Land Sailing!

Well, I got to do something cool today. I got to go land sailing. One of the fringe benifits of being a DOD employee out at Edwards Air Force Base is the fact that you can participate in the Out Door Recreation Program.

As part of that program, they offer land sailing trips to the El Mirage Lake bed. They provided the ‘boats’ and all the safety instructions.

I have done some sailing before, and the basic concepts are more or less the same. You can tack up wind, just like a normal sail boat, and you get the most speed on downwind reaches. In fact, you can easily reach speed 3x the prevailing wind speed.

The biggest difference between land sail, and water sailing is how the boat reacts to keeling over. In a water sail boat, the boat just keels over, and if you go too far, you end up turning over the boat. In a land sailer, it is possible to turn over the boat (and that is one of the reasons for the bars along the side), but you don’t run on 2 wheels for very long. At low speeds, it is easy to get up on 2 wheels, just trim the sail in, and up you go. At high speeds, the wheels don’t get enough traction on the lake bed surface to tip wheel up, instead the rear wheels of boat start to slip sideways, just like a car starting to spin out! I found in heavy wind, I was counter steering alot, and it gets a little scary as sometimes you tend to over correct. The easiest way to stop the skidding is to just let the sail out some, and slow down.

We were told the land sail boats could reach speeds of up to 50mph. After spending the day on the lake bed, I believe it. We had a moderate wind today (15 to 20 mph), and according to my hand held GPS unit, I reached a maximum speed of around 39, and some of the other more experienced sailors were passing me with ease.

Over all, it was a lot of fun, and I would love to do it again some time.

Getting our safty instructions

Getting our safety instructions

Getting ready to sail!

Getting ready to sail!

Getting up on 2 wheels!

Getting up on 2 wheels!

No, I didn't turn it over, this is how you 'park' a land sail boat.

No, I didn't turn the boat over, this is how you park a land sailor

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Published in: on August 17, 2008 at 12:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

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