I’m glad to hear you’ve sold another Blivit, but
I’m disappointed that it will not be as a sailboat. Attaching
an air motor will probably work (the boat is extremely stable
so if he keeps the weight distribution low and toward the middle,
it should work).
It never fails that when I set up this boat I get gawkers who
ask a million questions. What’s it made of? You did this
yourself? The sails are Tyvek? Disbelief turns to wonder in a
few minutes. The wonder intensifies when they see it keep pace
with factory built job on most points of sail. Everyone knows
me from my tyvek sails (and many have told me they can’t
go past a housing development without noting that the houses are
being wrapped in sail material).
My best finish this season was third and I ranked sixth overall
(out of maybe 10 or 12 boats). The previous year I did not rank
at all. The Blivit has made me more competitive for two reasons:
1. It is a fast boat fully capable of matching or beating Lasers
in head-to-head races and 2. It has given me more sailing time
and thus more practice because it can be sailed solo when my crew
does not show up. I can’t tell you how important reason
#2 has been.
I probably could have done a little better if my jib had not
continually come loose from the rope running through its leading
edge. It would let loose usually at the head and get saggy during
the middle of a race. Finally fixed it with some extra darts and
wrapping of Tyvek backed with carpet tape to secure the whole
affair. I have had no problems since doing the fix. I am still
experimenting with positioning the jib leads. Right now they are
in line with the front edge of the daggerboard and when fully
extended, hang inside the rail about 8 inches. I have mounted
cleats on the opposite rail so that when I am alone I can secure
the jib sheet while playing the main. While the jib is a powerful
sail, it does not seem to threaten to overpower the boat in heavy
wind (my Thistle, on the other hand, can capsize if the jib is
not released quickly in a heavy gust). The boat does not do as
well in extremely light winds (5 mph or less).. probably because
it has no weight to carry it along between puffs and because it
over-reacts to every weight shift by the crew; but it positively
loves 10-15 mph winds. I’ve had it out in gusts up to 20-25
mph and it has behaved exceptionally because it is so quick to
de-power (my Thistle can’t depower fast enough and is always
at risk of capsizing in those conditions.) In fact, the Blivit
led the fleet for about 3/4 of one race because three of the fastest
boats, two Thistles and a Laser, capsized in a freak burst of
wind at the starting line. My blivit rode out the burst with no
problem and when the gust subsided I sheeted in and took off.
I’ve had my wife and son (eight year old) out in both the
thistle and the Blivit. They both agree that the Blivit is more
family friendly because it is so stable. both my wife and my son
have taken the tiller at times..something they would not even
consider in the Thistle.
By the way, I know you designed this boat to be launched from
a dock but I have been sailing off of a sandy beach with no problems.
The kickup rudder allows me to completely set up in about two
inches of water; then I give it a good shove just as I jump in
and quickly set the daggerboard when I get to a boat 2 1/2 feet
of water. Landing the boat has been no problem either because
I raise the rudder while still in several feet of water and raise
the dagger board by degrees until every close to shore; then pull
it up completely. The rudder,even fully up, gives enough control
to run the boat close to shore before jamming the tiller over
to one side and sliding sideways to the beach. Pretty Nifty and
no one gets wet!
Feel free to send my letter detailing construction to anyone
who will find it useful, including the magazine you mentioned.
I’m going to order a subscription myself! you can also use
me as a referral if you’d like when anyone seems interested
in the boat. I haven’t convinced anyone to build the Blivit
yet but I keep telling people where they can get the plans. This
boat deserves to be built and sailed by a lot more people.
Sorry, I still have no quality photos of the boat with boat sails
flying. In April, when I set up for the first time of the season,
I plan on having my wife take a ton of photos with good camera.
I’ll send you some!
Ron Johnson St. Louis, Mo