Monday, June 29, 2009

There's no place like Halifax. There's no place like Halifax. There's no place like Halifax.

If only Auntie Em could see us now. I added a Bermuda 1-2 section to the site with some race analysis, photos and video. Halifax prep continues at a brisk pace but I keep adding stuff to my list and with time so short, something's going to give. Here's my punch list:
- Replace main outhaul
- Replace bow roller plate
- Fix winch assembly issue
- Up the mast, inspect rig, standing rigging, radar dome, reflector, mast head, etc.
- Tune rig
- New turnbuckle pins
- Chafe protection on shrouds
- Refer clasp
- Fix aft cabin leak
- Plug mast base leak
- New jib sheet
- Reinforce port laz shelf
- Clean & dry out boat
- Get more spyder line
- Repair weather cloth
- Need more 5200 fast cure
- Recalibrate speedo
- Clean/inspect bilge
- Engine check out
- Return traveler car
- Scrub bottom
- Secure nav station trianchor plate
- Fix VHF DSC
- Inspect all autopilot wiring
- Anchor locker shelf protection
- Get more tape
- Fix leaking portlights
- Fix deck nav lights

To make things more interesting, Hawthorne Cove tossed me off their dinghy dock even though I only use it about a week between June and September and Marblehead told me to find my own pre-race mooring. It's easy to feel like the underdog when everyone's against you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wow. We did really well.

We're very happy to have finished a grueling race and even happier at the results. Looks like we have the win in Class 4 all buttoned up on elapsed and corrected time which means the accomplishment of an amazing goal for me. With the win on each leg, Jeroboam earned the combined win as well for Class 4. Who ever thought this little Beneteau would be such a performer? Certainly not I, in fact when I bought it, I recall saying it would always be just a cruising boat and that I'd never race it. Jeroboam proved me wrong once again. A big thank you to Zoe for putting in a huge effort on what was a physically intense race. And thank you to everyone for posting/emailing/texting cheers, encouragement and praise. It was great to be able to share it with everyone. I'll post more on the race on it's own page on the website with a recap of some of the race's finer points and some pictures. The Marblehead-Halifax race starts July 5th and will also include a transponder website and my blog posts so please follow along if the novelty hasn't worn off yet.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The burden of the beat

We're getting a little crushed out here with 30+ knot winds and heavy seas but the good news is that we've been gradually getting a lift all day and are almost fetching our mark, the finish line outside Newport Harbor. We're so wet that we decided our first meal in Newport will be taken at a restaurant that doesn't serve water. If all goes well, we hope to be tied up at Newport Yacht Club before dark tomorrow.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tally Ho, To Newport!

I think we're finally free of the gulf stream and heading toward Newport. The wind has shifted to our advantage and if it holds, we hope to finish sometime Wednesday. The crew is a bit tired. This leg has been much more physically challenging than the first but the sandwich and grapefruit inventory appear to be adequate so onward we slog.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rough and tumble

We worked hard for the mileage since my last post, lots of squalls, reefing, soakings from above and sea water over the rail, but at last we've arrived at the beginnings of the gulf stream. There's a pretty hefty current pushing us East as we plow our way across but so far the wind is favorable so no complaints here. The other side may hold a frustrating beat into Newport but we'll see. The sea state is quite confused, with no real wave pattern to discern, just mountains of water over the sides of which little Jeroboam hurls itself.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

When cruising boats race

All those cruisers out there know what it's like to fly an asymmetrical from their bow anchor roller, and we all wonder just how long that thing is going to handle the load it was meant to handle, but only in the other direction. We found out yesterday. The whole front portion sheared away in a jagged aluminum wreck but thankfully it didn't leave behind a gapping hole in the bow, nor are we planning to anchor anytime soon so all's well for now.

We had a great run for about 12 hours at 8+ knots, some of Jeroboam's finest work. The wind nosed around on us a bit this afternoon so we're beating now at a slightly slower pace but hope to return to a fine reach and more close-to-hull-speed action as the wind backs. The big question mark is the low pressure system that's going to be just South of New England soon. I think most of the fleet might be shying away to the west but that's where the first of the wind on the nose will be so I'm tempted to head right for it, catching some of the more favorable wind angles, albeit lighter air. We still have some time to think about it so no decisions have been made yet.

