Archive for November, 2013

Recognition & Follow Up in the Press

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November 26, 2013 posted by admin

Tuesday November 26, 2013

Diane mentioning the internet in Lanzarote wasn’t as fast as she might like, observed “I need to go to bed before I launch this computer across the expansive marble foyer”. While Diane is hunting for WiFi connections, in the hopes of sending a picture, it’s Tim blogging again.

The Star, Toronto’s largest circulation has item about the race committee’s decision that Diane was not allowed to continue the Mini Transat. It is a follow up from last week’s piece on Diane sailing in under jury rig.

Diane’s home club, Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club, acknowledged Diane at the Racing Awards Banquet last Saturday. Diane was awarded the Rear Commodore’s Commendation for Courage & Perseverance. The recognition was accompanied by a bottle of Goslings Black Seal rum. When asked if the rum was belated recognition of Diane’s win in the Bermuda 1-2, RC Paul Brennan laughed and referenced the many Dark & Stormy nights on the Bay of Biscay. Diane is gratified with the commendation. And her support team are gratified she’s offered to share when she returns.

“Thank you Ashbridges Bay for all of your continuing Support” -Diane 😉

Race Officer’s Decision

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November 24, 2013 posted by admin

November 25, 2013

Hey everyone

Firstly, thank you so very much to everyone out there who has been following along and sharing all of your heart warming messages of encouragement!  I spoke with our race director through email and he has confirmed that I have run out of time under the rules of “technical stopover” to be able to carry on with the race.  He also raised the issue of safety as an additional concern.  Even if I had the time to do the repairs, I would be three days behind the closest support boat and a day behind the closest competitor who left this port this morning.  There is a high pressure system floating over us right now, but there is a weather bomb of a low that will drop in and when it hits I would be far far out of range of conventional safety and rescue measures if something again went wrong.  As the Mini Classe rules don’t allow for communication, the race organizers need to take this into account when making decisions.  So for adhering to the “technical stopover” race rules of 72 hours and for additional safety concerns, my Mini Transat race has finished here in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote.  I will post a full story of the events as soon as I can get the pics and stuff off of my camera.

The good news is that I have some footage of flying my code 5 in 27 knots of wind and some pictures and stuff to share of the 1500 miles I have done from the top of France to here.  Once I can get back to the boat and get some good computer time I will try to sort sharing with you all.  In the meantime, I need to figure out how to get the boat back to Canada.  It’s probably going to cost about $10,000….a cost I wasn’t planning on having to incur as I was meant to be sailing to Miami to bring the boat home.  If anyone has any connections or resources to move a mini in an overheight container from the Canary Islands to Canada or the United States, I would be happy to entertain!


Diane is Fine and Awaiting Word from the Race Officer

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November 24, 2013 posted by admin

Sunday November 24, 2013

Diane writes: I’m in Puerto Calero and tied up to the dock. I am about to send the Race Organizer a note to find out my status. In short, I have broken another spreader bracket and I am still having trouble with power on the boat.  I can live without power on the boat as long as there is sunshine during the days to give me enough to get through the night. I will let you all know what the race officer says.

My biggest worry is in fact, there would be too big a gap between myself and the rest of the fleet (if I can restart) and that it would therefore be unsafe to restart again. There are several minis here and one at least is leaving today and one of the accompanying boats left yesterday.

As to the rig damage: I couldn’t tack and I couldn’t turn the boat around without risking losing the rig. The broken spreader bracket was the top one on the port side. The only reason the mast stayed up was because I was able to straighten the mast and pull the checkstays on, causing the mast to compress the broken fitting which still had some rivets holding.  But this meant that with both checkstays on I couldn’t hoist the main.  The reason the mast didn’t fall down was that I was very fortunate with the weather in that I could do the 300 miles on one tack slightly off the wind.

I was extrememly lucky that there wasn’t any bad weather and that the wind blew from the north west to literally blow me into port. Sailed the 300 miles under jib alone and just barely made it to Peurto Calero. I was told there would be someone here to tow me in. But because I got in so late, everyone had gone home and there was just a security guard here.  Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Las Palmas (MRCC) actually asked me if I could just wait until this morning when everything opened up. Eventually MRCC sent the rescue launch to tow me in the two miles to shore.

