On Buying a Dragon

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trw999
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 2:10 pm
Location: England

On Buying a Dragon

Post by trw999 » Wed Oct 04, 2006 8:55 am

I am rather struck by the fact that this forum is nothing like as lively yet as other forums I belong to. Perhaps that will change over time. In the hope that it may generate some interest, I thought I would write on a periodic basis of my experiences as we buy our first Dragon. We are regular crew and occasional helms in the class, so we have waited a while to get here! We are firmly in the Enthusiast group Robert Alpe has described. We are by no means wealthy and so our sailing will be on a budget, though the aim is to have fun and do some travelling too. I hope that this will therefore prove of interest to those who may be about to become owners themselves.

We have agreed terms and now have to collect our new purchase and get her back to our home port. As first time Dragon owners we are incredibly excited and looking forward to getting her into the water and racing. First, though we have to be patient as we plan the launch party for early next year!

Our Dragon is a Petticrow 2000, seven years old and having been lightly raced, is in very good overall condition. There are one or two minor hull blemishes and we may consider some go-faster improvements. I hope to seek views from others and report on these as we go through the process. She is also very well kitted out, since her owner is taking a rest from Dragons to concentrate on the home front as his family grows. So in addition to over ten sails, most less than two years old, she has mast legs, regatta fenders (the rather expensive squared off ones!) and all those other little odds and ends it is useful to keep in the trailer boxes or on board.

There is also, mercifully, an Harbeck trailer. However, that needs to be hitched up to a decent four wheel drive tow car. This will be an added expense and one we shall have to make over the winter.

The plan now is to journey down to the boat with Dragon racing friends in their Mercedes M class tow car one weekend this month. We will give the boat a good wash down with fresh water and we have to de-rig her too. That means we shall start to get to know her, which will be good.

I shall report in once we have got her back to her new home.

T

Mickey Lake
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:18 am
Location: Spanish Fort, Alabama, USA

trw, congratulations on your purchase.

Post by Mickey Lake » Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:59 am

I know you must be very excited about it. It does us all good to remember when we first got our boat, what a thrill it was just to stand and look at it. Of course, when I first got my Dragon the seams were so open you could read a newspaper through them, but you could still look at the lines and see what could be if enough hard work was put into her.

As far as the forum goes, it is rather disappointing that more people do not post. A few of us used to bemoan the fact on the old forum, and I do wish that Fred would come back and ask more of his very interesting questions. Perhaps he is only taking a rest? Well, I look at this forum as a way to connect Dragon sailors in far-flung regions, like say, North America :), and so far we have had results. The forum does work. It is a useful tool, it just might not seem that way all of the time. Plus, I do know that several of the national authorities have their own forums (the UK and Holland are two that leap to mind) and those are active.

Keep us posted. I am very interested to hear how things go.

Mickey Lake USA149
A disciple of the Norse God of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker.

trw999
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 2:10 pm
Location: England

Picking Up The Dragon

Post by trw999 » Mon Oct 30, 2006 11:38 am

We spent the weekend picking up our Dragon and towing her back to her new home. We have been really excited all weekend and had to keep pinching ourselves that we had our own boat at last!

Saturday saw us off to an early start to get to the boat by late morning. First thing we did was to get all the sails, spares and other kit out of the trailer boxes and boat. We then cleaned the whole boat, trailer and trailer boxes down with fresh water and cleaning fluid. Once we had the mast down, we cleaned that too, along with the boom and spiny pole. There was a good breeze which got things dried off well. At the same time, we inventoried all the kit and were pleased that we had acquired everything we needed, with a few exceptions. Furthermore, there seems to be only a short list of tasks to do over the winter.

After grabbing sandwiches for lunch we started to pack up the boat, trailer and car. We left very little inside the boat, having opened the spiny hatch, side lockers, side tank access and bulkhead hatches to keep the air circulating and help to dry her out. The trailer boxes managed all the sails and the rest went into the car. We were mindful of keeping the overall towing weight down! Then we put the mast cover on and fitted the all over travelling boat cover. Every now and again we would stop and stare at this incredibly beautiful boat we were now the guardians of!

We then discovered the two mast bearers were home assembled and probably past their sell-by date, but they were all we had. Having bought two webbing ratchet straps we managed to secure the bearers adequately and then got the mast on to them. After some debate we decided we should keep more weight over the forward end of the trailer, so had the base of the mast over the bow. What is best advice on this?

