XX. Sailing Pictures and Reflections

Building the Core Sound 20

In this chapter, we will post pictures from some of our sailing adventures and offer random thoughts about the boat, the sailing rig, the performance, our gear, our upgrades, and whatever else springs to mind. This chapter will continue to grow as we become more experienced with our Core Sound 20 "Second Wind."

First up is a picture of the luxuriously large, open cockpit. This is the way small boats were meant to be designed: easy in, easy out, with plenty of room to seat guests, stow gear, or stretch out and relax.

Many home boat-builders are attracted to designs equipped with charming little cabins, but cabins are more of a nuisance than a luxury. They may be nice for sleeping, but the other 90% of the time you're in the boat, a cabin wastes space, adds weight, gets in the way of some operations (like going forward to drop the anchor), and obstructs the view. If you crave big adventures in a small boat, we strongly recommend an open-cockpit boat. You can rig a tent whenever you feel like sleeping aboard, but the rest of the time, you can spend your waking hours sailing in a delightfully spacious cockpit.

Besides the comfort factor, the large cockpit also enables you to seat guests further forward or aft to adjust the trim of the boat for better performance in different conditions. Likewise, the cockpit makes it easy to handle the sails because the sails and sprits lay securely down inside the boat, unaffected by the wind, until you're ready to hoist them.

In lighter airs, the split rig can carry a third sail, called a "mizzen staysail," between the two masts. The staysail is a large triangular sail, approximately 240 square feet in size, which is clipped to the windward rail in front of the cockpit, hoisted on the mizzen mast, and sheeted in to the mizzen sprit. It has to be lowered and reset each time you cross the wind, so it is only used in situations when very little tacking is required. It works best when running with the wind.

Here, you can see the staystail flying betwen the two masts. It looks deceptively small in the picture because even a wide-angle lens can't capture it all.

Here is another, better view of the staysail as seen from the bow. In this shot, the boat is making 5.25 knots of speed in 7 knots of wind.

The shallow draft of the Core Sound 20 makes it ideal for visiting islands. Here, we have just sailed up the very shallow approach to this island, with only about 18 inches of water beneath our keel for the last 50 yards of the approach. With the centerboard raised, we were able to sail right up to the shore and step off into ankle-deep water. This is the kind of simplicity that makes sailing and exploring a real treat.

The flat aft section of the hull not only provides for the convenient shallow draft, but also gives the Core Sound impressive speed and planing potential. Although some of the die-hard race enthusiasts with carbon fiber rigs can beat her, she can hold her own against 90% of the sailboats we encounter, especially on a run, when the two sails can be let out to opposite sides of the boat to go "wing and wing." In this configuration, she runs downwind very fast and very smoothly. Here we are just beginning to hit planing speed at 6 knots (about 7 mph).

One of the really nice features of the sailing rig is that each sail is set on a diagonal sprit instead of the more common horizontal boom at the bottom of the sail. The diagonal sprit helps maintain downward (not just outward) tension, eliminating the need for a boom vang and balancing the sail in a way that puts surprisingly little load on the sheets. Adjusting the snotter line increases or decreases the tension of the sprit against the sail, making it easy to tweak the sail shape. We ease off the snotter in light airs to give the sail a nice, full shape, but in heavier airs, we tighten the snotter to flatten the sails.

The sprits are also safer for the crew. If the wind shifts and the sail sweeps violently across the cockpit, crew members will only be hit in the head by the relatively harmless foot of the sail, not by a solid boom which could cause serious injury. We still have to duck while tacking, of course, but it's nice to know that the dangers of a head-injury while tacking are much, much lower.

The mahogany riser blocks we placed right outside the cockpit coaming make for a comfortable seat when "hiking out" to balance the sails. Here, the relaxed captain is trying out the seat in calm airs to test the length of the recently-added tiller extension. The tiller extension makes it easier to steer the boat from up on the rail, without having to reach awkwardly for the tiller handle.

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© 2008, Wesley Kisting

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