Kudos to Danno for telling his launch story because it pushed me to write my own. How bout y'alls getting those first launch stories to this thread? Based on my own, there's gotta be some wild tales out there. Here's mine. First, pics of our first launch two weeks ago:
The last pic of my sife standing near the boat in the water sets the table. I parked the car and trailer and after a year of painstaking sanding etc. my wife Gail and I finally and proudly set our launch for a few days after the last coat of varnish on the interior. We're first time builders and novice sailors with only a few lessons behind us. We decided to put the boat into Rehoboth Bay a short drive from our house and in calm waters known for sailing light craft. Ideal. Wind conditions called for 5-15 knots the night before. We banked on five and got fifteen almost at first launch. I reached my wife at the boat, pushed her out a bit then climbed in myself. Not more than five to ten seconds into the launch, with my wife at the helm, I hear "We just lost the rudder!" Apparently when I got in the boat the rebound bottomed out at the stern and the rudder popped out of the gudgeons in apparantly shallow water.
Y'all know the first four letter word than came out of my mouth for sure. Looking back and grabbing the boom and daggerboard, which hadn't even been lowered yet (nor the downhaul or mainsheet secured) I quickly grasped that we had absolutely no control of the boat. My wife hauled in the rudder and tiller which was thankfully secured with a tied down line. The shore and the people were shrinking fast and there's absolutely no way you can install the rudder on a Skerry while you're in the water and out of control. If there is, would someone please advise? When I got the daggerboard down she was a bit more stable but still largely uncontrollable except for holding the boom and keeping the sail under at least some pressure. In the meantime, water came in on some rolls that we couldn't control and my lifejacket, which was still on the deck, automatically inflated! Try putting one of them puppies on while fully inflated! It was clear we would swamp, just a matter of how long.
Not long actually. She finally tipped a little too much letting a little more water in than we needed and we slowly watched the mast, sprit, sail and boom settle on the water as she took her final roll and then dumped us in too.
The bright side, she didn't leak and she floats well.
My mind raced to get my wife to stand on the daggerboard while I bailed on the other side. No sooner that thought ringed in when my wife and I found ourselves standing a half mile or so off shore in three feet of water! Three feet of @#$%&*$# water! Had we known, we could have probably fixed the rudder before we got into trouble though, with the wind, I'm not sure.
We hauled ourselves and our boat back to shore filled with water and sand, landed her and bailed her out. Adding insult to injury, while we're huffing and puffing after having battled the 3' bay and dragged our boat all the way back pretty tired out, some guy comes along and gives us our first PLS comment (parking lot syndrome) hollering out "Wow, nice boat you got there; all wood?" Then he came closer to have a look and chat about how nice it was. Ordinarily I'd have welcomed the conversation, especially the first one if its kind, but somehow my wife and I just weren't in the mood for bragging about our beautiful hand-made boat.
In the end we need a few more sailing lessons (any Skerry owners living in lower Sussex County, DE who'd like to help out a few novices?) and a way to prevent the rudder from ever bouncing out again! Has anyone else ever experienced that and is there a way anyone knows to prevent it? I thought of drilling a hole in one of the pintles so a cotter pin would hold at least one of them down and prevent a pop-off, but I'm not sure if the pintle would be weakened with the hole? Any other thoughts or comments welcome. Criticism too. Not defeated, just waiting for a 5-knot wind and low tide in Rehoboth Bay. Best, Bob H.