Anyway, I am fine, very frustrated and very sad but I will survive 🙂

And… I will let you all know what the race officer says.


In Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

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November 24, 2013 posted by admin

Sunday November 24, 2013

Diane made the turn inside the harbour wall at 3:50am local time (10:50pm Toronto). Have yet to hear from her directly. When we do…

Welcome Ashore Diane!

You can interact with this Google “chart” directly, or click the link below to open it in a full sized window.

View OGOC: In Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, Canary Islands in a larger map

Heading In: Switching to AIS Tracking

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November 23, 2013 posted by admin

Saturday November 23, 2013

Fleet tracking is done for the day – last update at 8pm local time, being 2pm in Toronto. It shows Diane off the east coast of Lanzarote, about 25 nm from Puerto Calero, making 4.9 knots, in ten knots of wind out of the north.

AIS tracking is picking Diane up and is what we’ll be watching for her arrival. A shout out and big thanks to ICOM for AIS transponder a handy piece of equipment.

Position of Diane from Fleet Tracking as of 8pm November 23, off the coast of Lanzarote.

Off the coast of Lanarote, 25nm from Puerto Calero, making 4.9 knots in ten knot northerlies - click for larger image.

In The Press & 120 NM To Puerto Calero in the Canaries

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November 22, 2013 posted by admin

Friday November 22, 2013

The Star, Toronto’s largest circulation daily newspaper has a piece on Diane. It’s a good read for its reminders about the minimalist nature of the boats and the years of work & tough sailing it takes to qualify for the start line, including a classic Diane quote: “What could be more amazing than racing single handed over 4300 nautical miles…..solo, on a boat you can fit in your living room and scream downwind at 20 knots!”

Fleet Tracking sees Diane making 4.9 knots under jury rig, in 14 knots of NW wind, about 120 nm NNE or Puerto Calero, Lanzarote in the Canaries. With the race restrictions on communications in place, details remain thin.

There is a pair of high pressure systems, south or the Azores. Mini Transat news reports the bulk of the fleet has slowed down in the lighter winds. The forecast (en francais & you’ll need the weather zone chart) suggests these slow moving highs will dominate the weather for the next few days.

So… what are your plans for Saturday night?

Here is another Google “chart” you can interact with directly. Diane’s position is not automatically updated. Use the link below to open a larger chart.

View Diane: 120 NM To Puerto, Calero in a larger map

Dismasted: Diane is Safe & Heading for the Canaries

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November 21, 2013 posted by admin

Wednesday November 20, 2013 – 300 Miles North East of the Canaries

MiniTransat has been in contact with some sad news. Diane is OK. The boat has been dismasted.

Mini Transat news reports: The Canadian sailor informed the race management, through a cargo ship which was passing nearby, that her mast has broken. She has not requested assistance and just wants to be supported upon her arrival in Lanzarote. She triggered the button on board to indicate that all is well.

Tim here. I’ve personally raced as Diane’s crew for years. Her perseverance inspires awe in me. And I can think of more than one long distance race where her perseverance has come in inspiring and unexpected ways. Obviously disappointed at the set back and greatly relieved Diane is fine. I take some small comfort and can see “my skipper” shining through in her decision to sail to the Canaries under jury rig.

Go Diane Go!


Back At Sea, Making 8+ for the Canaries

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November 18, 2013 posted by admin

November 18, 2013

OGOC sailing off the dock from Cascais, Portugal after making repairs.

No tow needed, just sailing off the dock after making repairs in Cascais, Portugal - click for a larger image

As foreshadowed in yesterday’s update, a much happier mini has been splashed and Diane has restarted the race, well within the 72 hour limit for technical stops. The local land based AIS tracker is showing Diane at sea making 8.1 knots at 204°T for the Canaries. Expect Mini Transat’s  Fleet Tracking will show her on their next update.

Sail smart. Sail fast!

OGOC in the travel lift during technical stop at Cascais, Portugal

A very happy mini gets splashed back into the race - click for a larger image.

