Archive for May, 2012


Rounding Bishop Rock

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May 14, 2012 posted by admin

Monday May 14

Hi there. Tim here. Blogging from a comfy chair. As Diane’s prior post mentioned, there is a strong no outside communication rule applicable to this race. Thus no satellite phone and even the SpotTracker is prohibited. Emergency communication is permitted of course. There is no news from onboard to share with this post.

That said, Fleet Tracking is up and running. Currently, one can see the fleet is rounding Bishop Rock. I can not figure out how to get the weather overlay displayed. However, the weather reports sees yesterday’s west wind shifting to the north west. Yes, again today, Diane and Andrew are beating to weather. The times reported, are local, London, UK time, being BST, five hours ahead of Toronto. Thus, when it’s noon in London, it’s 7am in Toronto. And when it’s noon in Toronto, Diane & Andrew see 5pm.

Royal Western Yacht Club has a number of links for the race. RWYC has a club wide Latest News page on their website. The race start post  has a couple of starting photos, alas missing Diane & Andrew’s photogenic contributions. RWYC‘s UK Mini Fastnet page has lots of information about the race. The Mini Fastnet Reports page has links to Twitter feeds about the race if you like Tweets.

No post is complete without a picture… The red line is the race course and the fine white line is OGOC’s track.

OCOC approaching Bishop Rock

Diane and Andrew approach Bishop Rock, Monday May 14, 4pm local time (BST).


Tracker is Up!

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May 12, 2012 posted by admin

May 12, 2012

The UK Mini Fastnet is set to run tomorrow, Sunday May 13, 2012.  The competitors are ready with only a few last minute checks and changes, and One Girl’s Ocean Challenge is officially ready to go.  The raft, batteries and survival water have been sealed, the food has been stowed and the waypoints have been entered.  We’re all set.  The weather on the other hand has been changing significantly over the past two days.  This means that the final weather “prognosticating” will happen tomorrow morning, and then get overlaid onto the routing work we’ve done.  We’ve had one little change to OGOC though.  Nick has had some family matters to take care of and was not able to come to England to fulfill another item on his bucket list.  Fortunately we have the best replacement co-skipper you could ever ask for.  Andrew Leslie joined us on the pontoon yesterday all the way from Canada.  Andrew will step in as co-skipper and together we will put OGOC and the race course through its paces.  This is going to be a very “tidal” tactical race.  The Scilly Islands, Lands End, Fastnet Rock, Conninberg Light Vessel and Plymouth harbour all hold their very tactical and tidal elements.  Follow all the action on the race tracker below.  The Spot Tracker will not be on as it’s a violation of the “communications” rules for the Class Mini.  Tim has once again agreed to try to keep the information flowing through the website.  Because of the “no communications” rule, we’re not allowed to have any communications off of the boat, unless it’s for emergency purposes, so Tim will keep you up to date on all the thrills and chills of the UK Fastnet Race!  See you in 560 miles!

http://www.rwyc.org/ukfastnet650-2012-tracking/

       

Diane


UK Mini Fastnet Starts Saturday

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May 10, 2012 posted by admin

May 10, 2012

The UK Mini Fastnet race starts Sunday May 13, 2012. There will be a Yellowbrick Tracker you can all follow along with.  For now, here’s the website link.  As soon as the trackers are up I’ll post the race link.  The race will take us from Plymouth Harbour out to Eddystone Rock, then on to Bishop’s Rock at the Scilly Islands.  After managing the continuously clocking tidal streams at the Scilly Islands, we make the famous northerly run to the Fastnet Rock and do a giant right hand turn out to the Conninberg light following Ireland’s coast line.  Then we head back to the finish line.  This is a tidal stream race.  There are lots of shoreline currents that will ebb and flood along the way to make our race very challenging!

Diane


Pornichet to Plymouth…the Adventures Continue

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May 8, 2012 posted by admin

May 8, 2012

Waking up this morning was like waking up in a battle zone.  There were bodies and kit strewn everywhere and the smell was a little more than ripe! Radio transmissions were buzzing in and out and battle stories were being told with great detail.  In fact it wasn’t a bomb shelter, it’s the Royal Western Yacht Club, and it’s the after math of The Solent and the Trinite Sur Mer “feeder” races which feeds racers in to Plymouth for the UK Fastnet race.  I arrived to Plymouth from France just after the boats started finishing from the Trinite Sur Mer race.

For two reasons I chose not to do the Trinite Sur Mer race to Plymouth.  One Girl’s Ocean Challenge needed to become compliant with a rule change.  405 litres of flotation volume needed to be added to the inside of OGOC and laminated into place.  Additionally I needed to make sure I had functioning autopilots.  Non functioning autopilots is what kept me out of the Pornichet Select race.    Without both of those checked off of the list, I wasn’t going anywhere.  Once both of these items were checked off of the list, I would do a delivery passage from Pornichet, France up the coast to Plymouth, England.  This would serve as an excellent testing ground for the functioning pilots, and the changes I made aboard as a result of adding 405 litres of flotation.  Racing is never a good testing ground, but doing a delivery is.

