2023 Gulfport Midwinters

 In the spirit of procrastination (as usual), I decided to make boat improvements after the 2022 Nationals in Elizabeth City a week before the 2023 Midwinters in Gulfport.  Thankfully that only meant a mulligan on the traveler controls.  Still hard to control.  In this edition, I am moving to a 2:1 system with control adjustment on both the port and starboard side of the boat.  After I finished putting it on I learned that block gets stuck on the tiller moving from side to side, so I added a roller that the traveler loop has to rotate around. It seems to work, although not exactly elegant.  There's an opportunity for further refinement

Anyway, on to the regatta.  Light air and choppy with breeze building in the afternoon...and another chance to face off against the mighty Mouse Trap.  This is the Jeff L. boat that has won everything for like the last decade.  His boat has been the hot Mistral mod Moth and also a boat that I had a lot of success sailing when I got the opportunity to substitute for him.  After day one we were all tied up. I had another mast puller debacle that lead to a rough end to the first day with 3 race where I had no leach tension.  Leach tension is important upwind! Especially when the breeze picks up.  I kept shoving water bottles in the mast step as a mast block, but only had minimal success.  This is two midwinters where this was a problem.  I will finally move to a forestay like the rest of the fleet.  Should have done this after the first regatta.  

Day two was similar to the first day.  light air in the morning with lots of chop.  We got in another 4 races that went my way in the head to head battle.  The boat is fast upwind and downwind in light to moderate conditions.  The reaches were a push between the designs. It was great to get a win in Gulfport.  

There was some learning and will be some improvements before the next event.  

  • Change the mast puller out for a forestay
  • Add a composite gooseneck stronger and lighter than the metal one
  • Stiffen the tiller - the squeaking and friction from the spacer rubbing was driving me crazy
  • Stiffen the boom - the boom bends way too much.  

Next up, the Mug Race: a distance race from Palatka, FL to Jacksonville.  I should be the shortest boat in the race.  First time doing a Portsmouth handicap race in a dinghy!  More to come...

Regatta pictures:

2:1 traveler system with controls on both sides of the boat.
The roller is just to the left of the access port

Mousetrap (102) and KBN (134) off the starting line

Upwind to the finish line

Close up across the finish line

Downwind leg

Reaching in the bay chop

Fleet spreading out after the start


2022 National Championship


After a troubled first outing, the might Knotty by Nature, #134, was back at the Blackberry Boatworks garage to rectify some of the issues that emerged out of the Midwinters in Gulfport.  Quick recap of those issues:
  • NO feet traction at all
  • Broken gooseneck
  • Mast puller broke
  • Traveler was ridiculously hard to control
  • Boat took on massive amounts of water with no easy way of removing it
  • Bottom finish was not exactly smooth
  • Boat was awkward and hard to move on the dolly
The gooseneck issues was resolved sufficiently after day one of the midwinters so I left that alone.  The mast puller issues was resolved with a spliced loop around the boom.  That seemed resolved after the fix.  For the traveler, I opted to change from independent port and starboard controls to a single control in the center of the boat.  I thought the first version was clever with spliced in shock cord on a 1:1 system, but it was not...at all.  It just needs to be easy to get the traveler centered. That seemed like a good plan (emphasis on "seemed").  Next up, the bottom of the boat needed attention.  The primer was hard as hell so I decide to add material rather than remove.  The boat took on some primer to fair out the finish and then some royal blue gloss paint out of a rattle can (easy and cheap to repair if it gets dinged)
New paint prior to buffing out

To resolve the water issue, I put a Super Suck autobailer in the cockpit.  This was equipment was recommended by Joe B. These things really work and it was totally worth the extra pound.  Rather than just extending a drain flap, this bailer uses venturi effect to more efficiently pull water out of the cockpit.  Here's a picture of the product:

Sea Sure Super Suck Bailer

I found some EVA adhesive backed foam in a wood colored diamond pattern.  To finish it out a little nicer, I found some gray wood grain EVA trim.  I think it turned out pretty nice and the traction difference is a game changer for someone that prefers to sail barefooted.  To finish out the cockpit, my neighbor made me some super cool boat name and sail number decals for the transom and tanks.  The last project I tackled was modifications to the dolly.  Moving the boat was awkward and difficult with the narrow short boat on a laser dolly.  I shortened up the wheelbase and length, and added a custom hull guide for the deep V in the hull.  Game changer.  The boat is super easy to load and move on and off the dolly...as it should be.   
Bailer and added EVA foam pads installed

Cockpit with completed EVA foam pad

There was probably more that could be done, but for now this is good enough to head north to the Moth National Championship for a second regatta attempt in #134.  The trip was an easy 10 hours with two Buc-ee's stops for a breakfast burritos and BBQ.  I made it to South of the Boarder (NC/SC border crossing) at noon.  Had to stop for a sticker for the transom.  Seems like a rite of passage for my boats.  I made it up to Elizabeth City in the early afternoon and had time to both rig up and catch up with the rest of the fleet before the sun went down.  
Regatta rig heading north
Boat rigged up 

Bullet proof gooseneck after composite failure in Gulfport.
PVC coupling, a laser cres steel gooseneck, and some band clamps

Bow of the boat showing puller and control lines

Aft side of the mast - boom vang, outhaul, and cunningham control lines

Fixed loose footed sail on boom

Vang attachment on the boom

Boat rigged up and ready to race along with the rest of the fleet
Showing off the transom with the new decal

Rigged up and ready for race one on Saturday

After some postponement ashore we finally made it out on the water.  I was still a little nervous that the boat was modified to an extreme that was maybe not competitive with the mistrals. I got a little practice in before the start. Wow.  So much easier to sail than the last time in Gulfport. I got a decent start towards the pin end of the starting line with two boats to leeward. The breeze was still patchy across the racecourse. I took an early hitch out to the right and found a good patch of breeze that got me in front of the group that went right. I made it around the first mark with a narrow lead and we took off downwind. The boat seemed a bit more stable than the mistral once I figured out where to sit. The first leg of the the triangles were quite deep with the second leg a close reach. Pretty fun, and with the patchy conditions, a good opportunity for the fleet to make gains. After another windward and leeward leg I consolidated a first place finish in the first race. 
After a couple more races in similar conditions The boat seemed to have a slight speed and height advantage in the lighter breeze. It was a great first day with first place finishes and a second place. Day two started with another postponement, but turned into a great afternoon breeze that tapered off to nothing in the last race. It was another good showing for 134 even after an over early on one of the starts. At the end of the regatta I finished in first in the Gen 2 class.  Cool moment. 

The only pictures I could find from on the water were posted in the local newspaper along with a short article.  Here's the link:  Daily Advance

Trophy for the weekend
(the cup, not the bug spray­čść)