Monday, April 29, 2013

old pics for God knows when

Cleaning Day

Photos courtesy of Serge - cleaning Elise up bow to stern after the very very wet Round the Rocks race on Saturday.


Oiling the tools so they don't seize up because of corrosion.

Getting the main back home and airing out the cooler

Starboard! says the ship

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Recap of various wind scales

Beaufort scale numberDescriptive termUnits in km/hUnits in knotsDescription on LandDescription at Sea
0Calm00Smoke rises verticallySea like a mirror.
1-3Light winds19 km/h or less10 knots or lessWind felt on face; leaves rustle; ordinary vanes moved by wind.Small wavelets, ripples formed but do not break: A glassy appearance maintained.
4Moderate winds20 - 29 km/h11-16 knotsRaises dust and loose paper; small branches are moved.Small waves - becoming longer; fairly frequent white horses.
5Fresh winds30 - 39 km/h17-21 knotsSmall trees in leaf begin to sway; crested wavelets form on inland watersModerate waves, taking a more pronounced long form; many white horses are formed - a chance of some spray
6Strong winds40 - 50 km/h22-27 knotsLarge branches in motion; whistling heard in telephone wires; umbrellas used with difficulty.Large waves begin to form; the white foam crests are more extensive with probably some spray
7Near gale51 - 62 km/h28-33 knotsWhole trees in motion; inconvenience felt when walking against wind.Sea heaps up and white foam from breaking waves begins to be blown in streaks along direction of wind.
8Gale63 - 75 km/h34-40 knotsTwigs break off trees; progress generally impeded.Moderately high waves of greater length; edges of crests begin to break into spindrift; foam is blown in well-marked streaks along the direction of the wind.
9Strong gale76 - 87 km/h41-47 knotsSlight structural damage occurs -roofing dislodged; larger branches break off.High waves; dense streaks of foam; crests of waves begin to topple, tumble and roll over; spray may affect visibility.
10Storm88 - 102 km/h48-55 knotsSeldom experienced inland; trees uprooted; considerable structural damage.Very high waves with long overhanging crests; the resulting foam in great patches is blown in dense white streaks; the surface of the sea takes on a white appearance; the tumbling of the sea becomes heavy with visibility affected.
11Violent storm103 -117 km/h56-63 knotsVery rarely experienced - widespread damageExceptionally high waves; small and medium sized ships occasionally lost from view behind waves; the sea is completely covered with long white patches of foam; the edges of wave crests are blown into froth.
12+Hurricane118 km/h or more64 knots or moreVery rarely experienced - widespread damageThe air is filled with foam and spray. Sea completely white with driving spray; visibility very seriously affected

Around the Rocks - heading back to the Club

Heading back to the Club, it was blowing 30. I had a reefing line in the boom but I would have to do acrobatics to attach it to the main sail so I decided to try to do this with main and jib, depowered to the max.

It was a good time to try the NKE autopilot in heavy weather as overpowering the boat would be the same as more wind with a smaller sail area. It never stopped moving around, fun to watch. Wasn't sure if I would have enough power despite 52W worth of solar panel because a) angle to the sun had decreased as it was late in the day, and fog was coming in) so I drove most of the way. 

I added my jacket back on, tacked out of the way of three ships (rush hour or what!!) and headed straight for the channel to get max ebb going for me.

Steady 27 knots and gusting 30, even more choppy, particularly around point blunt which is shallower waters. No problem at all but everything that was outside the boat got completely wet and the main got sprayed well above its lower 1/3. The boom was dripping.

At some point I became very overpowered with the jib up and the chop was such that I couldn't pinch in order to depower as I would nearly stall the boat. So I decided to drop the jib and to a very tight reach under main only as I was helped by the ebb.

The trouble with the main and a limited play with the autopilot ram to one side is that one tack was OK but the other was an issue (the jib helps tack the bow very effectively but without it you need to a) have more speed on the other tack and then b) be more assertive with the tiller to get the bow across the wind. And that tiller couldn't be as loud as it ought to be as its play it limited to one side by the AP ram when connected. So I had a couple of interesting tacks where I had to travel all the way up to get the main to catch the wind early and tack the boat, then traveler down and sheet out really quickly to avoid pinning the boat down.

I also tried the bungee (just to compare with the autopilot upwind) and it only worked in the heavier winds because the power in the sails is so big that it can easily get into a nice balance mode. Less than 8 knots of wind was really tough as wind too light. Even in the 30 knots, upwind, the bungee worked great!! Just set it up to foot and the sails will bring the boat back up. Definitely not the same nice line an AP would offer, but at least, the boat didn't turn hard to one side :) - I had the bungee drive while I went down below to get some food. It even managed to drive under main only.