The last thing to do was to hitch up and check the electrics. All was well, which is quite remarkable as whenever we have hitched up trailers in the past they almost always need a light bulb replacing or a unit to be given a whack to get it started! It was a different story when we came back to the boat the following morning and had to replace a spade connection on the brake light as it had come off overnight, whilst the boat remained in the yard and we went off to have dinner and sleep off the effects of celebrating that evening.

The tow home went well and without incident, the Mercedes pulling well and comfortably. So she is now in the yard awaiting some of the minor work to be started, of which more later.

T

Mickey Lake
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:18 am
Location: Spanish Fort, Alabama, USA

Ahem.

Post by Mickey Lake » Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:18 pm

I am jealous. I look forward to your continued posts, especially once you get her in the water.

Mickey Lake USA149
A disciple of the Norse God of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker.

trw999
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 2:10 pm
Location: England

Launched and Racing!

Post by trw999 » Fri Nov 24, 2006 2:57 pm

Incredibly, things have moved on apace! Since I wrote my last report, we have had a launch party and sailed her in a couple of races. It has been a marvellous few weeks getting everything ready and actually sailing our own yacht. We were so excited about the launch we could hardly sleep the night before!

It started when, having got her back to our home port, we were able to take advantage of the pre-off-season rush and get the boat into the yard for a service. We had quite a bit done and feel it was all worthwhile. The list included:

Clean, wax and polish the hull
Gel coat repairs; there were some cracks around the rudder, at the base of the pintle (by that shoe Mickey!) as well as on the cuddy around the mast ram fitting
Service of all fittings, ropes and bungee
Fitting a depth gauge. This has been fitted under the bridge, below the spi pole up/down, with a plastic backing which included a waterproof switch and cable run forward under the cuddy top to the battery secured on the front bulkhead
The drums for the outhaul and kicker were replaced with a cascade system, freeing up more space by the mast foot and reducing the snagging problems that can occur with the drums
The under deck runners and backstay were replaced
The wire on the genoa fine tunes were replaced and the wire sheave blocks for the runners too
The trailer got a service and we bought two new mast bearers from Harbeck

We have also bought a few bits of kit – two smart blue mooring warps, dry bags for the flares and spare spinny, first aid kit, tool kit, step ladder and trestles for the mast when in storage, as well as countless bottles of cleaner and lube

Finally, the finishing touch was to have the name written onto the stern. Since this was all accomplished in quick time, we found ourselves tempted to get the boat into the water before the end of the season – just to check she floated, you understand! So we hastily organised a launch party and what do you know, no sooner had the celebrations ended than there happened to be a race!

So we were away and sailing our new boat in her first race with us! What a splendid feeling, we could hardly believe we were actually sailing our own Dragon – pure joy! We even got to do it all again the following day.

You can see a picture of the boat dressed overall at the launch party here (I hope!):

[http://www.flickr.com/photos/97479420@N00/]

PS Sorry, you will have to cut and paste the link above until I get the hang of posting pics to this forum!

Takk2
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 4:20 pm

Post by Takk2 » Fri Nov 24, 2006 6:04 pm

Very nice and the name is?

trw999
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 2:10 pm
Location: England

Post by trw999 » Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:37 am

We had her name painted in the same colour as the top waterline, green. So there is a very smart Valanga on the stern with the club initials below. I hope it will be the only view the opposition have of us next season!

Mickey Lake
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:18 am
Location: Spanish Fort, Alabama, USA

How's the winter treated you, trw?

Post by Mickey Lake » Sat Feb 24, 2007 5:25 pm

Is your beautiful boat ready for her season? Are you :D ?

I am looking forward to the further chronicles of how 'Valanga' enjoys her 'rookie' season with her new owner and crew. Please keep us posted.

Mickey Lake USA149
A disciple of the Norse God of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker.

trw999
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 2:10 pm
Location: England

Post by trw999 » Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:34 am

Mickey

Valanga is sitting snugly in a warm boatshed at the moment. We will be getting her out and towing her to the club later this month, as we start racing the weekend of 24/25 March. We will spend the previous weekend airing her and sprucing up anything that needs doing, which is not much.

We bought all the sails home for winter storage and have cleaned all the warps, lines and sheets - so soft now! The sails have had the number changed where needed and any repairs made.

We are also now the proud owners of a towing vehicle. It is a Ford Explorer with a stonking 4 litre engine, more than enough to tow the boat, trailer and all the gear, as well as the crew and all their kit, too.