Sorted: Ready to Splash & Race

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November 17, 2013 posted by admin

Sunday November 17, 2013: Cascais, Portugal

Diane writes: You will all be glad to hear that the electrician has come with the new batteries.  He also brought a battery analyser and both batteries indeed faulted to “bad – replace”. New truck batteries are onboard and chugging away like mad! They aren’t deep cycles but they will last to Guadeloupe and onto Miami for sure. The bobstay, bowsprit and glasswork is all finished, reinstated and all the little things are done.

I am fully sorted. The only thing I need is for the bank machine to work tomorrow and then I will be able to pay the marina. I’ve booked to launch at 0830 in the morning. I’ll clear customs and get my passport stamped at 0900 and then I will get towed out and be on my way.

Thank you to EVERYONE!

Diane 😉

Saturday November 16, 2013 – Cascais, Portugal

Diane writes: I was out in all that massive wind on the first day. It was blowing twenty five to thirty knots and I had my code 5 kite up. I have to be very honest: I find it a handful to have a spinnaker up in that wind. Even a little one like the code 5. But, all the rest of the kids did, and the boat is built to do that. It’s just me needing to be confident in those conditions. It was all going very well.

Very well that is, until a big gust came. It was about 38 knots and definitely WAY too much wind. The boat rounded up to weather and laid down on her side, just like the text book says it will do in a gust. The issue here is getting the boat back on her feet again. To get the boat to stand up I need to unload the kite by easing the sheet. Even with the sheet eased, it’s very hard to get the boat moving again, because bearing off, exposes the kite, which then fills, cranking the boat over, back on her side.

So instead I let the tack line go and cranked the sheet in to the boat. This brought the leech of the kite in behind the main. Then I slowly cranked the sheet in with the winch and eased the halyard a little at a time to get the sail in to the boat. Once I could get my hands on the clew I slapped a carabiner clip on it to the lifeline and then blew the halyard off and pulled the sail into the boat.

Then I made a new rule: No kite up in more than 25 knots.

For the rest of the night I kept the kite down with two reefs in the main and my storm jib up. It blew upwards of 40 knots that night. The next day the wind lessened as I was in the lee of Portugal. The waves were still pretty big but the wind was only at about 20 to 25 knots. So I put the kite up again. It was working really really well. I even had the autopilot driving the boat. Sometimes the pilot was a little slow to recover if there was a big wave that would role the boat to weather or if there was a gust, which creates a similar problem of rolling the boat. But I need the pilot to “learn” how to steer in heavy wind, so I let it run.

Just as the wind built to a steady 25 knots, with puffs of 28, I though of my new rule. I was setting up to take the kite down, when I got slammed on my side again. Undid the regular take down set up and got set up for the post broach take down. By the time I got the clew cranked down to the deck and had just started hauling the sail it in the boat, the bobstay ripped through the bow. Without a bobstay, the bowsprit sheared off where it bolts onto the custom, stainless swivel plate.

Bobstay Pulled Out of Hull

Oh oh! That's not good: bobstay ripped through the bow - click the image to see the gruesome details.

What a pain in the glass! Here I was cranking in the kite, just hoping, and hoping some more, that the broken sprit didn’t damage the bow before I could get to it. Got the kite in and ran up and got the sprit on deck. It was an absolute nightmare. So I turned the boat back on course, set the pilot and spent about five minutes feeling very, very, very mad at myself.

No time for anger, I had to make a plan. Thought I had the batteries sorted out following the Gijon to Sada delivery. In fact, the first day out of Sada, I almost ran out of power. The second day, although the solar panels brought the batteries up to 12.8V (13.5 is full), I was skeptical that they would hold power while under load. So now with a poorly charging battery system, a broken sprit and a tear in the bow, fortunately in a section that is safe from water coming into the boat, I decided to head for port.

On the radio to the support boat to tell them I was going to head for a port for  a technical stop. It was a very low moment. I though I might cry into the VHF, but I didn’t. I was so upset with myself for letting this all happen. I work so very hard at making sure that everything on the boat is in top shape. And… well anyway. So, the support boat sorted out with me and I started to head in to Portugal.

