Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A boat is a boat, right? Nope.

By now, most of us who've crewed the Monomoy know her unique characteristics- she rows remarkably fast, beaches well, sails slowly and steadily and will try to shake off any tow line. Most of these are unique to her particular design. Her shallow draft and sleek lines give her great speed under oars, but her lack of a skeg (or any underwater appendages for that matter) mean she tows like a scow. In addition, her sailing rig seems small - and it is. When the Navy ordered the standard Monomoy Pulling Boat after 1889, it came stock with a dipping lug rig. Everyone in the boat last Friday evening knows why - its a very durable rig, and great for the unexpected 'wind-has-shifted, going to blow you over' moments.

Before I go into this, no I haven't completed the lessons learned from CTC. There is more of that to follow later in the week.

Back on topic, other boats have different characteristics. Distinctly different.

For instance, the 24-foot Launch currently under construction (I hope you're as sick of hearing that as I am) in the dockyard is a slow and ponderous vessel under oars. Although she rows 12, fully 50% more than the Monomoy, her great round lines don't lend well to quick maneuvering under oars. And did I mention that she also weighs 50% more than the Monomoy? Very different boat.

And nowhere is that more apparent than under sail. Under sail, the slow and stalwart launch becomes a swift and agile sea bird. Her comparatively huge press of canvas will sail circles around the Monomoy, and tack in less than half the time and effort. She carries no leeboard, relying instead on her 6" tall external keel to provide lateral resistance. The same appendage, in conjunction with her skeg, makes her a joy to tow - tracking straight and in line with the tow boat.

Her one other fault is beaching. While the Monomoy is a relatively easy boat to beach, the launch will be a bit of a bear. How much of a bear? Well if you remember what we did with the chase boat at CTC, we'll probably end up doing that with the launch. She'll beach readily enough, but she won't stay there. Her flat transom will cause her to broach in the incoming waves, eventually rolling her over.

But no boat is perfect.


Our next event is HarborFest in Downtown Norfolk - please start passing the word on this, as it is a VERY high visibility event and we'll want a good full crew with plenty of substitutes. Don't worry, its a very low impact event, and I anticipate a good, relaxing weekend enjoying the festivities.

More to follow.



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