Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Jeroboam

GPS location Date/Time:08/10/2013 15:42:12 EDT

Message:Autopilot fixed again. Thx Kim! Salem bound

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

NE Harbor Race

On the road again, hurling along the traffic filled lanes of Rt 95 on a Concord Coach bus toward Rockland, ME where Jeroboam has swung on a town mooring since my last race, the Gulf of Maine Solo/Twin. Arrival time is 9:30 tonight which presents another challenge: the launch stops running at 7. It's either swim or "borrow" a dingy. 

I'll get a pre-dawn start tomorrow for Portland, hopefully arriving in time for the Northeast Harbor Race skippers meeting at Centerboard Yacht Club, and an opportunity to visit with some good friends who will turn into fierce competitors on the starting line Friday at 1 PM.

I've yet to do this race. Two years ago, hurricane Irene affected a cancellation but not before I'd sailed up to Portland for the start. Last year the new mast was in but the new main wasn't ready. This looks like it's the year.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Great American IV

I had the privilege of sailing with Rich Wilson last weekend on his newly acquired IMOCA Open 60 named Great American IV. Rich competed in and finished the Vendée Globe in the 2008-2009 edition which is an around the world, non-stop, single handed race (read about it here). He was only the third American to enter and the second to finish. This is easily the most challenging sailboat race on the planet and arguably the most difficult sporting event of all time.

He's gearing up for another go in the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe and is way ahead of the curve by already having the boat in hand. This was my first sail on an Open 60 and the experience instilled in me an even greater respect for the skippers who sail these around the world. It was a lot of boat for the two of us just zipping up to Portland from Marblehead; solo around the world must take an enormous amount determination.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The old familiar sights of Rockland.

You know that incoming tide I was all excited about on that last post? The breeze lightened up so much that the swing came long before the finish.

Jeroboam finally crossed around 9:35 pm after some hairy encounters between Two Bush Channel and Mussle Ridge Channel to avoid some outgoing tidal currnent. I had some success in the last Downeast Challenge (2011) so built on that courage and ventured out onto some touch and go territory. No groundings to report but lots of headway so all's well.

It was fun to roll into Rockland. This was one of my home bases when I was spending a bulk of my summers in Maine. Good restaurants, good bars, plenty of dock space/moorings, fantastic competition. In July/Aug it really doesn't get any better than this.

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Jeroboam

GPS location Date/Time:07/28/2013 17:40:17 EDT

Message:Two Bush Island to port. Dying breeze.

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure


It's hard to be competitive when you're autopilot is on the fritz, but I don't wish to minimize the fact that Peter on Panacea has sailed a great race. We're neck and neck as I type this message on approach to Penobscot Bay. There's still a long way to go so anything could happen. Looks like we're going to have a long beat into the bay, conditions which sometimes gives Jeroboam the advantage over Panacea because I can hold tighter angles on the beat. Throw in some cold rain and fog and this will be a grueling finish. The one bright spot is we have an incoming tide so at least we won't have to battle the current as well.

The fluxgate compass is the problem with the autopilot. Again. I had the same issue on the delivery to Europe this spring and had to replace it on Horta so the one in there is brand new. Well, only three months old and with 4,000 nm of use. I suppose "new" is relative. Still, it drives me crazy when this stuff don't work the way I need it to.

Last night, I was running down wind with the kite up, down below, making some dinner when the autopilot decided to dive deep and gybe the boat. The spinnaker wrapped around the headstay really badly and took me a long time to sort it out. After the second autogybe, I tried another full recalibration but the something just isn't right with the compass. I'm using the auto pilot for upwind work right now and it's snaking around a bit but not too badly.

If it can't hold a course by the time I get to Rockland, I may leave it there for my buddy Kim Baker to fix and take the bus back to Boston. I don't think I'd be up for a 120 nm delivery back to Salem hand steering after this race.

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Jeroboam

GPS location Date/Time:07/28/2013 08:36:43 EDT

Message:Autopilot is killing me. 2 awful spin wraps

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Gulf of Maine Solo Twin

Slow start but the wind gradually filled. Resolute took an early lead and shows no signs of letting up. My autopilot was all 6's and 7's at the start so I had to do a full recalibration. It's not 100% but it's doing ok right now so fingers crossed.

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Jeroboam

GPS location Date/Time:07/27/2013 16:15:44 EDT

Message:Slow start, autopilot issues, moving well now

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Jeroboam

GPS location Date/Time:07/27/2013 08:31:43 EDT

Message:GOM Solo/Twin race, Ptown-Rockland, ME, 140nm

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Marblehead Halifax Race

Rolled into Marblehead this afternoon in time to see a bunch of friends start. Here's the Class 40 Dragon that I raced against in Bermuda 1-2 and Newport-Bermuda.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Icing on the Cake

At the line honors awards ceremony last night, the race committee make it official: Jeroboam took first in fleet on corrected time!

Saturday, June 22, 2013


As everyone knows, I’m back. Jeroboam crossed the finish line at 1816 UTC on Wednesday to a fantastic greeting of friends and family. This finish time assures me of an elapsed and corrected time class victory. While it has not yet been made official, my back of the envelope calculations indicate an extremely good showing among the fleet on corrected time. Jeroboam performed brilliantly without any major issues or equipment failures.

The last 48 hours were some of the most grueling as I made a very sharp cut across the corner of Nantucket Shoals. These shallow waters extend about 30 miles south and east of Nantucket and have claimed many ships and lives over the years. The charts simply cordon off the entire region, labeling it “Area To Be Avoided.” There are no channels or channel markers or aids to navigation or lighthouses. The depths indicated on the charts are virtually meaningless as the chart datum is from 1940 and with each winter storm, the sandbars and shoals move around, sometimes considerably. At one point, the chart indicated I should be in 60 feet of water with plenty of room all around the boat but my depth sounder read 10. It was pitch black with thick fog. I was flying the spinnaker trying to work my way against 1.5 knots of head current. Then the wind died and I was struggling to keep the boat off the sand. I got the anchor on deck and was preparing to hurl it over when the NE breeze filled in and quickly built to 15 knots. By the time dawn hit, I was out of the shoals and sighted land, Nantucket, to the north. It was the end of my most frightening sailing episode on this race.

The rest of the way into Newport was some brilliant summer sailing weather. I put on my shorts and a tee shirt, rooted around for my sunglasses which hadn’t been used all race, and enjoyed a fantastic close reach, then beat into Narragansett Bay.

Upon finishing, my good buddy’s Chris, Jay and Damean jumped on board from several of the chase and media boats to take over the helm while I put my feet up to enjoy the moment. It’s been great to spend some time with the other competitors and new friends in the more relaxed Newport environment as pre-race Plymouth was fairly tense with prep work.

A few people have asked me if the race was easy compared to the delivery. I think they each had their challenges. The intensity of the competition during the race took as much out of me as the rough weather and equipment failures of the delivery. The experience smashed any preconception I had of my own mental, physical and emotional limits. All were pushed to incredible heights, providing a whole new perspective of what I’m capable of.

I want to thank the race committee for putting on a fantastic race. David Southwood has done a great job leading the charge and Norm Bailey has been extremely helpful in so many ways as have their wives and Alex Beris, a volunteer student from Plymouth who has labored intensely on the website and social media venues. Thank you also to fellow competitors Richard Lett, Jac Sandberg and Nico Budel for setting the pace in front of me and pushing me to keep up with them. These guys never let up once and it took everything I had to try to keep pace.

