Mother’s Day 2017! Beloved of families, and a special delight for females. And my wife tells me I am not going sailing. I got home from church after making a gluttonous dent in the victuals presented in appreciation of all the MOTHERS! I have been called mother-something at various times in my life. It was a good day in that I appreciate that I have never before eaten absolutely as much watermelon and fruits for breakfast in such abundance. It rained during mass and the weather report did not look promising. When I got home the sun was out briefly and I immediately repaired to my garage thinking that I really needed to knock down those fiberglass splinters that always result from a quick-and-dirty epoxy job. I wiped off the raindrops and hoped for a quick sanding session as soon as it dried. The neighbors probably had reservation about the maniac waving the electric sander about in the back yard while dressed in his Sunday finery. I knocked down the fiberglass whiskers in no time having repelenished the sander with 120 grit! Now let’s see if the sunshine holds up!
After changing into my favorite smelly epoxy outfit I brushed the dust off the hull of the Goose and began slathering on the un-thickened WEST resin, letting it penetrate the inevitable pinholes in the cloth. Better a good job, if not a perfect job. The sunshine held and I quickly covered the newly constructed joints in the Goose nose. Still sunshine! That checking in the fir plywood looks pretty ratty. Lots of resin left so I began brushing the ragged spots to seal the wood. I spend a lot of time maintaining my boats! Sometimes I even use a sponge (not often) to dig out the detritus left over from sailing and camping. Usually the rain does the main maintenance chores. Life is good! Especially with WEST epoxy!
Now, if only the rain would hold off long enough for the epoxy to set up and not blush or some other calamity befall my hasty basting of the hull! Fast-forwar to the afternoon! Epoxy is dry, boat looks ready, and the wind is above 10 with gusts. Forget reefing! This is gonna be fun. My dog, Buddy, looks on expectantly and those big brown eyes are wide open because he knows his week of sailing celibacy is drawing to an end. We hit the water! I am comported with ecstacy! Buddy looks excited as well. Having an 85 pound German Shepherd in the bow of a 14 foot Goose is guaranteed to slow one down, but sailing without my four-footed crew is unthinkable!
My Goose does not have that Goosey feeling! Adding some waterline length has slowed down the turning ability and tacking and jibing seem sluggish. This little hummer feels slower as well and heading upwind feels mushy! My lake is surrounded by trees and houses so the fluky wind is always a challenge. It is gonna take all day to get upwind since the wind is blocked. My GPS says I am moving between 5 an 6 miles an hour. The crew is enjoying the cruise in the bow! The Captain, at the tiller wonders if altering the dimensions of the Goose may not bring the improvements expected.
I have the lake to myself when suddenly another boat crosses my bow. Ho, ho, ho! It is Mister Sunfish, and he wants to play. He has been kicking my butt every time we joust on our lake and he sneers at my latest folly which seems to have only added weight, and degraded the crisp maneuverability I formerly possessed. The wind increases, and I am picking up incremental speed improvements. A few adjustments to the bleater (or honker, or snotter) lets the Goat Island Skiff sail move out a few inches ahead of the mast. I crank in some downhaul to compensate for the increased wind velocity! And I am in the lead! Shorelines come up fast as the lake is only 200 feet wide. I crank out a tack and head off upwind. Mister Sunfish is behind and will probably fall in behind when he tacks, so I fall off a bit to build speed on starboard. Suddenly the routine sailing movements become decidedly exciting. Mister Sunfish has pinched up, lost speed, and is about 2 feet in front of my newly-extended and raised bow. I ride over the Sunfish nailing the mast dead center and the mass of the Goose pushes the Sunfish over. The flat bow hits Mister Sunfish dead in the chest and launches him into the water to windward. Neither of us are wearing lifejackets as we have raced for years on Sailboards together since 1986. He has disappeared and my bow has been trapped between his mainsheet and the mast and his boom is fully released and somehow pinned to my saill just above my boom. I call his name! No answer! I hope I didn’t kill him! Nah! Wasn’t going that fast. Probably only a few crushed ribs, or maybe a broken back! Besides I was on starboard so if he dies it is his burden! I finally just let fly my mainsheet completely depowering my vessel and crawl forward (That is really a LOOOOONG bow now. As I drift back I hear a gurgling cry from the stern of the Sunfish and my boddy mumbles something about losing his favorite hat! He says it floats! I am dubious as I don’t see it! He re-boards and we eventually find the hat and more apologies on both sides as we acknowledge that is the stupidest sailing trick we have pulled in the 31 years we have been racing on the lake! Then he sheets in and leaves me on a port tack heading up into the narrow channel connecting our lakes.