We are also getting our crewing requirements sorted. Having been crew we understand the problem owners have in making sure they have crew lined up for each weekend's racing. So a spreadsheet has been sent to all those people who said they wanted to crew, for them to fill in those weekends they are able to sail with us. This includes two travelling regattas, the South Coasts/Edinburgh Cup in Weymouth in early June and Cowes Week in early August.

I will let you know how we get on in our first races of 2007

Mickey Lake
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:18 am
Location: Spanish Fort, Alabama, USA

Sounds great.

Post by Mickey Lake » Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:10 pm

I am also in the process of acquiring a new tow vehicle: my father's Ford F-250 diesel truck. This is the first step in my quest to put together a solid travel kit (truck and a solid grp boat for traveling). I hope to be able to put together my program by the middle of 2008. Of course, I have USA149, my '63 Borresen, and I will haul her up north this summer for the racing. Next year I am hoping to do a long haul to the Pacific Northwest!

Please keep us posted on your progress. Your point of view as a new owner may very well encourage others to take that next step to boat ownership, or it may help convince someone to pull their boats out and participate for the first time in awhile. Besides that, I just like reading about people sailing their Dragons. :)

Mickey Lake USA149
A disciple of the Norse God of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker.

trw999
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 2:10 pm
Location: England

First Weekend's Racing

Post by trw999 » Mon Mar 26, 2007 11:52 am

We had the first racing of the season this last weekend. The weather was cold, the wind was blowing force 4-5 with occasional stronger gusts and, though overcast on Saturday, we enjoyed a cloudless blue sky and sunshine on Sunday - how appropriate!

Valanga behaved herself wonderfuly. 8 boats were out on Saturday and we were set a short course. We crossed the line third, though the second placed boat retired after a protest, leaving us elevated a place! 7 boats came to the start on Sunday and we had a great race, three of us closely contesting second place on a wonderful run to the line. We ended up fourth and felt contented in the bar afterwards! We were very fortunate to have an excellent crew with us for the weekend.

Valanga has adjustable diamonds and we are now debating whether to keep them or go for fixed. At the moment the pros are that we can adjust as appropriate for each race and have the abilty to increase mast bend to windward if we need to point higher for a short while, such as at a tight start. The cons are that we have extra weight, in the mast and the boat, the fittings at the mast base are somewhat intrusive and the reality is that for the majority of the time, we forget about using them. We will probably leave them for this season and make a decision when the boat is back in the yard. I would welcome opinions from others.

We now look forward to next weekends racing as the run up to the Easter Regatta. We are fixed up for crew for the regatta, but now have to find cew for the weekend. Any takers?

T

Mickey Lake
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:18 am
Location: Spanish Fort, Alabama, USA

Congratulations!

Post by Mickey Lake » Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:43 am

Congratulations on your very fine finish in your first racing. Sounds like you hit the ground running in the right direction :).

It also sounds as if you guys have a very active fleet schedule. Wonderful.

Keep us posted on how things are going. If you don't mind me asking, what vintage Petticrows is 'Valanga' again?

Mickey Lake USA149
A disciple of the Norse God of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker.

trw999
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 2:10 pm
Location: England

Post by trw999 » Tue Mar 27, 2007 8:20 am

Hi Mickey

Hope you had a good time racing last week.

Valanga was built by Petticrows in 1999. She is a 2000 model, white all over with a green and blue water line.

T

trw999
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 2:10 pm
Location: England

Update on the season, so far

Post by trw999 » Mon Jun 04, 2007 1:56 pm

We have enjoyed a couple of months racing now and a return visit to the yard. The racing has been good. In addition to club races we have had a home regatta, club series races (windward/leeward) as well as some team racing. We have sailed in some heavy weather, as well as inevitable periods where there has not been a breath of wind.

The strong winds showed up some problems with the boat. Since we are due to go travelling at the end of the month to our national championships, we felt that it would be prudent to get these sorted sooner rather than later. The spinnaker halyard was becoming harder to hoist and lower and it felt like there was something wrong up where the halyard disappears into the mast. Initially we thought it may be the mast sheave. However, the yard found that the small block positioned just in front of the sheave had popped a rivet, thus the halyard was pulling against the side cheeks of the block. So this has been replaced. At the sane time, the yard found that the forestay was starting to rust at the bottom, where the wire enters into the terminal deck fitting; they also advised replacement of the genoa halyard. When we got Valanga last year we decided that we would have the hull serviced by the yard and get them to do the mast service at the end of this season. Perhaps we should have had it serviced with the boat....

