As mentioned in the last post, Andre acquired a 13 foot sailing dinghy. It is a Capri 13. For only being $260, it is in surprisingly good condition. I finally got copies of some of the photos he took when we first brought it back to his place.
It definitely is not pristine but it is very sailable as is and it has everything needed to go out and have a blast. There are a couple of spots where a previous owner had shoddily repaired with fiberglass but the hull overall is fairly sound. I do hear water sloshing about inside but I don’t think you can really get around that for a boat this type.
The day we brought it back to Andre’s house we were antsy to get her in the water. Even though it was nearly 6 PM when we decided to take her out, we did it anyways. As always, we under estimated how long it would take to launch, sail and retrieve the boat let alone project time for delays and mishaps.
First of all, this thing is way too heavy to carry by hand even by a 2 grown men. It probably weighs well over 200 lbs with the bare hull. The trip from Andre’s house to the nearby beach is only a block or so away and it is downhill. That didn’t seem to help us much as we were sufficiently worn out by the time we dragged it to the beach. We had to take numerous breaks to alleviate the pain in our arms and back. It took us another trip back to the house to bring the rest of the rigging for the boat. In its entirety it probably took 30 minutes just to get her to the water.
Once we were at the beach, the wind was howling at probably 15 to 20 knots. It was not what we expected. There was hardly any wind just a block away at his house. Although his house is pretty sheltered with neighbors’ houses and trees all around. We were a bit hesitant by now about taking this boat out. I haven’t sailed a boat this size since high school. Even then it was on a fresh water lake with much tamer conditions. We are suddenly in a position to have to beach launch the boat and punch through a good deal of wind swell. I did not expect to be taking the boat out that day since the original plan was just to check out a boat for sale. Having no change of clothes or a wetsuit, I had to brave the cold, spring Santa Barbara waters with nothing but trunks and Andre’s kayaking life vest. Since Andre was wearing his wetsuit, I volunteered him to lead the boat by its bow via an attached line to the first few feet of the water. Andre was completely depending on me to give him directions on what to do. I had to keep the boat from capsizing, keep both of us alive as well as get us safely back to shore. I was a little hesitant but the adventure side of me overcame the fear as we dragged the boat towards the breaking whitewash.
The Capri 13 is setup with a daggerboard and a kickup rudder. Once we were in a couple feet of water I climbed into the boat and was able to get the daggerboard down and the rudder attached and lowered. Andre was busy trying to keep the boat lined up against the oncoming waves so we wouldn’t turn parallel to the waves and risk a capsizing. Once I was ready in the boat I started to trim in the mainsheet and the boat began to gain some forward momentum. She was slowly starting to move on her own as Andre started to lose touch of the ocean floor with his neoprene protected feet. I yelled to Andre and help dragged him into the tiny cockpit of the Capri 13. It must have looked hilarious from ashore as two grown men struggled to fit in a small sailing dinghy but we manage to get the boat beach launched without suffering any casualties.
It was starting to come together for me at this time. With one hand holding on the rudder and the other on the mainsheet, the Capri was responding swiftly to my command. Unlike my O’Day 22 where the rudder has a bit of a delay that can lead to over steering, the Capri pretty much responds immediately to any movement of the rudder. By holding on the mainsheet instead of cleating it into the cam, you can pretty much control this little boat’s uprightedness by easing and trimming the sail. Since the tiller extends about halfway up the boat, it made it hard for two people to occupy the space in the cockpit. A couple of times we failed to tack because the other person was in the way of the tiller to get it hard over. Positioning of our weight was also much more important than bigger boats since each one of us weighs nearly as much as the boat itself.
With the winds sustaining at around 20 knots or so, we were trying to figure out the best places for us to sit and who to control what parts of the boat. We started out with Andre manning the tiller and me hand trimming the sail but that turned out to be a pretty inefficient method. For this boat to really shine, the same person needs to run both jobs. The winds were blowing from its usual westerly direction in the Santa Barbara coast so we pretty much ran a starboard tack beam reach to a broad reach for the first 20 minutes or so.
We finally figured out our positioning and Andre pretty much served as rail meat for me in order to keep the boat cruising at a good speed. We actually got going pretty swiftly for awhile which was a blast. We did not have any electronics or speed gauges to tell us how fast we were going but I bet it was upwards or 6 or 7 knots. These Capri sailboats can certainly go much faster than that on a plane but we did not bother to find out for ourselves just yet. After heading east on a downwind course for awhile we knew that we had to tack around to start heading upwind so we can get back to where we started. We were thinking at this point that we may want to try and leave the boat overnight on the beach somewhere so I wouldn’t be late getting home and we don’t have to carry it all the way back up the street.
By now I was pretty much comfortable with the boat and we were cruising along the beach making pretty good speed. I began pitching upwind since I did not want to gybe in such high winds first time out of a boat. I got the boat turned around on an upwind course and found myself in irons pretty much right away. Since the boat is so light, sailing upwind requires more attention to the sail and rudder placement to keep out of irons. Luckily the size of the boat makes it fairly easy to get it out of irons by simply pushing out the boom manually one way or the other will start to turn the boat into a sailable position.
We started sailing towards the Miramar Beach Hotel bungalows at the beach since we were contemplating parking the boat under one of their raised back porches on the beach. The hotel is owned by Ty Warner of the Beanie Babies fame and he is going through some litigation that makes the property out of business for the time being. We figure they wouldn’t mind or really even know that we are leaving it there for the night.
When we got near the area where we wanted to beach the boat, it became obvious that this was not going to be smooth. Wind waves were breaking right on to the sand and we had to lift up the daggerboard and rudder so we would not run them aground a damage them before we got near. That basically means that we will have zero control of the boat at that last few moments. As it happened the boat started to turn parallel to the wave and Andre promptly rolled off the port side into the water and I tried to avoid being run-over of the starboard side. Luckily we all survive with no damages. After dragging the boat further on to the beach we started to de-rig her so we wouldn’t have to leave anything other than the hull on the beach. With Andre pulling on the bow line and me pushing the stern we managed to get her fairly easily up to one of the bungalows. Unfortunately there was a Miramar Beach grounds person water the lawn right where we walked up. We felt obliged to ask permission and obviously it was denied because of the almighty issues of liability. This really sucked. We were looking at once again carrying the 200 lb hull up one block to Andre’s house. To make matters worse, this time we had to do it uphill and we are about 1/8 of a mile down the beach from where we started. To make it a little easier, Andre dragged the hull back towards the water so it would float in the whitewash to make going back down the beach a little easier. From a distance he looked like he was walking a dog on the beach except the dog is a flat-bottomed 13 ft sailboat hull.
When we got back to where we started on the beach Andre had a revelation that ultimately saved us from breaking out backs. As we walked the rigging back to his house he remembered that he has some dolly wheels that he uses for this ocean kayak that may work on the bow end of the sailboat hull. We grabbed it on the way back on the second trip and it ended up working beautifully and we just had to carry the stern end of the boat as we dragged the boat up the street. It still felt heavy even with the assistance of the kayak wheels.
At this point it was nearly 8PM and I just knew my wife Marlene is going to wonder where the hell I was. The maiden voyage was considered a success since we manage to keep the boat afloat and us onboard most of the time. This boat is a welcome and exciting addition to the fleet and Andre and I will learn a ton about dinghy sailing by having access to it. I’m in the process of converting a utility trailer to use for hauling it around town and I am definitely looking forward to taking her out again soon. But the only thing on my mind at that point was that Marlene is not going to be happy to find out that while she is starving waiting for me to come home I was having fun sailing a new boat with Andre…….