What do I know about sailing….
Certainly a lot less than there is left to learn! Well I’m no expert but I figure if I give you a short background it may lend some credibility to the ideas and projects that I plan to post on this page (or at least make for an amusing story).
I learned to sail on a Mirror dinghy very similar to the one here, or at least it once looked that good I’m sure. My parents picked it up used for a few hundred dollars and slathered the bottom in fiberglass untill the leaking slowed to a manageable rate of a few gallons/minute. We called it our bail boat and I spent many a summer afternoon sailing it around the slough near the farm where I grew up. It certainly wasn’t fast and it didn’t point up wind very well (likely due to the fact that we had to sail with the centerboard half way up due to the shallow bottom) but I certainly had a lot of fun. At some point it was concluded that the bailing was getting in the way of the sailing and it was officially retired to the shed. It showed a few brief sparks of life again a few years later when I stripped it down in my first year of university with intentions to refinish it, but that’s as far as it got. It’s still all there if anyone wants a project! Certainly fixable, with a bit of fiberglass it could sail again.
Soon after the Mirror was retired I found myself with no boat and my attention turned to wheels to satisfy my need for speed . I realized that although the hull was not so good the sail and mast were still perfectly functional. There was an old farm wagon frame kicking around that quickly gained the mirror dingy mast and sail mounted to the rear cross beam along with a couple of 4x4s laid along the sides for seats. The wagon tongue was flipped up just like a giant version of your radio flyer wagon, you sat on the 4×4 and sailed it backwards! Quite a lot like sailing a dinghy actually, the wagon tongue was the tiller, give it a push and with a good wind away I went! It was my first land yacht.
Despite the fact that it did work it left a lot to be desired and in hindsight was probably rather dangerous! Never the less I was hooked, this was much faster than the Mirror! I came up with a plan, scrounged some scrap metal and wheels and tought myself to weld while building a real landsailor. It was a four wheel design about 3″ off the ground, 5′ wide and 7′ long. The rear wheels were from a motorcycle and the front tires were wheelbarrow wheels which gave it a cool raked stance! It was long, low and it was going to be fast. You sat in front of the mast (which was an idea I belive I got from the Ice Flyer ice boat) and steered with your feet on a footbar that controled gokart style steering at the front wheels. This left your hands free for controlling the sail and holding on! The brake (added later on) was a spring loaded bar that dug into the ground when you pulled on it. The basic design of the landsailor was sound and with a few modifications along the way it served me well and I had a lot of fun flying down the gravel roads around our farm. Friends would hang on the back as I careened around corners at full speed of about 50 km/h, it was a blast! It was also the start of me wearing the 1960’s era speed racer helmet whenever I went to do something crazy, Phillip (my best man) you will remember this! The land yacht was even featured in the Bradwell Canada day parade, when I find a picture of it I’ll put it up here.
More to come….