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Monday, December 10, 2007


Every weekend I consider the many robot projects that need to be completed in my garage. But then I cannot resist the lure of going out on the sailing kayak. It takes all my time but it's soooooo worth it.

Weekend before last, on Sunday the wind was completely dead but I still took it out into Tampa Bay to use the pedals. While out in the bay, I noticed a sailboat out in the middle of the bay so I pedaled out there just to be sociable. It turns out this 26 foot older wooden sailboat with 3 guys on it were stranded in the gulf as there was no wind. They were taking down their sails when I approached. Their engine was also on the fritz and they were ready to call sea tow. So as I sat in my little kayak looking up at them, I said I'll try to tow you under pedal power. After all the laughter, I talked them into throwing me a rope as I was curious if I could do it. This was a good size sailboat. So I wrapped the line around the bar behind me and started pedaling. Within minutes we were underway and I towed them back to the marina which was almost a mile away. It was a good workout and we sure got some looks from the people on the pier as we came up the channel.

This past Saturday and Sunday I also went out and the winds and weather were perfect. Yesterday I talked my wife into going with me and we had a perfect beautiful trip around to the tip of honemoon island in the Gulf of Mexico. For 30 minutes, we constantly had 5-6 dolphins on both sides of our boat while we traveled together. You could almost touch them they were so close and you can see them looking at us when they surface. It's an experience that is just too cool to put into words. The quiet gentle breeze pushed us along while the peace and serenity of being out there with the dolphins made it one of those experiences we will look back on in later years.

Instead of working on robots I now spend my tinkering time tweaking the sail/kayak. The barber hauler I designed and built cost less than $20.00 but has improved performance tremendously. Since I have my boat entered in a sailing regatta in Miami in January, this tweak is going to give me a nice advantage. I also modified the pedals with weights so they hang correctly. Some engineer at Hobie decided to remove them to save weight so every time you go to put your feet on the pedals, you have to pull them into position first. My modification has them working correctly again.

I've also fitted the boat with lights for night sailing and have a waterproof GPS to help me calculate speed in different sailing conditions. I'm also working on a splash inhibitor and ordered a hobie dodger which will keep the weather off me when it cools down around here. Fortunately it's been warmer than normal and nice and sunny around 80 degrees.

It really doesn't get much better than this.

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