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.