20 January 2011

Success! (Video at the bottom)

What was supposed to be bad weather turned into a beautiful day, so frustrated interruptions to my plans I decided to push ahead and make my first test sail. Options for launching were the Manukau Harbour or St Heliers beach. I settled for St Heliers because

  • It’s a sandy child friendly beach
  • There is vehicle access right to the waterline
  • its tidal and with low tide I could go out a fair distance and still be in standing depth in case I capsized.

So after loading up and bundling the children, Cecile and Mum into the car we arrive at the beach:

Once everything was set up we set off across the shallows to deeper water:

As you can see it draws very little water.

With the water above my knees I set up the mast and started paddling.

The final job I need to do before I can say that it’s complete is to mount the leeboard on the side of the hull. Since this involves drilling another hole into the hull and there is some science in it positioning (get it wrong and the boats handling characteristics change) I had hoped to test several different positions to find the best one.

So using a couple of clamps I secured the leeboard to the side in what should be the right place. With the rudder down and the leeboard secured I pulled in some sheet and off we went! Speed was quickly picking up when I made my first mistake of the day; Gary does not recommend cleating in the mainsheet but did I listen? No so with the boom on the starboard side and speed picking up the ama started to lift and I had no hiking seat, I was heading to my first capsize! So I eased sheet and found that I couldn’t!

Capsize was averted by turning into the wind but I learnt my lesson.

Then my second mistake of the day happened; I had grossly underestimated the strain placed on the leeboard and one of the clamps holding it snapped! Putting an end to any notions I had of testing different positions. However with one clamp and eased sheets I was able to get a couple of minutes sailing:

The canoe is light and I was going at a nice pace in the light winds so I can see that it will be fun and challenging in stronger winds. Yesterday I picked up some lengths of bamboo that I will be using to hike out on in the future. As it was even the short sail I had today was fantastic.

The only other improvement I need to make is work out a simple way to keep the rudder down while underway. I’ll probably resort to the old fashioned pin.

Back on shore I spent the rest of the afternoon paddling out and back, first with Mum and then with Cecile. In the light winds the boat is easy to paddle, but once the wind picks up because it’s so light and rides high out of the water the wind turns it side on. Not a problem when the sail is up though!

Cecile climbing aboard (by this time the tide was coming back in)


Nico joining in:

End on the day, waiting to be packed up:

One minute sailing video

(and yes, I’ve lost count of which week it is Smile with tongue out )


  1. Wonderful trial run! I'm about 6 weeks into my 21' Ulua build. The hull is almost completely planked. Did you make the Ama to specs, or is this lightly bigger?


  2. Hi Tom,

    The ama has been stretched by 900mm at the widest part for extra boyancy and they are not rounded (too much blue dust!) so have more volume than the ones in Gary's specifications (my main hull is stretched by 600mm from plans.


  3. Congratulations Bas! looks like it was perfect conditions for a first sail and the boat looks and sails very nice indeed. Dave Rotorua

  4. Hi Dave,

    How did you get on with your canoe? Did you get it finished in time for your break?

  5. Hi Bas. I got the essentials finished and had a great time. Very pleased and keen to get out some more. The sail rig needs lots of attention next. I put a few pics and vids at wikiproa: http://wikiproa.pbworks.com/w/page/29971151/Daves-Ulua-Tacking-Outrigger-Canoe

  6. I just finished reading your post, well done! By God isn't Hahei and the Corommandel a beautiful place?