Monday, April 15, 2013

Why a Dragonfly?

Why a Dragonfly?

Simply put, the Dragonfly 1000 met the requirements!  Fast; capable of taking advantage of the light, summertime,PNW winds; comfortable and stable.  Perfect for a couple and their two Irish Terriers!  Read on:

A Brief History

Early Years

I've been on the water for most of my life, raised in Michigan, usually on a lake or, at least, near a lake.  Water fascinated me, above and below.  Jacques Cousteau, Sir Francis Drake, Fletcher Christian and pirates were early influences.  Yes, good guys, bad guys or maybe just normal people with/without good public relations!  Early on, boating was power boats for fishing or water skiing and fast is fun!  Eventually I discovered sailing, Sunfish in particular.  While at the University of Michigan, I found out about big sailboats when a buddy invited me aboard an Ericson 34 for 2 weeks on Lake Michigan delivering the yacht from Harbor Springs, MI to Chicago, IL following a Chicago-Mackinaw Race.  Consistent wind and sunshine.  Idyllic.

Pensacola 1980

After university graduation and awaiting a flight school class, I worked at the US Navy Sailing Facility in Pensacola, FL teaching sailing, making boat repairs etc.  I had use of all the Facilities boats and had a great time zipping around Bayou Grande in the Sunfish and Coronado 15s, especially when there was big wind.  I could not help but notice all the catamarans parked on the beach....

I had to get me one!  I'd rented/sailed a Hobie 14 in San Diego Bay and much to the delight of my midshipmen friends, played chicken with a USN destroyer and showed off for a tour boat.  What isn't often mentioned is getting the boat in irons, drifting into the USN marine mammal pens and causing general chaos....  The Hobie was fun, but not quite right.

Pensacola was home to a large NACRA dealer and a coworker at the Facility pointed me to them.  Being a poor Navy Ensign with a car payment, mom helped with the down payment and I purchased my first boat, a NACRA 5.2 catamaran!  Christened Kira, it sizzled on Pensacola Bay and I had a blast sailing the normally smooth waters with consistent winds.  Great fun was had dodging the summer rain squalls!  I even managed to race it a few times and made an appearance at the NACRA a spectator.  My sailing knowledge expanded exponentially.

San Diego 1983

After earning my wings of gold, I headed to NAS Miramar to complete F-14 Tomcat training.  The NACRA was nearly forgotten.  Training took a lot of time.  And San Diego, while having great sailing conditions, is not a convenient place for a trailered boat.  Bring the boat to a launch site, rig the boat, launch the boat, sail and then undo it all.  I sold it, but got checked out in the boats at a couple of the USN Sailing Facilities.  It was during this time I found I liked little boats and big boats but did not like boats between 20 and 30 feet.  To me, they lacked a sense of speed and just did not have enough accommodation, too much in between.  Sorry.  Though there was an engine-less open Rainbow 24....

Hawaii 2010

Skip ahead nearly 30 years, time spent in the US Navy, traveling the world and seven seas and finally settling in the Pacific Northwest.  My wife and I, avoiding the season's rain, went to Maui for Thanksgiving 2010.   We went with my twin brother of a different mother Randy and his wife Meg.  They arranged for a 65' catamaran ride to a snorkel spot and back.  It was sunny and 75 aboard the catamaran, the first humpback whale of the season frolicked, spinner dolphins played on the bow, turtles were seen everywhere and the snorkeling was great.  On the way back to the drop off, the crew set the sails and we had a leisurely down hill run to the drop off.  My wife Kelly was sitting on the bow just taking it all in.  She is from north-central Texas where the water is brown and bluegills are a tiny trash fish.  All of this day's experiences must have been a bit overwhelming because when I came up behind her, she turned, smiled and said, "We are selling the house, buying a boat and moving to the Caribbean."  I smiled back and put a third of the plan in action.

Finding the Right Boat Winter 2010/11

Now, after all these years, I have not understood the mono vs multi hull argument.  I always felt each had its own pros and cons and when used within its design purpose, each has its place.  There is just no need for the us vs them mentality.  One must find a boat meeting requirements vs a specific platform.

My requirements?  First:  After flying jets, speed was still fun, so something fast.  Second:  The summer winds on Puget Sound are light.  Many a time had I seen  sailboats motoring.  So, I wanted something capable of taking advantage of these conditions.  So, something light with a lot of sail.  Third:  Something comfortable.  My twin brother of a different mother's Bavaria 38 Captain's Mast is nice and roomy with a lot of head room, but the aft cabin is an uncomfortable cave.  And lastly:  Something stable.  Kelly, the non-sailing wife, really did not like the idea of a 'leaner'.

A multi-hull seemed logical.  A large catamaran would be great.  But because of their width, dock space could be tough to come by.  And the costs!  I guess we could get one if we sold the house.  Another buddy, Joe, mentioned the Farrier folding trimarans.  What a great idea!  Light, fast and can fit into a normal slip.  So we researched more and visited several and found we just did not fit.  We are too tall and to big for them (see Corsair/Farrier vs Dragonfly entry).

Somehow, I came across the Dragonfly swing-wing, folding trimaran.  Several different models, all of which folded to fit into a normal slip.  Youtube videos showed just how fast they are driven by crazy Danes!  Fast, light, a lot of sail and stable, three of the requirements met!  But would it be comfortable?  After all, the Farriers met the same three requirements.  We needed to see one.

After further internet stalking and we found there is only one Dragonfly in the PNW and it is within a 2 hour drive!  Steve and Janet of the Dragonfly 1000 Flexible Flyer were kind enough to let us visit and inspect...twice!  First impression:  Niiiice.  Logical deck layout with plenty of exterior room with the amas spread.  Interior:  Niiice.  Not spacious, but comfortable.  Further, the interior was what I thought a yacht's interior should be with a good amount of teak: teak and heather sole, teak cabinetry, teak bulkheads.  The six foot tall headroom is not truly compatible with my 6'2" height, but workable.  The V-berth was a bonus with a nearly queen size bed.  Kelly and I can fit!  Lastly, a real head vice port-a-potty.  Comfortable, the last requirement met!

Hull Raiser

Via the web, some Dragonfly 1000s were found for sale.  The few in Europe were out of the question.  There was one on the Chesapeake for a good price.  She appeared to have been road hard and put away wet but had received some TLC by the current owners once she had been sold after completing an Atlantic crossing.  There was another in southern California, but research revealed she had encountered some rocks and the hull had been breached.  The broker claimed it had been properly repaired but still, I wasn't going to take the risk.  Besides, the asking price was outlandish.

Hull Raiser was sitting quietly on her cradle, enduring the Waukegan winter, patiently awaiting relaunching in spring.  Built in 1995, she been a fresh water, Lake Michigan boat since her delivery in 1996.  She had been for sale for a few years.  Apparently, the economic downturn seemed to have kept her in Waukegan.  For a couple of months or so, I corresponded with the owner Fred, discussed with Kelly and finally flew in for a visit in March 2011.  Fortunately, the weather was great and I got to spend the entire day inspecting her, inside and out.  Finding no mold or mildew or obvious hull cracks or repairs while satisfactorily testing the systems (including the heater!), an offer was made and accepted!

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