My delivery was set to take me out of Pornichet France, up the coast to the Raz de Seine and the Chenal Du Four, and then across the English Channel to Plymouth.  In general the weather window was perfect.  As I worked my way up the Bay of Biscay in a north west direction, the wind was on the nose and ten knots or less.  Most would not find this favourable, but it gave me an uncomplicated start and a chance to fiddle with things as I went along.  After the Bay of Biscay, the Raz De Seine is located in the North West corner of France just before you make the jump across the English Channel.  The Raz De Seine is notable for its rocks and its current and rips and eddies.  When the tidal stream is running full blast the current can be moving at 6 knots head on.  If wind and tide are against you this can be pretty much impossible to pass and be pretty dangerous with massive rocks all around.  If wind and tide are favourable for you you can have a down wind run with a spinnaker and a favourable push of 6 knots!  Either way there are also significant eddies pooling in different spots.  I calculated and speculated current and wind as I got close to the Raz and it looked good for coming through just as the current started going northbound to be favourable.  The wind was almost non-existent, so that meant motoring through.  If I could get through quick enough and get across to the Chenal Du Four, then I could get through this section with a favourable current as well.  The Chenal Du Four is not as tricky, but it`s still notable and well worthy of calculating for a favourable current.  Coming through the Raz De Seine was very nice and uneventful.  It`s actually a pretty scary ominous looking place with all the rock cliffs.  On the other side of the Raz De Seine there was absolutely no wind.  Now for a new calculation.  I have some fuel onboard, but I need to make sure that I keep enough fuel for getting in to Plymouth.  If I motor the 10 or so miles to the Chenal Du Four and motor through the Chenal Du Four, then I won’t have enough fuel left for no wind freighter avoidance in the English Channel and for the entry to Plymouth.  If I don’t get to the Chenal Du Four in time, then I will miss my northbound current window, and I’ll be stuck sitting outside for 6 hours just before dark.  So with a little combination of sailing in the puffs and motoring in the lulls, I made it to the Chenal Du Four about an hour after the current turned southbound.  As I motored through the current was light but building.  An hour later it was a 4 knot unfavourable current and I was making about 1 knot of speed over ground, but I was almost out of the Chenal Du Four.  Fortunately the wind started to pick up from behind.  As soon as it got over 5 knots I hoisted every inch of sail I could find!  Then I was able to cut the engine and sail out of the Chenal Du Four.  Woohoo!  We were on our way to the English Channel!  This I thought would be the last obstacle to overcome.  Things were really in our favour.  The wind was steady at 10 to 15 knots and from behind.  The sun was going down, the wind was building and the rain was also coming.  I had lots of maneuverability, fantastic autopilots working thanks to the amazing teams of Raymarine and a boat in excellent state for anything to come.  Anything to come….anything to come…..What was that shadow in the distance?

The English Channel is a very very busy channel with shipping going all over the world.  In the mist there was a large looming mass.  Why was the AIS not buzzing?  AHHHHH.  One would have to turn on the alarm to hear the alarm.  That fuzzy mass was a very large commercial tanker heading straight towards me.  Quick GYBE!  Thankfully there was wind.  Then the AIS started screaming.  There were six more coming.  I was now smack in the shipping lanes.  The nice thing is that I was crossing the lanes so I had excellent bearing on their lights to see if I was ahead or behind.  For the next 60 miles I dodged commercial traffic.  In the morning, the sun came up, the code 0 went up and then the kite went up and I was making my way to Plymouth at a fantastic rate.  I passed the Eddystone Rock and the dolphins joined in for the ride in to Plymouth.  What an awesome sight!

“Securite, Securite, Securite”  “This is the Warship…..”  Did I mention that I was going in to Plymouth? When you look at the Reeds Almanac for entering Plymouth, you will note the highly emphasized information about warships having right of way when doing exercises, and also the note about clearance required on submarines.  Hmmmmmm and now I have a warship sitting in my path doing helicopter exercises…..  Apparently this is the life of a mini racer?  Well by the time I got to the warship the notice was cancelled and the exercise was over.  I radioed in to the race organizers for the incoming racers and let them know of my arrival, and they kindly offered to pick me up with the RIB!

