A month ago my port ama suffered some cracks while on a practice sail for the NCC. I was able to do a temporary jury rig to finish the trip but needed a permanent repair before the ama could be used again.
To repair, I first ground out the cracks and filled with an epoxy colloidal silica mixture to provide a smooth surface for the subsequent steps. I then sanded off a large area of the gel-coat in preparation to lay down some extra fiberglass layers. I did this to both amas since whatever I did to the broken ama, I also did to the other one as well. I didn’t quite sand all the way down the fiberglass, but I did remove the shiny outer layer of the gel coat.
I next added and wetted down a small piece of fiberglass with an opening cut out for the wing connection to each ama. The line around the piece is from the felt-tip marker used to indicate where to cut the fiberglass. Hopefully a later painting step will cover this up.
Then I added a large piece of fiberglass over the entire area.
And proceeded to start to wet it out. I made some cuts at the center of the wing connection so it wraps down inside the connection.
After finishing wetting out, I added a piece of pealPly over the entire area. Using PealPly gives a better finish without using as much total epoxy.
Since pealPly won’t conform to strange curves, I had to make a number of slits up around the wing connection area.
After the epoxy started to gel-up, I cut off some of the excess and then temporarily made the connection with the wing to ensure that there was a good fit. I had pre-treated the wing with mold-release. I just kept the connection in place for a couple of minutes.
Then I finished removing the excess material and after it firmed up a bit more, the pealPly.
The last step after the epoxy cures will be to sand out any imperfections and coat with yellow-tinted gel-coat. I’ll post an edit to this post after I paint it.
The following video shows the boat and kayak line-up on the beach about 45 minuts before the start of the race.
The following shows the start from the perspective of my boat being pulled in. You can see the “big boat” filter at play.
The following video shows me weathering the down-draft of a thunderstorm while in my Triak. I had rolled the sail up and paddled in plave to keep the bow pointed into the wind. I was fairly close to shore here so the waves did not build up much. The wind was trying to blow me off shore. The shore, though, was rocks so I couldn’t beach it right where I was when the down-draft hit. It felt worst than the video indictes – perhaps due to the wide-angle lens.
I worked out a way to point a little better with using a very light-weight carbon canoe paddle (while sailing close hauled) and also had successfully experimented with an extra line to help me control sail-shape. I’ll describe that better in a future post. You can see the line set-up in the launching video.
The first part of the day was either no wind or close-hauled. I was almost totally exhausted after paddling through the straight portion of the Harlowe canal. After the third bridge, I just kind of limply paddled making very very slow progress for the next two hours. Then when I finally got out of the canal into the Newport River, I perked up with the open water and a bit of beam wind. I was able to sail over closer to Beaufort but grounded out on a sand-bar. The area around there is full of sand-bars and if you deviate from the channel particularly at low tide, you will ground out. A few people shared stories of getting stuck there. I had to hop out and drag my boat a while to find deep-enough water. Finally I made it to Beaufort (the half-way point) at around 3:00 AM after 19 hours of struggle. I had some hot chocolate, re-filled my water bottles, and then headed off again to find a place to crash and get a couple of hours sleep.
I had gotten permission to tie up and sleep on a private dock down the creek from Beaufort so at about 4:00 AM, I got there, blew up my air mattress, and simply laid down there right at the end of the dock. The mosquitoes were eating me alive and I didn’t want to bother to pitch my tent so I simply unzipped the door to my tent and put it over me and laid back down on the pad. That worked fine. I was breathing through the mosquito screen as part of the tent. I got two hours of very needed sleep. Then at about 6:00 AM, I got up, hopped back in the Triak and pushed off.
I had a couple of hours of good downwind and beamy wind in which I was able to fly the spinnaker. I was hoping that I was going to be able to sail like this all the way to the finish line. But after a couple of hours, the wind shifted and I had head-winds for the next 5 or 6 hours. More close hauled sailing. My eyes were stinging bad due to a combination of sun, salt, wind, insect repellant, and sun-screen.
When I was about 10 miles from the finish, a big thunderstorm hit. I was caught in the cold down draft which lasted for about 20 minutes. During that time, I just concentrated on keeping my bow pointed in to the wind. After the downdraft part of the storm subsided, I was able to paddle over to a protected cove beach it, and get out to not be the tallest thing around while the rest of the storm passed. There was lots of thunder and lightning.
After the storm, those last 10 miles seemed very long. I made one wrong turn and had to backtrack a ways. When I was back-tracking, I got stuck in the mud once and had to get out and drag the boat a ways. Interestingly, I saw footprints were I was dragging my boat so some other race participants may have been right there earlier in the day doing the same thing.
I was almost on empty when I finished the race. I unpacked a little bit but then simply left the boat and all my gear on the beach and walked to get my car. After a warm shower at the campground, a dry set of clothes, and a meal at the hotel restaurant, I almost felt human again. That night I actually pitched my tent and got a much needed sleep. The next morning I work up early, packed up the boat, had breakfast, went to the award ceremony, and then had a nice brunch. I had no problem eating breakfast twice.
My main physical ailment was that the skin was rubbed off of my waistline with the chaffing from my bathing suit. I had used some mole-skin there but it wasn’t enough. I will have to come up with a better anti-chaffing solution for future long trips.
I met a lot of really nice people and swapped a lot of stories. The nice thing about these adventure races is it is really about the adventure. As long as you had a meaningful adventure, then mission accomplished.
I went to the York River again for the last practice derby entry before the NCC. Since I damaged one of my amas and I feared I could not do an adequate repair before the big race, I borrowed some amas from the dealer (Peter) in Florida. These amas were previously damages and repaired and I like the repair job. As the video shows, a large piece of twill weave fabric (wither fiberglass or carbon) was placed as a cap over the whole wing connection area (and farther) to really distribute the forces from the ama. I plan on doing something like this to repair my own amas after the NCC race.
The day testing them out was a fairly light wind day but they at least remained water-tight.
The plan was to start at Oriental, go through the Harlowe canal, then on to Shakelford banks, camp out, then return to Oriental by way of the intercostal. We had to cut the trip short (turning around at the airport near Beaufort) because I developed a structural crack in my port ama which made more adventurous sailing dangerous. We patched it (thanks to DogsLife) with some plumber’s glue, added some extra lashing to hold the ama on, and limped back to Oriental through the Intercostal. All in all, we did manage most of the trip.
The video below shows the Harlowe Canal part of our trip.
I’ll post another video later on that shows what is going on with my amas and the loaner amas that are being shipped to me.
The following shows the piece that broke and the piece of aluminum that will be used to make a new bracket. The new piece was bent in a vice with a hammer. The new piece is a tad bit thicker and a bit wider than the old piece so it should be stronger.
We cut it after the holes were drilled. The bolt was used to hold it more ridged while it was being cut.
Here is the bracket screwed into the rear of the kayak. The hole spacing and bevels were just right.
Here is a view with the rest of the rudder bracket assembled. It was a snug fit but snug is probably good. Even a little bit of play and wobble will cause stress on the metal.
And another view of the rudder bracket assembly.
I’m calling it good. I will want to make one more just like this for an on-boat spare.
Special thanks to my brother, Paul, for helping me make this (actually he did all the work).