Sunday, June 29, 2014

Disaster Report

Yesterday was quite a trial for the combination of skipper, boat and conditions. 

I am back in Berkeley trying to fix stuff.

When I got on the boat right before the start, the wireless  instruments were dead. They had worked for weeks with only one minor glitch. Now the box looks completely dead after I have checked all connections and fuses.  I cable tied a handheld GPS in the cockpit and left the dock.  Could not see AIS outside anymore. Turned out fog did not look like as issue. 

At the start, the main track broke away from the base of the mast. The StrongTrack slid down to the boom causing an ugly belly in the main. Did not have time to try to go forward and mess with the Cunningham. 

My tacks were very sloppy and I lost ground on every one.  I was getting overrides almost every tack on the Yankee winches. It would take a minute or so to clear them while counting my fingers. The two jibs and hand steering are a hand full and I quickly started tiring. 

I was in last as I approached the Gate, but still near Gary on Elizabeth Ann.  I had tacked up the Marin side and then across near Chrissy Field. Gary went this way as well.  I lined up a tack as close to the South Tower as possible. We were near max flood and a predicted 4 knot current.  I was planning on getting around the South Tower and going behind Mile Rock where there might be a back ebb. At one point I was beating hard with the rail in the water and the boat doing .9 knots. The wind had shifted to the south west over night. I was getting seriously headed and shoved into the center of the Gate. I tried to tack back south and then back west a couple times. The boat would come through the eye and then stall. Putting the tiller back across did no good the boat swept back to 100 degrees off the wind before I had enough sail power to start forward again and come back up. This happened two or three times. On my last attempt to windward the boat spun out and I was headed downwind with sails in tight. Tried throwing off the sheets. Got the Yankee in on the roller after struggle and barreling downwind for the St. Francis. The staysail had wrapped and it's sheet tangled on the pin rail. Could not balance the boat enough to get the Monitor to steer downwind with tangled sail. Ran forward and staysail would only come down a few feet. Then I would run back to keep from gybing.  Noticed stay sail had about a 4 foot rip parallel to the leach. 

Totally exhausted at this point, at this point I fell off towards Alcatraz. Gary had made it through the Gate fine on the same general path. Wind finally dropped enough to get stay sail unjammed and down. Fell off further towards Berkeley and called Corine and Lucie.   At this point. It seemed like a pleasant Saturday afternoon sail. 

Ben, Corine and my friend Bill met me at BYC.  Slept for 12 hours. 

Corine has fixed the staysail. I have contacted the sail track and electronics manufacture and awaiting information. Thinking about shoving off again but have missed afternoon slack/ebb. 

Would like to leave with boat in order since competition is not an issue. Paul Kaman was trying to sell me on the Pac Cup and Ben just about shoved him off the dock.   Mexico is an option, though Corine may not be that welcome after today's futbol match

Time will tell. 

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Morning of the Start

Left the boat last night an retreated to room off site.  Friday night races were in full swing and Piper did not appreciate all the shotgun blasts.

The boat seems ready after all the repairs. There was still quite a bit of activity on some boats. 

Jim Quanci gave a briefing at the skippers meeting about escaping the bay during max flood. The fast way along the northern side involves an estimated 22 tacks. The slower way across near Chrissie Field and around South Tower was estimated at 11 tacks. Out in the middle a full 4 knots of current. 

Expecting 10 to 16 knots of wind in the Bay.  15 to 20 rising to 26 outside. Quite a bit of fog outside the Gate the last few days.  Hoping it will burn off, though I may be south of the shipping circle after sneaking behind Mile Rock. 

Thanks to everybody who has been supporting the effort and helping me get ready, especially Corine and Piper. 

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Libra Surfing Low Tide

Fairly low tide this morning at the Corinthian Yacht Club. 

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Latest Division Splits Boat Ratings

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Sailmaker Onboard

Corine has been working hard to fix some damaged sail hanks on the staysail. 

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tiller Repair

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8 to 1 Cascading Vang

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Repair Update

After a week of repairs, things are looking better. 

Steve Hutchenson has scarfed new sides into my tiller and removed some rot around the bolts. After a lot of phone calls, I found some bronze bar to strengthen the hing connection.  The bronze is flying in fro Colorado.  Thanks to my PT team - Bill Colson, Todd Uecker and of course Bill Swain for consulting on this.

The Scanmar team took my Monitor in to the shop to try to solve my chafe problems. Thanks to Mike Scheck, the new owner, Hans, Rob and the whole team for amazing service. 

The new vang is spiced up. 

The SSB worked after cleaning connections. 

Lots of little stuff tweaked. 

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Last couple of days

Tied up at the Berkeley Yacht Club at about 8:30 Saturday night.

Last couple of days was an entirely different trip. I was caught in a gale for a day and a half.  This was 32 to 35 knots with gusts to 40. The real issue in that weather is waves.  They were 8 -12 feet at about a 4-7 second interval.  Very steep waves push the boat around a lot. You can suf down at 9 or 10 knots, but it is 4 knots going up. 

Sustained some damage.  

