Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Some updates:

We are using today to gather all of the gear that we have left to gather and to pack up the trailer and go over the checklist for good in hopes that we won't have to spend ALL of Friday out at the stores in Fl. We plan to leave Raleigh at 8am on Thurs. morning.

We will be making 2 stops along the way to help deliver a couple of aluminum catamaran trailer boxes to some sailing buddies that ordered them from our friend Trey. They have also been following the adventure and cheering us on from the beginning.

In other news, Matt, Mike and I who all had Aerodynamics II lab reports due this Friday were dreading having to turn the reports in early. With less than 24 hours until go time, there was no way we could do a good job on our reports. I made a call to our instructor and after describing our predicament he graciously granted us an extension on the reports until after spring break. WAAHOOO!! With that huge load off our shoulders we are free to do laundry, and start shopping and collecting gear that we still need.

We also were graciously granted an extension on our storage unit usage until after the race which is good because we won't have to worry about leaving stuff behind in the unit when we leave.

Finally, everyone think good thoughts for Chris who is occupied today until about 5pm with his critical design review for architecture. Good luck Chris.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Batten down the hatches!

The team awoke this morning at 7am to get some time on the water today before the storms rolled in over Raleigh. We opted to put in at Lake Wheeler where we did the initial paddling tests for some sailing since it was closer and we were expecting good wind. It turned out to be a great day of sailing and paddling with winds that started around 2knots and built to around 8 with 10 knot gusts. I was sure to take lots of pictures and video from the boat that we would like to share with you RIGHT NOW. See below.

(1) Sailing along
(2) More wind close hauled
(3) The Fall cruising along
(4) Under a bridge at Lake Wheeler

Our top speed was 7.5 knots in about 8 or 9 knots of breeze. We sailed down to the end of the lake and back (about 3 miles) and then we reefed the sail and paddled down to the bridge at the downwind end of the lake and then under it before reaching a dead end and turning around and paddling back upwind before putting up the sails once more for some heavier wind sailing. We averaged just over 4knots paddling with the breeze and a steady 3.3 back upwind. Our short experimentation mostly confirmed what we expected that when we want to get upwind, it will be faster to paddle as the crow flies than do the zig zag.

The sails are awesome but we are definitely going to extend the batten pockets for some better shape on the leech. The Fall's sail was the newer one (Matt and I got the "better" amas by a coin flip so they get the "better" sail, not like it matters since we are only as slow as...yada yada yada) and it performed slightly better only because the crispier material held its shape better but with longer battens it is obvious that all will be equal.

Did I mention storms, the forecast today was rain with a 100% chance of big storms after noon. We got to the lake early and lucked out with the rain right up until about when we got to the bridge. After that, it came. Sailing in the rain was fun...at first. Actually we really enjoyed it and were well equipped for the elements thanks to everyone who lent us gear. We thank you. We packed up in the rain too but got out before seeing anything really threatening.

In all we did about 7 nautical miles on the lake (3 sailing and 4 paddling) and truth be told, the answer is yes, this is the most training we have done thus far. It was hard to do anything other than work on the boats and for weeks no one had to ask what we were about to go do since the answer was always "go work on boats".

I think we all have our own idea of what it will be like after the first 15 minutes of the race and saying, "hey guys, one down, 299 to go". But I think we also know that it will be NOTHING like that. We can't wait!

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Just 4 more days left before we head for Florida. So exiting. Yesterday the whole team used their combined powers to complete the following items left on the "TO DO" list:
-glue in seat mounting boards
-Attach leeboards
-install rudder control pedals
-finish rudder controls
-Install hatch closures
-Install backrests
After that, there was only one thing left to do. GO SAILING.

We had only a little wind but it was enough to make about 2mph with the sails alone. Batten gremlins seem to have cut our battens to short sometime in the night which is really hurting our sailshape but one more trip to Mr. Hubermans should see the end of that problem.