Lastly, I want to give a big thank you to my short support team and family for helping out in so many ways. Gina and Tom lead the charge on a day to day basis, relaying my reports and securing spare parts for me during the delivery to Europe and to Nate & Anya for meeting me in Plymouth. Duncan Sweet and his team in Horta helped tremendously in getting the boat back together and on track to cross the starting line. Huge thanks to Joe Cooper for putting together the Sail for Kids program with the Storm Trysail Foundation. We had lots of financial supporters for this program and I’m very appreciative to everyone who helped us. I would like to single out Walter and Gina Beinecke and Fred Morris of Lodge of St Andrews for their generosity –having people like this believe in me is incredibly motivating and a real honor. And finally to my Mom, Dad, brother Jeff and his wife Jody for helping in so many ways.

I may have been out there on my own but this really has been a team effort. Thank you.

Photo Credits: www.billyblack.com

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chasing Puffs

Light and variable winds will dominate the race course until about 0800 UTC tomorrow when a beautiful NNE breeze will fill in across the race course and carry me to the finish. Yeeeeeeeehaw! In the meantime, I'm working hard to make progress through the light stuff. I'm catching some decent puffs that are sticking around for a while - some consistent forward motion so far, though not always in the right direction.

I found an interesting current feature that helped me out a lot earlier this morning. As the detrimental tidal current was filling in the Gulf of Maine via the Great South Channel, the northwest edge of George's Bank was like a back water zone - it was flowing counter to the main body of water in the channel. I've seen this effect in rivers, particularly at a bend but never really thought about the effect in the ocean. The wind didn't cooperate for me to spend too much time over there but if you find 0.5 knots of favorable current when you expected to find 2 knots unfavorable, it's cause for celebration. I broke out one of Andrea's Sardegna mineral water bottles labeled "Frizzante" and pretended it was champagne.

My routing software predicts Jeroboam's finish tomorrow night which would be fantastic. As long as I can make some reasonable progress in the light air today and tonight, and the NE breeze actually does arrive in the morning, tomorrow night sounds about right. It's always a bit frustrating at the end of a long race getting hit with light wind but with the promise of 20 out of the NNE tomorrow, I can suffer through it.

I'm glad to be away from George's Bank. The fog was scary thick last night and there were tons of fishing boats around. Since my radar is out of commission, and only 2 of the ~20 fishing boats I came across had AIS, there was no rest to be had. Thankfully the temperature was fairly mild last night although it was wet on deck from the fog. As soon as I was off the bank and the fog lifted this morning, I grabbed a couple rapid fire naps.

It's a really nice day out here with fairly clear skies and sunshine. I just need a little more wind to wrap up this race. Homeward bound!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Richard: Put Down the Wheaties

Intense sailing last night with unending reefing and unreefing. It's been a major chore getting this boat to move efficiently in the variable speed breeze and my shoulders are killing me from all the grinding. But whatever I was doing wasn't enough to even come close to matching Pathway's progress across George's Bank last night - Richard put down some serious miles so hat's off to him.

I just reached the outskirts of the bank a little before 1700 UTC and picked up a knot of favorable current but that will turn foul as it draws me up into the Gulf of Maine through the next tide swing. The breeze has been a 20-30 degree lift from the forecast for the last couple hours so I'm expecting to get headed again at some point. Anyway you slice it, my tacking angles are not going to be pretty this evening but should improve in the wee hours when the tidal currents start swinging my way again.

I've been racing for 21 days now but it seems a lot longer. Part of me doesn't want it to end but most of me is ready for the luxuries of shore. The freeze dried is getting particularly old.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Slogging Up

Ah, the old familiar sounds of beating up wind have returned; the creeks and groans from the boat, the strain of the autopilot to keep a course, the pounding of the bow into waves, the flogging of sails as they're reefed and unreefed, then reefed again, then unreefed, then reefed. Lots of intensity shifts last night and today have kept me hopping trying to keep the boat moving at max speed. There will be plenty more of that over the next couple days as the forecast has the wind strength constantly shifting along my route.

The 2000 UTC position report shows Pathways doing 7.5 knots! He's over George's Bank so I hope some of that is current. It's been fun trying to keep up with those guys but I'm definitely out classed. The best I could do this afternoon was about 6 knots but I just found a little current myself so I'm getting another two or three tenths out of it. Who knows how long it will last.

Speaking of George's Banks, I have all the tidal current charts out and am trying to see how my approach and timing will be impacted. There's not a lot I can do up there except perhaps delay a tack by a couple hours to ride/avoid some current as I'm more restricted by winds shifts.

I've been good about rationing my fresh fruit. I just ate my last orange and still have some apples kicking around. Amazing they lasted so long without refrigeration. On second thought, they had plenty of refrigeration.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bring that Beat Back

There's been no rest for the weary managing through the breeze transition last night and today. Just when I think I'm pushing the spinnaker too much and switch to double headsail reaching, the breeze slacks or shifts or both so get up there and set the kite again. This happened six times today. I've been pretty aggressive about carrying sail so I'm happy with the performance through the transition.

Now we're back to beating as two lows are forecasted to come rambling across the course. Both appear to be tracking way too far north to get on top of them for some downwind action so it will be a nice long beat all the way into the barn. 15-20 out of the SW is nothing to complain about though it will probably be lighter as we get in toward RI Sound. With less than 500 nm to go, this is the final push here at the end.

Earlier in the race, during some of the beating stretches, I noticed Pathways can hold a very tight angle, tighter than Spirit and certainly tighter than Jeroboam but I found that if I didn't pinch up too much, I wasn't keeping pace but I wasn't getting slaughtered either. Anyway, I'll do my best and see if I can at least stay in the same ballpark as these guys.

I got the boat all prepped for more beating: dried out the spin and staysails a little and stowed them, secured all the running rigging, aired out the cabin a little. I've been charging the batteries with the engine lately trying to run down some of this fuel on board to lighten up a little. I'll also be making less water each day as I work through the reserves. This boat definitely performs better light so I think every bit counts.

The sun made a number of appearances today and I'm hoping that as this SW breeze settles in, we'll have some milder temps. The fog just rolled back in but the sun is still shining. How does that work?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Into the Next Breeze

I had a brilliant run last night of surfing down some monsters and hitting double digit speeds regularly on the wave face. One momentarily registered 15.4 knots! That could be a record for this boat. I also played around with some of the autopilot settings and improved downwind performance considerably. It was very nice not having to stand at the helm all night. After pouring over the manual last night I have some ideas on further refinement I'll try out tonight.

The breeze gradually petered out this morning leaving me to wrestle with light and fluky wind this afternoon. I managed to find a few puffs and had the benefit of 1-1.5 knots of favorable current so I think I made the most of it. The new breeze has filled in and is building to what is forecasted to be another nice downwind run for the next 12 hours, then lighten up and shift to the north for about 12 hours of beam reaching. Should be a fun 24 hours ahead.

The biggest news of the day was that I was able to confirm the sun still exists. I actually saw it with my own eyes for an hour this morning, it's first appearance in about a week. It wasn't enough for the cabin to dry out but I'll take it. Then, to remind me I'm in Canada, it poured for an hour while I was trying to dry out one of the staysails not in use. Maybe it's me. The weather in the Azores was horrible, Plymouth was worse and now the Canadian Maritimes are trying to out do them both. It's following me around.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Commence the Downwind Run

Well I made it to the north side of this next system and am fastening my proverbial seatbelt in anticipation of a 36 hour downwind sleigh ride. The stronger wind will be to my north so I'm trying to get a little further up there, basically where Pathways to Children and Spirit already are. Those guys have out positioned me at ever step of this race. I really should have gone way further north right from the start.

