Lethal weapon X.
As a consequence of not having too much else to worry about this week,- I’ve been getting more than usually worried about the state of the world: like that those who do cope with life’s impossible complexities are increasingly blamed and made to pay for the incompetence of the terminally useless- Nations and individuals both!- you know the sort of thing.*
Anyway, I decided to try a dose of machinery therapy (the male version of retail therapy)- a forklift truck.
It’s not exactly a new one- but it is 6 years younger than I am, so its not so old either.
Nothing to do with kites?- well it is actually; an essential part of any good kite kit, as you will see:
Last Friday, taking advantage of a reliable easterly here- very rare in winter- I was testing some new kites down the back. Excellent conditions, tested 20 or more modifications in 6 or 7 hours, didn’t even pull in at nightfall- reasoning that they would just have to be laid out again for the next day’s testing anyway.
Unfortunately, by Saturday morning, one them was stuck in the top of the tallest tree on the block.
A 22m pole was still short, but standing on a pallet on the said forklift at full reach did the trick, except that the pole’s hook straightened before the kite came free. So, tying the kite’s line to the forklift, I just closed my eyes and drove away. Result: kite retrieved; Forklift one, Tree zero, -and the branch that broke missed me by some metres.
Thus emboldened; further Forklift exploits in the afternoon:
In our other life as rentiers, we are filling in a large well as part of the redevelopment of a commercial property. The well is 4m diameter, 5m to water, and had a cover of nine Australian hardwood bridge beams, each 350mm x 450mm x 4m and weighing 750kgm.
The first four came away without incident, giving access to the pump and motor.
Unfortunately, the sling slipped off the forks just as the 1000kgm pump unit was coming over the rim.
There was a mighty splash followed by some, I think, quite creative cursing, especially when I noticed that it had taken the chain and ropes with it.
After a night to mentally re-deploy, Sunday morning I set to, removing the remaining 5 beams.
Unfortunately the last 2 succumbed to the same problem the pump unit had the previous day, an even bigger splash this time!
Wet suit time: ugly it was too -and I’m not just referring to myself. Cold also, but you won’t get this from the photo.
Fortunately I was generally able to stand on the sunken beams. Fortunately also they were resting on the pump unit so were metre or so off the mud. Unfortunately, the only way to get a sling around them involved diving.
Forklifts are fun, and there is an answer if your one isn’t big enough; but no, I won’t be giving up my day job just yet.
* And then I read somewhere that Genghis Khan now has something like 16 million descendants- so maybe the world is not going to hell in a socialist handcart after all, ‘cos there won’t be a lot of bleeding hearts amongst that lot!
The production version of the KiteCat had it’s final test before shipping to Europe last Thursday.
Lake Hood, perfect easterly, didn’t want to stop but the sun went down.
After 17 years and 150+ prototypes, thinking and doing little else, if a better kitesailing boat than this can be built then I don’t know what it can be.
4.1m long x 2m wide, 40kgms (but hoping for 30kgm eventually), and with new “Italian”* seat.
The new seat provides so much support that it’s definitely no handicap not having it rotate to always face the kite.
The hulls have more flotation than prototypes- about 110kgms each, which has cost minimal extra weight but decreases drag, makes launching easier and allows even more extreme wave bashing.
Hull form is displacement/planing- low drag and excellent performance in displacement mode, undetectable transition, and top speed (planing) should be 50km/hr. (Saw 53km/hr on one of the p/types).
Rudders are stainless steel, 200mm draft, non retractable- you can rest on them, run onto sand, rocks even if you’re not too stupid about it. The two front/ two back, all steering, system is the best possible.
For launching, the flier (with kite up) steps into the gap in front of the seat and lifts the boat by it’s side frames. By design, it is perfectly balanced and comfortable for carrying into and out of the water this way- no outside help is necessary or helpful.
It can handle surprisingly wild surf- getting out, definitely 1.25m+ (front measure), coming in?- just don’t slow down!
Upwind is as good as I have ever managed on any kite boat ever, even in ‘technical’ (ie light) winds.
Transport: - Roof rack carrying without disassembly. Don’t even think of doing it any other way- but assembly is < 30 minutes from parts when you’re on to it.
Cost?! For now, ex NZ, $NZ3000 (US$1900 today) for anybody and everybody! This is the first time I’ve ever been able to quote a global price for anything!
The reason being that kite sailing is not (yet?) a business, it’s a passion.
Since the days of our founding father, George Pocock, who in 1827, wrote a definitive work on upwind kite sailing, there have been many false starts, including some from here.
Eventually kitesailing is going to establish itself as a legitimate and significant branch of sailing in general.
Maybe this boat can be the spark- but if it is to be, those very few people in the world who will be the early adopters deserve and will get direct access to it.
If/when kitesailing establishes, prices can rise and higher volume manufacture will provide a margin for wholesalers and retailers.
Until then we will manufacture to order in NZ and absorb the, hopefully minor, losses that maintaining a low price on low volume will entail.
Freight costs: By sea, 6 weeks to most places in the world, about NZ$400. Airfreight $1200+/-. Any customs and taxes at your end extra.
Ashburton, May 31 ’04