MakeShift Challenge: Against the Wind: Most Plausible Entry

Kieran Baack’s Most Plausible Winning Entry
by Lee D. Zlotoff
October 20, 2009

You are a quick thinker, and before too long you think of an idea: you’ll use your spare equipment to make a small sailboat (Fig. A)!

[Figure A Missing]

You cut the thermal blanket in half (on a diagonal) to make 2 triangular sails. The long side of one is taped to the extra paddle. The bottom of the extra paddle is taped to the front of the cockpit. You puncture a hole on the end of the short side of the sail that is farthest from the paddle/mast. You tie the rope through that hole. You use this rope to control the angle of the sail. Then, you break down your other paddle (so it’s in half) and tape one half to each side of the boat with the paddles down and parallel to the rest of the boat. This is to stop the wind from pushing the boat the wrong direction.

Now, you pick up the nylon rope and let it out until the sail starts flapping (luffing) on the inside edge. Then you pull it in so it’s not quite luffing, and it’s full of air. While you’re sailing, use the GPS to measure your speed and where to steer, always sailing towards the shore.

Unfortunately, you can’t sail within 45° of the wind (Fig. B), so you just point as close as you can to shore, and tack every couple of minutes.

Tacking is when you switch which side of the wind you’re on (Fig. C above) by turning through the wind (where you can’t sail) and then coming out the other side and sailing again. When you tack, the sail will switch sides of the boat. If you’re sailing along and the wind picks up and your boat starts to flip over, let the rope out until the boat’s flat.

If you’re still out on the water and it’s nighttime, you can use the part of the blanket not used as a sail as a blanket, and you take the sail down so you don’t sail farther away from shore.

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