In November, we took Velvet Elvis in for a little maintenance. The most exciting components for those of us sailing are new bottom paint, and a new prop.
The prop is one that folds back when the engine isn't turning it, to reduce the drag of the big motionless blades while sailing. The common knowledge is that this can increase the speed under sail by 10%, which doesn't seem like much now that I've done the math and typed it out, but which really expands our range.
Our new bottom paint means the bottom remains clean, slick, and free of marine growth for a bit. It usually pays off as an even bigger and more noticeable jump in speed.
The Sunday after I brought the boat back home, the forecast was ripe for all sorts of speed records: 15 - 20 knots of wind from the South. When our planned guests couldn't make it out, we were excited enough to leave a little early, planning a trip out to Bay St. Louis to catch a particular band at a dive bar that night.
Unfortunately, the forecast winds died almost as soon as we got onto the lake, and they never did kick back up. We did manage quite a bit of sailing in just 4 knots of wind -- a speed at which we're used to being a big, heavy, motionless lump in the water. So the long distance speed record in Velvet Elvis is sure to fall soon.
While we're inspecting below the waterline, here are the bow thrusters. These little propellers are built into the hull in the front of the boat and a button in the cockpit makes them blow hard in one direction or the other. This lets the captain make tight little turns in close quarters.