I attended the Moth Boat Nationals at Elizabeth City NC. This is a great venue. We sail out of the back yard of two of the members houses. Right on the river.
The day started out with winds around 10 to 12 and building.
I want to divert here a little with some history. The mast on this boat was from a collection of parts that a fellow moth sailor had. He passed away a few years ago and his wife parted out all his boat stuff. I wound up with a few old masts, rudders, and Griff, which is a subject of another blog. This mast had parts broken off at the heel so I had to scarf on a leg to make it fit as a deck stepped mast.
When I first fitted this mast to the boat I used a three stay rig with spreaders. I also used a deadman block to make the mast fit at deck level. I first sailed the boat at Brigantine NJ with this rig in 2012. Right off the dock I knew we had a problem with mast flex. She bowed so much that I heard the mast groaning. Fortunately that day saw light air and the boat survived. Some moth boats can only use a 3 stay rig if the mast heel is stepped on the keel. The mast partner then becomes a major force distribution point. With a deck stepped mast you loose the deck partner effect and the mast then just moves the force up to the spreaders. That was my lesson learned at Brigantine in 2012.
I modified the mast with a diamond and two extra baby stays. A diamond give vertical strength and the baby stays give more fore and aft stability. I sailed the boat with good vibes for all of 2013.
I'm relearning the process of sailing these boats in heavy air. Between races you spend your time sorting out the sheet, bailing out the boat, and just trying to relax until the next start sequence. So the boat stays with the boom out and the sails fluttering.
The first race was uneventful. I got a good start but lost all advantage by the weather mark. I finished up behind the leaders and the boat was starting to talk to me. I noticed the rig was getting loose. The stays on the lee side were really slack. I mentally chalked that up to rope stretch on the bow stay. Between the first and second race the boat really talked to me. I was in a relax mode and she promptly flipped me out of the boat. I got the boat back up with the help of another sailor and got back in. I was confused as to where we were in the starting cycle and missed the start by over 20 seconds. (a lifetime is moth sailing) However, the boat was moving well and I joined the fleet and was in contention with the rest of the vintage boats. I was confident at that point that I had a fast boat.
She was still talking to me but I wasn't listening. The third race started and on the way to the leeward mark I heard a pop from the mast and looked up to see the spreader diamond had broken. The diamond triangulates the force of the mast in a vertical plane and prevents mast bow. With that I decided to retire from the race and go to the dock to see if I could tighten up the head stay and evaluate what I had. I did that and now the mast had a slight fwd rake to it. That's not good on these boats. I went back out and saw what the real problem was. All the turnbuckles on the 4 side stays had come loose. The constant fluttering of the sail between races set up a vibration that unscrewed the turn buckles. Another lesson learned, put tape on the turnbuckles. I went back to the dock and readjusted the stays. All this time the mast is talking to me with grunts and groans but I'm not hearing any of it.
I missed the third race with the spreader breaking but got back on the course for the forth race. The winds had built to around 15+ The boats were really moving. I had the best start of the day and was in the process of covering the leader when the mast decided that she had talked to me enough and she snapped in half right where the spreaders had let go.
So that was my adventure at the 2014 Moth Boat Nationals. I packed the boat and headed for home.
I guess the main point I took away from this years Nationals, Is listen to your boat when she talks to you...
I'm mentally in the process of how to fix this. I'll continue with this blog just to see how or if this can be fixed.