He usually leaves me upwind. My Goose handling upwind feels mushy. But I am gaining, and pointing higher than Mister Sunfish! This is interesting. Having a boat and an enthusiastic competitor quickly exposes deficiencies, but also advantages. In the blustery wind I am clearly dominating (OK, maybe just putting my transom in his face). We tack for advantage and I am ahead in the shifty gusts. Mister Sunfish has not had any competition from the Goose before and he is pushing. Two geriatrics duking it out for lake supremacy! Over he goes! Swimming is so slow! I pull some donuts around him as he flounders, offering choice tidbits of conversation regarding his sail-handling. He gets it up (no little blue pills here) and we resume racing. Trading tacks we move through varying wind intensities as we pass the trees, houses, and gazebows along the lake. He pulls a tack, fluffs it, and he is swimming again. I gloat! My dog loves it! I get too cocky and my downwind 45 degree heel increases and dog and captain become one with the water! The German Shepherd moves from the cockpit to the side tank, but this only my second capsize in a Goose. I had contemplated practicing a bit before the Florida 120, and the time is NOW! Crap. The dog is sinking the boat and the mast and sail continue into the depths. I have to swim around to the other side of the boat but the weight of the dog is turning this into a turtling situation. I drag the dog free and shout “swim to shore” but he is reluctant to leave not wanting to miss any of the fun as he enjoys swimming even more than sailing! I swim around throwing floating debris into the cuddy next to the mast as my paddle and sponge float away. I have done this once before in the lee shore and the Goose came up beautifully. This is in deep water and the wind is sporty. Yanking the daggerboard down, I make no progress. I fall back in the water and hear the chortling from my buddy, who is also swimming around his Sunfish! Who knew synchronized capsizing could be so entertaining. Two kayakers in a tupperware boat paddle by interestedly and enquire as to my needing some help! I reply in the affirmative and they head to shore! To rescue the dog! He ain’t the one that needs help, folks!
This ain’t my first go round in this sailing rodeo. I swim around and grab the rope tied to the bow eye, and yanking the boat around so the bow is into the wind I hope for some wind aid. The mainsheet is no longer attached but it gives me something to pass the time. I see the kayakers comforting my dog on shore and reach overhead for the daggerboard. I always thought it was longer but from the bottom it seems pretty short. With glacial progression the the turtled Goose experiences an attitude change until my fingers slip on the daggerboard and it is Swimming 101 all over again. Without the dog on the inside tank the boat just sort of lays there in the water. Gotta love the four air tanks built into the expedition version of this Goose, not to mention the extra two feet of beak I added and strenuously sealed inside and out with WEST epoxy. Not pretty, but pretty thouroughly! I am going to thread a pool noodle into the lacing on the yard before I go out again. This turtling stuff is too strenuous for an old geezer! The boat comes upright, and now the tired AARP guy is pretty sure he is not 16 any more. Eeny, meeny, miney, moe! Which side shall his fat butt actually go. That bow rope looks mighty attractive and the long bow will be easier to sink and slide my belly over once I loop the rope the proper distance through the bow eye so I can get a head-start with my foot underwater. Pop goes the weasel as my buddy sails on by (those Sunfish are only a few inches above the water so they right nicely) offering sweet words of encouragement as I thread my mainsheet through the blocks on the boom and sheet in. Kicked his butt upwind again as he capsizes yet another time, much to my amusement. I sail to shore, drag up the boards, let fly the mainsheet and crunch the bank while enticing my four-legged crew back aboard! Mister Sunfish rights and reboards (his improving proficiency is evident, practice makes perfect) and we duel upwind to our mutual delight. He still sees my transom so maybe this stretched, mushy Goose 2.0 is better than what I had. I bid him adieu and head for the home shore releasing the mainsheet so it pinwheels downwind. Dragging out the boards I move to drop the halyard and it jams due either to the capsize attitude or the sailo angle. My mickey-mouse aluminum mast extension neely traps the halyard and it ain’t coming down, even after several tries to release it. In disgust I untie the bleater and the downhaul and standing flat on the deck of my newly stretched Goose I rip the entire mast out and topple toward the grass. Mission accommplished. I notice the top-most foot of the yard and sail is covered in a thick layer of bottom clay. When I turtle, I really leave an impression. At least in the bottom of the lake.
Decoding the GPS trip log I hit 8.1 miles per hour and spend a lot of time between 5 and 7 miles per hour. The Goose feels and sails decidedly different. The sail trim feel slightly off and there is more nose in the water. I also glued some fiberglass strips to the bottom runners as the wood was taking a beating when I beach it! This gives me two somewhat deeper tracks running below the waterline. No problem, at least one of them is out of the water when the wind is blowing as I am getting the leeward hull to act as a keep as I drive it deep. Less daggerboard, but it seems to outpoint Mister Sunfish (he may have been a bit water-logged). Tomorrow I take it out on Biscayne Bay for an open-water evaluation and my nephew is coming along on the Florida 120 but does not want to take his Hobie AI trimaran since he hurt his ankle playing basketball and does not want to strain it by pedaling a Mirage Drive. So it will be two-up in the Goose, with full expedition load for 120 miles or so. The best part is the nose may be dragging in the water for a bout 6 inches more, but at no time did the boat do any “pig-rooting” that slows forward progress significantly.
speed never dropped precipitously, until the capsize! I also get lift when at larger heeling angles from the waterski style bow that brings the nose up as speed increases. We will just have to hit some waves out on the bay to see if the benefits continue. Never a dull moment when you sail a Goose! I could take a 20 foot G-Cat if I was going for speed, but the easy beachability and shallow-water utility of the Goose wins the day. Besides perching on a trampoline of a gambolling catamaran give me stomach and leg cramps after several hours. Not to mention the rudders popping up at every bottom strike. The Goose will serve!