One of the friendly Igors (Hi Rod!) has taken to calling and announcing the number of days until the 2014 Everglades Challenge race. That number is dwindling rapidly.
And we still have a long list of amendments, additions, and ameliorations to make on Frankenscot, the modified Flying Scot we hope to race in March. Not to mention, though I do, the sensible hours of practice and tuning yet to come...
A stopped-cork effect is at work, with various limbs of the monster undergoing surgery at once. TwoBeers had been focusing on human propulsion: the plan was to splash the beastie over the weekend to test the oars.
Working with salvaged parts of some rowing shells (Did we dig them up at midnight? Nope. Thanks to the Stewards Foundation and Calvin Reed, they were handed over legitimately. This Frankenstein story differs, I hope, in many ways from the original), we've been assuming that it's possible for the boat to move this way.
Frankie has tall sides -- as the cognoscenti call it, high "freeboard." (Cognoscenti being people who know a lot of supposedly correct terminology for things. They think they are so big. Huh.) High freeboard means it's harder for water to get aboard, but it also puts the rower in an awkward spot. Kind of like having to perch on a footstool at the dining room table.
Regardless of where the rower sits, the oar-locks have to be able to hold up to a mighty straining. The real sticky wicket of this transformation of Scot to rowing slave-galley involves how to cobble modern oars onto the old-fashioned rounded body of the Frankenscot.
Dr. TwoBeers could simply bolt the oarlocks through the hull -- but the stainless steel shafts of the oarlocks look remarkably hazardous poking through the deck. One of us anticipated impaled body parts and punctured lungs while the other foresaw really tragic and serious carnage like torn sails, snagged sheets, and other nightmarish complications.
After brainstorming with Derek at JTR Enterprises, the good Doctor figured out how to make them modular. "Plug and play," as another bunch of cognoscenti term it. When needed, the oarlocks will drop into a socket, get bolted in and poof, ready for use.
Which brings up the question of how to propel the beastie without blowing a vertebral gasket. As a tadpole, I used to load my friend C into a rowboat, tie the boat to a big tree and then row as hard as possible toward the center of Lake Ontario until the springy bowline yanked us right off our seats. It was hysterically funny. Bruisingly funny. True, we didn't have cable or satellite.
New-fangled sliding rowing seats give the rower even more power by letting her use her legs. Instead of simply leaning back and yanking at the oars, the rower extends her legs and leverages a longer, smoother pull. Had these been available back then on the shores of Lake Ontario, C and I might have been able to eject ourselves from the boat. We might have ended up with broken bones.
Luckily for the Frankie, the centerboard (the sticky-downy thing that keeps the boat from skidding sideways) has a housing trunk planted solidly right in the middle of the boat. It makes a nice base for mounting a rowing seat and foot rests.
Keeping with the theme of modular parts, TwoBeers constructed the footrest and seat to fit over the centerboard trunk. They can be lifted and stowed away when not needed -- or if this whole rowing gig doesn't work, they can be jettisoned altogether.
All experimentation involves risk. Not just lab accidents, but outright failures. Things that break or never work at all.
Since the beginning, we've talked about scrapping this line of modification if it didn't produce enough propulsion. The projected route through the Everglades is full of hazards for an oar, and the conditions might never require rowing.
Nevertheless, if you want to go on an adventure like this (In a description of the event, the organizer writes, "You May Die." Always true, but still, these are words to consider carefully) you darn well better prepare for all reasonable possibilities. Even rowing your sailboat.
Not that we got to try it out this weekend. Instead of splashing the boat and testing the oars, TwoBeers went over to work with OH Rogers on the rudder system. Maybe next weekend.
Everything takes longer than expected. Especially preparation.
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