The rudders worked flawlessly and the 2:1 uphaul makes raising the rudders very smooth. The auto releasing cleat from duckworks worked perfectly on their first actual rudder strike when we tried to paddle over some mud that didn't budge so that was a relief...litterally. The leeboards seem to be placed well but more wind will reveal more about how the helm responds. We did all the calculations but in the end we just had to say..."well, here looks pretty good" and go with that. No problems yet.

We will be sailing again early tomorrow morning on Lake Wheeler (a smaller lake closer to Raleigh) and hopefully get some bigger winds for our sails.

And now some sponsor updates!

Identi-Tape has agreed to sponsor the Team with 40 feet of their USCG approved 3" wide reflective tape for us to plaster our boats with and make them easily visible at night when spotlighted. This will make up us the passive lighting system on the Wa'apas. Loads of quality products from Identi-tape can be found on their website. Thanks Karl for your help over the phone.

Orion safety products is sponsoring the team with a generous budget for purchasing Orion safety equipment locally such as flares, lightsticks, signal mirrors, and air horns. Thanks so much Bob for your help over the phone.

Friday, February 23, 2007

One step closer

Last night we finished assembling the seats. They're ready to glue in, and we're hoping to do all the final epoxying all at once. We also installed the rudder footpedals and tracks so we'll be able to steer from our cockpits. The rudder control lines (sheathless E12) will run from the footpedals into plastic tubes that run straight through the waterproof compartments into the aft compartment, then through to the outside.

Here Alan and Chris work on threading the lines through the guide tubes. We haven't quite worked out the details of linking the two boats together, but we have some ideas for completing the connection.

Having the seats in gave us a chance to try out seating and sleeping arrangements. Right now the back person can remove their seat and lay down in place, tucking their feet through the center bulkhead under the forward person's seat. The front person can do the same thing, but in reverse. Alan and I tried it out for a photo; Mike tried it a different way (he's actually screwing in a rudder pedal track.)

This evening we'll go back to the storage unit and epoxy in the leeboard brackets and seats. We'll also finish connecting the rudder pedals and control lines. We've just got a little more to do before we're finished, and we'll keep you posted.

Talk to you later,


Thursday, February 22, 2007

It's Crunch Time

And not the kind you do in gym class. We're really coming up on deadlines fast, but we're knocking out our tasks at a pretty good clip, too. It's a little rough schoolwise as well; a lot of profs are giving exams in the next two weeks. Chris has a test Thursday we're hoping he can take early.

This afternoon, Chris and Mike used the lasercutter to mark the boards that will hold the seats at various heights. I came by after doing some work in the Aerial Robotics lab, and by the time the Design School shop closed, we had them all cut out and mostly sanded. We didn't take any pictures (not enough time), we'll post some of the completed seats... They should allow for a range of comfortable positions for sailing, paddling, resting/sleeping, etc. We need to complete the seats, leeboards, and rudder control system for this weekend, so we can go sail/paddle/camp for some practice in the boats.

Later this evening we had a good meeting at Shanghai Express, the greasiest Chinese joint on Hillsbourough Street. We talked over what gear we still need to gather and our race strategy. Right now our plan is to pick a pace we want to maintain over the length of the race (ie. 4 knots minimum 24 hours a day), and just try to make our pace. When we can go faster (under sail, etc), we'll just consider it a bonus. We think this technique will help us keep perspective during the 300 mile journey.

In other news, I've been thinking about ways to enhance our 'cool' factor for the race. Jack suggested we wear suits and ties (under our paddling gear, of course) so every time we come to a checkpoint, we look like a million bucks and psych out the competition. For a graphical representation, see figure 1, James Bond stepping out of his drysuit into a very natty dinner jacket... Anybody else have some good ideas for us?

Signing off for now,


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hot Seats

The seats arrived today thanks to my Dad who slaved away for the last 2 weeks on these beauties. They are amazing and verrry comfortable. Last night Mike and I measured the location of the seat support poles in the different sitting configurations that we found comfortable so that we can make the seat mounting boards and get them in the boat. The foot control rudder pedals also came today with mounting studs as well as some warm fleece tops and bottoms that my mom borrowed for us to use. More later .