But there was a huge payoff last night for not being so far north. They got caught in a lull just south of Newfoundland while I rode a brilliant breeze halfway across the Bank, reeling in PtoC to the tune of 30 miles between midnight and 0800 UTC. I even had a knot of favorable current pushing me along. This was a huge gain for me and I've got to fight hard over the next 36 hours to keep up with those guys. Easier said than done as theirs are planning hulls.

When I had dinner with Richard Lett of Pathways to Children prior to the start, he described an almost serene state on his boat when it rockets along on a plane at 14+ knots. So in control is the boat that he simply engages his fancy NKE autopilot and gets some sleep. Contrast that to Jeroboam where downwind is the least stable point of sail for the autopilot and often requires hand steering to keep it on its feet. Anyway, I'll do my best to keep up with them. I do need to get a little further north though to have a shot as that's where the 25-30 knot wind barbs are which can get Jeroboam going at 8+ knots.

I'm really looking forward to some more downwind action. All the upwind beating on this course gets to you after a while.

Since I got onto the Grand Banks, I've seen a lot more boat traffic, birds and other wildlife. Also a lot more fog. Last night was a little scary as I heard tons of chatter on the VHF and the RTE was registering many pings from other boats' radar, both X and S band so there were some big boats around too, but only one boat showed up on my AIS and none visually as the fog was so thick. My buddy Chris, who lived in Newfoundland for a while, warned me that lots of the fishing boats out here don't carry AIS.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bashing Upwind

Hard to believe it's the middle of June. I'm freezing. But hey, look at the bright side: there are no icebergs on the race course (http://weather.noaa.gov/pub/fax/PIEA88.gif) so we lucked out there.

I'm battling my way up to the Grand Banks and where the race course funnel begins. To the north we have Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and to the south we have the gulf stream where the current is flowing strong to the east and makes no sense for us to venture down there. At its narrowest point down toward the southwestern tip of Nova Scotia, the course is only about 130 miles wide so being on the favored tack of any new headwind could bring some solid gains.

The forecast for today was 15 on the nose, I've got 30. I was on a starboard tack for a while but the foul current was really getting to me. I don't mind going nowhere, I'd just like to do it fast, so now I'm on port, with the current, into the wind, with enormously steep, short period waves. This boat has a very flat bottom and there's not much weight in the bow so these conditions are really horrible on the boat. Unbelievable pounding after pounding as I beat into these monsters. It's amazing the boat can hold
together as the shock loads spike through the roof on each crash landing, about one every 4-5 seconds. I put what little movable ballast I have up in the v-berth like a big bag of freeze dried food, the wet spinnakers, some other sails and some bottled water but that's probably not enough to do anything significant. I wish I had a water ballast tank up there to ease Jeroboam's pain.

I'm not particularly excited about my positioning right now. There's another system on the way that I'd like to be north of and, as has been the case too many times this race, I'm fighting to get up there. The northerly track that PtoC and Spirit took certainly has had its benefits.

The only slim benefit I can see to staying south is what's in store for them on Friday and Saturday, if the forecast even holds that long. They'll likely ride this downwind period between Sable Island and Nova Scotia but when the breeze swings around into their face Friday morning, they'll have a tough beat down the Canadian Maritimes. Staying to the south gives me some more room to play that 20-25 knot headwind on Friday. Like I said, a slim benefit, and who knows what changes to the forecast are in store for us - Friday's a long way off. Anyway, I'm not even sure if I'll be south myself. That downwind sleigh ride to the north of this next system is too good not to try for and try I will.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Passing Storm

That was some fun downwind action. I have to make sure I enjoy those moments as they're so uncommon for this uphill passage. The frustrating part was that the boat was smoking along but I was in a 1.5 knot counter current for the entire night so my speed really suffered. I was hoping that current would be south of me but no such luck. I'm back into the cold Labrador waters now but only for a day or two. When I hit the Grand Banks, it will be a little milder.

In the meantime, my hands go numb after about 15 minutes on deck and it takes a while to get them thaw as it's not much warmer below. The cold water and freezing cold NE wind combine to make winter like conditions. I got a little sleep last night but it was too rough for anything substantial, especially as the wind started shifting to the NE generating a couple different wave patterns crossing my path and mixing up a confused sea.

Looks like Pathways to Children and Spirit had great runs through that low - well done guys. They killed it yesterday and last night and are already over the Bank. They put about 45 more miles between me and them. Ouch. I'm going to fade to the SW over the next 24 hours then tack when the wind shifts and ride that breeze back up toward Newfoundland. I think I'm in a slightly better position than those guys as they only have so much room to their north to play that shift, forcing them early to a starboard tack which will be a lot less efficient in making forward progress. Maybe I can regain some of that mileage by Wednesday.

sec Hayai wasn't showing up on my position reports for a couple days so I have no idea where he is. Today's 0800 UTC report showed him in Liberia, Africa so I suppose his tracker is off kilter. I assume he's right with PtoC and Spirit.

I was very sorry to hear the news that Tamarind suffered an autopilot failure and is hand steering to St Johns - that's about 450 miles from his current position. Hopefully he'll have some decent weather getting over there and can make repairs and get back on the race course quickly.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Storm Prep

Just a quick update as the new breeze starts filling in. I managed to just barely get to the north side of this low, helped by the fact that it tracked slightly further south than forecasted yesterday. We'll see where I actually wind up but all the signs are pointing to a good position on the race course.

I spent the morning preparing for the onslaught:
-Storm staysail is rigged and lashed to the foredeck, ready to go
-Batteries fully charged
-Ran the watermaker for a while so have plenty in reserve for the next 48 hours
-Pulled out my mini staysail in case the storm staysail is too large - unlikely that I'll need it but have it handy just in case.
-Staged the rigging for the whisker pole. There will be some downwind action that's too much for the spinnaker so I'll probably end up with a poled out jib for a while this afternoon and tonight before the wind starts to shift to the NE
-I heard the familiar snap snap snap of a loose belt on the engine while charging batteries. The old one was just about to go and there was a lot of belt dust in the engine compartment. That belt didn't have many hours on it at all so I was a little surprised to see it so worn. Got a new belt on and cleaned out all the dust from the old one.
-Cleaned up all the running rigging and prepared for bow to stern waves knocking it all overboard. Lashed down everything that I wasn't anticipating using in the 24 hours.
-Squared away the cabin, stowed everything not in immediate use and lashed down anything that might sprout wings in the rough seas ahead.
-Ate a big breakfast and a couple of lunches

I saw a large group of pilot whales this morning. From a distance I thought they were dolphins but as they got closer, they were clearly larger then one broke high and close enough for me to see his tell tail bulbous head. They were pretty shy so kept their distance. I'd never seen that many in group before - counted about 20 although it's tough to know if you've already counted them once because they keep dipping below then surfacing at not so regular intervals. There were a couple babies in with them but mostly adults. I'd seen quite a few pilot whales along the coast of Nova Scotia when I was there about eight years ago but really just in pairs, not as a big group like this.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Shifting Breeze

Tiring day on Jeroboam. Squall lines started coming through pre-dawn so I spent most of the day reefing/unreefing as wind speed and direction moved all over the map. Gusts were into the 40s and sometimes the gauge read zero. At one point I had the chute and big staysail out moving the boat very well in 8-10 knots of breeze then the wind completely died and started to fill in from the exact opposite direction. I got the chute down just in time for the wind to change 180 degrees again, back to its original direction and build to 35 knots in about a minute. The staysail got trashed but nothing I can't patch up tonight.

