Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rounding up the troops

The picture is the right way up...

Resin Regatta photos - Sunday

Photos from Resin Regatta - Saturday

Mark looking back on life after the hoist

Getting ready for a windward douse

Nat to Mark 'hey could you admire the pole at some other time and perhaps just slide it back into its sleeve for now?'

OK, dousing post finish

This boat has a major advantage in that it is behind us

With Matt, getting the boat ready inthe morning

Post race. Salty.

Getting boat ready. with Nathan.

Trying to get Internet access to work via the satellite phone...

I know it doesn't look like it but I have not been very successful at it...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Qualifier track

18 APR 2014    3 days                 18:53:18 471 mi Average speed:5 mph

Furthest distance from shore: 140 miles

Not quite accurate as according to it, I sailed over land...I actually remember tacking my way up that channel in bloody 25 to 27 knot winds and choppy waters...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

SHTP Qualifier - Tuesday. Santa Cruz

Pulled into the harbor around 830 in the morning. All good and qualifier completed with a few more miles due to unforeseen weather conditions.

I actually had trouble making it to the harbor due to lack of wind, I had to go well out of my way to find 8 knots of breeze early morning. Wind picked up around 7am though and I was good then, so I ended up way in the middle of Monterey Bay.

What a difference. It was raining and blowing 40 a few miles north in the middle of the night and 8 hours later, this is what I see

Getting ready for harbor

Elise at dock

Another huge treat is that Skip Alan (who lives in Santa Cruz) came by to greet me and offer help (Internet, shower, etc...) - I am so honored. Skip is a world class sailor, winner of the 2008 transpac (and pretty much every race he does) and a wonderful human being. Heart in his hand. I met Skip in 2006 (we are both also cat lovers) when I was prepping for offshore crossing, by looking to do deliveries or partnering with someone on Pac Cup.

Welcome by Serge and Brian with banana bread and Nutella. Awesome! 

And I had three showers that day. Just because I could.

Photos when not mine, courtesy of Serge.

Monday Night Storm. SHTP Qualifier

Talked to Brian on the VHF and basically just managed to get a few miles further North from Half Moon Bay, maybe 6 or 8 miles than where I was when he called. Wind around 3 to 10 knots...Became very bored and tested satellite phone.

The wind then completely died at night, literally died. It was glass all around the boat. I had dinner on deck, under the stars. The sails were flapping badly but I decided to keep them up. Easier to reduce sail area than to hoist new sails, particularly with the main.

I decided to go to sleep since there wasn't much sailing to do. Not happy about prospect of drifting all night in the middle of nowhere so close to home. But usually in sub 5 knots I make a face...No risk of any lee shore, I was at least 7 or 8 miles away from the closest shore and the non existent waves would have been from the North (yes I did not see this Westerly that was so promised...) basically blowing me to no man's land, perhaps Carmel, somewhere 70 miles south of where I was.

Just boring...

Was alone with a sea lion that was swimming around the boat maybe hoping for some of that tuna salad I had for dinner. Talked to the guy but didn't hear back. Maybe a deaf sea lion. 

Fell asleep but set timer to keep  a regular watch schedule. I either slept through the timer or storm came up while I was asleep but I woke up to a boat on its side lying a hull (ie hove to but with so much power in the main that it is pinned to the water). I look around and see winds of 25 knots, black cloud over black sea, really dark seas full of white foam. Quite a sight! Totally surreal. Took me a couple of seconds to adjust to reality.

Priority 1: regain control of the boat and have her on a sustainable safe path. Vertical deck does not qualify. I freed up the main and set the boat downwind in an upright position. I had full sails up as I was coming from a no wind time... I got situated and noticed that the wind was coming form the north, straight from where I wanted to go.  25 knots is just fine, that's what I had most of the time so I was getting ready to point NW and start tacking my way up (breeze was coming straight from the North). It started to rain, really rain. Next time I look at the instruments, the wind was up to 40 knots and the rain had increased in intensity further.

Whatever last set of dry clothes I had was now very wet, including my butt. Definitely too much sail up for the conditions so I double reefed the main which stabilized things immediately and then went forward to put the #4 back up. I had left it on deck and all hooked up. What a brilliant idea that was! I never hoisted a head sail that fast. A heck of a wake up call. 

