Number 202 / September 2008

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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Gear was carried in two large dry bags which had been modified by the addition of two webbing loops sewn to the front of each bag. The bags were secured by two webbing straps led from the mast thwart, through the webbing loops sewn to the bags and tensioned with buckles attached to the toe strap fittings. When the webbing straps were pulled tight the bags were firmly strapped to the floor of the canoe. Additional buoyancy was provided by two 5' end air bags and the canoe's fibre glass side tanks.

Alternative systems for carrying camping gear…

Deck Hatches
Perhaps the easiest way to carry gear is in buoyancy compartments in a canoe with a deck and hatches. Some sailors fit lines with carbine hooks on the end so that gear can be hauled out from hard to reach places. Most people who use this system pack in lots of small bags, so a couple of kit bags may be a worth while addition to help move your pile of small bags from the boat to the campsite.

Dry Bag on a Long Line
Conventional canoeing wisdom has it that gear should be carried in a dry bag on the end of a long line so that it floats free in the event of a capsize, this can work well if all gear is packed in one bag on the end of a long line, but four bags on two foot long lines are likely to result in a right tangle.

Rope Cages
Some canoeists use end air bags secured in place with a crisscross of rope lacing above them, and an additional webbing strap run from the floor, over the rope crisscross and tensioned to the end of the canoe. I have discovered that it is possible to remove the end air bags from this system and replace each one with an equivalent sized dry bag full of gear. Having experimented with this system I would only consider it if I was sailing with an outrigger system that made a capsize unlikely, although I have proved that a capsize recovery is possible with this system. Carrying gear in the ends of the canoe is also disadvantageous as it makes it difficult to adjust the trim of the canoe.

Hydrovisions Raptor 16 (SteveR)

Inspired by DaveM's impressive performance in the races at Loch Tummel and on our cruise on the West Coast of Scotland, I asked Dave if I could have a go in his Raptor 16. Test conditions were perhaps not ideal as the winds were predominantly Force 1 or 2, but at least I did not have to worry about the Raptor's fearsome reputation for capsizing in the hands of an inexperienced crew.

The Raptor 16 is a tacking proa designed and manufactured in the USA. John Slattebo (the boat's designer) seems to be an enthusiast for light weight construction methods and the boats are constructed from epoxy and carbon fibre vac bagged around a foam core, with each boat weighing just 95lbs. I am unsure of the sail area, but I suspect that it may be in the region of 6.5 square metres. Additional stability when the boat is moving is provided by a foil on the outrigger, with the angle of attack of this foil being varied by the helm in order to provide lift on one tack and down force on the other. The version I sailed was fitted with a wooden daggerboard manufactured by Solway Dory, as the lightweight board supplied by the manufacturer had broken.

My initial impression of the Raptor was one of speed, the boats manufacturers' claim a sailing performance faster than that of a Laser 1 dinghy, and this was born out on my light winds test. Steering is performed with foot pedals and I found this to be a more workable arrangement than I had imagined it would be. I would have preferred the pedals to be rigged so that depression of the leeward pedal resulted in a turn to windward, but a quick straw poll in the pub that night revealed that I was in a minority on this, and that most people thought the system used on the Raptor to be the more intuitive way of doing things (depression of the windward pedal turns the Raptor to windward).

Slightly strangely I found that sailing the Raptor reminded me more of sailing a small yacht than of sailing my canoe. There is no hiking out involved and the whole boat feels remarkably sturdy. Reefing is performed from a seated position, and sailors in the UK may be interested to know that initial experiments suggest that the Raptor is competitive with open sailing canoes when reefed down to 44 square feet to comply with the OCSG racing rules. Initially Dave found that the reefing system allowed the top of the sail to twist off when the sail was reefed, but he has now modified his Raptor to prevent this from happening.

Camping gear can be carried on the 'sidecar' and Dave reports that when gear is carried in this manner there is little need to use the foil when the outrigger is to windward. I have some concern that if the Raptor was to capsize with gear tied to the outrigger then it might be necessary to cut all the gear free prior to writing the boat, although my test did not go so far as to investigate this hypothesis! If carrying gear did prove to be a real risk then it may be that mast head buoyancy would increase the likelihood of recovering from a capsize when cruising the Raptor with camping gear on board.

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