The next big system is forecasted to ramble over my position Monday and I don't think I'll be able to get north of this one which does not bode well. I think the best I might be able to do is go through the eye which is going to be brutal on my progress because it's beginning to elongate west to east, perhaps reaching a diameter of a couple hundred miles by the time it gets here. Granted it's moving pretty quickly but still, that's a long time to be wallowing around in the center of a low. I'll fight hard to get north of it but if it starts tracking even just a little further north, the game is up.

The boats to the north are well positioned to ride some serious wind on this one and will afford them some solid separation between the class 2 boats chasing them. I've been able to close on them a little bit the past few days so it'll be discouraging to see those gains dematerialize. Tamarind sacrificed some forward progress for a northerly position, presumably because he's confident he'll regain all that ground and more on this next system but I'm not sure the dividends will be that large. It will be interesting to see how Sunrise and British Beagle do on this next low. It looks like Sunrise made his move north earlier than British Beagle so he may be in a better position when it hits.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Beautiful Day

What a great day on the water. The wind is a bit light but who cares. The sun is shining, I'm getting a lot done on the boat and even have some favorable current.

Big change from yesterday where the air was so moist that all day and night, I felt like I'd just showered but hadn't yet toweled off. At one point last night when I came up on deck to hand steer through some light patches, I looked up at the masthead and instead of seeing the bright point of light which is the masthead tricolor light, I instead saw a strange glowing orb as the light was shrouded in thick cotton fog. It wasn't raining but when I went below after an hour, I was soaking wet.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Back to the uphill grind

The spinnaker work came to a halt a little earlier than expected - I doused around 3 am and hardened up slightly for some double headsail close reaching and by dawn I'd changed to a different staysail that's a little better suited for the conditions. I still haven't decided what I'm going to do with the next approaching low which is forecasted to cross the Grand Banks Saturday and be over my head by that evening. It's moving pretty quickly and I don't see a huge advantage to being well north of it so I'm probably not going to take a flyer that way. I definitely don't want to be south of the center so I'll play it safe and make sure that even if the center of it deviates from the forecasted track by 15 degrees, I'll still be north of it.

The noon position report showed a ~10 nm gain on Tamarind since noon yesterday so the rating investment to carry a spinnaker paid some dividends but remains to be seen if I'll be able to say it was worth it by the end of the race. I've only carried a chute about 19 hours of the 244 hours I've been racing so that's only 7.7% of the time.

Looks like I'll have a wind shift in the wee hours tonight to the NW so I'll tack at some point which means I'll probably be passing south of the Flemish Cap. Unfortunate. I was hoping to sail right over it so I could yell "Danny no! Not the Flemish Cap! That's halfway to Ireland, ain't it?"

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I thought this was an upwind race?

Wouldn't you know it, as soon as I post something like "systems are working great," I have problems. First, when I went to charge the batteries with the engine last night, the throttle got stuck, but luckily only at about 1500 rpm. The cabling and mechanism just needed to be loosened up but it takes a while on this boat to get at each end of the cables and the throttle mechanism so the fix took a while.

Then around midnight the primary autopilot stopped working so I gave up on the idea of getting any rest and went to work on it. Isolated the problem to the rudder reference sensor, which is shared by both the primary and backup APs. I tried recalibrating it and that just gave me more errors. Both these APs are supposed to be able to work without it but was only able to get the backup AP, an old wheel pilot, to hold a course.

In a last ditch effort, I reset the primary to the factory defaults and when through the entire system calibration routine and got lucky - around dawn it started working again. If the primary AP was out of commission, Jeroboam would be very uncompetitive for the last 2/3rds of the race as I would have gone from pressing hard to just trying to finish. Those old wheel pilots are fine in pretty flat conditions, in fact I put close to 1,000 miles on one in the summer of 2006 with few complaints, but not in a seaway and forget about a storm or a spinnaker run.

Speaking of which, Jeroboam is tearing along with the kite and we're actually headed in the right direction! Huge moral boost and makes the zero sleep state palatable. I don't want to jinx it but this run I'm on right now may be one of those defining segments of the race. The race committee did something unusual for OSTAR, at least I've never seen anything like it in the US. They allowed competitors to choose if they were going to race with or without spinnakers and will apply the appropriate IRC TCC at the finish. Yes, we do this in the states but the non-spin boats are placed in their own cruising class and compete against one another. In this race, we're all thrown in together.

This is important because Tamarind, the closest in my class, chose to race non-spin so while I'm screaming along with the kite right now, he's probably not covering as much ground under jib and staysail. It will be interesting to see the next position report but I'm hoping to finally put some real distance on him which I need as he's more than demonstrated his ability to reel me in.

To make matters even more advantageous for me, the forecast looks like I may be able to carry this kite until dawn tomorrow as long as I don't blow it up. Anyway, all good news for Jeroboam in class 2 but to put it in perspective, there's still only about 140nm distance between all the class 2 boats after 1000+ nm of racing. And we still have a long way to go. Anything could happen.

Up in the fast class, Pathways to Children and Spirit continue to make tracks on the rest of us as is the class 40, sec Hayai. All three of those boats have terrific performance characteristics in the conditions we're presently in so I would imagine they'll continue to pull away from us all day and night, especially the two to the north as they're likely to get better breeze and for a longer period that the class 40. It's also been fun watching the 50 ft tri battle it out with the Open 50 up at the lead. Those look
like they'd be fun boats to sail.

I was extremely pleased to hear the news that Ralph Villager on Ntombifuti has finished his repairs in France and is rejoining the fleet. Ralph put a lot of time, effort and planning into this race and it's great to see him back on the course. Well done!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Keep the Bus Moving

The wind is still in a state of flux with strength ranges from 0-20 and directional changes over 40 degrees. It'll be nice when a new pattern establishes itself, even if only for a day. One minute the boat's moving brilliantly, sort of in the right direction and the next I get knocked then the wind dies. All the while I'm making very slow progress to the finish line with the competition making steady gains. When I downloaded the noon position report today and saw that every single boat in the fleet made ground on me this morning, it was a tough pill to swallow. I always knew finesse sailing was one of my weaknesses but I've been working on it and hoped for some improvement. Note to self: keep practicing.

The boat systems are generally working well. I had that disastrous day with the head but other than that, everything is holding together well. The boat network gremlins were all chased out in Plymouth with a bunch of rewiring both at the helm instruments and the nav station below so there's been no hiccups with the instrument data or the autopilot. AIS & RTE are working well as early warning systems for approaching ships. My handheld VHF is out of commission for some reason. It comes on but doesn't transmit or receive and for some reason the channel number is blinking on and off which I've never seen before on this unit. I read the entire 56 page manual and there is no reference to the channel number blinking so I have no idea what that signifies. I still have the primary VHF radio at the nav station but when I reach the Grand Banks fishing fleet, it would be nice to have the handheld so I can communicate from deck if any of the trawlers want to tangle with me in close quarters. It's under warranty but that won't help me out here.

