Log of the Riptide, Tiller Woes

Eric Zilbert (eezilbert@ucdavis.edu)
Tue, 25 May 1999 15:23:09 -0700

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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To Scott and all - Last Saturday we took Riptide out at Rio Vista for a
sail on the Sacramento. We got on the water at about 2:30 p.m. and it was
already gusting at 20 plus. We set up and launched in less than 30 min.
All was well as we headed down river on a broad reach, full main and storm
jib. We were moving as fast as the boat would go. At first the wind chop
was minimal so it was very comfortable and fast. For the first time we had
the clinometer on the new compass (contest 100 - inclined bulkhead, yes I
cut the hole myself and practically cried, I got the compass on Mar. 20, it
took me this long to get the nerve to cut the bulkhead) and we were on a
10-15 degree heel most of the time. Evan (160 lbs) stood on the windward
rail, holding the stays.

We sailed down to a mooring behind Decker Island. I was impressed with the
area along side the river. It was hilly and interesting. The Decker
Island mooring looked pretty nice. We headed back onto the main river and
found the wind had shifted more out of the west, and we had to tack. The
wind waves were up and we had a great time fighting our way to the south
entrance to the sough which surrounds the island. We sailed around the
island from the south, encountering some shoal areas. I navigated
watching the centerboard and "feeling" the mud with the rudder. During
these maneuvers the rudder popped up and, as usual, I could not get it to
go down, the rope just gets jammed in the cheek plates and I have to take
the whole thing out to fix it. I sailed for a while with it up, but the
strain was telling. Evan stood on the boarding ladder and forced it down
with his foot. When we removed it later I saw that one of the cheek
plates had a crack in it. I think I have rudder work in my future. Would
like to hear/see how others have dealt with it.

When we got back to the main channel the wind had really built up. 25 plus
for sure. We were outpacing the waves, surfing them as we went down the
face, then stalling slightly as we went up the back of the next one. With
full main and storm jib we made the three miles back to the ramp in less
than 25 minutes (tide was with us).

On retrieval things were a bit difficult because of the wind. I backed
down close to the dock and we got the boat into position. I sat on the
dock and used my foot to push it out over the trailer. We use the tilt
rig now and it really does work. When Evan had cranked the boat up I
realized that the stern was going to drift toward me if I didn't stay where
I was. I told Evan to get in the car and drive up the ramp.

Now Evan is a smart, wonderful kid of 15 years. He has had a variety of
pre-driving experiences. Now you may still think I was out of my mind, but
I thought there was a pretty good chance he could drive up the ramp.
Well, I was right and wrong.

The car was sitting with the rear rubber just touching the water. I had
my feet against the stern. Evan gets in and revs the engine. The car
goes nowhere. Then, suddenly, THE CAR IS RUSHING BACKWARDS INTO THE
WATER. I begin to scream - NO! NO! NO! with that kind of wild horror that
fills one when unmitigated disaster strikes. Then, just as the front
tires are going under, HE FINDS DRIVE! I am literally able to push on the
trunk with my feet. The car, trailer and boat head up the ramp and it's
all over but the shouting. The boat is perfectly square on the trailer

We were really put to it taking down the mast. The wind was gusting even
harder, and I was nearly blown off the boat! Sand from the beach 50 yards
away was pelting us. Really tough conditions.

I have to say I was really impressed with the way the boat handled, we put
the rail in the water once, but in general had a great time.

P.S. I said in my last message my 90 p19 had only 4 stays. Actually, it
has six, just like all the others. I do not have the very short stays
coming up from the cabin top.

Eric Zilbert
Davis "not by the sea" California
P19 #621 "Riptide"