The cockpit had been dry except for spray until I took a wave through the companion way.  This left the whole galley awash in about a 1/4 inch of water.  A bit of splash hit the SSB.  It seems to work in general, but the audio is gone.

Had to hand steer for 2-3 hours as the peak winds were causing the boat to round up when the main seemed to overpower the Monitor vane.  Of course it was at midnight.  Fortunately, there was a full moon to brighten things a little bit. When the boat would round up, you would have big waves on the beam really rolling the boat way over.  I was sailing about 170 off the wind to try to hit a waypoint. This was important because I was getting near land.  The boat might have been happier at 160, where the staysail was not blanketed as much and could balance the boat by offsetting the main.

Winds didn't die much until I was in near the Farrallones islands.

Outside the gate we had 18 to 20 knot winds which seemed like nothing.  I needed to gybe.  When I did, I had a goosewing gybe where the boom shoots up and catches the backstay.  This pins you backwinded rolling you pretty far. At that point, the boom brake is not really engaged and the half gybe back just about rips the boom and mainsheet off.  I had been using preventers on the rail to pull the boom down and prevent an accidental gybe.  These are disconnected to swing the boom.  I'll need to rig a vang to keep the goosewing from happening.  The wild gybe ended up knocking the solar panel free so that it was laying on the tiller during recovery.

After the gybe problem I took down sails and had to hand steer for the last 5 hours.   Also had to cross the Fourfathom Bank that is part of the bar since I was off course and avoiding shipping.  That bar was thankfully not breaking with waves much. 

I got a crack in the tiller while hand steering in extreme conditions.

The full list of problems to be fixed are:

Solar panel
Monitor wind vane chafe on steering lines
Need a spray skirt to protect SSB
Main halyard maybe off sheave a little
Still  need to rig permanent tack handling system for spinnaker. The boat is too slow sailing deep with wing and wing white sails.  Tack system will let me get the spin down and off the bowsprit quickly in a squall.

New StrongTrack mainsail track made reefing off the wind easy.   New wireless instrument  system working pretty well.  It is a luxury to check wind speed changes and course from the bunk on iPhone. 

Decompressing today.  Repairs start tomorrow. 

Not listening to anything. 

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Day 5

Yesterday was a beautiful day for a day sail. Bright sun and 15 to 17 knots.

During the night the winds built to 27 to 30. I got pushed west a fair amount. I wanted to wait for daylight and coffee to gybe in that kind of weather.

Gybe went well. Now scooting along at about 7 knots average; sometimes 9 others 4.5 depending on the waves. Waves are maybe 8 or 9 feet. Forecast seems accurate. Somewhere around here are 12 foot waves. Headed to a mark off of point Reyes 133 miles southeast.

Wondering about Kevin. Saw a gail warning near Flattery and southern winds from an approaching low. Don't know how Backbeat will do in these waves. I get a rail pretty deep into leeward every 20-25 waves. These conditions are similar to 2012 windy reach south of the Farrallones.

Listening to James Horner - Big soundtrack music.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Day Four

Very slow day. Wind rarely over 8 knots speed hardly over 4 knots.

1AM, a gorgeous full moon like daylight. Except slat, slat, slat - 1 knot of wind. The Monitor windvane standing straight up.

4AM, hear the water on the hull, were moving - 7 knots. Sound of the wind rising, rising. 16, 17, 18 knots. One thought is all it took, "Better think about reefing if this keeps up". Sound diminishes, wind down to 8 knots in 5 minutes. At least I didn't actually put the reef in.

That pattern has repeated about three times since then. Currently moving at 4.5 knots.

We are 35 miles from being even with Mendocino. I have been cheating east early looking for wind. It is 277 miles directly to SF.

Listening to Porcupine Tree. Depressed Wanker Rock.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Third Day

This was a very slow day with winds less than 10 knots. I motored for a couple hours to make a little headway and top up the batteries. Headed a little east to make up for my slow slide west while sailing.

Around 7pm, the winds picked up to 12 to 15 knots and I was able to make some progress during the night. Right now winds are still about 12. Getting near the Oregon-California border latitude.

Dissected the tiller pilot. There was a faint smell of electrical burning around the motor. Have to see if one can order these from Raymarine.

Currently about a 140 miles to the first possible turning point for SF. About 380 to SF as the crow flies, but I don't fly as well. Looks like the nasty weather in the area has abated somewhat.

Have not reached Scaramouche on the radio. Tuned into a couple of maritime nets. Heard people in the North Atlantic and Panama. Many good ole boys from the midwest and south tune in for the hell of it.

That is about it from here.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Second Day Out

Yesterday afternoon I sailed into an armada of thousands of jelly fish. They were the little guys with the sails. In the distance they looked like cheery blossoms on the ground.

The wind built to 27 knots at about 1600. Rapid fire 4 foot wind waves went under the aft quarter making it quite rolly. This went on until about 2 am.

