Ben Lobaugh Online

I think, therefore I am. I am, therefore I sail

Tag: Robert Dall

Seattle Duck Dodge Sailboat Race in a Minto on July 16, 2019

Raced a Minto dinghy in the Dock Dodge- near tragic ending!

Robert Dall sailing Martha the Minto - Seattle Duck Dodge Sailboat Race in a Minto on July 16, 2019My buddy Robert comes down from Canada every year to volunteer at the Footloose Disabled Sailing Blake Island trip. Along the way, Robert participates in the famous Seattle Duck Dodge sailboat race in my 9 foot Minto sailing dinghy. This year I was able to get out with him.

 

The theme of the race was pajamas. Robert dressed up, brought a Teddy Bear, and decorated the boat. We headed out from the northern side of Lake Union and hopped into the mix. There were well over a hundred boat- they all dwarfed us. Imagine a Pack of Saint Bernards running around your backyard and two Yorkies desperately trying not to get run over. We were the Yorkies.

The course was fairly long for the Mintos, and the wind lighter than I would have liked, but they made it around the course handily.

Before the course started we were milling around the start line and it was a bit dicey with the big boats trying to start. I took of up north and thought Robert had followed me. He had not. The boat Absolutely nearly crushed him while he was looking back at me and talking. After that he hung near the pin end of the starting line. I cruised up north in pursuit of the big boats. They headed there to make a long straight shot at the start. I figured I would do the same behind them, but on the downwind I found that the Minto kept up with several of them and I reached the start 8 minutes early. I started tacking east and west across the lake.

Robert Dall sailing with big boats - Seattle Duck Dodge Sailboat Race in a Minto on July 16, 2019

Our start came and I was ready to nail it, till a Catalina barged through. They had missed their start by 5 minutes and I guess figured running me down was ok. Missed the start horn by 30 seconds. Screamed down to the leeward pin and did pretty well. I waited near the pin for Robert and then we headed up to the windward mark near I-5. I passed a Catalina 22 and a Macgregor 26! Lost sight of Robert in the back of the fleet.

Catalina 22 I passed in a Minto! - Seattle Duck Dodge Sailboat Race in a Minto on July 16, 2019

Rounding the windward mark, We beamed over to the Aurora bridge mark. This was the biggest battle for me. Having such tiny sail area compared to everyone else, I really had to be on my games. Tactics were of high importance. I had to have clear air because every other boat out there could steal it and kill my momentum. I got a lot of praise for how well I sailed on this leg. Most of the big boats around me were on their second lap. Passed a Catalina 25.

Rounding that mark, I could not see Robert behind me anymore. He was struggling with the same stealing of air that I had and even more of the big boat fleet was around him! On this downwind run to the finish I had a couple beers thrown to me and passed a 30 footer, to finish second to last in my class, but only 5th from last overall. Not too bad for a light rowing dinghy with a sail.

Seattle Duck Dodge Sailboat Race in a Minto on July 16, 2019

I was very impressed at the performance of the Minto. She sailed well. 3 knots more wind would have helped a lot, but overall I was satisfied. The mental game was the most fun. When you have a lot of sail area it is easier to sail sloppy, when literally every boat can park you the game becomes much more strategic. I did well because I was trained and mentored well by Joe, and exceptional racer. Robert did ok for being in a little dinghy not meant for speed. He would have done better had he deployed the same tactics as myself. He did win a black duck though!

Overall it was a very fun night and I enjoyed it far more than I anticipated. I kinda want to do it again even!

Meet the Minto- Martha

It seems that each year I add a new boat to my growing fleet and 2017 is no exception. I am excited to announce the latest member of the fleet, a Minto that Alix has named Martha.

The Minto is a 9 foot (2.7 meters for my Canadian friend Robert) sailing/rowing dinghy. It was first produced in the 1960s by EDDON Boat Yard and is still in production today by Rich Passage. Over 1,000 Mintos have been built, making it one of the most populous dinghies in the Pacific Northwest. See more at Wikipedia.

I was first introduced to Mintos by dock mate Kemp. He has had several Mintos over the years. He had one he used as a row boat when we first met. He told me it could sail and several months later he got the sail rig out. The first time I saw the Minto under sail I was hooked! Any time Kemp went out after that I would sit on the end of the dock watching him zip around the lake with pure boat lust. I have a problem.

My wife already thinks I have some sort of boat hoarder dementia so in order to get Martha I got rid of an 11′ sailboat and a kayak.

Martha was built by the Ranger boat company and here is how I found her on Craiglist.

 

$600 for a Minto is a killer deal. The transom needed some work but it was a typical issue stemming from storing the boat upside down on the ground. Moisture from the grass is sucked up inside the wooden transom and since it is not a teak transom it rots out. The sail rig alone is worth $1,500!

I loaded the Minto on top of my wife’s Subaru Outback and away we went!

She had been sitting outside for a long time and needed quite the cleaning. She came out nicely though! After removing all the gunk Kemp said the hull was in far better shape than any Minto he had owned.

 

Rebuilding the transom was a relatively easy endeavor. Kemp has rebuilt Minto transoms on previous Mintos he has owned and guided the process. I scrapped the rotten wood from between the fiberglass, thoroughly dried the interior, applied System Three RotFix, and inserted some good new wood into the transom. My good buddy David free handed the transom cuts. The board had to be both cut to fit the sides and cut down the middle because it was too thick. David is a carpentry monster.

 

After the epoxy dried in the new transom David came over for the maiden voyage. David sailed Kemp’s Minto while I hopped out on Martha.

 

Alix and I have had a ton of fun with Martha this summer. She is tied onto the swim platform of our live aboard. We are able to quickly step into the boat and be off on an adventure!

Martha has joined S/V Billabong on longer sailing adventures as a ship-to-shore boat on several occasions.