I have more than enough food on board so even if my race runs to four weeks, I'll have plenty to eat. The water situation is also very good with about 100 liters in the aft tank and 40 liters in the forward tank, that's enough to get me to the finish line even if the watermaker dies. I'll start running those tanks down a little to lighten up as I go along but still making water every other day to give the desalinator a workout and assure myself it's still producing potable water. The fuel situation is also very good.  I've only run the engine once for about an hour prior to the last storm just to make sure it was functioning properly as I tied off the wind turbine for the 30+ knot forecast. The turbine is working brilliantly - very happy with the repairs make in Plymouth, just need to make a minor adjustment to the potentiometer which I'll probably do today as the sea state is down and the adjustment requires that I climb up the turbine mast and hang on with one hand while making the adjustment with the other.

A huge thanks to Nate and Anya for visiting me the week prior to the start and bringing boat parts with them. It was great to have some help in the final days and it's always a pleasure seeing those guys.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Someone's got a case of the Mondays

It's been a very physically demanding day on the water. I've reefed/unreefed the main and jib about 10 or 12 times each and getting around the boat has been akin to rock climbing. Lots of wind strength changes today. After a week of 24/7 racing, my body is really starting to feel it and the advil is in high demand.

The sea state is all messed up from the last front and the new low to the NE. When it's this lumpy, it's impossible to keep the boat speed at targets and the autopilot doesn't do a great job holding a course so when close hauled, as I've been all day, I have to steer 10-15 degrees off just to keep the pilot from autotacking.

To add insult to injury, I'm in some lousy current and the wind is right on the nose but forecasted to shift a bit to the NE tonight so I'll tack at some point to get a better angle.

Tamarind keeps reeling me in which is very disheartening given the effort I've put in today. I'm really struggling to get the boat up to speed and make some ground in the right direction. These upwind races are brutal.

I just got a hail on the VHF from a ship, Federal Sable, who wanted to know what I was up to, what this race was and how I was doing. It was my first conversation with someone in a week and lifted my spirits after an ugly day. Thanks buddy!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

In It

Wind and waves have been slowing building all day. In the mid to upper 20s now with gusts over 30 and the seas are well on their way to what's sure to be a bumpy ride this evening. I've already got two reefs in the main and most of the jib rolled up along with the storm staysail flying. Eventually I'll loose the jib altogether.

The boats to the north are doing very well, as expected. They got the breeze first so Pathways to Children and Spirit continue to ramble along up there and are tracking a little further north than Jeroboam, I assume to take the waves abaft the beam and keep their speed up. Not to mention that being a little further north at the end of this blow isn't such a bad position as there's a NW breeze in the forecast on Tuesday that will allow us to tack and reach back down toward the rhumbline. As the wind and waves increase toward night fall, I'll bear away a little too, perhaps as much as 10-20 degrees to keep the speed up and be a little kinder on the equipment.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The agony of light wind

Last night was brutal - sailed right into a hole that lasted for about 4.5 hours. I was able to keep the boat moving a little bit but lost a ton of ground to the competition. The boats to the north of me in particular, Pathways to Children, Spirit and Tamarind, caught some terrific breeze as the approaching front line is hitting them first. They've had 15 knots all afternoon while I've been lucky to get 8 or 9. Hopefully the forecast will come true and my breeze will build through the evening, hitting 20 knots by dawn.

I spent a bunch of time preparing the boat for the onslaught of wind that's coming this way. Sustained breeze in the 30s is forecasted for Sunday night which means I'll probably see gusts into the 40s. The two storms I hit on the delivery were both behind me but this one will be on my beam with a southerly wind while I try to work west. Jeroboam doesn't have a great track record this spring taking big seas beam on so I've been preparing for a very wet night tomorrow evening.

I got to go up the mast twice today. What a delight. The first time because I noticed one of the screws holding the steaming light to the mast was missing and the light was ajar, banging against the mast as the boat lurched around. Then later, when I was doing a spinnaker takedown, I foolishly let the halyard get away from me. There was a mild swell but very little chop so the climbs weren't too difficult.

Friday, May 31, 2013


Had an interesting day. It was fantastic in that I was able to fly the spinnaker and my big staysail and put down some very pleasant miles under an occasionally sunny ski. It was horrible in that I managed to clog the head twice, both times requiring me to completely dismantle the thing to fix it. I won't go into the gory details but assume it was the most disgusting thing you could possibly imagine.

I'm just working my way through a soft spot so it will be a torturous evening of flogging sails and moving at a snails pace but I have to slog through it sooner or later as it's just too big to go around (or put another way, I didn't do a good enough job avoiding it!). I can only hope to minimize the slow pace to keep up with the rest of the fleet. Just about everyone will get hit with some very light wind right about now and the ones who come out on top are the ones who can finesse their boats to maintain headway.  Won't get much sleep tonight but should be able to catch up tomorrow as the wind fills in more consistently, ultimately building to some serious blow by Sunday night.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Fresh Outlook

Well that was an interesting couple of days to start off the race. The wind speeds weren't crazy or anything but enough to make life on the boat very uncomfortable. Combined with the need to keep a sharp eye out for the heavy boat traffic, it made for an exhausting couple of days. But all that's behind me, and as the waves subsided last night, I got in a series of four 1.5 hour naps that turned me into a new man. To buck my spirits even more, the latest grib is showing the two soft spots ahead of me taking a slightly more northerly track which puts me in a good position to pass to their south then ride the big breeze that's forecasted to hit my track on Sunday. Expedition is routing me right thru them so I'll weigh that option as well.

The boat's performance relative to others with similar ratings is looking good. As this is the first IRC race Jeroboam has ever entered, I was a little concerned about the rating and how Jeroboam would fair under this handicap methodology, especially after hearing some anecdotes about how Beneteaus, for whatever reason, get slammed under IRC. So far, at least in the moderate to heavy conditions we've seen, the boat's doing well. British Beagle, Sunrise and Tamarind are all right around the same handicap and as long as I don't try to pinch up too much, I appear to be making some tracks on them. Position wise, we're all in about the same boat except Tamarind who sacrificed some speed for a much more northerly track. It'll be interesting to see how that gamble pays off in the approaching soft spots and beyond. I assume he'll try to go north of them.

Up in the fast class, Pathways to Children continues to kick butt. I got to know Richard in Plymouth and found him to be an even keeled, tough customer so I suspect he will continue to do very well out here. He's the kind of guy who would treat a long distance race like this no different from a local overnight, that is, he won't hold anything back, ever. I got a tour of his boat and it's in fantastic shape so hopefully he won't experience any major equipment issues and keep the pressure on. Vento is clearly the favorite in this class. He had to turn around to honor ESL and still managed to blast out into first place handily. Andrea is a great guy who supplied me with a bunch of mineral water from his home turf of Sardegna for the trip and plans to pay an extended visit to Bermuda following the race. It's too early to tell how Spirit and the Class 40 sec Hayai are doing - seeing some inconsistent performance out of them. And don't count out Harmonii! Keith had a lousy beginning but he's slowly marching is way up the fleet. He's going to have a tough time sailing that boat to its rating but he assured me he'd have clean cloths the whole way across as the boat's washing machine is in good working order.

