Thursday, January 31, 2013

Typical engineer...

Courtesy of Serge


Three Bridge Fiasco

My brother was in town for the weekend which was quite unexpected and so welcome! He does not usually sail and we decided to sail around the Bay during the three bridge. Quite a sight!

So we approached the race course with a 30 second strategy chat and the intent to have a ton of fun. And fun we did have.

We set the kite and sailed the course and even a bit more :) My brother drove most of the way, except a little upwind in heavier wind.

Several mistakes:

1- boat was not set up for high breeze shorthanded and we got very lazy with the sail plan upwind - I did not have reefing lines and it would have been good to put a reef in in the last leg upwind in 30 knots of wind

2- we chose to carry the genoa a little too long, probably damaging the sail more than we had to and flogging the (nice) racing main. We finally had to change down to a jib as the wind went up from 10 to 30 knots as soon as we were out of Racoon Straits.

Downwind, no such problems and Elise behaved nicely as her usual self.

We played a couple of tactical game with other boats and for a short while optimized for boat speed and did pretty well against our most immediate neighbors.




 Norcalsailing Photo of Elise and Simba.

My brother driving on a tight reach


Getting his strength back after some tough sail changes.
and a wet day on the Bay for a very unique three bridge!


Elise at rest after the race
Roger's new boat at rest after the race
and we all met at the bar, like true sailors :)
Thank you again Elise.

We finished last in the E27 group right before the DNFs and about 196 total (beginning of 2/3 of the total fleet), not bad for someone who had never driven an Express before :) nor set foot on a sailboat for many many years!

Norcal Sailing Writeup about the Three Bridge Fiasco!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Corinthian midwinters (1 day)

Trying out a J70


courtesy of Spinnaker Sailing 

Weird course setting which turned out into a reach parade - also confused and a bit of a mess because the boats rounding the mark ending up going straight across the course of the boats from later starts heading up for the mark and then ploughing through a sea of boats in the start area - super hard to find clean air as a small boat so we ended up taking a huge hike out to get that. not my favorite choice of course and I think that for the corinthian, I don't expect an attempt at windward/leeward but more a course around the Bay type event. 

In any case, light air but steady winds made for a fun day.

I was on a J 70, much more modern design and some of the discussions went around whether it is best to get to newer designs (for a sailing schools) or stay with older design. One argument is that students should train on boats they are likely to then see in the market/sail on later.

Very light boat - needs serious footing off in waves as it otherwise would just stop. super easy to depower, a teeny bit of backstay does it. Under canvassed in lighter air, with a teeny jib (with two massive turning blocks where you attach the sheets, might be a little oversized :)) - cleats for jib sheets are not well positioned which makes for awkward cleating when you are on jib trim and an awesome jib halyard tensioner. Wondering if we can install something similar on the express as it is also super sensitive to that in light(er) air. Kind of a mini J105 :) We have only seen the boat in fairly light conditions so hard to see how it would behave in heavier air and if it would get going. Good standing upwind and fast on a reach not enough wind to really look at more downwind performance and weight management.

I wonder what the modern equivalent of the Express 27 is? a boat that can take you across ocean safely, that can accelerate beautifully, surf like mad downwind, be small enough that it has loads I can easily handle even if winches break (although not top performance clearly), small enough that it can be short handed or fully crewed and perform each step of the way, with a fleet that makes round the buoy racing exciting and competitive, under canvassed by design so it is super comfortable in the 25-40 knot wind range (and competitive, meaning this is not survival sailing but very much performance sailing) and that has a good performance for all points of sail (as opposed to just downwind) - any recommendations much appreciated...although there is no plan right now to part with my beloved Elise. And I feel actually safer going across the pacific on her as I a) know her well and know how she reacts to a wide range of conditions and b) she has proven as a boat herself and as part of a design family that she can handle that kind of passage.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ride Today

Serge accompanied me for the first mile
Reaching the beginning of the first descent post Panoramic Highway climb
First view of Stinson Beach
Arriving at Stinson Beach
On the way back on Highway 1
To Stinson Beach via Panoramic Highway and back via Highway 1 about 42 miles...  (I actually did about 76 kms or 47 miles as I took a wrong turn in Mill Valley.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Some Long Distance Single-Handed Prep

  • Got replacement for boat laptop
  • Installed snailmail, grib file viewer and expedition
  • tested grib viewer and expedition
  • ordered performance package for Express 27 (including upwind polars and with different crew weights) - received it but the excel file looks buggy. Keeps crashing Excel.

Expedition is a piece of work...Took veteran Jim and I half an hour to figure out how to set a position for the boat...kind of basic requirement when you set a course. We got some weather info and played around with soem routing. I was trained both on Expedition as well as weather routing both of which I kinda enjoyed.

Expedition has some weird states and I can really see how frustrated I might become at sea if it got stuck into some error mode...I guess that I will have to try to play around with it enough beforehand to try to get all these bugs out of the system.

Was fascinating :)

Boat Work Day - January 2013


  • Fixed masthead fly
  • Inspected shrouds and top of mast: looks like masthead nav lights might not be completely sealed anymore
  • Fixed turning blocks for spin sheets
  • Re-sealed forward hatch and noticed cracks on the hatch - devised plan to solve the issue
  • tried new boat bridle and realized it was too short
  • rinsed anchor and two line

Boat Work Day - January 2013


  • Fixed masthead fly
  • Inspected shrouds and top of mast: looks like masthead nav lights might not be completely sealed anymore
  • Fixed turning blocks for spin sheets
  • Re-sealed forward hatch and noticed cracks on the hatch - devised plan to solve the issue
  • tried new boat bridle and realized it was too short
  • rinsed anchor and two line

Berkeley Midwinters January 2013

Perfect start:

Clean air
Favored end
Fully powered when crossing the line
Ahead of all the boats

Scott and I had discussed how to best get the boat going. As it was going to be light air, a lot would be about feel. and focus. So I just tried to feel the boat and be with it. I didn't even look around once to look at other boats, other than immediate proximity. I trusted our tactician to do that. I only used the info (pointed well, etc...) as input into the boat speed management.

I also used Scott's input on main trim and that worked like a charm.

We had great timing with Mark (trim) on the tacks (a bit slow around so the boat wouldn't stall) and we talked well on the upwind.  I just had to resist the temptation to come up before boat speed and apparent wind speed allowed me to after a tack for instance. it took just an extra 4 seconds maybe but it kept the boat going.

We had  the so so tactical call on the first and unique upwind as we tacked a little too late and ended up in a no wind hole.

We had good spinnaker handling throughout, which is actually really tricky in light air.

We were 3rd to windward mark but we couldn't really round it as the wind was too light to allow us to beat the current. And dying. We threw an anchor right past the windward mark. A lot of boats didn't. This was a bet of how much/how fast the wind would fill in frm the West. If it didn't travel fast enough, the boats that drifted further and that would get the wind first would overtake us, otherwise, we had less distance to cover.

Technically we were back in first place when they abandoned the race for lack of wind.

Berkeley Midwinters January 2013

Photos courtesy of Serge and Nat



Was a day in the doldrums so getting the engine ready, as we couldn't make the start line under sail.


Just happy to be on the water again!




Ella and Nat getting the main ready

and off we go



Start was delayed quite a bit 


we had to anchor right past the windward mark not to drift too far away from the course


Engine stopped working on the way back
A kind soul from a Moore 24 who knows about engines offered to help

No luck on the engine but rum abounds

Wine, beer and rum - it was a fun fun trip back :)
Slowly gliding on water with just enough wind to make it back to the dock.