Archive for April, 2011

Racing Rules of Sailing

This video should come in handy this weekend —  our first Friday Night in the Estuary, and crewed Lightship Saturday.

Via Port Townsend Sailing Association

Why 43 nm?


Cat 1 compliant hatchboard

From the  ISAF OFFSHORE SPECIAL REGULATIONS  Extract for Race Category 1 Monohulls

3.08.4 A companionway hatch shall:
a) be fitted with a strong securing arrangement which shall be
operable from the exterior and interior including when the yacht is
b) have any blocking devices:
i capable of being retained in position with the hatch open or shut
ii whether or not in position in the hatchway, secured to the yacht
(e.g. by lanyard) for the duration of the race, to prevent their
being lost overboard
iii permit exit in the event of inversion

3.08.5 If the companionway extends below the local sheerline and the boat
has a cockpit opening aft to the sea the boat shall comply with one of
the following:
a) the companionway sill shall not extend below the local sheerline. or
b) be in full compliance with all aspects of ISO 11812 to design
category A

3.08.6 For boats with a cockpit closed aft to the sea where the companionway
hatch extends below the local sheerline, the companionway shall be
capable of being blocked off up to the level of the local sheerline,
provided that the companionway hatch shall continue to give access to
the interior with the blocking devices (e.g. washboards) in place

To comply with this, I designed and built last year a custom hatchboard,  that can be latched in place with a deadbolt, is secured to the boat with a lanyard, and allows the sliding hatch (the top part) to be opened or closed and secured from both the inside and outside, such that one cannot be trapped either inside the cabin or outside on deck.    The material had to be thin, which precluded embedding a doorknob type feature in the hatchboard itself.

Interior view of installed hatchboard.

Detail of spring-loaded latch of the hatchboard.

Exterior side of the hatch. The lanyard in the middle is pulled to allow the upper hatch to slide open.

The board is made from 3/8″  HDPE Starboard material from TAP Plastics.   The latch is a transom latch  modified so that the angle of the striker is reversed from the usual direction, so that when the board is in place the upper hatch can be slid shut and will latch without needing to pull the lanyard.  I have since found that a gate latch is available with the right orientation from McMaster-Carr.   Opening the hatch from the outside is a two-handed operation, you pull the lanyard and slide the upper hatch back.

It is possible to leave the board latched in place and enter the cabin from the open hatch, but it is a long drop from the cabin top to the first companionway step, and not a great idea unless you are pretty tall!

Kite flying

Drying off the blue spin in the front yard after washing out last week’s dose of salt and smell.

Strictly Sail 2011

This past Saturday Char and I took ourselves up to Jack London Square to check out the Strictly Sail boat show.  I needed new foulies and some personal gear, and it had been a couple of years since I had gone.

Char was quite taken by the pink Potter, and some other pink and lavender boats on display from BAADS.

Continue reading ‘Strictly Sail 2011’

And so it goes

Pirates receive letter of marque

PROVIDENCE , April 12 /–The Rhode Island Pirate Players today announced that they have received a Letter of Marque, also known as a Privateering Commission, from Governor Lincoln Chafee.

“We are very excited that Governor Chafee wants to help us in our mission to educate the public about the often overlooked history of pirate and privateer activity in the state,” Casey C. Dorman, Founder and CEO of the Rhode Island Pirate Players stated. The Rhode Island Pirate Players approached the governor in the hope that formal recognition would help bring awareness to their educational mission.

Mr. Dorman explained, “Historically this document would separate a legitimate privateer from an outright pirate.” Letters of Marque were issued frequently during colonial times and through the American Revolution as a way to help protect shipping and give naval support. The organization’s ceremonial commission is the first to be signed in Rhode Island since Governor William Jones issued letters of marque during the War of 1812.

The Rhode Island Pirate Players, via Fark

Don’t dream it, be it

Ice Cube Dreams by Terry Border


BAMA Doublehanded Farallones

Last Saturday Paul Harris and I took a little trip out to the Farallones, and I, at least,  got my ass kicked.

