Let`s launch again, like we did last summer

With the weather being lovely and warm, we were looking forwards to our first test day at a lake, trying to see if our good old Black Python was still a sea worthy boat. Several of us noticed this morning that the wind was rather absent, so we kept worriedly staring out of our windows. However by the point we had arrived at Eastleigh Lakes, it had nicely picked up and a lovely light breeze was blowing wave patterns accross the water. Before we got around to launching our own boat, we curiously watched the Itchen South District Scouts canoeing on Eastleigh lakes - three of the canoes were fitted with red sails! So the first thing we learned today, there are canoe races which only use sails for propulsion.

Then it was time for the Black Python to go in. We (completely on purpose aehm) left our jib sheet loose, so the Black Python was unable to Tack successfully. This was to test the newest addition to our Tacking complex: After a timeout of currently seven seconds of unsuccessful tacking, the Black Python will jibe instead (previously we only had a switch to either always tack or always jibe, which we picked on land).

After verifying that this was working exactly as expected, we got the boat back out and fixed the Jib sheet. In our continued tests we found that as the wind force decreased, and the surface of the lake got more and more mirror-like, we had more and more problems with tacking. Occasionally this brought the Black Python dangerously close to land; whilst usually we managed to switch to remote control and safe the boat on time, a beaching of the Black Python reminded us to use the forbidden zone that was implemented for Portugal with the Eastleigh lake as well, in the future.

Freeing a stuck sailing boat with a stick (It’s not moving. Let’s poke it with a stick.)

We started to value the capabilities of our boat significantly more when we tried to sail the boat manually accross the lake to recover it - it turned out to be very challenging to make any progress against the wind. In comparison to us human operators, the occasional attempt to sail on land seemed like a minor issue and we were impressed how well the boat had been crossing the lake before.