Our goal today is to take the railboats out on the rails to see what breaks, what doesn’t work, and what could work better – shakedown cruises. It takes a bit of work to get the boats really ready, so we head up to the barn early (by this Seniors session standards – 9:30) and start loading the boats and parts that are ready to go.
Editor’s Note: I’ve been misspelling Nicki as Nickie, and I mis-identified yesterday’s beach as San Gregorio when it is actually Tunitas Creek. Thank you for your patience.
Serena wrangles the mast, boom, and sail into the trailer.
The Kablooie mess with their flimsy guide-wheel posts once again.
The fully loaded trailer gets guided onto the ball hitch on the back of the truck – team work!
We arrive at the railroad tracks. Gever lays down a few guidelines and a couple of strict rules to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
These tracks have been ignored for so long that a sand dune can be seen in the far distance where it covers the rails and railbed completely. We call those “the dunes” and past that is “Far Tortuga.” The agreement that Gever makes with the teams is that no one goes to Far Tortuga until all of the railboats are working.
Team Kablooie brings out their railing deck (we’ve decided to use the term “railing” to designate the active form of railboating) to see how it sits on the track.
The flimsy Kablooie guide-wheel posts have been damaged in transit and Gilon climbs under to do some quick repairs and adjustments.
Some kind of horrible traffic accident, evidently.
The Nooi also get their railing deck disentangled and off the trailer for a rail-fitting. The Piki and the Nooi have implemented designs that allow them to fit and position the wheels to the track upon arrival. While the Kablooi haven’t had any alignment problems with their load-bearing wheels, the adjustable positioning systems used by the other teams eliminated one possible source of problems before they could arise.
One of Sam’s very precise wheel and guide units, field-mounted and ready to go.
With the other two railboats out of the way, the Piki can now get their deck on to the rails for wheel-mounting.
The Piki boat shows off it’s sleek lines and broad stance on the rail – very yar.
Luigi checks the guide-wheel mounting to make sure it is free-spinning and hands it to Rhody for mounting.
Which Rhody then does.
And Gilon is still underneath the Kablooi deck mucking about with the guide-wheel posts.
Sam celebrates the incredibly silky ride afforded by the dual rollerblade wheel solution he helped deisgn and then built four of.
The entire Piki team pitches in to raise the mast and set the rigging.
Once again, Sam drives in the mast pins.
Flimsy guide-wheel posts somewhat in place, the Kablooi also raise their mast and sail.
Since the vehicles do not have proper brakes (the plan is to just let go of the boom and dump the wind out of the sail), Anita has to trap Nooi boat with her legs while the sail rigging is finished.
The Piki and Kablooi are starting to have very boat-like looking craft as well.
The maiden voyage of the Nooi provides the perfect opportunity to try out their new innovation – the AnchorBag(tm). Much to the surprise of Gever and the rest of the tinkerers, it works surprisingly well.
Our setup area overlooks some very nice scenery.
The wind starts to pick up and the sails start talking to us.
Everyone is ready to go! Including Rhett who comes out from the cement plant to see what we are doing on their tracks. We explain and then invite him to take a ride.
Sam volunteers to take him down the tracks.
And with the wind filling in nicely, they accellerate down the rails towards the dunes.
The Piki take advantage of the open track and send Luigi and Mica down the rails as well.
They bring Rhett back (mule-style by dragging the boats upwind with a lead line) and decide to try more people on the Nooi boat.
The flimsy guide-wheel posts on the Kablooi boat do not go more than twenty feet before giving out and letting the load-bearing wheel derail. Rhett, offers to take Hanna and Gilon to the cement factory workshop to get some parts they can cobble into working guide-wheel supports.
They return with some bone-dry 2×6’s that they somehow rope Gever into cutting for them.
We have lunch. Every day. Just not always at lunchtime. Today’s lunch was at 2pm.
The Piki’s offer Gever a ride on their next test run. How can he say “no?”
Portrait of a Tinkerer: Mica on the foredeck.
Portrait of a Tinkerer: Able sail-handler Juliana.
Out on the open rail, the boats are lively and smooth riding.
The teams weigh anchor at the bay by the dunes for some serious playtime.
Once everyone has had some time on the dunes, they portage to the other side and then set out for Far Tortuga.
Over the horizon, on uncharted rails, beyond the sight of Gever and the retrieve vehicle.
When we get everything back to the barn, we have a list of tweaks, fixes and modifications that we will make in the morning before setting out again. By mutual agreement, we decide to try for Santa Cruz tomorrow – eleven miles by rail and sail.