Archive for April, 2012
April 30, 2012
So here’s a good idea of what the floation foam job will look like. This is the bow of the boat on the inside. Directly in front you can see the crash bulkhead with its oval access point screwed in place. Directly above it you can see the first beige piece of flotation foam jammed into place against the vertical hull stiffeners (stringers). Above you can see a sanded line. I’ll add successive 40mm pieces of foam to build it out to that line. Then a flat board to the bottom of the whole mess will get glued in with expansion foam. Finally a wrap of cloth saturated epoxy to tie it all together and tab it into the hull (that’s the sanded spot). There are three of these all together to do. This one and then one on either side at the stern in the quarter berths. Those spots are tight, and on the starboard side there’s a bilge pump, an autopilot drive arm and two pilot computers in the way. Tricky stuff!
Below you will see what the rest of the kids were doing today. The bay in Pornichet is constantly loaded with windsurfers, kite surfers, and any other sort of fun you can imagine on the water! This was just a quick snap shot on my way back to the boat from lunch. There were probably 50 kite surfers in the bay today!
April 29, 2012
What a successful day! In between the 40-50 knots of wind and rain squalls passing through, lots got achieved on OGOC in anticipation of needing to meet the new volume requirements. I needed to start with emptying out the boat in preparation of all the sanding dust for the glass work. In light of all the rain, I opted for stowing everything under the cockpit floor, instead of taking it all home. It’s a long walk down the pontoon to the very tiny car. Everything would have gotten wet, and it wouldn’t have all fit. Check out the before and after of the little space under the cockpit floor.
Before the work started Tidied up for the work
Under the cockpit floor “before” Under the cockpit floor “after”
Next I needed to get the electronics out of the way and try to cover up everything as best as possible. Gel dust gets deep into anything and everything!
I found a good use for all of the grocery bags I keep buying!
The last job was to figure out how to run the generator without drowning it in the downpour, and ensuring the exhaust was outside.
Simple, but effective. This is looking out the companionway door. You can see the little yellow sticker of the generator sitting at the companionway door. Overhead the solar panel is deployed giving the little generator somewhat of a roof. Directly over the generator is one of the lee cloths jury rigged up to provide a tent to keep the rest of the rain off. Behind the boat you can see rocks. Those rocks are the harbour wall. The wind was so strong today that the spray was streaming over the rock wall and landing in the cockpit. I couldn’t risk drowning the little generator, so it needed lots of directional cover. This whole setup allowed me to close the hatch and sand away like crazy. By the time I was finished the whole boat was one giant billow of white dust inside. When I opened the hatch you would have thought we were on fire as there was soooooo much white smoke coming out! Well the sanding is finished for now. Tomorrow I’ll measure again for the foam location, and mark it out against the tabbing I’ve sanded up. Tuesday I’m off to the local “bricolage”(which is french for hardware store), to get the foam and cut it to fit. If it’s stopped raining, I’ll also move the bilge pump aft…..if it’s stopped raining!
April 29, 2012
Today’s mission is to start to try to rectify a measurement issue on OGOC. The required volume of flotation within minis has been increased. This is purely a safety requirement. Each type of mini has a different amount that must be added to the inside of the boat. OGOC is a Zero, and Zeros require 405litres of flotation. Lombard (the creator of the Zero) has provided a standard set of drawings to help with the calculations. It works out to 203 litres up under the deck in the bow, and 101 litres each in the stern of the quarter berths, up under the deck. To achieve this little task the following needs to be accomplished. The boat must be entirely emptied out. There will be a lot of dust and debris and we can’t risk the equipment getting exposed. Then the hull needs to have the gel removed where the foam will be laminated in. Next each foam board is cut to fit perfectly above the vertical hull stiffeners, and then the whole mess needs to have a layer of biaxial cloth laid up over it to lock it in place structurally. There is one little complication. OGOC has a bilge pump, autopilot drive arm and its computer banks located squarely in the way of the starboard aft flotation. Most minis had to move their drive system to the stern of the boat. This would require an entirely new set up for the autopilot system and simply isn’t in the cards in time for the Fastnet. The bilge pump will have to be relocated forward of the computer banks and all the hoses and electrical for the computers elongated to reach their new positions. Not simple to say the least. The boat needs to leave for the Fastnet in one week. We also need to have a clear weather window for the off.