Still on the mast, we got the yard to fit Dyneema to the spinnaker pole for the up haul and downhaul. One of the old wires was going and we felt that the lighter weight and added flexibility of the Dyneema would be a benefit. It is; it works really well and instead of having curly wire around the front of the mast at deck level, the Dyneema falls away onto the deck and out of the way of the genoa sheets. The pole seems to go up and down a great deal better too. Two further wires needed replacing too; the main halyard had a frayed strand near the mast lock “pipâ€

Mickey Lake
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:18 am
Location: Spanish Fort, Alabama, USA

This is great stuff!

Post by Mickey Lake » Mon Jun 04, 2007 6:48 pm

Thanks so much for posting this, Tim. Any of us who are looking into buying a Dragon will be interested to see what someone else has had to go through to bring their boat to the line in top condition.

I can only look to the east in envy when I read of how busy you have been sailing your boat. Our season is only beginning now. I am dropping the rig on USA149 next week for her annual 1600 km drive up north. So looking forward to it.

Mickey Lake USA149
A disciple of the Norse God of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker.

trw999
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 2:10 pm
Location: England

A Further Update

Post by trw999 » Tue Jul 17, 2007 2:06 pm

It has been a while since I reported on our first season with our Dragon and a fair bit has happened. The boat is currently back in the yard, her third visit this season and, I hope, her last!

The first inkling we had there was a problem was when the club resident joker asked us what had been eating at our rudder. We dismissed his comment as a leg pull at the time. However, the next time she was hauled out for a scrub we got a ‘phone call to tell us that indeed the rudder had suffered some mishap. The yard was quickly onto the case and sent us a photo, which showed a jagged bottom edge to the rudder. At first we thought we might have sailed over a mooring buoy chain, but there were no other rubbing marks elsewhere on the rudder or hull. The conclusion we came to was that either the boat had swung low over the trailer when she was hauled out for a scrub or that whilst on the trailer she had been backed over a brick or rock ground obstruction. It is difficult to know what had happened and is, I guess, just one of those times when as an owner you have to bight the bullet and accept these things sometimes happen.

So complete with our newly repaired rudder we hitched up the boat and trailed her down to the south coast and national championships. The towing rig worked well and both car and trailer coped admirably with the journey. We had the best part of a day to rig and crane in and we managed both without incident.

The less said about our regatta the better! We had strong winds and big seas the whole week and we were an underweight crew. After some initial trepidation we did enjoy the sailing and had some exhilarating moments. We also had some other moments, ripping one spinnaker and trawling with another, running over the sheet at one time, which necessitated cutting the end off a nearly brand new tapered spinnaker sheet. A learning process!

Our biggest moment of misery came when we had craned out the boat at the end of the regatta and were de-rigging her on the trailer. We had released the shrouds, the backstay and runners had been disconnected since craning and the mast was held up by the mast ram and forestay. I was below, near the base of the mast, undoing all the string and shackles in preparation for the mast lift-out. I was just about to undo the port side shackles attaching the adjustable diamonds when the mast jumped out of its step and leant away to starboard, narrowly missing my face. I heard the crunch of fibreglass and shouts of dismay from those around. Within seconds several people had jumped up onto the boat and were helping to right the mast. It had leant over about 45 degrees and was, I think, held by the still attached adjustable diamonds below. I was desperately holding the base of the mast away from me, in the vain hope that it would not fall any further – I know I would not have been able to stop it but it was all I could do at the time! With the helping hands now aboard we sat the mast back onto the step, rapidly assembled the mast tripod and secured the mast to it, concurrently undoing the remaining string below. The mast was then quickly out and on the ground.

We inspected the damage. The mast had a dent the size of a fist in the starboard side, just above the plastic mast gate cheek. The mast is also bent out of true, though you can only see this when a straight line is held against the spinnaker pole track. The mast ram was bent out of true. The mast gate slider sides were bent and the fibreglass mast gate itself was broken on the underside, a lot less than I had thought it would be. I think we were lucky no more damage was done and that no one was hurt. So, what happened? We believe that a gust of wind took the top of the mast and gave it, in effect, a darned good slap, enough to make the mast, in it’s unsupported state, jump about an inch upwards. Lessons learnt: well, we shall make sure the mast is supported by both the forestay and backstay until the tripod is up and attached to the mast. Where possible, we should rig and de-rig head to wind.

So the poor old boat is back in the yard and we await the verdict of the insurance company before getting her back into commission. No sailing this weekend or next, as we go away for a short holiday. The next regatta is away in early August, which is when we shall next be putting our new mast into the boat. Oh er!