I'm very happy with Expedition so far. This is my first race with it and I'm loving the position report analysis. It's very helpful in understanding Jeroboam's performance relative to others and, later in the race, analyzing the pros/cons of various tactical decisions.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sleep Deprivation

Brutal 24 hours with 25-30 knots on the nose and big seas. Jeroboam's taking a pounding. The good news is that I'll soon be off the
continental shelf and away from boat traffic which means I can try for some more sleep. It's tough with this pounding sea state but
that too will pass. I need more rest.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Update from the Channel Entrance

That was a rough start; couple minor issues on Jeroboam but was able to hold together. Some of the boats that turned around last night were going back to round a mark of the course they forgot about (Eddystone Light), most notably the very sleek open 50, Vento Di Sardegna. That said, I believe Anarchy and Lexia have retired or perhaps are trying some quick repairs with the intent of restarting, if that's possible. I'm not sure about the status of Cabrio 2 and Harmonii. I believe they turned back at some point but the latest position report leaves me wondering if their trackers are not functioning.

Clearly Pathways to Children and Spirit have a bone in their teeth so far this race but Vento and sec Hayai are in the hunt. In Jester Class, Tamarind is hot on my heals which does not bode well as I owe him time. I'm not sure what's up with British Beagle and Sunrise. I was right with them leaving Plymouth but when I tacked away to beat up to Eddystone Light, they didn't follow so I'm not sure if they rounded; didn't look like it on AIS.

We're going to get beat up again tonight, though hopefully not as bad as yesterday. Gribs are showing 25-30 knots and shifting to the NW then N by mid-day tomorrow so it won't all be on the nose. I image the waves will kick up higher than yesterday now that we're clear of land which is always a challenge on Jeroboam.

Tons of ships around so the naps are short and infrequent. We'll bump into the fishing boats over the next day and a half so there's lots to watch out for but should be in deep water by Thursday where I can catch up on some sleep.

Monday, May 27, 2013

30 on the nose and no where to hide

Getting a little banged up out here beating into some heavy seas and solid wind. Eddystone Light was the first mark of the course
but I'm concerned a couple boats may not have rounded! Hope they didn't have to turn back. Wind should calm down a bit tonight and
shift to the W or NW which will be a welcome change.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Main Event

Well sports fans, the time has come to cease and desist boat prep work and get serious about racing. It's been a busy week on Jeroboam. My buddy Nate arrived on Wednesday night with some much needed boat parts. The wind turbine and the dodger went together brilliantly but we struck out on the radar. I think it's just a wiring problem but we weren't able to sort it out in time so I'll have to do without. Other than that, Jeroboam is in tip top condition and ready to rumble.

The weather outlook is challenging. We start with the wind on the nose so it'll be a beat to get out of the harbor and clear of land. Once in the Celtic Sea, the weather pattern will be dominated by a large low moving toward the north of Ireland, then by Sunday we'll bump up against another low. All three of these challenges will present 30+ knot sustained wind in our face with higher gusts if the forecasts hold. I'm not all that excited about the weather routing suggestions from Expedition which show a flyer to the far north with an attempt to get on the good side of Sunday's low. It's way too early to even consider a gamble like that as the position of the low's center is sure to change between now and then, perhaps dramatically so.

It's been great to get to know the other competitors a bit, although I wish I had more time to do so with less weight on my shoulders with the pending start. It will be great to see everyone on Newport when the race is over and we can all relax a little.

I will make an attempt to post updates daily but in the worst of the weather, updates are one of the first things I begin to neglect. I only have a low bandwidth connection so updates will be text only but I'll post photos and video upon my arrival in Newport. The race tracker is here and the OSTAR website will post lots of news along the way from all boats here. My shore support team will be passing along your questions and comments so fire away and I'll do my best to respond.

Here's the scratch sheet with the class breakdowns:

BBC Coverage

Unfortunately the broadcasts are not available online but they did post a nice shot of Jeroboam at the dock.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Brief Update

Race starts in 48 hours and I'm feeling the pressure - just a quick update now but I'll try to post more later today or tomorrow. The race tracker is live so check it out here. To find Jeroboam, click on the Teams tab on the left side of the screen and boat names are listed alphabetically. I'm in the Jester class, appropriately enough, so you can view all the boats in my class by clicking on the Jester Class box at the top of the Teams tab.

I'm going up against some seriously experienced sailors in this class, such as Peter Crowther on Suomi Kudu who is starting his 9th OSTAR and Mervyn Wheatley who is starting his 4th on Monday. I can assure you, these guys are Not feeling the pressure.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ode to Eddystone Light

John Keane used to own a C&C 40 named Eddystone Light on which we had too many good times to count so when I sailed out to Eddystone Lighthouse yesterday I was feeling a bit nostalgic and put this together for the old crew. Enjoy.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Chow Time

One of the write ups I did for the Sail For Kids program between Horta and Plymouth was about on board cuisine. Here's the accompanying video on MREs.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

All Tied Up

Jeroboam is all safe and snug at Queen Anne's Battery in Plymouth. I more or less accomplished my goal of not breaking anything between Horta and here so I can be proud of that, but more importantly, I made it to the starting line. I knew it would be a difficult early season crossing and even characterized it as the hardest thing, mentally and physically, that I've ever tried but as it turns out, the delivery demanded far more from me than I ever imagined it would. I generally don't allow myself to beam too brightly at an accomplishment but I'm making an exception here. However the beaming is naturally shadowed by the looming test ahead: racing back to Newport, up wind, along a much more northerly route, with no stops. To think the delivery was the hard part would be foolish.

I charged right into my boat projects and have already made some good progress. Jeroboam got a nice scrub down, stem to stern, with the delivery sails struck, flaked, bricked and stowed and the race main installed. The furler all came apart yesterday, cleaned, forestay adjusted, new reefing line rove, line leads fixed, all much needed improvements and will give me a piece of mind knowing all this gear is in great condition for the race as it will get much use.

I didn't get any really exciting video on the leg from Horta but I did do more filming than before and have a sort of video log with brief entries from each day of the trip. I'm working on uploading them but these are huge files and take forever so may not have anything published until the end of the weekend.

I want to thank everyone for following along with the delivery and for all the cheering and encouragement along the way. At sea, I don't have internet access (except for weather downloads and brief, plain text emails) but once or twice a day, my shore support team compiles everyone's Facebook and blog comments and sends them to me and they always manage to cheer me up. Anna Neagle, a popular British film and stage star in the 40s and 50s said "Solitude is pleasant. Loneliness is not." Your comments help tilt my day to day life at sea toward the former.

It's been an absolute delight meeting people associated with OSTAR here in Plymouth. Another competitor, Jonathan Snodgrass of the boat Lexia, rolled out the welcome wagon upon my arrival, introducing me around, showing me a bit of the town and helping me get oriented. Two other entrants here, James Taylor on Anarchy and Richard Lett on Pathways to Children, have been extremely kind and welcoming as has the OSTAR race director, David Southwood, who ferried me to the grocery store for some fresh supplies. What a great bunch of guys! I'm loving it here and feeling right at home.

The immediate area has all the marine supplies, parts dealers and service providers I need for boat prep and there's even a good sized town though I have yet to explore it.

About 50 Minis showed up here at QAB yesterday for the Mini Fastnet race which starts on Sunday. Fastnet Rock is just off the southern tip of Ireland and there are a bunch of different races that use it as a mark. The course length, round trip, is 561 miles so very similar to a Bermuda Race distance wise though much closer to land throughout the race. The Celtic Sea can be just as rough and nasty as anyplace in the north atlantic and if there were any doubt, I suggest reading Fastnet Force 10 by John Rousmaniere about the 1979 edition in which a huge storm moved over the race course, disabling or sinking 25 boats resulting in 18 fatalities. The beginning of the OSTAR race takes us right through these waters.

I'll continue to post updates over the next three weeks as I train and prep for the race, though perhaps not as frequently as my daily updates from the delivery. Time to get back to work!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

GPS location Date/Time:05/06/2013 10:49:13 EDT

Message:On the dock at QAB marina. All's well.