Class Mini gave us a “pass” on the rule for the Demi-Cle and Pornichet Select race, but they require the changes for the Fastnet. Once I received the drawings from Lombard and was able to spec it out in the boat, I realized the conflict with the pumps, computer and drive arm. So I’ve asked for another pass for the Fastnet. This will allow us to properly rectify the flotation volume for next year’s activities. Right now OGOC is on a pontoon at Pornichet and the work would have to be done outside and in the rain (it seems to rain every day). Humidity is a potential problem and moving the bilge pump and doing the exterior glass work will be very difficult. Not to mention the lack of time to complete the work. The work all has to be done with Epoxy, rather than Polyester. Epoxy takes 24 hours to cure fully, where the polyester will kick off in less than 2 hours.
So today’s mission is to start on the work while I wait to hear from Class Mini if they will let us sail without the additional flotation. Hope for the best but plan for the worst! Cross your fingers! Here’s the picture of what it all needs to look like.
April 28, 2012
So after two days of trying to get out and calibrate the autopilots, we finally got a morning of nice quiet winds and seas. I went out at 7am, did the turns, the heading alignment and the autolearn and everything went perfectly. The Raymarine tech here is brilliant. He saw right away that since my rudder reference is mounted “upside down”, that the wiring isn’t traditional following the colour scheme. Thanks very much to Raymarine for making this happen. I’m really happy the problem was a simple installation issue. I love my pilots….:-) Now just to add some massive flotation volume to the boat and we’re off to England next weekend for the Fastnet!
April 25, 2012
April 21, 2012
April 21, 2012
April 20, 2012
Well it’s not for a valiant effort on several people’s part…that’s for sure. This morning Sheila and I headed out in calmer waters to swing both computer compasses and run through full calibrations on the two pilots. We got to the “learning” part of the calibration and it failed again. We tried the other computer and it continued to flash “requires calibration” after being calibrated and failed. After greater consultation at the dock with our fantastic experts at CMC Marine, as well as a local technician, we have decided that there is no way this can be rectified before tomorrow’s start. So we have decided to be very very safe rather than very very sorry and pulled out of the race. This is exactly the reason I wanted to come to France a year early. We still have time to get another race in, even with this set back. BUT, we now have two weeks to rectify the situation, or find a buddy to sail the boat to England with me if it still isn’t rectified. The guys at CMC have also very kindly pulled in some more fantastic talent with Raymarine UK. Good luck to all the competitors tomorrow and “Bonne Courage Mes Amis”!
April 20, 2012
Pornichet Select starts tomorrow! It’s a 300 mile race from Pornichet to Pornichet, that does a loop that stretches down to Les Sables D’Olonne and back up to Ile De Groix. Ile De Groix is the island West of Locmiquelic where this whole adventure started. Here’s the problem. When we started the double handed Demi-Cle race, the autopilots weren’t working. This wasn’t a problem as we were double handed. Since then we have spent days at the dock in connection with CMC Marine in Port Credit, working through fixing the pilots. Now it appears that one might be working, but it needs calibration and testing, and it’s been blowing 20-30 knots every day. Calibration needs to be done in flat calm conditions. If I can’t get the pilots calibrated and tested, then I can’t do the race. Of course it’s not the end of the world if I can’t do the race….it just means more miles to do next year. After this the next big project is to add more flotation into the boat to bring her up to compliance with a new rule. I’ll have two weeks to do this and have everything in order for the Fastnet!
April 17, 2012
Race day was shaping up to be a warm sunny day. Everyone was down to the boats nice and early, which was good as we were scheduled to be towed out at 0830 for a 1000 start. No engines here in France!
The forecast was for light winds at the start then building to 20+ knots overnight. As the race was only 150 miles long, that meant finishing on Sunday anywhere from early morning to late in the afternoon. The course was set to start off of Locmiquelic with a very quick up wind leg to get us off and then turned to go around the Ile de Groix once and then North West up the coast to a turning mark then south east around the outside of Ile de Groix and in to Pornichet. There were lots of rocks along the way, steep tides with the potential for big current and lots of options of different islands to choose which sides to go around, along with their outlying rocks. Our prime objective was to finish and go fast along the way. Keep in mind…the boat has been out of its container just a week at this point. It has been a long week of putting her back together again. We were excited to get going!
The start saw us off in light 5-8 knot winds. There were 50 minis on the line and nobody was worried about being aggressive on the start as this was the first race of the season on the Atlantic side. Off we went in light, shifty stuff just like back home….but also some current. We got to the weather mark and then made a left turn toward Ile deGroix. As we got to the island it was clear that local knowledge was a key factor. Some of the boats passed so close to the island that we thought they might put a fender out to make sure they didn’t rub along the rock face! We played it a little safer and left about 100 feet between us and the rock face. We were in 15th place at that point and five boats slipped inside us! Hmmmmm……local knowledge…… always key!