Another boat was already heading in with a broken rudder, so I would fetch up to them and we’d go in together. Went for the bullet proof sail plan and put 2 reefs in the main and the storm jib. While I did that, the battery power dropped to a critical low. So I radioed the support boat again. Told them I would probably loose power and not to worry if I stopped answering the radio calls. Hand steering again. Once I got to the east side of the commercial shipping traffic lanes, I was almost without power and dead tired. So I hove to, parking the boat so I could sleep.

The support boat watched me on the AIS and watched the traffic around me and let me sleep for an hour so I could rest. Woke to start hand steering again until the sun came up to hit the panels creating enough power that autopilot could drive. Then I lost power to transmit on the VHF. More pain. I can manage the boat without power… that’s ok, but it’s difficult to race. All my emergency stuff works so in a pinch, I am fine,,, just not fast. Not fast. During my race. Sigh.

As morning broke and I was heading in, I heard Pip on the radio. She was heading to the same port with a broken spreader. She is a serious inspiration. Pip was in fear of her rig falling down. She figured she could just make it to port on port tack. It was her starboard spreader that was dangling. She has the same fittings that I have. They have failed me several times as well. So we both sailed into the dock here in Cascais.

There’s a bunch of other minis here also. This race is seriously eating up & spitting out the minis!

OGOC in stands and tied down.

With the tear, floating about two inches above the water line, I decided to haul out - click for a larger image.

Anyway, I know this is a long post… sorry 🙂 Turns out that Fiona Brown, the English language media person for the Minis, knows a fantastic guy here in Cascais named Vincent. Although it is late Friday, Vincent found a machine shop for Pip to fashion her a new bracket. He chopped the broken bit off of my pole and we drilled a new hole in it. Had it reinstated within an hour of me hitting land.

Vincent then found me an electrician to sort out the power on the boat on Saturday. Vincent then loaned me his grinder and tools, then found another boat with a work shop on land, next up he found some sea glass and polyester and all the fiberglass tools and stuff that I needed.

OGOC after some Grinding

Vincent loaned me his grinder... - click on image to see more details of Diane's handy work.

I decided to haul the boat out to do the repairs. The tear was floating about two inches above the water line. I did 6 layers of 600 gram biax sea glass on top. The glasswork is almost an inch thick! Plus I’ve installed a piece of hose into the hole so that the rope won’t cut the glasswork. I’m pretty sure that that is why it ripped out of the boat because the bobstay is still all intact, but the bow was torn. The rope is something called SK-75. It’s incredibly strong stuff and with friction it cuts like a knife.

Diane heating her fiberglass work.

Diane models the latest in European styling of sailing, sleeping, grinding & fiberglass heating gear - click on image to see a larger version.

The electrician has done some lengthy testing of the solar panels and the batteries. He has decided that the batteries while physically here in Portugal, spiritually they are Phuket, assume he spoke of the sailing place in Thailand, although I can’t be sure, there was a bit of an accent. The batteries metered full today when he arrived at 13.4V and when we would load them the power would start to drop very quickly. The amps as well as the volts coming in to the batteries from the panels were all correct. But the batteries just aren’t holding their power. I should be able to go for three days in a conservative mode and have enough power. I can’t go for five hours right now without running out of power. It’s getting worse every day. While we were sitting on the boat with all the panels disconnected, the batteries drained from 13.4 to 12.8 just having the panel lit up for about 20 minutes. And they were a birthday gift from my mom! It’s the weekend. The only batteries I could get with 100 amp hours each aren’t deep cycles and they are just lead acid. All I need is about 10 lifecycles out of them to get to Guadeloupe and Miami and I will be good.

OGOC's repaired bow.

The bow is repaired - click to inspect Diane's handy work with no less than six layers of 600 gram biax sea glass

The bow is repaired and the batteries are coming Sunday. I’ll rig the pole tomorrow and then climb the mast to see what kind of damage I did to the mast head light which has now stopped working except for the all round white light. The only little problem left is making sure that I launch in time on Monday morning to stay within my 72 hour max time limit for a technical stop. My clock runs out at 1400 on Monday. The marina says they will put me back in first thing monday morning, so I should be good.

I will triumph over all of this challenge. It wouldn’t be the one girl’s ocean challenge, without it. It’s been a little disheartening. But I’m smiling again because I’ve made really, really good progress!

Diane 🙂