Friday, May 5, 2017

1980 (26) - Ulysses

The metal structure to hold Ulysses

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

During the summer months, Ed had put his time to good use designing and building a self-steering system for the boat.  He had priced the type he was interested in at $3000, and that's when he decided to make his own.  He got together with Mike Masters, the machinist who had made our new propeller shaft.  They built and welded together the steel framework that bolted on to the stern.  Mike cut the gears Ed had designed, and Ed made a wind vane from blue sailcloth, for the top of the apparatus, as well as building a small rudder that hung down into the water behind our main rudder.  I christened the contraption Ulysses, named after the Greek fellow who had lived the Odyssey in Homer's epic work.  My dictionary defined odyssey as:  "a long wandering usually marked by many changes of fortune."  I thought that sounded rather appropriate.... 

Ulysses, our wind vane, hard at work.  The other contraption was
our Seagull dinghy engine.  You can just see a dolphin in the water.

Ulysses turned out to be a gem when we were beating to windward, and something of a help when we were on a reach, or sailing downwind.  To use the self-steering, we'd adjust Tropic Moon's sails, tie off the wheel, then tighten a nut on Ulysses, and he'd take over.  His small "sail" pointed into the wind, and moved with each wind change, changing the angle of the small rudder.  That was enough to change Tropic Moon's course; the sails would refill when they started to luff.  Ulysses was better than a third crew member.  We didn't have to feed him, and he made very little noise (just a little squeaking now and then).

We were tied to a dock (Newport, RI).  Ulysses was pointed off to the side, into the wind.

With the end of Hurricane Season, we started thinking about doing some more-active cruising, and decided to spend the month of November traveling down island.  We were in the mood for a change of scene, and longer sails than you could find in the Virgins Islands.  Plus, we wanted to give Ulysses a good sea trial. 
My last shot featuring Ulysses.  Taken in Gibraltar, many years later.

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