XIX. Launch Day

Building the Core Sound 20

After seven months of building, launch day is finally here! We launched at Lake Springs park on the Georgia side of Clarks Hills Lake on the Savannah river. The weather was a perfect, partly sunny, 81 degrees with an extremely mild breeze—perfect conditions for getting acquainted with an unfamiliar sailboat.

Setup took about 45 minutes—not bad for rigging an unfamiliar boat. We feel confident we can shave that down to 25 minutes as we become better organized and more familiar with the process. While we rigged, our boat elicited many compliments from powerboaters at the dock, all of whom seemed impressed with our bright-finished deck. It's impossible to describe the satisfaction of seeing other people's jaws drop when they find out that we built it ourselves.

To get out of the cove, we used our 3.5hp motor. The custom motor bracket worked perfectly, and at a fast idle, the little motor easily pushed us along at about 4 mph. As we left the dock, the powerboaters warned us that there was no wind out on the lake, but we didn't care, since this meant an opportunity to get familiar with our new boat without the drama of high winds.

Out on the lake, we killed the motor and hoisted the sail. On a split rig like ours, you hoist the mizzen sail first and sheet it in tight to keep the boat pointed into the wind while you handle the main. The simplicity of hoisting sail on the sail tracks is a real pleasure. Although the sails are big, they sit flaked on the tracks nicely until it's time to raise them, and pulling the halyard sends them up to the top of the mast quickly and easily. Then you tweak the snotter line to adjust the tension in the sprits and everything is ready to go. Before we knew it, our boat was making headway.

This was a really shocking and pleasant surprise: In wind so light you could not feel it on your skin, the boat "ghosted" along at about 2 to 3 mph. Our previous boat, a Stevenson Pocket Cruiser, would never have been able to make headway in such light air conditions; yet the Core Sound 20 needed no persuasion to get underway.

Another nice surprise was the neutral, well-balanced helm. We were able to let go of the tiller for several minutes at a time with no appreciable deviation off course. This may not be the case in heavier winds (only time will tell), but we were delighted by the ease of handling. As others have noted about the Core Sound series, you have the feeling that you should be doing more work to sail this boat, but very little effort is required on the part of the captain. This is the ideal boat for a lazy sailer, and its convenience is enhanced by the rigging layout, which provides easy access to the main and mizzen sheets no matter which side of the boat you sit on. Perfect.

After so much hard work, it's wonderful to find that the Core Sound 20 lives up to its lofty reputation for superb sailing performance. Once we rig our boat to accept a staysail (a third sail) we expect its light-air performance to improve even more, and we can already tell that the boat will be exhilirating to sail in windier conditions.

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© 2008, Wesley Kisting

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