Sunday, May 25, 2014

More great photos from the santa cruz delivery

Beer and tail wind!

What a great picture of Nathan!

Thank you David for the great pictures

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fishing or bottom cleaning?

Straightening up the tiller

During one of the autopilot test, the stainless steel bracket that attaches the tiller to the boat got bent

Super Serge to the rescue

Bending it back

Looks straight now. Ready to fire.

Adding more pins to the tiller

I will be leaving with two brains that can control the hydraulic ram below deck, I want to make sure that I have a backup for that hydraulic ram in the event that it breaks. So I am taking an X5 wand (borrowed) that will be connected to the Doomsday Device brain (separate brain, also acts as a brain backup for the Doomsday device) and a switch that tells it to use the tiller wand or the hydraulic ram.

I am also taking an ST 2000, a fully integrated unit which will probably not work in higher winds but should give me some sleep time in lighter air, or slower speeds, even if I have to reduce sail area quite a bit as the final backup. I will also be borrowing a second unit so I have a backup of a backup.

Failing that, it will have to be sail-based auto steering.

In any case, I am told that due to vibrations, the tiller pin to which you connect the tiller pilot can get out of its socket which renders the tiller pilot pretty much useless. So Brian recommended to have more than one pin.

Here is the result:

Serge touching up the varnish on the tiller around the pins

Re-installing the tiller on the boat.

Nicely epoxied pins. Hopefully I will never have to use them

The pins and the tiller is taking a trip to Los Gatos. Thank you Brian.


I will also be taking a couple of spare pins with me just in case.



That was the next boat post Optis. 4 m 20. Family boat (ie the family owns one). Olympic class. Fun because it is now team work, as there is a crew, a lot about weight placement, trapeze (never my position, being a lightweight, always at back), it has a napkin size spinnaker which is very very cute.

These boats can be fast, despite being an old design.

A lot of my summer sailing was pretty much, very little wind, swim suit and a dip when it would get too hot, getting back on board to dry out and cool down.

Great boat for women. Nicely balanced and with a sail plan that matches women's average body weight.

Easy to rig, easy to launch - fits on a little trailer that you can push around with bare hands and easily hook up to a car. The family boat has a wooden mast but most masts now in sailing clubs and schools will be made out of aluminum.

Brings back a lot of memories...I like dinghies a lot - and no matter what people will argue, I still am convinced that they are the best sailing school there is. There is no hiding. It is so light and responsive that you can feel the effect of every force on the boat very precisely. The controls are fairly simple so you are more atuned to wind than try to figure out whether the jib track should be a little more outward or not.

If I had more time and money, I would get a dinghy in addition to a keel boat and take it to lakes, beaches, etc.. and just play with it on a very regular basis. It is also so easy to set up that it makes sense to go out for only a couple of hours. Even to date, the 420 is one of my favorite boats and I am so happy to see some emerge on San Francisco Bay.

Look at this little guy! Turbocharged optimist

I learned to sail on these guys. They look much more like a nutshell than a boat bt they are fun. I never owned one, just used club ones that were dedicated to the junior program but I am pretty sure that none of them had a spinnaker.

Opening Day on the Bay (back in April)

Catching up with stuff - this was after the SC delivery, Lucie was there. I had just got hit by a pick up truck.

A beautiful Bay. A beautiful parade. A beautiful day.

All ohtos courtesy of Lucie.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Photos from an old SHTP start

Have you seen the driver?

Nathan driving...

love this photo of Nathan - very studious...

Elite Keel

On Saturday night after returning from the single handed farallon race, Elise was on her way back to the harbor, tacking to turn past the breakwater (or wave attenuator) when a jib sheet got stuck somehow and prevented a full tack. There wasn't enough sea room to attempt another tack, ie gain enough boat speed to make another tack possible. It was also low tide and Elise drifted onto the rocks.

Damage to the keel

Back of the keel has glass damage

Elise needed a tow out (Rudder seems fine, just keel damage) - fortunately she was close to home and was just hoisted out of the water directly.

Hairline crack in the gelcoat

Gelcoat and glass chips

Bottom of the keel rubbed against the rocks

Glass damage to the back of the keel

Point of impact I am guessing


Not so cool

More detail (photo: Serge)

Now working on a plan to get this all fixed up and ready to go before the start of the SHTP

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Another version of the French flag

Singlehanded Farallones Race 2014

On Saturday, Elise took part in the single handed race around the Farallon Islands, about 25 nautical miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is the third time Elise does the race and the 2nd time I do it at the helm.