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Every day is an Adventure. Share Yours.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Plymouth Pre-Race Punch List

I had another great day on the water today. Although colder than yesterday, it was just as sunny and pleasant sailing. There are tons of fishing boats around so I didn't get much sleep last night with all the traffic but got in a couple quick naps late this morning. There was this one strange encounter shortly after twilight last night where I came upon six boats within a several mile radius and none of them had AIS but I could tell a number of them were using radar because the RTE was activating frequently. It was strange because every other boat I encountered last night and today had AIS, which has been very convenient for tracking and avoiding them.

After having taken a brief break from toiling on the boat yesterday, I compiled a Plymouth Pre-Race Punch list this morning so as not to loose sight of my duties and responsibilities of getting to the starting line. It's a pretty long list, and this is just my first stab at it so there's sure to be more added, but the really good news is that I have three weeks to get it all done which is a reasonable amount of time to do so.

Several items many look familiar from the Horta list and weren't completed there mainly due to the unavailability of parts on the island. We could have had them shipped in but that would have taken another week or more and I was eager to continue along. The repairs are just as easily accomplished in Plymouth so no big deal.

Plymouth Pre-Race Punch List

-Inspect all running rigging, replace as appropriate, vang control and jib furl lines in particular look beat up
-Strike delivery sails & put up racing sails
-Repair hole in delivery main, inspect jib for issues
-Do something about the creases in the genoa staysail, that thing's been a bag too long
-Small length of batten for backstay adjuster gauge
-Take a close look at the gooseneck, perhaps replace pin
-Need to reduce water ingress at the hatch slider, pull up solar panel and take a close look at the forward section of the slider,
too much water getting into the cabin when a wave sweeps bow to stern
-Snug up nuts on new slider bolts and figure out how to reduce slider motion in rocky seaway
-Repair dodger, install new deck fittings and rework mount
-Install radar mount and radome, wire, test
-Rework the wiring for the SeaTalk network, particular attention is required at cockpit navpod and nav station
-Rig downhaul line for genoa staysail and test
-Review ISAF Cat 1 regs and race regs and confirm compliance, lifelines need tension, hatchboard set up ok?
-Full rig inspection, close look at spreader repaired in Horta
-Fine tune rig, tension stb side?
-Apply hull race numbers
-Need better method to secure anchor locker lid
-Inquire about piggybacking on someone's shipping container for getting excess gear back to Newport
-Rework spin tack line lead
-Acquire replacement whisker pole, work out deck storage when not in use and required running rigging, test w/ race jib, practice
-Fix jib furl line lead
-Disassemble furler and stay, full inspection, need a little more tension on forestay
-Send inquiry to Spot re: insane battery usage
-Review battery inventory, supplement as needed
-Full engine maintenance cycle
-Install turbine stator and circuit board, reassemble, mount and test
-Train with the racing sails, refine polars
-Recalibrate autopilot compass
-Edit/upload video from leg 2
-Clean up the boat
-Sort out provisions for the race, need more diversity in the offering
-More/better retention bungee for galley compartments
-From chandlery: larger sized split rings, new main tack shackle, 2 winch handles
-From grocery store: fresh fruit, clear plastic garbage bags, WD-40, spare pot for boiling water (handle of one on board looks like
it's about to go), hand towels (4)
-Dive on bottom & scrub just prior to race start
-Top off fuel tank just prior to race start

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

GPS location Date/Time:05/05/2013 07:29:12 EDT

Message:Just one last push here at the end. Mon arivl

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Every day is an Adventure. Share Yours.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


I reached the continental shelf shortly after noon today (UTC) and immediately picking up 8 fishing vessels on AIS. Those are the easy ones to avoid. It's the ones without AIS that require more vigilance. One of them had some floating nets out marked with big yellow buoys that I sailed a little too close to so I need to keep my eyes open for all sorts of action in here.

The breeze continues to lighten up and boat speed continues to drop so it's a little unknown when I might make landfall, perhaps Monday or more likely Tuesday. I still have plenty of fuel, about 26 gallons, so if the wind goes too light, I'll make some tracks under power.

It's been such a delightful day on the water: sunshine, pleasant breeze, manageable sea state; all the ingredients to remind me what I love about this sport. I confess I took a little break from working on boat projects today and am spending a lot of time enjoying a nice leisurely sail. Perhaps the trim isn't just right or the angles are a little off, no matter. I'm sailing in the sun and loving every minute.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

GPS location Date/Time:05/04/2013 07:49:37 EDT

Message:Fishing boats in sight on the shelf, sunshine

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Every day is an Adventure. Share Yours.

Friday, May 3, 2013

My new favorite contraption: AIS

Last night worked out to be a lot rougher than anticipated. A bunch of cells moved through bringing gusts into the upper 20s and lower 30s and some steep waves to boot. At first I was reefing and unreefing for each cell then had to remind myself that I wasn't racing, trying to take it easy and determined not to break anything. I stayed reefed thereafter and only just shook them loose this afternoon. The new grib file is showing more breeze than originally anticipated today and tonight so the reefs may return shortly.  It's still out of the southwest so I'm broad reaching with jib and main and these conditions should persist for some time, perhaps all the way into the barn, though gradually dying as I get into the channel.

Still lots of traffic around, about a ship an hour today with one passing about a quarter mile from me which in open ocean terms is quite close. I'm loving AIS. I installed it about a month prior to departing the US and didn't have much of an opportunity to mess around with it. I think I have all the warning and perimeter alarms set the way I want, although there's still some functionality I've yet to explore. I've allocated some time to master this tool in the next 24 hours before I hit the continental shelf as traffic will start to pick up considerably then.

My buddy Tom scored much needed parts for my wind turbine that burned out in the last storm. The manufacturer, Southwest Wind Power, apparently sold over 100,000 of these small turbines world wide but ran into financial difficulty and had to sell off the division to a company named Primus. They've been extremely difficult to deal with and Tom had to wrestle with them for several weeks just to get them to ship parts. It always amazes me to see a customer, standing there, just dying to give some company their money and they're reluctant to take it. How does a company like that survive? Anyway, huge thanks to Tom for bulldogging that one through.  Let's hope it all goes back together and works for the race.

Each night it gets a little colder out here - I know, I shouldn't be moaning about the temperature since the race will hold the highest latitudes and coldest temperatures of this entire journey as we head north into iceberg territory. So this will be last of the complaining: It's getting cold! I even broke out the long underwear last night.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

GPS location Date/Time:05/03/2013 09:30:39 EDT

Message:150nm to continental shelf,400nm to Plymouth

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Every day is an Adventure. Share Yours.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Another great day on the water as Jeroboam is flying along on a broad reach often hitting 10+ knots surfing down the face of a wave.  The seas are building a fair bit as the wind continues to climb, but it will likely be short lived as the front is forecasted to on the way past me by dawn. In the meantime it could get a little rough tonight. No matter; I'm about 500 miles to the English Channel and closing fast.

Speaking of the channel, I'm starting to see a lot more traffic coming and going from that direction. After only spotting about one ship a day on average so far on this leg, I saw five today and there's still 6 hours left in it. For anyone interested in seeing just how congested the boat traffic is in the channel, go to marinetraffic.com and zoom in on that area. Day or night, you'll see a veritable conga line of non-stop ships moving in and out. And that's just the boats fitted with AIS. There's plenty more that don't show up at that website that are out there. It's still a little early in the season for the pleasure boaters and day sailors so it won't be as bad as it will be for the race start at the end of May, but still plenty of traffic to dodge and weave around.