It started innocently enough.   It was my first BAMA DH Farallones race.   The forecast was moderate, as these things go, it was only supposed to blow no more than 25 kts outside, and for only the late afternoon hours.    The start was a drifter, with the real surprise being the tide.  Instead of a 3 kt ebb, we found we had about a 2 kt flood, setting due East.    For once I was on the ball at the start, and we aggressively motored up to the start line with the #1 and spin ready to go, cutting the engine 30 seconds short of the deadline.   We noted Green Buffalo doing the same, while most of the fleet was moving backwards, if at all, having set sails too early.   So we were in a good position as we crossed the line, perhaps less than a minute after our 0820 starting signal.

Looking back at the fleet at the start.    Almost everyone was suckered by the huge flood counter-current at the beach.

A small group of boats made the call to head North to intercept the ebb that must be out there somewhere.   We were moving, slowly, in the direction of the South Tower, and we hoped that we would either get a good puff or cross out of the counter current eventually.    This strategy did not pay off as well as the northerly one, as some of that portion of the fleet first reached the ebb and then a wind line came down from the North.   Meanwhile the bulk of the fleet was  still milling around in the start area.   We cleared the bridge, and the wind picked up.    We were making good time out to Pt. Bonita on starboard tack  under the #1, when it really started to blow and so we peeled to the #3.   The first real excitement of the day occurred as we lost a jib sheet, had to tack back onto port to re-attach it.  By this time the exposed reef at Bonita was looking pretty close and pretty mean.   We tacked away with only a few boatlengths to spare.   We settled in on starboard, aiming more or less at the Farallones, parallel and about a mile north of the shipping channel.  The seas were short and steep, and the wind piped up to 20 – 25 kts true.    I could hear down below as various objects were crashing and breaking.    We were also taking a lot of water onto the deck, and we scooped up one big wave with the bow that sent a mass of water over the cabin top and dumped into the open hatch.     Oh well.

Our track.  Unfortunately, the GPS ran  out of memory and overwrote the start of the race, which was the most interesting tactically.

About 10 nm outside the Gate a problem developed.    The #1 jib had not been secured well enough to the foredeck, and the waves coming across the deck had partially washed it through the baby strainer and into the sea, where it performed a creditable imitation of a sea anchor.  It was hard to see what was happening, and the #3 was sheeted in very hard, and some portion of the #1 was under the boat on the leeward side.   I offered to go fetch it back and Paul did not object.   I clipped in to the  jacklines and started crawling forward, hanging on to dear life as Temerity bucked her way through the waves.   I clung to the spin pole and mast, and started hauling the sail back on board.    This proved to be incredibly difficult, as the boat was doing 4+ kts through the water and the sail was acting like a big scoop.   The middle of the sail had gotten wedged down into a corner where the lifeline, stanchion, and strainer line formed a noose, and as soon as I had tugged a few feet of the damn genoa back aboard the sea would pull it back.  This happened again and again and again.   I tried to brace with my legs, but I needed at least half an arm to use as well to hang on.   While twisting my body and pulling as hard as I could, I suddenly heard and felt a tearing sound from my chest.  “Oh shit,” I thought, “this will start hurting pretty soon.”   I had pulled  a muscle in my upper abdomen, badly.   Paul  shouted words of encouragement, but my mental state was not good.   “What the hell are you doing out here, you are just not cut out for this!” I berated myself.    But my fear of losing the sail and having it jam under the boat, perhaps fouling the rudder, was greater than my fear of falling overboard or the pain and exhaustion I was feeling.   I was also wet to the skin at this point, having ventured forward without my foulie jacket on.   I got even more scared when I saw that in groveling around on deck my tether quick release had triggered, leaving me unsecured for some unknown amount of time.     I reattached it with shaking hands, and at this point Paul eased off the jib sheet enough for me to actually make some progress in getting the sail back on board.  Finally I had done it, and I bundled it up and put on two bungees to hold it down.   I had not brought any sail ties forward with me, which was quite an oversight.    By the time I made it back to the cockpit, I felt completely drained, and my torn muscle was stabbing me with pain with every breath.

