Skat Launched
by Tidmarsh Major

At last, Skat is (mostly) finished and launched. I got the boat wet for the first time on May 25, and have been out a few times in the weeks since.

Sometimes, the fourth time is a charm. The first time I launched Skat, there was too little wind on Lake Tuscaloosa--we might have made it 100 yards from the boat ramp and back in about 2 hours.

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The second time there was too much wind. We went out on Dog River in Mobile, and evern with a reef tied in, I had a hard time holding the sheet by the time we made it back to the marina. <I have a couple of Dog River photos I'll send when I get home this afternoon>

The third time out, once a again too little wind. We didn't make it far from the boat ramp before I broke out the oars to row to the house.

click to enlarge

Finally, the fourth time out, everything came together.

Got out of work June 11 around lunchtime, and a nice breeze was blowing. After lunch and a few domestic matters, headed off to Lake Tuscaloosa around 3:30 pm. At the lake at 4:00, on the water at 4:30.

The public boat launch is down a slough, and the wind was somewhat anemic, but 15 mins. later, I made it out to a larger part of the lake, and the wind was just about perfect. said 7 mph, and the small tree branches were swaying, so the wind was probably in the 5-10 mph range. It was a bit warm, mid to upper 90s F, but not too bad with the breeze.

Had a nice leisurely sail down to the other end of the lake on a broad reach, jibing a couple of times as I headed down. At the other end, I turned and tacked back up on a close reach. Once again, the wind lessened considerably towards the boat ramp, and it took about 20 mins to make it back down the slough to the ramp at around 6:15.

Though I don't have much of a comparison base as this is the first boat I've sailed (other than several times on a Sunfish 15 years ago), it sails nicely. I don't have a GPS to give much of an estimate of speed or direction, but it seems to tack through about 100 degrees pretty easily in a moderate wind. In stronger winds with a reef, it seems to point a bit closer to the wind.

I can't think of a much more relaxing afternoon--easy sailing, quiet, sunny and breezy, and I only saw about 4 other boats the whole time I was out. Days like this make all the work over the past year and a half well worth the trouble.