• 26th April 2010 - By greg
    —————-My next trip is now scheduled for Sunday, May 2nd. Ken and I are going to head out to Penticton, BC. I’ll launch WiTHiN at the Penticton yacht club, and take the next 3 to 4 days to navigate north, up Okanagan lake to Vernon, and then back to Penticton. I will take advantage of various sailing mooring buoys along the way to stop for sleep. Other than calmer lake water conditions (as compared to offshore conditions), and using mooring buoys (rather than drifting), it should be a good simulation of what a typical day will be like for me out on the Pacific, and in my mind, it’s one more variable that I can prepare and train myself for.

    If I can condition my body to accept that living in this capsule WiTHiN, eating, sleeping, and pedaling 16 hour days, day after day without a break, is a familiar and a ‘somewhat’ normal environment, then that is one less variable I will have to contend with when I get out on the Pacific ocean. I know the ocean is far different than a lake, and I know there will be considerable adjustments I will have to make when I do start on my journey, but if I can at least condition myself to the bulk of what I am doing out there (pedaling, sleeping, eating, living) as familiar and normal to me, then I feel that I will be much more capable of dealing with those unknown aspects of the offshore environment which are much more difficult to simulate or experience in training. Please note that most (if not, all), ocean rowers do not do any training offshore prior to their trans-ocean departures. In fact, I have conducted far more offshore training that most ocean rowers and this is largely du
    e to the difficultly of maintaining control when the wind really starts to blow (as I have experienced – but from what I have learned from Colin Angus and other ocean rowers, this is worse for an ocean row boat).


    You know those times when you come up with a really cool, on-demand, ‘flick of a switch’ kind of solution to move 100 lbs worth of lead acid batteries from side to side in your human powered boat? And then you think it’s only going to take you a day for you and your shop-boatbuilder-master-of-all-fabrication-skills friend to ‘whip-up’, Monster Garage style? And then, after your first day, you realize that it might take 2 days? And then, it ends up taking 4 days and you can’t stop because you are way too invested in it? And then, it ends up taking a week and you are ready to throw the contraption through your shop window, but there is a full 24 inches of fresh snow on the ground and it’s way too cold to even think about opening a window? You know those times?

    Well, Ken and I are going through that right now. But the good news is that the battery ballast bus beast is completed, and I think it’s a pretty slick way to balance the battery ballast in the boat (say that 20 times!). I just hope the effort and complexity of this solution was worth it. I won’t really know that until I start using it. But from experience, I think it will be.

    The idea behind this ballast mover started during the inside passage trip with Bryon. I noticed that when the wind was blowing on the side of WiTHiN, it tended to tip her a bit. It was an easy correction to simply tell the guy in the cabin to shuffle his butt over to the side a bit to offset the heel. When I was in WiTHiN solo during the offshore sea trials in Ucluelet a couple of weeks ago, I really noticed the wind causing the boat to heel and I had no easy way of shifting ballast to counter that uncomfortable tilt. So, I found myself shifting my position in the recumbent seat – which works, but it’s even more uncomfortable.

    Then, I got blasted by a 20 to 25 knot wind when out in the channel and was pinned sideways to the wind at a 45 degree heel angle and was unable to steer out of that position due to an ineffectual rudder at that angle of attack. It would be very difficult to tilt WiTHiN more than 40 to 45 degrees because of the offsetting effect of the 90 lb keel bulb. That keel becomes exponentially more effective in countering roll the closer it gets to 90 degrees.

    Rick thought the best solution would be to replace my single rudder with 2 new rudders, each at an angle like some of the racing sail boats. This would allow at least one rudder to have full traction even at when heeling over. I thought that replacing the rudder was way too much work at this point. I really liked the way we had our single rudder working with the push-pull cable, my tiller handle, and the autohelm set-up, and I didn’t want to risk making something that wasn’t as robust and effective as what we had already built and tested.

    Rick agreed and instead thought that we should change the wind balance of WiTHiN such that the bow would turn to follow the wind rather than stay in the broach position. That means adding some surface area under the water at the stern. Basically, we are shifting the center of lateral resistance (lateral surface area under the water) aft of the center of lateral pressure (lateral surface area above the water). Currently they are equal and when the wind blows on the surface area above the water, the center of resistance below the water is in the same place (laterally), so WiTHiN stays balanced abeam to the wind. Rick thought the best way to move the center of lateral pressure aft would be a larger rudder which would also be more effective at steeper heel angles. He also calculated that more weight in the stern would increase the area of hull under the water at the stern and would also help move that CLP aft. And finally, Rick calculated that if I could move 110 lbs all the way to the windward side, that the weight alone would be enough to counter the heeling effect from a 20 knot side wind.

    And so it was decided that we would make some way of shifting the weight of my two, 50 lb lead acid batteries from one side to the other in the seat back compartment. And to make a bigger rudder.

    The rudder was easy – I acquired some more stainless steel stock, and welded up the frame work. We filled it all in with micro, sanded it to NACA 0020 profile shape, and then we will cover it will fiberglass. It also weighs considerably more than the original rudder, and should assist in shifting more weight to the stern.

    The battery mover wasn’t so easy. The solution is based on two stainless angle iron rails that are fixed to the floor in the seat back compartment. The two Odyssey batteries sit in a stainless angle iron frame that slides back and forth on the rails. To stop the batteries from flying off the rails during a capsize, or extreme heel angle, we mounted another angle iron rail on top of the batteries. Then, to make it convenient to move the battery box from side to side on the rails, we took an old car seat motor, and it’s rack and pinion assembly, and installed it onto the battery box with the rack gear mounted onto the top rail. To activate the motor, a 2-way spring switch is mounted on the arm rest near my tiller handle. If my batteries are dead, or there is some mechanical malfunction, then I can take manual control of the mover and still take advantage of the auto locking that is inherent in the rack and pinion system. If all that mechanism fails for some unforeseen reason, then I can just take it all apart leaving the bare rails and battery box slider unit and just stuff gear into the open spaces on the sides to stop the box from sliding around – all willy-nilly.

    So, with my larger rudder, and more weight at the stern, when I am drifting, WiTHiN should now turn sightly to follow the wind. If I get slammed with a strong side-wind, then the bow should start to lee away. I will heel, which I can counter with some battery ballast shifting. With the heel angle countered, and better ‘grip’ with the larger rudder, I should be able to pull the bow back up, into the wind and either head directly into the wind, continue to angle across the swell, or just allow WiTHiN to drift down wind and possibly arrest the backward progress by deploying the sea anchor, or drogue, or 150 feet of rode line.

    This is something else that i need to experiment with, but I need a good, windy day first, and some deep water. I would like to see what effect dragging my 150 feet of rode line has in stopping drift. Rick thinks that it could be enough and I would FAR rather this solution than having to deploy that parachute. Rick thinks that with a good weight attached to the end of the rode, it would create enough drag to keep my stern pointed into the oncoming wind and waves, and to considerably slow my drift.

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  • One Response to “Next sea trials and mods progress”

    • David Tangye on April 27, 2010

      All this sounds great. You certainly must not be broadside on to waves offshore, unless its is reasonably calm. You will still need a sea anchor as well as the trailing rode, ie on the end of it, IMO. Even then, in say 40 knots wind, you will be tracking downwind at probably over 2 knots. I dunno how much but others should be able to guess better.

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