Friday, August 21, 2015

Problems with the Lido 14

Well I've had this little boat for a couple of months and we've been out a few times. We have had some good sailing, and no catastrophes so far. I bought the boat as a learning tool, so I never expected it to be the be-all and end-all of sailboat perfection.

With that in mind, here is a short list of things I don't like about this particular Lido 14:

  • It appears to have been wrecked in the past. There are several poorly-done fiberglass repairs.
  • Some of the repairs are cracking out/failing. It looks like Bondo was used in at least one repair.
  • As part of the effort to hide its rough past, the hull was painted. The paint is flaking/wearing off in places.
  • As part of its design, the Lido 14 has three flotation chambers, under the benches and under the front deck. But there is little dry storage as a result.
  • As a dinghy it seems too small to justify a motor. But an alternative means of propulsion seems wise. Currently using a canoe paddle to get through still air. I wish for a boat that was set up for rowing with oars.
  • The nature of the rigging makes it so that the ropes stay on the mast all the time. Taking all the lines off every time would be immensely time consuming. Set-up even more so. In dry storage the ropes are exposed to UV and weather. Not good.
  • It seems it would be difficult to sail this boat single-handed. The centerboard, rudder, main sheet and jib sheet all require handling at the same moment during launch. This is partly due to the shallow local marina due to our current drought. Deeper water at the dock would eliminate the centerboard and rudder issues.
  • Many of the design elements of the boat seem a little flimsy. The centerboard attachment has already required a repair. The bumper strip around the deck gets caught under the dock, and then is easily torn loose.
  • The trailer itself is in need of some upkeep, such as a new cradle, carpet pads on the cradle, lights, a jack with a wheel, etc.
...and many other weaknesses I probably haven't discovered yet. Of course, if none of these things were present, I would have had to pay more for the boat than I did. And none of these things have kept me from using the boat so far.

Even so, I would like to build a boat from scratch that solves many of these shortcomings; a wooden boat that feels solid and seaworthy, with enough salty character of its own that people might say, "now there's a sharp little boat." Maybe sometime this winter such a project might get under way.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Beginning

Antelope Island Marina in its heyday, circa 1998.
Today, there's only enough water in the marina to float a row boat.
Some years ago I worked as a historian on Antelope Island, a Utah State Park in the middle of Great Salt Lake. In those days, the lake level was high, 4205 feet above sea level. Every day as I drove across the causeway to work, I passed the marina where sailboats bobbed in the slips. From time to time one would come up for sale, and I'd wonder if I might enjoy sailing that salty wilderness.

The job didn't last long, and soon enough I was moving to another state, getting divorced, moving again, and so on. About three years ago the idea resurfaced. I was living near Flaming Gorge in Manila, Utah. This man-made lake also sits in a barren desert, and it felt rather like home. Of course Flaming Gorge has big fish to catch, where Great Salt Lake has only brine shrimp. The fishing distracted me from the idea of sailing.
Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Last year I found myself near the Great Salt Lake again, living and working locally in northern Utah. While visiting an uncle I was awakened to the idea that I might build the boat I wanted. I could build it myself from plywood and screws and glue. Some skeptical voices suggested that perhaps it might be cheaper to buy a used dinghy and discover whether I really enjoyed sailing before I invested too much energy in the project.

And so it happened in the spring of 2015 I found a knocked about Lido 14 on the KSL classified ads for what seemed like a bargain price. I had no idea what to look for, and I pretty much bought it without knowing what I was buying. It turns out the poor little hull has seen its share of damage, and its original sea-green fiberglass has been painted over in khaki and maroon. The sails that came with the price were ill-fitting, and I spent two months tracking down the appropriate sails before we managed to get on the water. Perhaps in our next installment I will detail a list of problems this little boat has. Or at least a list of all the problems I've discovered so far.

We still haven't found a name for this boat. Any suggestions?