I really love this type of race, and prefer the days when it is a west or north west breeze so Elise can enjoy a 25 mile downwind run. Forecast was for wind turning north so it was potentially a reach out and a reach back.

There was about 18 knots of wind at the start and I had a reef in the main and the #3 jib up. During a day race I push the boat a lot more than during multi day racing where rest starts to play a huge part in how competitive I can be - so I would tend to have a little bit more sail area up.

Slow start, a little late to the line but I managed to sail higher and faster than the other Express 27 even though it took me a while to get to the right depowering combination as the wind increased on the way to the gate. Caught up around the gate.

By the gate, the wind had increased to 20-25 knots, typical summer conditions on San Francisco Bay and conditions that the boat is optimized to handle by design - very gusty. With a full crew round the buoy race I'd be adjusting the main constantly. Short handed and long distance, I depowered a bit more to avoid having to make this constant adjustment and keep a more steady path with less effort. Managed to keep the boat fairly flat and fast. I had to last the entire day and had a sore shoulder...Super pleasant sail by my standard. Warm windy day and a date with my favorite boat and the ocean.

The great photo below was taken by norcalsailing (here is their great writeup of the race:

Nathalie Criou heads out the Gate in high winds on the reefed Express 27 Elise for the Singlehanded Farallones Race on Saturday. She's entered in the Singlehanded Transpac. ©2014

Most boats were staying in the middle of the channel to ride the ebb out. This was a bit complicated by a particularly dense ship traffic that day. Most of the time that I was within eye distance of the shipping channel there was at least one ship in it...

As soon as we reached Point Bonita, I saw winds between 25 and 30 knots and a huge washing machine. Norcail sailing picture below captures the situation perfectly.

It was a lot worse than during DH lightship. The boat was all over the place and I got really wet really quickly.

Was making super slow progress, like 3 knots (pathetic!) close hauled so I had to foot off to get some boat speed. Nasty little chop that I would break against the hull and drench me.

The good thing about the potato patch is that it doesn't last. The wind situation may not improve but the wave usually does. So it is just a matter of patience, it rarely is a situation that haunts you all the way to the Farallones. 

So I decided to press on - and I hate quitting a race that I think I can finish. Finally, it was also a practice for SHTP and I wouldn't just turn around because ther eis a rough uncomfortable but not dangerous per se patch. Well, if dangerous, I wouldn't turn around either in the middle of the ocean (where would I go???) but I would maybe stop racing for a while, or run before a storm, or deploy a drogue or something.

My sail choice was still ok butI  had to experiment a bit more with twisting to further depower the boat as the wind had increased further during that patch. 27 knots sustained and some gusts above 30 knots. Average between 25-30 knots.

Looking around, the other boats seem to also be struggling and making slow progress. Andrew Hamilton on the Moore just took off. Amazing sailing. Not reefed. Huge kudos. I saw a lot of boats turn around and heard the announcements on VHF.

After potato patch and around lightship, winds stayed strong but sea state improved a lot to a more regular pattern and I was treated to the up and down roller coaster I am used to during the windy lightship races.I have since learned to handle that type of wave action (it took me a while and Nathan as a teacher) - I foot off up the wave and attack it with a slant and then head up and down the wave) so I was now making good progress.

Each splash and bang down a wave made the rig shake but that seems to be the 'business as usual' - my heart went out to Elise who was so bravely supporting my race so far.

I stayed North of the shipping channel. There had been a request to stay out of the heavy traffic which meant out of the lane but the request had come as 'stay south of the channel'. Since the wind was supposed to clock north, I wanted to be on the other side to have a shortest course to sail. I saw one boat going really south though.

As expected the sea state improved vastly but the wind was still in the low 20s so I stayed reefed (single handed, I am usually faster than way as the boat is flatter and it requires less effort to sail). 

I was steering about 240 at that point which is more or less pointing at the islands.

I started to lose sight of the other boats and worried that I wasn't doing well in the race. I was having a blast sailing though. The conditions were now just wonderful for the boat and I was drying very quickly. It looks like at the same time, the conditions in the Bay were pretty crazy.

I saw a crewed Express 37 with a blue hull, maybe practicing for Pac Cup. They also seemed to be heading out to the island.

About 18 or so miles out, I saw Sputnik (that is NOAA weather buoy).

Winds there were a really comfortable 18 knots. I remained reefed but depowered everything else and the boat was doing 5.8 knots over water,really nice progress now. Nice gentle swell, beautiful sun and a fabulously pleasant sail. The wind did clock north so I only needed a couple small tacks to lay the islands.