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sails in the bag

Mike and I made another trip to Joseph Huberman's shop to work out the kinks on the sails for the final time we hope. We removed the sailcloth sleeve in exchange for some stretchy bias cut bright yellow heavy weight nylon fabric. This worked perfectly and allows for complete downhaul control. We also added a thick webbing cup on the top of the sail similar to a windsurfer mast that captures the top of the mast and keeps the load off of the sleeve. Sails today, seats and foot pedals tomorrow. Thanks for checking in.

Still working, working working working

Well, once again we decided that getting more details done on the boats made more sense than getting wet. It was verrrry cold today and verrrry windy and gusty especially this afternoon. Here is the rudder system after today we got the up and down haul installed and the auto releasing cleat working. Still have to add the control lines and foot pedals.

The Mast sections came in yesterday and we were able to try them out with a sail up. We found that the luff sleeve is a little tight and makes down haul almost impossible. We think we are going to have to re-sew it onto the luff, stretching it as we go. We also need to strengthen the top of the sail and remove some of the layers of sailcloth at the head to thin the sail a little so that it will furl smoother.

We also got all the hinges installed on the hatches and installed the plastic eyes for the bungee on the decks. With only a week and change before we head down to Florida, there is much to do including installing the seat finger boards, fixing the sails, mounting the leeboards and installing the foot pedals. So much to do and so little time. Sailing this week (fingers crossed). More pics to come.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Cockpits and Hatches and Masts Oh My

Mike and Matt and I worked on the cockpits, masts and hatches tonight. We got all of the cockpit rims glued in which was no small feat. We also acquired a sprayskirt to ensure that the mods we made to the cockpit rims would not affect the fit of the skirt. Matt got one hatch hinged with the hinges we got from Duckworks and also added some thickening wraps of fiberglass tape to the bottoms of the masts in preparation for the aluminum mast extension that came in the mail today back in Chapel Hill.

Tomorrow Mike and Matt and I will be on a flight test with the Aerial Robotics Club but will be back at it on Saturday night in preparation for Sunday. We still need to nail down the rudders and seats and do some last minute touches on the leeboards so that we can determine proper placement on Sunday.

Here is the Mast with the wraps of fiberglass tape to bring the diameter up to about 2.25 inches. Cockpit rims all finished. Maybe one more layer of filleting but other than that...done.

Friday, February 16, 2007

"Cockpits" or just "the pits"

Its not all bad, we have one cockpit installed and are working on the others. Hurricane Kayaks gave us a deal on four of their sized 1.7 plastic cockpit rims which we think are going to work quite well. The plastic is easily moulded to the curve of the deck with a heat gun but it is somewhat of a long process. We are holding the rim to the gunwales with screws and then building up a fillet on the outside of the plastic rim on the deck to hold the rim secure. More details and pics to come. Also check our Team RAF in the news again featured on Sailing Anarchy getting the word out about the Everglades Challenge.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

We Think We Can, We think We Can...We Know We Can

Yesterday Alan's Mom and Dad came over from Chapel Hill to drop off some goodies for the boat and general race preparation. The list includes:

Dry bags
Spray top
A great assortment of sailing hardware from Duckworks
Head lamps
A PFD knife
General saftey items
Wa'apa seat Mk. II, with action retracting support bars
A deck bag
& 4 cockpit coamings from Hurricane Kayaks

Alan and I headed back to school to work on some homework (Orbital Mechanics) and to pick up the heat gun and trusty jigsaw. After we were both finished with the homework we returned to the storage unit for some cockpit prepping.

When we cut out the experimental cockpit holes we made them too big, so we needed to glue in some plywood sections so that the combings will have a strong lip to rest on. But before work began on the plywood additions we started playing with the combings and the heat gun. Just like Bittu, from Great Outdoor Provision Co., said we were able to heat the combings with the heat guns, let it cool for several seconds and then it held it's shape.