What a wild ride! So much fun though!

Short tacking up the channel. Wind there was about 11 knots. Completely drenched! Another nice foggy day on San Francisco when it was sunny for most of the race course!

Back at the club, I am told that we actually had to hoist the boat so even though I am now absolutely drenched I have to clean up :) Serge was at the dock (and took these pictures) so I got a ton of help and got him dinner as a thank you gesture.

Long day!!! Very tired when I got back to the dock.

And it doesn't stop there. On the Sunday, we had to rinse everything off.

Rinsing 'Mike' the spinnaker that I used during the race.

Around the Rocks race - the race

I had seen the adverse current near TI so I sailed over to Angel Island with the genoa still up (I was 10 minute late to my start so I had not time to figure out sails, etc... in fact the first 10 minutes I was sailing in the other direction from racers :)

Most of the other boats also went way over to Angel Island. The flood was starting to be really strong. Wind was about 8 knots and my genoa allowed me to be faster than some of the other Express 27 running with a #3. For some reason I was also able to point higher which was kind of surprising to me.

I picked up Taz! on the way to Angel.

I tacked my way into the Alcatraz cone and was planning to short tack up the cone and sailed right by the island. The wind picked up by then and was at a steady 13 knots. I was becoming overpowered with the genoa and all the depowering I could do on the main so I switch over to the #3 jib which I also had on board, with the NKE autopilot running. I decided to do this on starboard tack to at least have right of way and I finished bang on time to tack right on the current line (the cone was very visible on the water, so I didn't really need instruments to tell me when to tack)

With the 3 up, I never use the autopilot to tack. Timing the tack with the autotiller in my hands I can basically get the jib completely in while it is depowered. I don't even need to winch it in at all - and the main just tacks itself with the traveler centered which I can adjust later when I settle on the new tack. So that's my favorite way of tacking the boat. It is also quite stable as my feet are well anchored on both ways of the cockpit. Actually, even with the genoa, I tend to do it mostly by hand, leaning toward the winch on the new tack for the last bit. Otherwise, between skirting, etc... AP timing and my sail timing tend to be off.

I saw a collision between a couple of boats just east of Alcatraz and listened to the radio. Everything seemed fine and both boats were seemingly retiring.

I sailed up the island picking up Ergo (a double-hander) - I decided to try to go for Harding Rock, even though some boats reached over to Angel to get out of the current. Probably not the best move as I lost to Taz! on that one.

Met up with Thumper, Ergo and Taz! trying to round Harding Rock which took me about 5 tacks... There was some 4 knots of current over there! A river!! And I was going upwind and up current. Big mess of boats around the mark, with a bunch of Js and other boats clearly not belonging to our race in the middle.

Photo NorcalSailing 2013, rounding of Harding Rock: See their writeup:

Then on a reach to Raccoon Straits. It was blowing 17 to 18 to did not set and I wanted to stay high given that the current was pushing me toward the island. I set the spinnaker in Raccoon Straight in about 11 knots of breeze. I normally run the halyard aft when I am singlehanded for the spinnaker but it was still at the mast (Bay Racing configuration). Another item I will have to think about next time.

So I had to launch from the bow, instead of the rail. Not a big deal now but it prevented me from sorting out a jam situation on the douse.

Was on a reach under spinnaker in a dying breeze. Ended up around 10 to 11 knots. I moved into the current which was taking me very fast to Red Rock first and then the brothers. I closed in on two express 27 and on one of the singlehanders in my division.

I gybed a couple of times, one out of Raccoon and one to head back into current. The Raccoon one wasn't too bad but I botched the other one and I had to play lines to untangle my spinnaker. I still have to figure out a better way to gybe so I don't collapse my spinnaker creating a big mess.

Now, I had to drop the spinnaker from the bow or at least the mast since the halyard was run up the mast (and not from the cockpit straight into the companionway). I released both sets of lines and moved forward to do a leeward drop right before the Brothers given the heady flood. Of course, the guy decided to jam against something so I couldn't gather the foot and of course the halyard slipped in my hand when I realized that so I had to spend a couple of minutes fishing out a quarter of the spinnaker from the water. I cleaned the mess, stuffed the spinnaker down below went back to adjust the sail to upwind and went forward again to clear the pole so I could tack. Obviously with the current; this took me way past the Brothers...

Between this and the late start, pretty bad showing!

I short tacked my way up wind in about 12 knots of breeze past the brothers so the #3 was still great. Tough call. The boats to the right were in heavier current and heavier wind and the boats to the left (where I was) in less current but a lot less wind. The wind dropped to 1 knot!!

So I changed to the genoa which was a big pain in the b**t short tacking. Was super hot, I ditched both fleece and jacket. I also grew very hungry so had my late lunch on that leg.