We have had very light winds of 10 knots or so. Overcast skies again. The boat moving slower. Also getting pushed a bit west. Sailing deeper was beating the headsails in this light wind. I will be quite wide unless I jibe a couple times. Seem to be headed for the President Jackson Seamount which is 600 feet higher than the surrounding bottom. Rather miss that as I don't know what weird waves will pop up.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

First Day Out

I cleared the Cape Flattery buoy a little after 1000. There were big currents out there. I had to steer 60 to 70 off my bearing to make my safe waypoint.

Motored against a light west wind until 1630. About that time I had threaded through a line of commercial fisherman sitting on a bank. Had patchy fog all day. The tiller pilot packed up a bit past Flattery. The computer seems to be working, but the actuator won't actuate.

Raised all sails and took off the the south west on a beam reach. Maitreya was doing 6.5 to 7 knots in very relaxing conditions. This continued all night until wind fell a knot or two.

I tried to to raise Scaramouche at 2000. There was no contact on either frequency.

During the night there was moderate shipping traffic, but they were all over ten miles away.

This morning there was a bright sunrise and blue water. Blue water is a lot closer in here than down south.
Currently I am passing the outer Columbia River mark by about 30 miles. I am on my way to 43N, 127W. This is about even with Cape Blanco. About 160 miles to go to that mark.

Wondering how Kevin is doing. This would be pretty nice sailing for Backbeat.

Listening to David Lindley. He says that "everybody in the whole wide world gotta pay the man".

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday Morning in Neah

Very foggy with maybe a 1/4 mile visibility. Some Canadian stations report 0 visibility. Next high tide is 9:30. Would like to get going as most local wind projected below 20. That may make for a couple slow days. 

A lot of wild life around. There're are very large sea lions on the dock,  maybe up to 700 lbs. Piper was very brave barking at a 30 foot distance.  This morning there were 9 bald eagles huddled on the beach. Half were youngsters. 

That is about it from here. 

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Friday Morning False Start

Friday morning  I rigged the monitor and staysail.  The wind was out of the SW which seemed odd.  I found coffee, but did not notice any wifi.  I tried for a while to get weather over the SSB, but failed. The Canadian VHF report did not add much detail. 

I cast off about 9. As I motored around the breakwater, I found Scaramouche anchored. Peter came on deck and said he was puzzled by the wind and thought it was worth checking on the internet in town.  Decided to tie up.

Later met Peter and checked the gribs. The wind looked like a local condition. The situation off Mendocino had not improved, still a gale with waves 15 feet and higher.  Peter had talked to Paul on Valis (headed for the Pac Cup).  They had had huge waves and 60 knot gusts. 

The trouble area goes from Cape Blanco to SF. There will be a break in the weather next Thursday and Friday. The question is when to leave to hit the window. The 30 knot winds go out to almost 130W.  I am planning on going out to 127W. The waves should be smaller and less confused. 

The wind off of Washington is only 10 to 15 from the NW.   It is now Saturday afternoon. I plan on leaving near high tide tomorrow morning. Hopefully I can go fast enough to hit the window. It may still be a wild reach into Point Reyes Friday night and Saturday. 

Corine and Piper came to visit yesterday and left this morning. Corine had talked to Kevin on Backbeat who was about ready to leave PT.  It sounded like he hoped to turn the corner Sunday or Monday.  There were west winds in the Strait, so he'll probably be motoring. 

Supposed to try the SSB with Peter at 2000. He left this morning for Crescent City, wanting to go down near the coast. 

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PT to Neah Bay

The alarm went off at 4:30 Thursday. Both Corine and Piper were hiding under there covers. I got the impression they wanted me to walk to the boat.

Cleared out of Boat Haven a little before 6.  Picked up the ebb and started doing 7+ knots. After Port Angeles we accelerated again to almost 9 knots. 

Reached Neah Bay a little after 5pm. There was a moderate wind from the north by then which wanted to pin me to the dock. 

A little past Port Angeles,  I spotted Scaramouch on AIS. Peter is another racer from Vancouver. I was unable to raise him on VHF.   He was inshore from me and did not seem to have the same strong current as I had.

All had gone well. The tiller pilot quit a couple times in the last hour. Later I found a loose pin inside the Raymarine plug. Hoping super glue will keep it in, so I don't have to breakout the spare and deal with tiny OEM wires.

Tried yo post this Friday via SSB, but could not get a full successful session. 

Listening to Ry Cooder and watching the fog blow through. 

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Friday, June 6, 2014

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Leaving Thursday Morning

Barring any bad discoveries on the boat today, I'll be leaving Port Townsend for Neah Bay tomorrow morning.  There has been a blow North of Flattery that was creating larger waves, but mostly the boat has not quite been ready.

Tomorrow there will be some North wind as opposed to the prevailing westerlies.  This will help me motor sail down the strait.

I will tie up at Neah Bay's Makah Marina tomorrow night and push around Flattery Friday morning.

Offshore weather looks nice with 25 knot winds from the North and Northwest.  The weather off Cape Mendocino and reaching to the Gulf of the Farrallones is rougher with winds at 30 to 35 knots.  I will be reaching out to about 127 W so that I skirt the worst of it.

I will try to update this blog daily as radio conditions permit.

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