All in all, a grand start to the race. In plenty of breeze, which we've had, Jeroboam typically does well relative to her competition so I'm hoping we're at least even with them at this point. Charge!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Race Delayed 24 Hours

The aforementioned low predicted for New England is the cause of some concern among racers and race committee alike, apparently because there is one forecaster, Dane Clark, who is predicting 50 knots of breeze. I've not seen his forecast but two others I reviewed this morning don't predict anything over 30. Oh well. Better safe than sorry. Stay tuned for a race start tomorrow, Friday June 18. Class 4 starts at 1240 ADT (1140 EDT).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Leg 2 Start Tomorrow, 12:40 ADT

Finally, the return race is upon us – our class starts at 1240 Atlantic Daylight Time tomorrow so that’s 11:40 AM Eastern. It seems like ages since we arrived in St. George. We just have a couple things to deal with tomorrow morning but we’re basically ready to go. We have a solid return strategy based on this evening’s weather reports for at least the first three days but there’s a low predicted for New England later in the race that’s a bit of a wild card. We’ll gather some weather data in route and make some adjustments along the way. Looks like a lot of spinnaker work on this run which is good for us as we hope to move close to our hull speed for the first 48 hours. Above is a shot of Jeroboam’s crew after a long, final day of prep work.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Race Prep Progress

Great progress made on Jeroboam since finishing leg 1: -reinforce the gooseneck -replenish water/fuel -repair small leak at mast base -replace spin sheet snapshackle -reduce chafe between jib furl base and forestay entry point into anchor locker -acquire more ripstop tape -replace clips on salon lee cloth -rewire compass light -replace turning block sheave -engine check, replace belt -autopilot off course alarm issue dealt with -repair main furl line feed plate -acquire blue tape -try out new traveler (fail) -lube & grease winches -go up the mast, check all standing rigging -check tape on lifelines & standing rigging -buy a new toothbrush

Tuesday we'll see if Doyle made any progress on the spinnaker repair and do some laundry/food prep and Wednesday I'll scrub the bottom and put some ideas together for a return strategy. It's all coming together!

Friday, June 12, 2009

And the first leg winner is...

While not official, I can comfortably say that not only did I place first in my class, but on corrected time, I beat the entire fleet. This is a huge accomplishment for me. Many thanks to everyone for cheering me on, lending advice, working on the boat, etc. There is, however, no rest for the weary as leg two is still before us and there is much to do prior to the start. Each evening brings unrestrained revelry among the race participants while your dutiful correspondent toils away on Jeroboam from dawn to midnight. The fat lady has far from sung.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Finish

For those of you following the race on iboattrack.com, you might have guessed that I finished yesterday afternoon just before 4. I'm very pleased with the result, although what exactly that is I don't know yet. Official finish times for some key boats have yet to come in so the final standings have not yet been released, and may not until tomorrow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. The boat faired very well. I have a managable list of repairs/upgrades I need to get done prior to the start of the return race on Thursday of next week in addition to the usual pre-race work like scrubbing the bottom, food prep, safety equipment review, systems checks, etc. The photo above is taken at the final approach to the finish line - you can just barely make out the island on the horizon. And the video below is one of the porpoises off the bow on Saturday at dawn. I'll post my final race results when it's available, perhaps today but definately tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And now we play the waiting game

Well the asym blew up again and just in case I need it one last time, I went after the tear frostbiting style with about 30 yards of duct tape. I doubt it will last very long but I may not even need it.

The wind is very light but on the nose so I'm just gently making my way toward Kitchen Shoal, NE of St George Harbour. I had hoped the wind would hold out but there's just not a lot going on out here for the moment. Thankfully there's a half knot of current helping me along and the breeze is just enough to fill the sails. The forecast indicated it would fill in from the SW or W later this morning but we shall see. I'm about 15 miles from Bermuda and still hope to finish today though it certainly won't be this morning.

I found a new use for the smaller spinnaker last night that I'm very excited about. The shape doesn't indicate it would be of any use in this capacity but I found it to be a productive reaching spinnaker, producing 5.5 knots of boat speed from 8 knots of apparent wind speed at an apparent wind angle of 72 degrees. My 140% genoa was only capable of propelling the boat at about 4.5 knots under similar conditions. If the wind keeps clocking on me this morning, I may have an opportunity to pull it out again which would be fun.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's alive

After three unsuccessful attempts, the three quarter ounce asym is flying once again although I'm being very gentle with it, keeping the apparent wind below 10 knots while trying to stay high enough to make Kitchen Shoals. It could blow at any minute but for now, all's well except the tape supply. I've been fighting with a large cold water eddy NW of Bermuda. With 1-1.5 knots of current in my face all day, tiresome isn't the word. Forecast looks good and I'm hoping to finish sometime tomorrow.

