Archive for March, 2013
March 27, 2013
One Active Indicating System installed and ready to go!
This is the Icom MA-500, located just above my active echo. Thanks Icom Canada for making sure I am ready to go! You can now follow the boat’s geographical location by our name or MMSI number (316017347), when the AIS is on. I’m down to the last few jobs on the list to be ready for our first race in April!
March 23, 2013
What an excellent 160 mile training run. We were 9 mini sailors all solo on our boats, doing what was probably going to be the last distance training run before the first big race of the season. Our route would take us from Lorient out to Ile D’Yeu and back again. The weather window was shaping up to be a fantastic test. From the start we would be off the wind by about 135 degrees and in a balmy 12 – 15 knots. The forecast predicted that the wind would get significantly lighter and move forward, giving us a prime opportunity to do lots of sail changes and really work through the different wind ranges on our sails. My gennaker is totally shot, so it’s always a bit of a guessing game when to put it in play, depending on the wind conditions and angles. Slowly but surely I’m mapping it out, though. Rounding Ile D’Yeu, the weather was set to build. It would hold steady out of 150 degrees but it would start to increase in velocity…hitting 30 knots! Dry suits were the attire for this event, along with lifejackets, whistles, tethers and flashlights.
A quick group meeting under the crane and we were off! It was a sea of beautiful kites all blasting off to the east! Pink, red, blue and green! Almost every colour under the sun! Shortly after, the first radio call came in. “I’m having trouble with my pilot”, came from one boat. Then we were 8. My big beautiful blue kite was up and charging along nicely with the others. Slowly the wind started to shift forward as we made our way past Belle Ile. Next up came my sad blown out gennaker. But, it went up just fine and did it’s job. As predicted, the wind started to ease up to a mere 6 knots….and move forward, while the sun went down. The wind should have built back up before we got to Ile D’Yeu and would have made for a tricky passage through the narrow depth gap between the island and the main land. Technically there was lots of space, just not lots of space with enough depth. As it was we were going through in the dark, while the water was only twenty five to thirty feet deep. In this rocky country, that always makes me nervous! Fortunately the wind didn’t build in until after we got around the island, so really, the only tricky navigating was all of the fishing boats!
Now we were on the leg home. The night navigation was finished and it was going to be a fantastic kite ride for the first part of the leg back….or so I had hoped! My next effort was to get my small spinnaker up. Although we were right down wind, the wind was building to 20 knots. I set the spinnaker up, bent the sheets on, flung the pole out and hoisted. We’re UP! And the boat speed started to climb. Next job was to trim the sails and keep the boat balanced. WOOSH! A gust came in and slammed us on our side before I had a chance to even drop the jib! This of course was then followed up with an accidental gybe as the boat got back on her feet. Unfortunately, the pole had been cranked over to “the original” weather side and now as it dragged through the water on the wrong side, it completely rotated into the side of the boat while I was trying to get back through to the original gybe. Now picture this….all of the spinnaker is hanging at the side of the boat. The boat swings through the wind again and the kite fills….but….it fills by flying BETWEEN the forestay and the mast. NOT ideal to say the least! Of course this is all fixable, but now we have a new added feature . The kite is now pointed directly at this very large cardinal mark.
For anyone not familiar with a cardinal mark, it’s whole purpose in life is to warn you of a dangerous area. It’s yellow and black. The yellow signifies the caution, and the black signifies to which side of the caution the mark is located. This is the mark that I was now heading towards at a very hi rate of speed. Now don’t panic, everything turned out fine, but it’s important to appreciate the urgency to which I needed to rectify the situation! So, first priority was to get that kite down. While all of this had been going on, the autopilot had been knocked off of its little pin. I reset the pilot and with a bit of luck, I managed to get the boat to turn down wind. With the main covering the spinnaker and collapsing it a little, the boat gybed back through and we turned away from the fast approaching mark. Luckily enough, the spinnaker also swung back through the rig! After bashing and crashing around for at least twenty minutes, the ordeal was over. Even with all of the sheets in a total mess, I was able to pull the kite into the boat and recover. By now the sun was well up behind a thick set of clouds and so was the wind speed. Thirty knots! This was definitely not spinnaker flying weather for me. I put two reefs in the main to settle the pilot, got a reef in the jib and proceeded to clean up the mess. There was a ton of water in the boat from the spinnaker, and lines snaking their way through anything possible. By the time I got the whole mess cleaned up, the wind was constantly at thirty knots and I was ready for a nap! The rest of the run back was gentle and tame in all of that wind. This wasn’t a race, and I wasn’t going to try putting the kite up in thirty knots again, without some more training first on hi wind kite flying!
The last “event” of our training run was some concern for my VHF radio buddy. I could hear one boat chatting with her, but I couldn’t hear her. Throughout the whole event, everyone stayed in constant radio communication for safety. People compared sail configurations, boat speeds and pilot settings. But now I could hear one boat consoling my radio buddy? What had happened? Why couldn’t I hear her or raise her on the radio? Well it turned out that something had gone very wrong with her new boat batteries and she was now sailing in total black out with a handheld VHF only giving her a range of about 2 miles. She had zero power and zero navigation instruments or pilot or anything! So, after receiving a call for help, a very good friend of hers turned his boat around and sailed back upwind (in thirty knots) to find her and guide her in. This is why training runs are so awesome! They put you and your boat to the test in real situations, but also take the pressure of a race off of you, so that you can deal with situations as they come up, with a little more caution.