I got some work done on the running rigging that was bothering me and did some more clean up from Leg 1 that went neglected in Horta. The engine behaved again today. We're not out of the woods yet but the signs are right.

The sparrow flew the coop shortly before sundown yesterday so I guess it found a better deal, perhaps on one of the passing ships I encountered last night. So I sail on. Alone. As usual.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

GPS location Date/Time:05/02/2013 08:47:59 EDT

Message:Magnificent surfing in following sea.

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Every day is an Adventure. Share Yours.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Birds of a Feather

The excitement on board today consisted of a small sparrow taking up residence. Actually I don't know if it's a sparrow, in fact I have no idea what kind of bird it is, but its small and not a water bird so who knows how it got all the way out here. I tied to give it some crumbs and water but it clearly wanted me to leave it alone as it just kept flying off. I know I don't have any worms on board so I'm at a loss as to what to offer it. It must be starving or dying of thirst or both so I suppose I need to try something.

Down below it hasn't decided which cabin it likes best as it keeps flying around, checking the place out, even spending some time in the head by the mirror which it apparently found entertaining. Every now and then it will go outside and fly around the boat a little, probably looking for a better deal.

The center of the high crossed my path so the wind has begun to shift to the south and I've turned east. The new weather routing is taking me fairly far east before turning northeast to get a better angle on forecasted NW breeze starting Friday night but that's still a little too far ahead to bank on.

The engine issue showed improvement this morning when I did my daily charging cycle. I'll keep a close eye on it but it appears Keane's first guess at the problem was spot on, as usual. Thanks buddy.

I've been busy chasing down a gremlin in the SeaTalk network which is how the boat instruments communicate with one another. There's a loose and/or corroded connection someplace that I still haven't found. I thought for sure I'd uncovered the culprit last night but after redoing that connection the problem reoccurred this morning. What I've found is network wiring that's holding together with spit and gum so there's lots of room for improvement. I don't have all the parts I'd like on board to do it right so may put off a key portion of the rewiring until Plymouth and just deal with no autopilot wind vane mode for the balance of the trip, or at least any consistent wind vane mode. It's not the end of the world as the pilot functions fine in compass mode.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

GPS location Date/Time:05/01/2013 06:16:07 EDT

Message:Many sail adjustments last pm.Finesse sailing

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Every day is an Adventure. Share Yours.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What a great day

The wind lightened up a lot today as I approach the center of the high pressure system I'm trying to get north of. It's due to cross my proposed track tomorrow afternoon so I'm in for some light air until about Thursday morning. With the sea state settled down, it gave me an opportunity to focus on some boat projects such as fine tuning the rig, troubleshooting the engine and finding the loose connection in my SeaTalk network that keeps knocking the wind data off and taking the autopilot (on wind vane mode) with it. Busy day and good news on all fronts; making progress.

This was a beautiful day on the water for sailing. I've been double headsail close reaching for about 24 hours and it's been relatively dry on deck. I even went up without my foul weather gear on to enjoy the several but brief moments of sunshine. I almost forgot what it was like to sail in these conditions after a winter of training in New England where the wind was rarely below 20 knots then leg one to Horta where the wind was never below 20 and often very much higher. Jeroboam performs brilliantly in the upper teens at just about any angle. I've developed a terrific set of polars this month for my delivery sails; too bad it's useless data.  As soon as I get to Plymouth, the racing sails are going on and the boat is going to get sharply tuned up. If I can this kind of performance out of 15 year old delivery sails, imagine what the boat can do with some proper racing sails!

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

GPS location Date/Time:04/30/2013 07:51:29 EDT

Message:Smooth sailing in easing breeze. >900nm to go

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Every day is an Adventure. Share Yours.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Here's the deal

Well the seas have calmed down considerably since yesterday so I was able to get caught up on some sleep this afternoon. I'm having a little issue with the sea water pickup on my engine, an issue that first reared its head way back in Newport but has only been causing intermittent problems. With my wind turbine out of commission for this leg while we try to find parts for it for the race, I'll be relying on my engine a fair bit to charge the batteries so it's important that I get it sorted out. A good buddy of mine,
John Keane of Marine Engines, Inc., just happens to know everything there is to know about engines so he's given me a list of stuff to try which I'll start on tonight.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

GPS location Date/Time:04/29/2013 06:50:18 EDT

Message:Beautiful day on the water, engine issues

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Every day is an Adventure. Share Yours.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

On the road again

It's good to be underway and heading for the starting line, though it took a little adjusting. I got beat up this morning as the wind piped back up into the mid-30s w/ gusts into the 40s shortly after entering the Canal de Sao Jorge which separates Faial and Pico from Sao Jorge. I got a brief respite in the lee of Sao Jorge but hit again between there and Graciosa, my last look at land for a while. These are a really beautiful set of islands. It's a shame to have to leave them after seeing so little of them.

My weather routing has me on a reach at about 60 degrees apparent which is pointing me about 25 degrees further north than if I tried to sail directly at Plymouth; a-ok by me as the sea state is still pretty brutal and at this angle it's easier to take the waves. That low hung around here for quite a while and it'll be some time before the seas calm down which spells a wet ride for me.

I'm taking it easy on the boat with a reef in the main and only half the jib out in 22 knots of breeze; still making 7 knots though.  This is the basic forecast until Wednesday morning when I'll start to close in on the high that's slowing moving SE between me and Europe. Still a ways out so I'll be keeping a close eye on the weather and adjust my angle/timing accordingly. Thereafter, who knows. The GFS model is showing a front/low passing just north of there which could bring some stiff breeze but it's just too far out to bank on anything.

The sun came out a little this afternoon which was very exciting as it's been a while. The low that precipitated my departure delay kept me under cloudy skies for most of the week.

Check-in/OK message from Jeroboam SPOT

GPS location Date/Time:04/28/2013 05:14:23 EDT

Message:On my way to the UK. Left Horta at 0730 UTC.

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:


You have received this message because Jeroboam has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Every day is an Adventure. Share Yours.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Final Departure Prep

Things are looking good for a Horta departure tomorrow. Lots of little details wrapped up today and the latest weather report is showing the wind dropping to 20 knots by sundown tomorrow. I'm all cleared out of customs and ready to hit the road. I just need to do some instrument calibrations in the harbor before heading out.

Once again, thank you to all for your support and encouragement during this difficult phase of the journey. With luck, that first leg will have been the hardest and I can avoid banging up Jeroboam too badly over the next couple months.

One of the customs in Horta is for boats to scribe their names in the cement walls lining the harbor. Jeroboam's name was not added for a number of reasons such as the constant rain showers and my focus on more important matters of boat repair but I did spot one that was of interest to me:

Elmarleen is a Sigma 33 owned by Will Sayer who competed in the last running of OSTAR in 2009. I've never met him but hear a lot about him and followed his progress during that race. When I watched the film "Out There" about the 2009 OSTAR, he was an interesting character study in that the footage of him before the race showed someone who looked a little apprehensive about making a solo Atlantic crossing then the post race footage showed someone rather at ease and triumphant having not only won his class but corrected to first place over all on IRC corrected time - huge win. Anyway, I got a kick out of seeing his boat name on the harbor wall. The mildew is encroaching on the upper right portion but I believe it says OSTAR 09 above the turtle's head.