Alan worked on molding the combing to the curvature of the deck while I cut out the plywood inserts. After it was all said and done we were very happy with the results, and it was late (or early), so we came back to campus to catch a few precious z's.

I almost for got to mention that earlier in the day we returned to Joseph Huberman's house to put the finishing touches on each sail. We added two 30" vertical baton sleeves on the leach of each sail. We also got to talking about Mr. Huberman's very large and very cool boat, Prestissimo, which he built a couple years back. He has been great help for our sail making adventure.

As you might have noticed there is a dearth of pictures for this post, but I promise you will see some lovely pictures of our work in the next 24hrs. In the mean time here is a picture of one member of Team RAF which made the school newspaper.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

GOPC Blog'n

Team RAF has been granted access to the Great Outdoor Provision Co. Blog site for posting updates. Team RAF is being sponsored by GOPC by way of discounted gear from their local shop in Raleigh and support through manufacturer contacts who can also help us get to the start line.
GOPC has a wealth of great deals on paddling, fishing, camping and general outdoor equipment for the modern day outdoors person. Be sure to check out their website and visit one of their 9 locations in North Carolina. Team RAF gives GOPC a big thumbs UP.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Back on Life Support

Hahaha, we did not realize that our blog was keeping so many followers alive. I will try to keep posting daily albeit may be short. Sunday we worked on the rudder casting and figured out how the up and down haul will work. The Seats are almost ready for installation but we are going to install the cockpits first so that we are sure to get the correct spacing right maximum comfort. The rudder control foot pedals are in the mail and will get here later next week so we will rig up an "on deck" rudder control for now which we may keep as a backup system. The cockpits are on their way (shipped today) from Hurricane Kayaks. They charged us for shipping but it will be worth it in the end not having to make the coming ourselves.
Mike and I got the second sail sewn to spec on Mon. and we will be going back for the last round of sewing as we install 2 30inch vertical batten pockets in the leech of each sail to remedy our bad case of floppy leech. This will keep the sail up but still let us roll the sail around the mast. Then yesterday I got the boom to mast couplers installed and epoxy coated. The boom couplers give it that old timey look.
In other news, PVC pipe is not an acceptable material for making masts out of so just hold the "I told you so's" please. We are awaiting the arrival of our shiny new 5 foot sections of 2.5 inch O.D. 1/8 inch wall thickness 6061 aluminum tubes. We got a pretty good deal on them.
Thats all for now really. Mike, Matt and I really need to get our Aero 2 lab reports done so that we can go out and play Thursday night...Friday morning....ouch. (Unlike last week). But lastly we have the weekly Team RAF quiz question....(ready?) Which member of Team RAF ate this extremely mushy banana??? If you think you know, send your answer rolled up inside of a clear 4 cubic foot dry bag and send it our way.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Work before Play

We took today (Sunday) to get more work done on the boats instead of sailing them. We added a mast deck plate doubler to the deck and also started work on the uphaul and downhaul lines for the rudders. More detail on this system later but it looks like it is going to work very well. In other news, we got one sail done the other day and will be going back to finish the second one tomorrow.

The booms are done and the masts are almost there. We still need to finish up the cockpits and mount the seats into the boat.

We have a lot of stuff on the way as far as hardware goes from Duckworks. Eyes, buckles, hinges, you name it. So that will all go on this week hopefully. Rudder controls will also be done soon with hopes of completion of everything by this weekend. Knock on wood. Short post for now, need sleep. We all could use more sleep for that matter but we know it will be worth the hardship in the end.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Sailing Away

Here is seat number one that my Dad delivered to us yesterday. Its all work for him while we just take a seat (laughing). Thanks Dad!!! Mike, Matt and Chris were all tied up with tests today so last night I did some work solo at the shop. Here is another picture of the seat tube supports. The one in front will work just like a kruger seat with the solid bar. The rear tube however boasts spring loaded tube extensions that will plug into a "holes board" in the rear of the cockpit. The front tube will be supported by a sideways "U" shaped cutout in the board. This allows easy removal and repositioning of the seat in the limited width of the cockpit.