Next we finished our lap around the island and turned North. The wind started to fill in and as is typical in the Bay of Biscay, there were scattered showers on and off all day. Going into the night the wind started to settle in from the North East and the temperature plummeted to 3 degrees. How do you stay warm on a fiberglass shell in 3 degrees with wind and waves pounding on you? Hmmmm. I still don’t know….. We had thermals, base layers, mid layers, fleece layers (at least two) and then top layers….and we were still cold. Throughout the early part of the night we switched back and forth from the Code 0 to the deeper lighter spinnaker, but by night fall the conditions really called for the Code 0 again and we had it up and flying. We were working our way along nicely with that fantastic code 0 driving away, when all of a sudden there was a big bang on deck and a whole bunch of flogging! There was our nice little power house of a sail bashing around beside the leeward side of the hull! Upon inspection we found that the bowsprit had somehow spun around to leeward. We tried to grind it back out but it just wouldn’t go. In the dark, flashlight pinned between my teeth, frozen finger tips and a sail flogging around like a cat on a hot tin roof, I peered into the darkness to suss out the situation! Upon deep inspection with that fantastic flashlight we found that the cover on our old bowsprit’s pole guys had been eaten away by the clutch it ran through. The core was holding its strength, but the core won’t hold in a clutch. So the whole cover gave way and slinky’d up. In the meantime, the code 0 was crashing and bashing around and all the lines got thoroughly tangled. Taking that thing down was difficult. We had to bear off and go deep down wind. Down wind was a pile of cardinal marks defining a mass of rocks to be avoided less than a couple miles away! Once we wrestled the code 0 down we had to put the pole guy back together. Carefully working the cover back to where it split and painstakingly stitching the cover back in place, we were good to go. The stitching wouldn’t hold forever, but at least we had the pole guy available to use again. Meanwhile, the code 0 was in a massive heap shoved in the boat. The code 0 is supposed to be rolled up in a nicely furled tidy little package. Ours was this massive pile of soggy wet and salty sail cloth, completely filling the v-berth of the boat, with furling lines running back and forth in a massive heap of disarray. Nice. Our best hope was to hoist it during the daylight and then furl in place. So for the rest of the night we were sailing along with a full genoa instead of a code 0. This was not fast.
We made it to the most northern turning mark, got around and started to head downwind as fast as we could go with our Genoa up. As the sun started to come up we were approaching Belle Isle to the West and Houat to the East. This was the last tactical navigation opportunity of the event. You could choose the “inside track” around the North side of Houat, or the “outside track” along the South side. The inside track had a very narrow channel that lead into a bay with shallows, hazards and a most specific significant rock that was mentioned in the skipper’s briefing. This rock of course is uncharted! If everyone knows about it then why isn’t it on the chart? The inside track had great potential for wind with more sheltered wave action, funneling current and faster speeds with less up wind work. Let’s talk about that rock again shall we? Where was it? Hmmmm. We chose the outside track with greater wind, bigger waves and deeper water. Deeper water would be the key here. By now the wind was pocking anywhere from 22 knots to 25 knots. As we plodded our way along, the waves were nicely slamming into us slowing us down each time we hit them. We made the turn East to Pornichet and the slamming continued. The last moment of opportunity for local knowledge now fell into place. As we approached a shelf with a clearly marked North cardinal mark, we decided to take “the high road” and go hi and outside. This was an area where we could easily run aground depending on what the tide was doing and if you knew where to plug your way through. The two boats behind us cleanly snuck their way across the North side of the lighthouse and inside the North cardinal mark. We safely tacked our way around the North cardinal mark keeping lots of water between the keel and certain death. Unfortunately that let two more boats in. Bottom line…we finished the race safe and sound. So let’s review. What was the goal of the race? Finish, gaining the qualifying miles and going fast. Well, we finished achieving our primary goal, and we had moments where we were fast. In that first trip around the island we had glorious moments where we were beside some very fast prototypes. What else did we get out of this race? An AMAZING amount of knowledge. We saw some fantastic ways of setting up running rigging systems onboard, got to really see what racing is like in the Bay of Biscay for those who grew up teething on it like these folks did, and we got to see a whole new level of competition. A new bar has been set and new targets are in sight! On to the next race!