Not 15 minutes later, it happened again.   The wimpy-ass bungees were just not enough the keep the waves from knocking the sail off the deck.    I told Paul I just couldn’t do it, and that it was his turn.  He suited up and ventured forward.     I let the sails flog like crazy and slowed the boat to 2 kts to make it easier for him.    Not as much of the sail had gone overboard as in the first instance, so he was able to recover it a bit more easily, and this time we stuffed the soaking thing down through the hatch.   I never wanted to see it again.

We were both beat, I had lost my fancy new Myerchin knife, and Paul’s VHF had also been launched into the sea at some point.   But we only had about 8 nm to go to the island, and all we had to do to get there was steer.    We knew we should reef as we were still overpowered, but figured we would want the full main back as soon as we rounded the Farallones.

It was clear and beautiful at the island, but neither of us had the energy or time to fetch the camera.  The famous great whites and orcas were not to be seen, as it was far too rough.   The waves smashed most impressively against the rocky shore.     We had converged with Nancy,  Express 37 Escapade, and 1D35 Zha Zha.    The ride back was fun — a deep reach (still with full main and #3) on a straight line course back to the Gate.    The wind was still blowing around 25 kts, and we were seeing 10’s,  11’s, and 12’s on the fun meter sliding down the steep waves.     Paul got an especially good ride on one, setting a boatspeed  all-time  record of 16.2 kts!

The wind stayed strong all the way to the finish, again defying the forecast.   We had a nice view of E-27 Great White doing multiple spin crashes, while Dianne under white sails only edged past to beat her by 2 minutes.

Temerity crossing the finish line at the X buoy.   The #3 sheeted to the stern fairlead proved fortuitous.  We were way too beat to change to  the #2 reacher.

We were crushed by the Cal 40s in our Division and edged out by Ay Caliente (oh there but for the dragging jib!).  The Wyliecats crushed us and their Division as well.   All the Moore 24s that finished beat us as did the entire Express 27 fleet.  Moores took the overall 1st, 2nd,  3rd, and 4th  places on corrected time.   On the other hand, we beat (on corrected time) all the Express 37s, a 1D35, and the Open 50.   The Olson 34 Redsky, the Mini, and the mighty Double Trouble dropped out.    And in a race where 4 out of 10 starters retired in the face of the wind and waves, just getting home in one piece feels like an accomplishment.

Some other write-ups:

Cal 40 Shaman (winner of our Division)

Video from SC-27 Don Quixote

Photo gallery from the race deck, by Slackwater

NorCalSailing’s writeup

More stories, official results, and links at the SF BAMA site.

19 April 2011 Edit:  I was interested in how participation in this race has changed over time, so I made up this plot.

Under her former name (OZONE) and owner, Temerity did this race only once before, in 1998.

Today’s mermaid

So the mermaids are having a party!

This is the LAST of the automated “Today’s mermaid” posts, 508 mermaid pictures were put on autopilot starting 21 Nov 09 through today.  Thanks to Wes Goodhooft for the Mass Page Maker plugin for WordPress  who made these mermaids possible.

Sirenic Quotidian

Today’s mermaid

Today’s mermaid

Today’s mermaid

All about the Farallones

Lying 28 miles off the coast of San Francisco, the jagged silhouette of the Farallon Islands disrupts the clean line of the horizon. This foreboding knot of rocks sits amid one of the most productive marine food webs on the planet and hosts the largest seabird breeding colony in the continental United States. QUEST ventures out for a rare visit to learn what life is like on the islands and meet the scientists who call this incredibly wild place home.

Paul H. and I will be doing the Double Handed Farallones race tomorrow, but we will be more likely too busy dealing with the hefty amount of wind forecast to enjoy the scenery or wildlife.

The winds are expected to start very light in the morning in the Bay and near shore, and then rapidly build to 30 kts in some areas at around 4 or 5 PM, and then rapidly decline after that.   Hopefully we will be reaching both ways and it can be a fast race.

More on the Farallones, the wildlife, and the famous great white sharks at KQED here.