Who Hoo!!!! That was way too much fun!
You HAVE to check this video out. We set up a water proof lipstick camera to the bow of WiTHiN facing back, one in the cockpit of WiTHiN to catch the action from Within WiTHiN, and our HD video footage shot from the dock.
Over all – a pretty successful day.
WiTHiN handled at speed much like what I remembered from my kayak hull top deck weight simulation test. She motored right along nicely at speed and tipped quite dramatically when I threw that over sized rudder all the way to one side which was pretty fun – no concerns or surprises at all. You can see in the video how responsive she is to rudder movements. Again – she is a blast to ride! The steering has been changed from that long plastic push/pull rod to a cable loop and it is WAY easier to steer now that it used to be.
We clamped 80 pounds of ballast to the floor to offset the additional weight of the full top deck and as a result, WiTHiN sits much lower in the water now. This meant that we needed to heighten the drive leg bay walls and Ben did an awesome job of converting my old flexible rubber and neoprene bladder to a nice solid wood frame which worked very well. We still have a couple of inches of water floating on top of the drive leg plug, but as long as I was not upside down, this water wasn’t an issue. During the capsize, though, that water splashed around the cockpit, so something is going to have to be done about that. Probably a deeper plug will need to be made.
The capsize test went as per predicted. WiTHiN is not stable upside down and it took quite an effort by Ben and Cyrille to flip her upside down with me strapped into my seat. Instead of cleats on the bow and stern for tow ropes, we drilled holes through the hard points in the tips of the bow and the stern and then inserted stainless steel tubes which were bonded and glassed into place. These through holes will be far stronger than cleats when we get to sea trials and require motor boats to tow WiTHiN into and out of rough areas. We constructed handles that fit into these through holes which were really handy for carrying WiTHiN from the trailer into the water, and for Cyrille and Ben to grab a good hold and flip WiTHiN around.
We bolted a 4 point racing seat harness onto the seat rails, so even upside down, I was held firmly into my seat. After the first capsize, all of the dust that had collected inside WiTHiN instantly got dispersed into the air and I could barely see through the dust cloud inside the cockpit. I started to gag on the dust and we had to open the canopy for a while to allow it to drift out. Quite a bit of water was flying around inside WiTHiN during the capsizes which was mostly from that 2″ of water sitting on top of the drive leg plug. Some water was coming in through the hatch and we need to do a better job of sealing that hatch up. The front window did not leak at all.
For safety gear, I had a diving knife fastened to the inside wall of the cockpit which if necessary, I could stab through the PETG plastic window to escape. I also have an emergency oxygen supply bottle called Spare Air.
The capsizes were a blast!! Totally fun. I didn’t want the ride to stop and I am really looking forward to getting WiTHiN into some rougher ocean conditions to experience and learn about that. I am concerned about how to manage the next aspect of testing – rough ocean testing. I don’t know how to safely test WiTHiN in those kind of conditions. I imagine getting a zodiak to tow me out into rough water would be the way to go, but I just don’t know enough yet about the dangers of doing that. If WiTHiN was solid enough (no more leaks), then I could pedal her out into open ocean, but I would be concerned about strong currents either taking me out to sea, to pushing me down the coast into shore. There is a reason it took Roz Savage and Erden Eruc a month and a half to find the perfect conditions to leave the California coast for Hawaii in their row boats. Rough seas + wind + currents + shores don’t mix.
The other issue that I am still looking for an answer to is stability for standing. Periodically, I will need to stand up through the top hatch, climb out onto the top deck, and climb up from the water level. Currently, WiTHiN is not stable enough to allow me to do that without tipping her over too much and risk flooding the cockpit. I need some way to temporarily add stability for these maneuvers.
During this capsize test, we experimented with a ballast keel. I welded up a rig that strapped onto WiTHiN and suspended 50 pounds of ballast 3.5 feet below WiTHiN’s floor. This was enough extra ballast to allow me to stand up, climb-in, etc, but I don’t like it as a solution. Mostly because 90% of the time, I will be safe and snug in my seat in WiTHiN and won’t require the additional ballast from the keel – In a sense, I would be hauling around this extra weight and drag for no reason most of the time.
A retractable outrigger is too flimsy for the ocean and I would be afraid that a giant wave would just rip it off. Moving parts like that out on the ocean aren’t very safe. I’ve thought about folding outrigger arms that are stored inside the cockpit, but there isn’t
really very much room in there! Also some of you have suggested inflatable bags, but again, there isn’t much room inside WiTHiN to store those, and I’m not crazy about all the fuss of getting them inflated and installed every time I need to stand up.
Please send your ideas to the comments section of this blog post, or to me directly by replying to this email.