Also, since the cockpits are so tall, there is a lot of room for seat positioning from up like a kayak to down low with just your head and shoulders exposed. The bolt sticking out is connected to the sliding tube and compresses the spring. With the two bolts connected by a piece of line and a fairlead under the seat, you will be able to release the seat with a handle under the front of the seat.

The rudders are installed now with standard hobie hardware and good old 5200 to seal the holes. The threaded rods are our "quick fix" for this weekend so that we can have some way to control the rudders under sail. We are still in the design process for how this should work. Tyring to utilize the existing lower casting but also employ some sort of control horn is challenging. Also the up-down control needs to be worked out. Perhaps a windlass attached to the side of the casting or a torque bar or some kind. For this weekend, we will just make do.

Here is the porthole in bulkhead #5 that will allow access to the rudder control lines when they enter the main hull and also allow for stuffing coke bottles in the far aft compartment.

The leeboards have one coat of color on them now. We wil lash them to the side of the boat for now until we determine proper placement under sail. Speaking of sails, we will be traveling to meet one of Mike's friends Mr. Huberman who is a unique designer of inflatable artwork in Raleigh who has offered his services with a sewing machine to help us modify the C-scow sails. Here is his website with some stuff he has done.

We hope to be on the water with our final sails on Sunday with rudder and leeboards working. Then we just have to finalize everything: Glue in the leeboard bracket, finish the cockpits, install the seats and install lots of hardware, lines. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sea Trials...Take one...Action!

We loaded up the boats on the trailer for our first sea trials today on Lake Wheeler to see how the boats paddled and try out some different configurations. See a short Video Here. It was VERY windy today (steady 15 with gusts to mid 20s in the morning and calming down some in the later afternoon). We got out to the lake and rigged up the boats on the beach. We still don't have the seats, lee boards, rudders, hatch hold downs, masts, sails or cockpits installed but we hope to fix all that soon. For today it was just a necessity to see them get wet.

The boats were rigged up pretty quickly and we proceeded with our official christening ceremony. (In case you were wondering, the speech can be found online with a quick search) The boats are now officially named "The Rise" (yellow) and "The Fall" (orange) in keeping with our team name.

I performed the ceremony with witnesses present (Cheng and Brian, some sailing friends). We hope for good fortune and safe sailing during the EC. Cheers everyone. After the christening, we suited up and shoved off. The first thing we noticed was that the boats like to tip from side to side a lot when completely unloaded and paddling was done at about a 10 degree bank to the water. Again without seats and real cockpits it was hard to get an idea of how it will be for real and we most definitely need to get those rudders on.

She paddles into the wind fairly easily but turning into the wind was another story. This was not a surprise, we have a lot of area on these high side panels. Here is Chris and Mike doing a pass by the shore. You can see the angle of the hull to the water. With loaded boats this will decrease to some extent. We may end up extending the ama pylons but we are going to do more experimentation with the sails and masts and amas like they are before making major design changes. We also joined the two hulls in catamaran configuration and found this to be much easier to turn in the high winds. This will be our most advantageous configuration for sailing. We left the amas on shore for the first test but there was plenty of room for them.

After our canoe trials we decided to take more advantage of the windy day and so we took out one of the NCSU sailing club's Flying Scots for a quick sail. See the video of us on the Scot here. It was very windy but with 6 guys in the boat we didn't have much trouble holding it down and we had some sweet downwind reaches completely up on plane in the high winds.

After sailing, we packed up our mountain of booties and spray suits. Chris was at war with his spraytop for quite some time so I thought I would snap off some pictures of him instead of give him a hand. I couldn't resist. He did eventually escape. We found that the amas could be transported above the hulls using the crossbeam supports since they are fairly convenient and leave space underneath for sails and masts in the future.

All in all a great day at the lake. We learned a lot about how the boats handle and are anxious to get everything else done so we can GO SAILING!

Thanks for reading! Thanks Brian and Cheng for taking pictures and helping us carry stuff down to the water.