O-Fest & the Pocketship

We had a great time at O-fest yesterday.  How could we not, seeing as Mr. Harris gave us the keys to the Pocketship for the afternoon?!

How did we get so lucky?  Well, with their able staff fully occupied shoreside,  I guess CLC needed a volunteer to stay aboard the Pocketship for the afternoon (anchored a short distance offshore) and take interested folks sailing around the islands just off Camp Letts.  A grueling assignment, but my son Calvin and I were more than happy to oblige!!    

It was nice to meet so many of you (and see some old friends too).  I only wish we could have stayed for dinner!

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RE: O-Fest & the Pocketship


 You and your First Mate Calvin were great.  Thanks a lot for the sail.  You managed tio get the cherry job for the day.  It was nice to see you and Calvin again, tell him we'll throw the disk around next year if we can stay on land long enough!

I wish we had more time on the water this year.  You give an excellent demo, I was torn between getting caught up with you and sailing.  I hope to do both more soon.  I have a few stories to tell on http://pmdbuilders.net/ later, I need to get through the rest of Mother's day first.  I owe her big time for her help yesterday with the girls at O-fest.

RE: O-Fest & the Pocketship

I was lucky enough to get aboard the Pocketship for the last customer ride on Saturday. John Pollard was an excellent demo captain, allowing us visitors to take the tiller and sheets if we wanted and to fully experience the new boat. Calvin was a very competent crew, handling the jib and the mooring, as well as lookout duties. Seeing his skill and confidence while scrambling over the bow was a welcome antidote to the popular image of overweight kids planted in front of video games.

The boat itself was quite an experience, too. I first saw it earlier in the morning when I paddled my new WD12 in company with GeorgeK in his award-winning Mantunuck down the river toward the marina where John Harris actually launched it. George had to turn back to fetch a more appropriate boat (a multi-mile open river trip in an 8-ft surf kayak is an adventure in masochism). I'd hoped to get there to see the first taste of water, but by the time I got down there the Pocketship was already out on the river. It was unmistakeable with its unique hull shape and the tanbark gaff rig. The light variable winds blowing almost directly from Camp Letts were a good test of its sailing capabilities. It was understandably slow, tacking back & forth from one side of the wide river to the other, but it was moving in wind that other boats would have considered a dead calm.

Occasionally a real puff of wind would hit it and John would let it heel. From a kayak's-eye view it would roll over pretty quick, then stop dead and hold its angle steady as a rock. Because of the light wind and the fact that it was towing a dinghy that was 60% of its length, it was quite easy to paddle on over and talk with the captain and crew. George eventually joined us in a more appropriate boat (his WR18 with the autumnal vine onlays) and we accompanied the Pocketship as a waterborne honor guard, respectfully facing the new boat as we proceeded upriver (not, as some would have you believe, taunting John by paddling our kayaks faster backwards than he could sail forward - we'd never do that).

As we got closer to Camp Letts, more paddlers joined up, including John Beck in his 2007 Best of Show Shearwater. Captain Harris put on an excellent demonstration of the Pocketship's handling capabilities by threading the floating obstacle course and successfully mooring his boat without sinking a single onlooker.

At the end of the day, when the weather was at its best, CLC's Mark Stevens kindly ferried me out to the Pocketship for my ride. There was no drama in transferring from one boat to the other - both were very stable and predictable in their movements. My first impression aboard the Pocketship was the smell of fresh paint. The cockpit was very roomy, though I would have allocated just a bit more space between the benches (but I'm at the big-footed and of the spectrum - I was unable to get my feet into the Mantunuck - and most people will probably find it roomy enough for their feet). Sitting up forward with my back against the cabin wall was the most comfortable spot in the boat. It also made for the best weight distribution. Hmm, coincidence or design?

I also tried out standing in the cabin with my head out the hatch. That was a very pleasant spot - good visibility and bracing, well below the boom. Calvin cast off the mooring and we got going. It was a bit slow at first since we were in the wind shadow of one of the islands, but once we got into the open channel, the wind grabbed us and the boat came alive. One thing I noticed is that the tiller was barely used. This was confirmed when Captain Pollard let me have the tiller. All it needed was the occasional light touch. Once established on a course with the sails properly set you could just about lash the tiller, the boat is that well balanced.

All too soon we had to go back. I had the tiller for picking up the mooring. It took 3 tries to get it, mostly because of my inexperience witt he boat, but also because the tiller opening in the transom was just a bit too small to allow a fast large swing of the tiller. This is not a design problem, it's just one of the little things that get uncovered during a maiden voyage. 10 minutes with a saw and some touchup paint will comepletely fix things.

So it's quite a boat. It manages to be the same size as a Bolger Micro, but it actually looks good. It's stable, handles light airs well and appears to be ready to handle at least enough real weather to get away from trouble. It's a lot bigger sailboat than it appears to be. It's the perfect camp cruiser for exploring the Chesapeake Bay, and I wouldn't be in the least surprised to see someone take it from Florida to the Bahamas one day.



RE: O-Fest & the Pocketship

>>>>>>>>As we got closer to Camp Letts, more paddlers joined up, including John Beck in his 2007 Best of Show Shearwater. Captain Harris put on an excellent demonstration of the Pocketship's handling capabilities by threading the floating obstacle course and successfully mooring his boat without sinking a single onlooker.>>>>>>>>>>>>

I am obliged to Laszlo's charity in omitting that, in the confusion of trying to set out a mooring, I got my paws mixed up and let slip the dinghy's painter. A paddler had to go rescue it.  I'm told that CLC staffers watching from shore were incapacitated with laughter.

Underway at last.


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