T

trw999
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 2:10 pm
Location: England

Post by trw999 » Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:45 pm

One month on and the poor old boat is back in the yard!

After our short holiday we picked her up from the yard with her new mast and towed her down to Cowes for the Week. We arrived on Thursday afternoon and had her rigged and ready by early evening. She was then craned in at 0730 on Friday morning and we sailed her out to her swinging mooring in Cowes Roads on the Dragon trots. At Cowes the Dragons have the senior trots so there is not so far to go to the Island Sailing Club in the launch.

After our exertions at the national championships we were hoping for a sunny light wind regatta and the weather gods obliged. Only one day lost due to lack of wind, some sparkling sailing conditions and good socials ashore. After all, this was our holiday week!

However, we had a grounding on an isolated rock off Gurnard on the Monday. With boats sailing around us we managed to find a V shaped rock which grabbed hold of our keel. I jumped out to see what we could do and, feeling around the keel with my feet, determined that anything we might do to try to get her off the rock was going to do more damage. So we had to sit out and await the rising tide to float off. The sounds the rock was making against the keel were not happy ones and we were sickened at the damage we imagined being made. Sail off we did and we even managed to pick off two boats on the way to the finish, though not before we had a main block shackle burst and had to cut the new spinny sheet when the umbilical cord attachment point broke during a drop. That was an expensive race!

We decided to race on for the week and look at the damage when we lifted out on Saturday after the last race. A chunk of glass the size of my fist taken out of the middle of the keel at the bottom, very rusty from the steel behind it; scratch marks along the underside of the keel; gel coat removed all around the brass heel of the rudder and a jagged edge to the recently repaired rudder trailing edge. Having just got the repair estimate, this will be another insurance claim!

We are getting the yard to make a very temporary repair to allow us to race for the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August and then she will be into the yard for a full repair thereafter. How hum!

New mast works a treat though!

T

Mickey Lake
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:18 am
Location: Spanish Fort, Alabama, USA

There is an old saying......

Post by Mickey Lake » Fri Aug 17, 2007 3:56 am

'sometimes bad things happen to good people'? You have to believe that it's all going to even out eventually. I am proud of you guys for sailing 'Valanga' so hard this year and persevering in the way that you have. You have gained some hard earned experience that will pay off before long.

:D Ah well, you can either be positive about it or you can give up, and I know that you aren't going to give up. Sooner or later things should turn in your direction.

Mickey Lake
A disciple of the Norse God of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker.

trw999
Posts: 55
Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 2:10 pm
Location: England

First Race Win!

Post by trw999 » Mon Oct 22, 2007 8:20 am

Almost one year on from buying our Dragon, last Saturday we won our first race! What a great feeling and another milestone in our ownership.

The afternoon club race, in a fleet of six Dragons, was in light winds in glorious autumn sunshine. We had a good start beating to the first mark, which we rounded in second place. This was followed by a long reach, turning into a run around a corner in the river, down to the next mark. We had remained in close contact with the leader and, as we started tacking back down the river, the third placed boat closed up to us. During this beat the lead changed a number of times. This was repeated on the second and final beat. As we approached that bend in the river again, heading for the distant finish line, we managed to put in a good tack which gave us a long beat, leaving the eventual second and third placed boats fighting it out some way behind us.

The line seemed to take an awfully long time to reach and we held ourselves back from premature celebration until we were quite sure we could not be caught. The hooter gave us the excuse we needed and we whooped and hollered as we crossed! As is the tradition at our club, we were rewarded with a round of champagne for all Dragon sailors. To add to the lustre of our win, we also received a box of wine for the weekend's racing. This was awarded by the class captain for the two weekend races. The Sunday race was abandoned due to lack of wind, to our benefit.

That has rounded off our first season rather nicely. We still have four weekends racing left, and then it will be time to take stock of the boat, equipment and to pack her up for the winter. Of which, more anon.

T

Mickey Lake
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:18 am
Location: Spanish Fort, Alabama, USA

Awesome news, Tim.

Post by Mickey Lake » Wed Oct 31, 2007 6:19 pm

The first of many, I should think. I haven't had that thrill myself, as of yet, but I really look forward to the day. Seems as if this year it was race one day and break down the next. Hopefully next year will be better.

Give my best to everyone on the 'Valanga' team, and best of luck on the finish of your season.

Mickey Lake
A disciple of the Norse God of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker.

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