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The Videos
September 3, 2013


Direct links to YouTube: video 1 video 2 video 3 video 4

In a hurry? Here's the 60 second version:

Direct link to YouTube here.

Hear the water. When playing the videos, turn up your sound volume!

After all the preparation, described here in an earlier posting, I was finally putting into the water at around 4:15 pm, with the video camera running. This first of four videos shows the day's sail starting at the Newport Marina, a little over a mile downstream of the Point. From there I sail on a run up the Ohio River to the Point. The sky is gray, but the air is warm: a comfortable 70F.

Here's the gps track for the first video.

track 1
click for larger

"On a run" means that the wind at my back. I am being blown along like a leaf in the breeze. Since the boat moves with the wind, it sails along with the small waves raised by the wind. There's a curious calm on the deck, even though the boat is moving quite fast. The motion of the boat cancels the wind. Since the press of the wind comes from the stern, it doesn't heel the boat. That means that sitting on either of the two hulls of the catamaran leaves the boat unbalanced. I'm most comfortable locating myself in the center of the deck.

I dock at at Heinz Field and the Carnegie Science Center. The camera needed to be reset. It can only film about 20 minutes at a time. I then set off for a fast sail at the Point.

Here's the gps track for the second video as I sail up the Allegheny.

track 2
click for larger

At the Point and in the first few hundred yards of the Allegheny River, the Northwesterly winds were now blowing across the river. That allowed for some fast sailing on a beam reach. That is, the wind comes from the side of the boat. This is the fastest point of sail and most fun. That lasted until I passed the Fort Duquesne Bridge. Then the buildings on the Northern bank of the Allegheny blocked the winds. The sailing became more erratic.

In fits and starts, I made my way slowly up the Allegheny. I knew I'd get better winds on the Mon. But I wanted videos of my favorite bridges at 6th, 7th and 9th streets. So I enjoyed the brief bursts of speed and waited out the moments of calmer, slower air.

At one point, I turned the camera upwards a little, so that it would see the bridges as they passed. In retrospect, it was a mistake. The camera's view no longer includes the water and the deck of the boat. Somehow, the video loses contact with things. I'll not do that again.

At around 5pm, I turned around at the "yarn bombed" bridge at 7th Street and began to tack back. It was slow but steady progress into the erratic winds on the Allegheny.

I docked again just upstream of the Fort Duquesne Bridge and reset the camera. Then I set off. At the Point, I found strong, steady, Northwesterly winds. I took a turn up and down, luxuriating in the Hobie Bravo, driven to its maximum speed, or at least the maximum I could manage. Here's the gps track for the third video. You'll see that the boat reached 8.4 mph.

track 3
click for larger

Now and again, the windward hull would begin to rise out of the water as I started to "fly a hull." The boat would heel and I could see the rudder from the side, slicing like a knife through the green water. It is a delicate maneuver. Fly too much and the boat tips. So I'd gingerly feed back the mainsheet (=the rope controlling the sail) to loosen the sail.

Did you see the missed tack? Hard to miss it! I ended up having to sail at full speed directly at the pylon of the Fort Duquesne Bridge.

Here are the details of what went wrong.

Also, if you watch carefully later in the video, there's a barge, passing the Point, heading up the Mon.

I docked once again at the Carnegie Science Center/Heinz Field. It was getting late, so it was time to sail back to the Newport Marina. I repositioned the camera. This time, I clamped it to the cradle that holds the mast towards the bow of the boat, so that the camera could look back at the stern of the boat. That way, it would see the Point and the buildings of downtown as I sailed off, down the Ohio River.

Here's the gps track:

track 4
click for larger

On the return, I would no longer have the winds behind me, which would have made for easy sailing when the winds are strong. Instead, I would be sailing directly into the winds. Back on the Ohio, they were unobstructed and seemed to be gaining in strength. Weather reports later showed that the winds had strengthened through 15 mph to 17 mph.

As I tacked my way downstream into the wind, the waves raised by the wind were growing in height and being blown directly at me. They were in the 6" - 12" range, I'd guess. That is a lot for a boat whose deck is just a few inches above the water. But the wind powered the boat well, as it bobbed and dived over those waves. Sailors call sailing on this point of sail "beating." I suppose it is because the sailors take a beating under these conditions.

It was a great day sailing, but I was weary and happy to see the dock. My bows touched home at 6:20pm. Alas, that happy moment is not on the video. Its 20 minutes had just run out before I made it home.

Self-knowledge is a curious thing. I learned one thing from the videos. Looking at me sitting on the deck, I realize what an odd character I must appear to be. Ill-matched, ill-fitting clothing. Curious hat. Festooned with all manner of odd gadgets. To me, none of it is odd at all. Every bit has a definite purpose; and I value that purpose more than any fashion statement. I don't feel odd. Still, I must look like someone that prudent people avoid. I'd like to tell them that I'm really harmless and quite tame. But that would only alarm them more.

John D. Norton