stowed along the side deck and held there tidy with a tie of knitting yarn that can be broken with a pull. The "sling" was set at a depth that enables the person in the water to get both feet onto it while afloat in their PFD, and then simply stand up and roll forward into the boat.
This is a much easier maneuver than the stirrup that had been the recommended system of getting back into this high sided boat.  Credit to Howard for an idea that will make the boat even safer.

As has happened before, the first few attempts were not successful in getting the boat to stay on its side,  as soon as the crew dropped into the water the boat popped back up, but the reboarding drill was still valid.
In the past we’ve used a “Stirrup” on a line, a system developed by Howard, useful but it requires a precise series of moves to get up and over the high side of the boat and into the cockpit.  This time though he had a better idea, and we’re working up a system that will use a safety line laid along the gunwales, one which can be pulled down and used as a place to place feet, use the strength of both legs to stand up and roll back into the boat.
The class found this very much easier to do than the stirrup method, better suited to those less fit or less strong in the upper body, and our observation  was that someone in heavy wet weather gear, cold, and stressed out by the capsize would be more easily able to get back out of the water and under way again.

Success, Back on board.  Phil McGowan with a big smile, yes thats a drysuit, nothing like really cold water to motivate someone to get back on board as soon as possible.

There has been much talk of the capsize issue, and to elaborate, SCAMP is unusually stable, I weigh in at just over 200 lbs dry, and can stand on the gunwale with almost the whole top plank clear of the water.  Howard once tried to tip number one over in front of several thousand people at a boat show, and failed.  After a number of attempts he got her to 90 deg and much to everyones amusement as soon as he dropped into the water to swim around an right her, she popped right back up on her own.
There are NO other 12 ft sailing boats that will tolerate that kind of use without falling over. But we like to be sure that our fellow SCAMPers are safe, hence the research.

We had a good time running this skills course, presentations by some of the class members contributed, the class members themselves were a great bunch of people and  its an event that I hope I can attend again.

A daysail out to Rat Island out at the entrance to Killisit harbour between Marrowstone Island and Indian Island off Port Townsend. A day of practical "homework" after the classroom and dockside classes.

On the middle weekend of SCAMP Camp, that’s the build class of course, we had a gathering for SCAMPers which included not only the boats and students from the SCAMP Skills class, but also the participants from the kitset build class. That’s the subject of the next posting on this blog.

In the meantime, I’m having a very quiet time  before the hustle and bustle of the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival which starts on Friday next.

A reminder, these programs, both sailing and building are run by the Small Craft Skills Academy,  ,  have a look through the site, bookmark it and watch for the next update which will have details of next years courses.

See you there.

John Welsford


  1. Thanks John...
    Have fun over the next few weeks but take care of your health.

    Hard to fit in the essentials when you are not the full skipper of your schedule

    Sleep- Water- Proper Nourishment- Exercise


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