Other than our fantastic little wipeout and a few little details to be knocked off of the jobs list, we’re ready for our first race! OH, this is what I looked like after 160 miles…in a dry suit. I had been wearing my lifejacket for so long that I couldn’t even tell anymore that I had it on. While I was walking down the dock, Katrina asked me if I was going to wear it all the way back to the yard and then promptly took my picture!
Off on another offshore training adventure today!
This is going to be a 150 mile run with lots of reaching and some decent wind along the way. We’ll start off in Lorient and head south east past Belle Ile with our big spinnakers up. Then, as we get closer to Ile D’Yeu, the wind will get very light and move forward. The big push will be to get around the Island as soon as possible. Before the wind builds up for the ride back. We’ll probably start off with the big kites again, and end up down to a reef and the little kite in 20-25 knots of wind! An awesome training run to build up for the first race in less than a month’s time now!
March 16, 2013
Check out the latest modification to OGOC!
Training always shows you the things that work and the things that need to be changed. The wide cockpit floor of OGOC is tricky to climb when the boat is screaming along at a 20 degree heel. It’s also difficult to sleep on the “weather side” of the cockpit floor at that angle. So, in an effort of improving life onboard, I have glased in two rails on the cockpit floor and revised the non skid in that area. WAY better!
March 9, 2013
Another weekend of Mini Training camp with the coach. Interesting forecast…. We’re looking at almost zero wind out of the east for Saturday, and then Sunday it’s supposed to pour with rain changing to snow with 15cm of accumulation! What’s up with that???? K, I’m clearly going to have to put snow tires on the Mini 🙂
Today was boat measurement day for five of us. There is a new offshore rule that requires Minis to increase their stability index measurement. Now the boats must be able to handle a fifty kilogram weight on the mast head and maintain positive stability.
So today’s measurements included several tests. The first was passing the boat through a jig that was floating in the water at a very specific mark. As we passed the boat through the jig, we had to make sure that the keel passed through without hitting the lower bar in the water. This measured the draft of the boat. You can see the jig just behind us.
Next we had to establish the black band measurements. These determine the upper and lower limits of your sail area…or “air draft”. The measurer uses the same jig as before, but this time with a cross arm and a marker strapped to it to mark the distance from the bottom of the keel to a fixed point on the mast. We litterally drag the jig back and forth a little so that the marker draws a line on the mast, and then take the average of it. Then we hoist the spinnaker halyard to the top of the mast with a tape measure on it and measure.
Once all that is sorted, it’s time to pull the boat over to measure the boat’s stability. We attached a very very long tackle to the top of the mast at the spinnaker halyard, and started pulling and pushing the boat out from the dock. Once the mast head was all the way down to the dock, and the traveler was at 90 degrees tro life, we attached a scale and put all the load between the scale and the mast head.
We measured in at 56 kilos! Perfect! We have 6 extra kilos of stability! Last measurement of the day was for and aft angle and mast rake angle. The cockpit has 2 degrees of slope, and the mast rake is 3 degrees. All is right in the world 🙂
One offshore extravaganza excursion complete!
Let’s set the mood shall we! The wind was out of the North East blowing 15 – 20 knots. The wind chill brought the air temperature down to about zero degrees overnight. Brrrrr!
Katrina, Nikki and I set off from Lorient in our little minis for a 66 mile overnight training passage. Our epic adventure started from Lorient in the top of the black box on the map. The first leg took us from Lorient, south west to Ile De Groix with our big spinnakers up. The wind picked up to about 20 knots on the west side of Ile De Groix….not the most ideal wind speed to be carrying your biggest kite and needing to gybe over to 70 degrees true wind! On the back side of Ile De Groix there was some decent wind. We saw puffs up to 22 knots. As we bailed out heading downwind to take the spinnakers down, I saw 18.9 knots of boat speed! The next leg took us to the south west corner of Belle Ile and then gave us a left hand turn straight into the wind. We had to tack back and forth across the bottom of the island. Our “no go zone” was the depth. We agreed to tack between 20 and 30 metres of depth. Basically we would tack into the island until we got to 20 metres of depth and then we would tack back out again until we got to 30 metres of depth. That gave us lots of room to tack back and forth, but kept us within a well confined area without having to think too hard about it. At the last turn before heading home, we reconveined. The leg home was also the coldest. We were sailing about 90-95 degrees true, but since we didn’t all have a gennaker to carry, we decided to just go back under genoa. The last leg was also the coldest as there was the least activity to do. At least when we were tacking back and forth, the exercise kept us warm. In the end, we got back to Lorient as the sun came up and we could see the channel make our way in. Everyone learned some good stuff about their boats, and I got to try out my new Musto dry suit! What a great training run!
March 1, 2013
Getting ready for an offshore! Today’s lesson, taught by yours truly, was celestial navigation. My two partners in crime here in Lorient ( Nikki Curwen Offshore Racing and Katrina Ham Racing) are preparing to do their 1000 nautical mile solo non stop qualification. Part of the requirements for the qualification is to complete running fixes with a sextant. The other piece of course to practice, is our offshore time. Soooo, on Saturday at 1700 (5pm) we will set off solo in our boats from Lorient for a little offshore adventure. We’re going to head out around Ile de Groix and then south to Belle Isle and back to Lorient. It will be an awesome opportunity to test new systems and get to do a little kite work as the wind is going to be around 70-80 degrees! We’ll sail through the night and come home to Lorient early in the morning. It will be an awesome overnight experience!