And my buddy Robert (yes the Canadian mention previously….) even came down and raced Martha in the Duck Dodge. He did a pretty dang good job too!

 

This Minto may be the most fun boat I have owned to date. She rows like a champ, easily taking Alix, myself, and our two dogs miles with ease, and she sails beautifully. If you are looking for a rigid dinghy that can row, sail, and even handle a small outboard I highly recommend considering a Minto!

DISCLAIMER: I picked up Martha in April 2017. It took me till November 2017 to write this post! I was having too many adventures with Martha to have time to blog!

July 24, 2017 Race Report – NRN

Race: Ballard Cup Series III Race 1
Course in Shilshole: NRN
Crew: Ben L, Robert K, Jeff, Mike, Robert Dall
Winds: 6-13 knots (guesstimate)
Average Speed: 5.6 knots
Placement:

This was a tough race from the very start. The race committee had a snafu after the flags went up and had to postpone the race, and when they resumed the persons running the flags, horn, and timer were not in sync. They did pick a great course however, NRN. Perfect conditions.

The starting line was a mess. Boats from other starts were in our way. We had to duck and gybe to get around and into position. Our position wound up being ok. We picked a better line than Figaro by far and we had a chance to push Blue Lullaby over early. Beyond was nowhere near the start line. All we had to do was pull in the headsail and rocket out onto the course. Therein was our first snafu. We should have practiced a few tacks before heading to the line. When we needed to pull in the sails and power up the headsail was a mess. We had two people working the sheet but the tailer put the sheet around the winch backwards. It took him a long time to resolve the problem and a long time to get the sail pulled in. Figaro and Blue Lullaby shot across the line and pulled way ahead of us. Beyond was right on our tail.

Once we got our sails set we took off. We blew past Blue Lullaby and were hot on Figaro. There was a bit of a flood against us so our tactic was to head out on starboard towards the middle of the Sound and tack into the beach as soon as possible. We tacked in and could not get in sync with the headsail and stalled out. It took a couple minutes to get us back up to speed. We went into 12 feet of water before I spun the boat out and back over to a starboard tack. The idea was to get out of the current and ride the wind off the beach up and around the point. The headsail sheet was again wrapped around backward…. boat stalled out and we lost several more minutes powering back up. Surprisingly we were still ahead of Blue Lullaby and when we took off again we came within a couple boat lengths of Figaro.

Figaro tacked in and we kept shooting out. When we finally tacked in we were well above Figaro, Blue Lullaby was astern, and Beyond was still struggling near the starting line. Something happened on this tack that caused the headsail to go out of control and we stalled out again. Stalling on tacks really hurts us. We probably lost 6 minutes each time we stalled while finangling the headsail and waiting for the boat to power back up.The next couple tacks we were much better in sync. Robert Kirkman also had me spin over slower to keep pressure of the headsail a bit longer so the tailer could get more in before grinding was needed.

We drove hard into the bay towards Spring Beach. Only a couple times did we drop below 6.2 knots. Billabong is having some issues with pointing, partially from loose rigging and now backstay adjuster, but primarily due to a big Dacron headsail. We had the sail in tight on the winch but it was still billowing way too far out. The main was in tight to help with pointing but it caused heavy helm, which ultimately acted as a brake for the boat. If we could have gotten the sail shape better we would have been faster, pointed higher, and overall more efficient.

By the time we hit the beach and tacked back out we were dang close to the mark. The tack was much better than the others but we still lost a lot of speed. We would have been at the mark with Figaro with a clean tack. When we got up to the mark we got a bit too trigger happy and tacked early which caused us to go further away from the mark and require another tack.

Downwind we were pretty quick. The spinnakers were certainly faster than us but we held our own pretty well on a reach. Figaro was ahead but we were chewing up the distance, Blue Lullaby was far enough behind that we had her clinched, I could not even find Beyond.

As the wind shifted when we came to the edge of the bay we decided to put up the whisker pole and turn downwind more. Figaro had already done this. It took a long time to get the pole ready and up which lost us use of the headsail. When the pole went up it was on the wrong side of the boat and we had to turn away from our course, build speed, and gybe back out onto the correct course. During all this Figaro disappeared and Blue Lullaby pulled slightly ahead. Beyond was on our tail.

As we came around Meadow Point I called for the pole to be dropped. But of course after it was taken off we got the wind shift along the beach and wished we had kept the pole up. We cruised right up next to the beach in 13 feet of water. We struggled the final bit as spinnakers mucked up the wind around us to be 3rd across the line in our class and 4th on corrected time.

Though it was a rough race we learned a lot. Every week we are getting ourselves dialed in a bit more. Much more of this and we will be getting first places. To give you an idea, Billabong  is the fastest rated boat in her class by far. She was designed as a Transpac racer so she is fast. The only boat we should ever be worried about is Breeze and she has not been out racing this summer. Figaro and Blue Lullaby should never be a threat.

What we did well:

  • When the sails were set we drove hard and fast.
  • Weight was distributed well across the boat.
  • Communication increased across the course and we worked hard to get dialed in together.
  • I replaced the main halyard and it was much easier to get the sail up.

Opportunities for improvement:

  • I need to improve my crew training and direction giving ability.
  • We need to understand the whisker pole and how to use it downwind.
  • We need a downhaul on the whisker pole to control bouncing, flatten the sail, and catch more wind.
  • On tacks the headsail crew really needs to work together well. The tailer needs to pull like a banshee to get as much of the sheet in as possible and then help the grinder keep the tail in so they can go faster and not need to put it in the cleat.
  • I need to work on speed of maneuvers based on conditions and crew ability.
  • And the usual mechanical items: Rigging tuned, backstay tensioner, less stretchy headsail, replacing worn gear, etc.