Here’s another first use report from a new TI owner. I am a devoted reader of these threads and owned an AI for two years before acquiring my TI earlier this month. I have sailed and paddled all of my life in various watercraft and currently split my time on the water between the TI, a 14’ catboat, a 28’ sloop and several paddle craft. My base is Westport, Massachusetts, which offers a big sheltered estuary and the rather more boisterous waters of Buzzards Bay and the Atlantic.
As I awaited the arrival of my TI, I read the posts about the TI’s rudder with some alarm because I experienced the same sorts of problems with the AI. My first sails in the TI confirmed that it didn’t want to turn right, but then the word came down from Matt to loosen the rudder bolt and engage the rudder while turning gently left, and that worked quite well. The problem was that I also followed suggestions that you really need to haul on the down line to keep the rudder engaged in the latch. While I could turn right, I found that it took a lot more effort than my thumb could sustain comfortably. Thinking about this and the guitar-like sounds of string tension that I could hear when I turned the rudder, I decided to see what would happen if I backed off on the down line tension once I had gotten the rudder latched. My first try using this technique was a success. After latching the rudder using Matt’s suggested turn to the left, I released the down line to the point that the T handle just sits in the big bottle holder. This gives me almost equal tension for left and right rudder. The effort required to initiate a turn or hold a heading in a gust is still harder than I’d really like, but it is acceptable. I should explain that I tried this technique in winds that varied from about 5 knots to gust of 15 or a little more. The water was quite flat and the gusts rarely lasted longer than four or five minutes. I am not sure that this technique would work well in steady winds of more than 12 knots and whitecaps or larger sea states. Given the threaded hole on the “tiller,” I am really hoping to see a vertical steering handle extension like the ones on tractor steering wheels. It would make things even more comfortable.
My first major conclusion about the TI is that it is a lot more boat to move around on shore than the AI. I could handle the AI by myself with no trouble, but I can’t really handle the TI on shore by myself. I will admit to a 68 years, but I am in pretty good shape. I can pull the TI up a fairly steep concrete launching ramp by myself, but it’s lots easier with some help. What I can’t do yet is tip the TI up on its side so that I can insert/remove the wheels after I slide the TI into the cradle I built to store it at the head of the ramp. The TI is just too big and unwieldy for me to lift it and balance it while reaching under to deal with the wheels. That said, I brought it back from the dealer on the roof of my SUV, an MDX, using a “goalpost” extension, which worked quite well. I couldn’t have loaded it without help, but that might come with some experience. I’m sure a trailer would be easier, but I don’t have room to store one.
My other conclusion is that the TI is a real sailing boat. Where the AI was a kayak first and then sprouted amas and a sail, the TI seems to have been designed as a sailboat with auxiliary power. Two things about the TI impressed me in this regard. The hull design is much more oriented to sail. At speed, the main hull throws water out to the side instead of sending it over the bow. I suspect that, in the right conditions the TI might even plane, although the triple curve bottom might make that hard to achieve. The design of the amas also enhances the sailing qualities of the TI. They don’t seem to submarine as easily as the AI amas do. I also confirmed the observation that the TI tacks quite well without power assistance, which the AI needed. I haven’t tried soloing the TI yet because I have too many people who want to try it out, but I think it looks to be set up to be sailed from the front seat. Where I sail, I need to be able to work the center board and the furling line as well as the sheet and rudder. I suspect that it
The other thing that makes the TI a better sailboat is the rig. The sail seems much more effective to me, and it’s not just size. It seems better shaped because of the way that the battens sit. The greater height is nicely compensated for by the bendier top section of the mast, which means that I am reefing later than I would have had to in the AI. However, I think I will have to make a commitment to single seat sheeting to deal all that sail area. There aren’t a lot of dinghies with 90 sf of sail area that don’t have a 3 to 1 mainsheet.
In short the TI is a great success, as proved by the enjoyment expressed by my wife. My 5 and 9-year old grandsons greatly enjoyed the tramps, and the 9-yer old can peddle with the seat in the front pins.