After that, things were pretty much under control again and it took less than 10 minutes to get all this done (less than 2 for the reefing.So I looked at my options. I could a) beat back up to the gate for about 40 miles or rather 30 miles and then 10 miles on a reach. Unpleasant. I probably was a little tired after this time at sea, and it would be pushing the boat and rig much more so that a lower apparent wind speed downwind. 40 knots of true wind might bring it up to 45 knots of apparent wind. I also did not know if the storm would increase further in intensity. There is forecast and there if reality and the two don't always match. I could b) heave to and wait the storm out here. Not fun. Boring. Plus I didn't know how long this would last. The west shift I had so anticipated I never saw. So 'short storms' could last for 48 hr for all I knew. I was pretty well rested because I had just slept but did I want to exhaust myself waiting around in a storm I actually probably didn't have to weather since I was very close to a safe harbor. I could c) have fun surfing downwind which the boat was naturally doing already. I am sure that there were other options like pointing the boat to hawaii and just go but I ran out of attention span. 

The apparent wind was very manageable - around 30 knots which is what the boat had seen with a spinnaker up during coastal cups several times. Other than unpleasant rain, the sailing was actually really nice now and the sail area seemed just fine for the downwind conditions. The boat was easy to steer and seems to thrive.

I could try to reach toward the coast and half moon bay but that option would soon not be available without an upwind portion. The problem I thought with half moon bay is that it is very much 'you miss this buoy and you end up on a rock, miss that one and other rock' so I didn't really want to have to deal with this in a low visibility, rain everywhere type situation. Probably pretty sheltered from northerly but since the sailing was pretty good, and the AP was doing just fine driving the boat, I could actually get down below for a while to rest from the weather and just go downwind. Santa Cruz harbor should also be quite protected from the northerly.

So I kept going downwind and decided to pull into Santa Cruz, some 50 miles south of where I was. I remember from reading Skip Alan's storm story that it was good practice to give the Coast Guard a heads up of my situation so they would be more efficient if a search and rescue operations had to be underway so I called them to let them know of my situation. They asked some questions about my safety equipment (and my weight and height) and I confirmed that I was not requiring assistance just wanted to communicate the situation, my position and my plan to head into Santa Cruz. (I called them when I got there so they could close the case). 

I also called Nathan Bossett to see if he could contact SC harbor or Monterey for a spot and to notify them of the change of plan (well I left a message...it was the middle of the night...) but he called me back and we spoke. That was helpful because I didn't have that info on sat phone. The rest of the night was actually fun. I had well slept and the boat was now just surfing nicely in very nicely formed and regular swell. The rain wasn't fun but the sail didn't feel like a stormy sail at all, more like a fun ride downwind, typical of a lightship race or something like that. Boat in its element. If boat can handle situation and likes it, skipper can handle boat and like it. Closer to Santa Cruz, the wind abated to 20+ knots, even at the corner and I emerged from the dark cloud and rain to find a beautiful starry night.

I don't know if my decision was a good one. continuing upwind might have been just fine. I guess I will never know. It certainly didn't seem to be a bad decision except it is costing Elise participation in the Vallejo race...


SHTP Qualifier - Dolphin Video

I had a large group of dolphins swim around the boat

It was really fantastic. I loved the company and they are so fast and beautiful. They were having a great time, just playing around. I guess they were just as happy to see the boat as I was to see them. Penguins and dolphins will always bring a smile on my face...

Some were slapping their tail on the water after jumping. I had never seen them do this before. Wonder what it means.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Monday - SHTP qualifier. Videos including couple of dolphins


More dolphins

Monday - SHTP Qualifier

Wind lightened up near Monterey Bay. I reached the latitude of Carmel after a little over 100 miles of reaching and tacked back out to sea when the wind dropped below 10 knots...as I'd go offshore it would move back up to low teens. Changed sail again to #3 after waiting for a little while to see if it would hold (I never just rushed a sail change based on changing calming wind conditions...after my experience of the first day...). I'd first shake a reef as that's a much easier/low effort thing to do. At that time, I was about 95 miles south of the golden gate bridge but as I was tacking my way up, I'd be sailing a little bit more distance...I also changed into my last set of dry clothes. They didn't stay dry for very long although rain was less salty than spray...

Sailed around hundreds of dolphins for at least half an hour, was absolutely magical. 

Sun rose, wind lightened up but I shook out reefs, etc... and boat speed was still up and for the first time since beginning of my trip I had a t shirt on. 

In the morning, emerging from the 'rough' night into lighter winds

Later in the day

A bit overcast initially

The sun came up and it was time to let things dry out a bit

I had to tack my way up the coast...

Sometimes I sat behind that dodger and laughed at the spray and waves that couldn't get to me. Childish.

Then a group of dolphins played around the boat. It was so much fun!

Most of my photos ended up with water splashes...

You can see some of them on the bottom left of the picture..

A pretty orderly boat for several days and nights at sea...

 Hey, the ocean is heeling

hehe...Happy happy me.