Tahiti Wayfarer in Douarnenez
Tahiti Wayfarer arrived in Douarnenez on a trailer.I have been back in Cornwall for three weeks, most of the time stuck in 'The future of the PCA' problem. But life has to go on, and many serious people are interested in 'How did the 21ft. Ethnic design, the 'TAHITI WAYFARER' sail? How did it steer with no rudder just a steer-board paddle? How did the Crab claw Rig work?
Hanneke at the steering paddle.
James wielding the steering paddle.
The boat was built with the help of 3 students from Falmouth Marine School. Young people often get 'knocked' these days, but these young men were superb. I regretted that at the moment we do not build more boats in our workshop, we would have employed them. In addition, Joke Snel who worked at 'Wharram Built' in the past came and helped with the epoxy glassing.
Even so, the boat was finished only on the eve of the second week of the Brest/Douarnenez Festival in France, to which we trailed her behind the car. We were met there with magnificent French hospitality and good organisation. On Sunday we assembled the boat with the rig for the first time at the top of the slip. The boat looked good, but the sails left something to be desired.
We launched her, then paddled to our pontoon berth and put up the tent accommodation for the first time, this was to be our home for the week.
Monday was crunch day. In the morning we paddled in light winds out into the Bay, well clear of the land and any other boats, then let out the brailed-up sails. Hanneke pushed the steering paddle into the water, and …… she sailed. In the light wind, regular ripples on the sea, she was moving smartly and close to the wind, no significant signs of leeway.
Hanneke then pulled the paddle up, the boat headed into the wind. She put the paddle on the other side of the hull, gave a flick outwards and the boat was on a new tack. IT WORKED!!!
Then we went looking for 'marks' to judge our sailing speed and windward ability by. There were lots of French two and three masted luggers of the Pinnace or Gig type. We had no trouble in keeping up with them in speed and windward performance. When one of them started a water fight we freed off slightly and accelerated out of the way. Hanneke took her shirt off, to keep dry! I hunched down under my hat, but to our pleasure we escaped them.
On that first afternoon, Monday 17th of July, the 'Fleet' came sailing down from Brest. It was an awe-inspiring sight, hundreds of traditional sailing craft with our little double canoe in its midst. At one point we found ourselves sailing along side the 'Grand Turk', a British built 18th century frigate replica. We really understood how in size comparison our ancient Pacific Sailors must have felt on meeting their first Western vessels.
The self-made sails that were laced to badly shaped natural spars (they did not dry out as straight as we had wished) worked surprisingly well. We are only at the beginning of Crab Claw sail studies, but they do seem to have the potential that Professor Marchaj after wind tunnel tests claimed was theoretically to be expected.
Faults: When running dead before the wind, the steering blade easily came unstuck from the side of the hull and made steering unpredictable. Brailing up the aft sail solved this problem. Question to be solved: How does a steering oar work when running before the wind? Is it just a matter of practise to master the steering techniques of the ancient Pacific People?
Our crew was 'Ben', one of the Falmouth student boat builders, used to wash the dishes in the evening, then would go off with his gallon of wine to join the festivities. The evening parties were - well very French. By evening my body would be aching too much from living on such a small boat that I would collapse gratefully into my tent-bunk.