Well I can honestly say mission accomplished.  The boat is ready for the Fastnet.  There are a couple of little things to do, and some massive chart work to map out a plan for the race, and we’ll be good to go.  I love it when a plan comes together 🙂

Diane


The Road To Plymouth

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May 4, 2012 posted by admin

May 4, 2012
If you look at a map you will see that England is nicely located just a little north of France.  Seems like a simple route.  Head out of the Bay of Biscay, head north and stop when you get to Plymouth.  Well there are a few complications along the way.  The first priority is to make sure that we go in a good weather window with enough time to get to Plymouth.  We’re required to be there by the 9th of May.  The weather is very important.  The Bay of Biscay shallows up very quickly to 400+ metres of depth.  There’s a ridge that runs somewhat north south across the bay and makes a great opportunity for waves.  The Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current also make an excellent eastward route for all weather systems blowing across the Atlantic.  Then with the help of the Azores hi, the Atlantic lows funnel straight into the Bay of Biscay. It makes a perfect recipe for 40+ knots…on a regular basis.  Our weather window is going to give us 10-15 knots of wind.  Initially the wind will be light and shifty as we are moving into a big hi weather system.  Then it will settle a little and swing around from the south and steady in around 15 knots.  There is a new low moving in by Wednesday, and since it’s only 250-270 miles to get to Plymouth, we should be in by Tuesday morning or afternoon.  The reason it’s 250-270 miles to Plymouth is because there are actually two routes to be chosen from.  As you round that big hump of land at the top of France…just before crossing the English Channel, you may notice a teeny little island just off of the main land.  In fact that is a string of islands and rocks jutting out from land.  There are twochannels to go through.  The Raz De Seine is the first.  The second is the Channel Du Four.  There is a nice little channel to pass through allowing us to stay close to land and keep the miles down.  With the current generated from the tide, the Raz De Seine can generate 5-6 knots of current running north and south, depending on hi tide or low tide.  If we get to the Raz De Seine with a southbound current, it’s almost worth waiting 6 hours for the current to swing north and then head through.  If the weather is rough and it’s too risky to go through the one mile wide channel, then we go around to the west.  That adds twenty miles to the route.  Hence the 250 – 270 miles.  After the two channels and their outlying obstacles, then we’re off to one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.  It should equally match the activity I saw in Miami.  Plus it looks like we’ll be crossing at night.  This will be tricky, but not the end of the world.   So much for sleeping the last night!  After crossing the English channel, it should be a fairly simple run past Eddystone Rock into Plymouth, and it will be daylight, which will be really nice.  Approaching ports at night with all the conflicting lights of the city can be a nightmare to say the least!  I’ll have the tracker on for the delivery, but there’s no cell phone.  You can also keep an eye on the weather as I go with http://www.grib.us/ .  It’s a great grib file program, and you can see all of the hi and low systems as they move their way along.  I should be off the dock tomorrow around 0900.  See you on the other side!

Diane


We Leave for England Tomorrow 0700

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May 4, 2012 posted by admin

May 4, 2012

Alrighty…decision has been made.  We head out Saturday morning at 0700.  I’m off to the boat to finish loading all of the gear and finish sorting through things.  I’ll post the course and the interesting geography of the route, tonight.

Diane


Almost Ready for the Off!

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May 3, 2012 posted by admin

At 1020 this evening, I decided it was time to go home….enough work for today.  The lee cloths are back in place, some of the sails stowed forward, the new liferaft has been fetched from Lorient, the weather has been “gribbed”.  We are very close to being able to head off to England for the Fastnet.  The plan at the moment is to leave tomorrow late afternoon.  The weather window looks good, but as you will all note, it’s midnight here in France and I’m still up sorting tools and toolbox stuff on my living room floor.  I will make sure to turn the spot tracker on for the delivery to Plymouth, England.  I will also make sure to let yo know when I am ready to go.  If not tomorrow evening, then Saturday morning for sure 🙂

Diane


Cap Boards….Check!

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May 3, 2012 posted by admin
May 3, 2012
Cap boards….check Epoxy saturated cloth covering the whole mess and locking it in to the stringers and hull……check We are officially compliant with the new volume rule and have two functioning pilots!  “The big off”, as they say, is scheduled for Friday afternoon or early evening.  There is a good weather window for delivering the boat to Plymouth England, for the UK Fastnet race.  It’s a 27…0 mile delivery in total.  There is one tricky bit.  It’s called the “Raz de Sein”.  If you look on the map of France where the English channel meets the Bay of Biscay, there’s a hump of land that juts out to the West here.  What you can’t see is the rocky finger outreach.  There is a good 1 mile wide passage here through this area, but the tidal stream runs at 5-7 knots here depending on the time of day.  I’ll be right just following a neap tide, so the tidal stream (current), will favour a little closer to the 5 knots….still.  If I get there when the tide is head on, and I’m only in 10 knots of wind, I could be standing still.  There is a good likelyhood that I will have to go around.  This will add about 20 miles to my trip.  It’s not the end of the world….just a few more miles.  We’ll see what the tidal stream is running when I approach.  I’ll just have to wait and see as the wind looks lite and shifty leading up to there.  After that it’s just a simple multi lane highway crossing of the second busiest shipping lane in the world!
Diane

Boards are In

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May 1, 2012 posted by admin

May 1, 2012

Well, the boards are mostly in place.  Just a bottom cap on each section still to go, and then it can all get glassed into place.  Here’s what the port quarter berth looks like.  There’s actually one more board in there now, leaving a nice close edge to the sanded glass for building a nice strong tab.

Diane