Sailing in 15 knots in the lee of the islands.

I see spinnakers heading back to the gate which made me feel good as I was looking forward to a great downwind - one of the big reasons why I love this race, or any farallon race.

Finally reaching the islands

The day was just beautiful. Perfect sailing conditions. I ate my lunch then (I had been drinking regularly since the start) although I tried that Turkey Jerky which I hated...still good for emergency food in a liferaft as I presume that anything I'd eat then will taste delicious...

Unfortunately as I got closer to the islands, the wind clocked more and more north and now the boats that just rounded were on a reach and were not flying their spinnakers.

I actually left the dock forgetting my sea sickness patch and given the forecast, I though 'shoot, I am going to be sea sick. Oh well...I guess I will have to figure out how to sail with it' but surprisingly enough I was fine the entire day. I did avoid going down below and I used the little 'hospital bed pan' for toilet instead of the bucket as I can keep my head out with that device which is better for days like this, while I am still technically sitting down below. 

At the island, I met Verve again
and shook my reef off (took me way too long, tried to do it the lazy way but hey...reverted back to normal quickly but Verve passed me there). Bad news as we were about to enter a reach parade which meant very few passing opportunities. Was about 4:30pm when I reached the islands.

No idea where I was in the race. Saw only one other boat in addition to Verve near me and the ketch (to whom I owed like the distance between the gate and the island in terms of time, so he was definitely winning over me!) as well as 3 boats on their way back to the gate.

I turned to loose reach and then beam reached to get behind the island. I actually ended up downwind behind the islands, with winds in the 20-22 knot range.

I was pretty tired by then and really looking forward to the downwind. Unfortuantely a downwind leg behind the islands means a reachy leg back to the gate, and a tight reach at that. 

The boat was fast but not quite the downwind I had anticipated. Still fun. So no spinnaker for the three boats that I rounded the island with (Verve the other Express 27 and another boat)

Then in the middle of nowhere and about 17 miles from the gate, the wind died to almost nothing. I had 3 knots of apparent wind at some point. I put the kite up but in this little wind was making just as much progress as Verve without a kite just ahead of me. WTF?? How can the wind just die like that?

Just about enough wind to keep the kite semi full..This usually leads to high levels of frustration when coming from a nice little windy reach.

Getting to the lightship and seeing the pilot boat: 

And then around the lightship, also out of nowhere, the wind picked up again to 30+ knots! Base of 27 and above. I had the kite up but the wind had clocked back so I didn't have to take it down.

Awesome surfing. Was doing 14-15 and maxed out at 16 knots down a wave. Very nice swell much more regular and friendly. Fabulous fun. Boat stable as she likes to be. Tried autopilot and it managed to steer admirably well in the swell with the pole squared back. Had a fabulous time. The other boats didn't put their kites up except for one boat way out in the distance behind me. I had now put a comfortable distance between Elise and them

When I got to point bonita, I figured that the wind at the gate must be in the 40s since bay winds were forecast at 30 and I was seeing 30+ where I was so I decided to drop the kite there. Went down very nicely. Not even one inch of it in the water. Much better douse than most douses done with crew in these conditions!

Pilot leaving ship through a side door and a ladder. Pretty cool.

Also part of the decision was because there was a line of 4 outbound ships and 2 inbound ships, didn't want to have to gybe in the middle of that short handed in 30 knot winds. Not a big issue in open ocean but figured I wanted some cushion here.

Pointed the boat to the North shore to avoid ebb current. And then...right at Point Bonita, the wind died...had less than 10 knots. Started on a reach across to the south side to get a flood push around the south tower and more boat speed. Meanwhile, wind dropped even more...and with heavy current was making no progress over ground. Other boats caught up, and we zigzagged between ships.

Verve passed me at south tower. Wind increased to 30 knots again right under the bridge (unbelievable) and turned to a reach, all along the city front, so very tight reach to the finish. Min I saw was 27 knots. Verve finished ahead of me...

Constantly changing conditions are the most tiring for single handed sailing. I did put the ap on a few times during the upwind as I noticed that my attention span wasn't making me steer as well so I took a few breaks but difficult for AP to steer competitively.

Moore 24 and Olson 30 just smoked us! Fantastic race for them.

I had a ton of fun, good spinnaker practice (I wouldn't put it up and go down below in these conditions on a long distance passage that's why I have the twin sail, and it is a little bit of maintenance sail but really that day, it was just a matter of keeping the tiller still and let the boat do its thing.)

I finished shortly after 9pm (so 12+ hours total)