Waved at a few boats

The wind picked up a bit again right by the Richmond Bridge and looking ahead I could see boats heeling significantly so I decided to switch to the 3 again.

Unfortunately, I did this too early and the wind died again, after a sustained 10 knots. However, I figured that another sail change (slower singlehanded than with a full crew) and with hanks (ie I need to go barepole for a short while) was going to slow me down so I kept the jib up.

On the final stretch to Berkeley, the wind was light by the Richmond fuel dock and RYC - I tacked to head to the right as there seems to be more wind, I also gambled that the wind would pick up from the slot and I wanted to be along the first boats to get it.

I could see the wind line move toward me (and I guess I was moving toward it too) so I said 'Rock'n'Roll in 5 boat lengths!' - I put back on my fleece and got ready to dance!

It definitely was pretty rocky. It was a right reach to the finish, and the wind picked up in no time to 20+ knots, in shallow waters, with an ebb tide starting so very very choppy. I got very wet as the waves were breaking over the deck to starboard and I had a blast reaching all the way to the finish.

After the finish, I headed upwind back to the Club...turning up the gain of the autopilot to 9!! the highest!!

Around the Rocks Race - PreRace period

This was a fun race for me and the main goal was to try a new autopilot and feel my way around the boat single-handed, as this is a new learning racing style for me.

Elise is waiting for me at the dock in the morning, with a big smile on her face. We are going out today. Nice foggy morning in the San Francisco Marina.

Leaving the dock in a 4-5 knot breeze, enough to sail to the start. The forecast is for 20+ knots in the afternoon. Should be a fantastic day on the Bay.

It was flooding to I opted for a fairly westerly course - by TI, I noticed adverse currents - and the well known 'Alcatraz cone' which extends out quite a bit in a very heavy flood. It was great to see the currents on my way to the start as it influenced my strategy for the race.

During that part of the day, I wanted to try Brian, Elise's new autopilot named for its creator. I hosted the main and I set up a genoa and started going at a nice clip toward the start line.

Brian was very opinionated. Even though I didn't tell him so, he decided to turn the boat. After waiting for a couple of thinking, it would just go for a hard turn. I since talked to Brian and it looks like I had an older version of the software.
The 'stop me now' button worked fine and I or the NKE autopilot would take over.

I used NKE with a gain of 1 to head to the start line and was fine.

I found myself fighting the ebb coming out of San Pablo bay (when it floods the rest of the way) and the wind dropped to 1 knot so I had to get the engine going. 

I had to refuse a tow to some old woodies as I was already late to the start.

I started 10 minutes after my division start time! Ooops!

Around the Rocks results

and first half overall

Friday, April 26, 2013

Getting ready for the around the rocks race

Taking Elise to her slip before tomorrow's race

Brian teaching Nat how to operate his autopilot.

Elise second autopilot install

Photos courtesy of Brian and Serge


Getting cables ready for cockpit exposure

through deck prep

Actually fixing the current autopilot set of corroded connections

Meet 'Brian' Elise's new autopilot

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Boat Racing

An interesting race

There was one interesting race during the Resin Regatta for us.

First we were fouled at the start by Libra coming on port with no one to go so we started after everyone else (El Raton was also fouled) - we decided not to protest and just carry on even though we had taken a hit.

At a windward mark and after a good upwind, we had caught up with some boats and we had to avoid Wile E Coyote (a small collision with Peaches) which we protested and they did a turn.

We rounded up (a spin sheet caught under one of the crew ankles prevented us from easing the spinnaker), recovered and we traded places with Wile E Coyote again at the leeward mark.

At the next windward mark, Wile E Coyote had a bad set which allowed us to get away.

They made a better current call and they caught us back at the leeward mark.

We passed them on the upwind and because of miscommunication between tactician and driver we did a stupid tack BELOW them instead of above them on the last upwind allowing them to pass us.

We recovered and drove the boat as hard and as fast as we could and we beat Wile E by 3/4 of a boat length, with a 3rd place in that race.

More Photos from the Resin Regatta

 ex Risk, Elise, Motorcycle Irene and behind, Strega and Libra. Elise is in the middle of a gybe.
 Elise and Peaches battling on the downwind probably right after rounding the windward mark as the genoas are still up but being taken down. On the left (sail 11) is Wile E Coyote.
 The Express 27s are so fast that you can actually do waterskiing. It is a very novel approach to the sport.
Elise rounding the windward mark and hoisting the kite

all photos purchased from

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Resin Regatta Day 2

 Nathan - tactician, heavy air foredeck and light air driver

Mark and Mike, trimmers

Andrea - pit


 Cleaning up back at the dock

Someone went for a swim!!