Good run last night

Couple squalls and some lighting showers but nothing too hairy as I only had to reef once. I'm just now getting rolled by who I thought was Bluebird (sail number 171 & a blue hull), but as they got closer and dawn materialized, I discovered the boat to be Ariana (sail number 17 & a blue hull).

Monday, June 8, 2009

The 12 hour dead zone appears to be over

After wallowing around for half a day, we appear to be on our way again as the wind chimed in from the SW. A true test of my patience as come to an end and the race is back on.

All quiet on the western front

The wind went very light late yesterday afternoon and, if possible, has gone even lighter overnight. If it were not for the single knot of current in my favor, I doubt I'd be making any headway at all. The weather is beautiful, bright sunny sky with hardly a cloud in sight but the lack of wind makes me wish for another low pressure system, rain and all.

I've taken to belting out TV theme songs with the Beverly Hillbillies and Gillian's Island comprising much of the concert, though no cheers have gone up from the passing wildlife so I'm forced to change my tune to some local favorites such as Flipper's theme song.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

When the going gets tough

After a brilliant run this afternoon with an average speed in excess of 8 knots, I blew out my large 0.75 ounce asymmetrical spinnaker. The tear is at the clew and is too large to tape up. I think I can have it repaired in Bermuda but for this leg of the race, it's all done. This is a crippling blow to my competitiveness as my other spinnaker is too small for light air work and precisely those conditions will comprise the balance of the race. It's painful to watch the boat limp along at 6.5 knots when you know, with the right sail, she can do 8. I'll have to slog it out as best I can to the finish line and hope everyone else blew out their spinnakers as well.

Rolling Rolling Rolling

As "Big Boat Craig" likes to say, it's a matter of keeping the bus moving. Nice breeze on the port quarter with the big asym flying is yielding 7-8 kts of SOG. (for the non boaters among you, that's good). I intend to enter the gulf steam at 38 degrees 30 minutes North latitude, 068 degrees 40 minutes West longitude where the main body of the stream dips Southward a bit and will hopefully provide an additional knot or two of VMG. At my current rate of speed, I should reach it around sundown. There's one more stream feature I might play, a cold water eddy Northwest of Bermuda, the West side of which may yield a knot or two of favorable current. It will take me fairly West of the rum line so I'll wait a day or two before deciding so I can get a decent wind forecast for the area before I trek over there.

When I looked at the iboattrack.com web site on Friday morning prior to the start, I noticed that they didn't have the class breakdown posted. For those of you interested in tracking my competition, here's a list of boat names and their skippers:

Bluebird, Gust Stringos Curlew, Brian Guck Glory, Allerton Cushman, Jr. Mirari, Dan Stadtlander Nimros, Douglas Shearer Panacea, Peter McCrea Robin, Douglas Campbell Williwaw, Rusty Duym Windswept, Rick McCally

Mini dismasted last night

Among the garbled VHF transmissions, it sounded like the mini named Carbon Neutral was dismasted and required a tow back to Newport. Ouch! At dawn, a pod of dolphins swam along with me for a half hour or so and I'll post some video of them when I get to Bermuda.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Good Start, plenty of wind

We might get a little crushed tonight from the low pressure system that came through but nothing too bad. We're beating in to the rain and the waves are up to about a meter and a half and will probably increase as we get further south. I'm just sauntering down the rhum line so far and haven't really decided which side I want to play. All's well!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Doublehanded News Flash (Halifax)

5 double handed entries in each division (PHRF & IRC) with another 4 undeclared! I know I shouldn't be thinking about the next race when this one hasn't even started yet but this is pretty exciting. Halifax has never had this many double handed entries. Not even close. This is heating up to be a great race!

The award for best use of a paint stick

Keane will like this one. A wholly inappropriate use for a worthless scrap of junk serving a vital role in the affairs of men: a paint stick supports the sat phone external antenna.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

49 degree water + 1.5 hours under = numb fingers

The dry suit came out for one last bottom scrub today. No, it's not coming to Bermuda with me.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Inspection passed with flying colors

Woohoo! Nine months of prep officially paid off this morning as the Bermuda 1-2 boat inspector issued a passing grade to Jeroboam although some would say the work won't really pay off until we're safely back in Newport following the race. Zoe and I got some good practice in over the weekend but blew out the traveler car. I have some suppliers scrambling this morning to find a replacement but I won't really know the score until I have one in hand. This might be a nail biter.