Posts tagged olson 30

Free Book!

Andy Evans, who sailed the Olson 30 Foolish Muse in the 2006 SHTP, has written a neat online book on singlehanded sailing. It’s full of good insights, and I wish I’d had it when I was preparing for the race. Andy has clearly put a lot more thought and effort into preparing himself and his boat for singlehanding than I have, and you can read all about it in this book!

SHTP Part Five – 28th June 2010

A beautiful day in the trades.

Read Part Four.

Over the next couple days, I make big gains on Warrior’s Wish, adding 25 or 30 miles to my lead for each 12-hour period. Ronnie is two degrees of latitude to the North and having a difficult time with little wind. I empathize with him, as a couple days ago I was the one stuck in light air while everyone else was moving, but the wind filled quickly for me. Part of me wishes Warrior’s Wish and Idefix were sailing in the same conditions so we could have a boat-for-boat race. Ronnie and I formed a friendship in the week preceding the race, and although we have different backgrounds, we share a bond in our love for competitive sailing. We have both put the last year of our lives completely into this race. We are both twenty-somethings racing 30-foot ultralights, and we’re both keen on having some good competition. I have more sailing experience, but Ronnie has sailed this ocean before, and I know he’s been spending a lot of time practicing on Warrior’s Wish and other race boats, whereas Idefix has hardly left the dock in recent months. Ronnie suffered horrific injuries as a soldier in Iraq, but has the incredible confidence, strength and stamina of a 25-year old Marine who has just rode a bicycle most of the way around the world. I am somewhat exhausted from months of hard work, but have managed to keep up a decent exercise regimen for the last few months, so I am by no means in poor shape. Ronnie’s Mount Gay 30 is a modern and powerful boat with lots of sail area, but my Olson 30 is significantly lighter, and easy for one person to handle. It would be a good battle, but for the moment I’m thankful that I’m in the lead with good wind.

With my growing lead on the rest of the fleet, it dawns on me I could be in the running for first on corrected time, not only in my divison, but for the entire race! Before the start, we were each handed a binder with the division breaks, handicaps, and tables in which to enter each boat’s position at every check-in. I’m looking at my binder now, doing some calculations, and identify Saraband as my closest competition. Dave has been pushing the Westsail 32 very fast, and he has the second-highest handicap in the fleet. I’m about 200 miles ahead, but owe him 58 hours. I make a guess at our average speeds, and figure that if I want to finish comfortably ahead of him, I need to have a 365-mile lead. At the rate that my lead has been increasing, it seems like I could barely achieve this by Hanalei, but I’m going to have to keep the boat moving fast.

Running with the squalls.

The winds have been progressively lightening up and shifting from north-easterly to easterly.  In the early morning hours of the 29th, my nights become interesting. I am overrun by a squall, and the wind picks up to 20 knots. The boat is moving nicely, but as the wind shifts I am slowly getting lifted up towards my self-imposed heading limit of 280 degrees. I really need to jibe, which would put me on a more direct course to the finish and get me away from the zone of light winds behind the squall. But the night is very dark, the boat is rolling on the swells, the wind is shifting frequently, and I’m terrified at the idea of jibing my big spinnaker in these conditions. I could douse the spinnaker and re-hoist on the other jibe, but that’s double the workload, and would slow the boat down enough that I’d inevitably end up stuck behind the squall. So I sit tight, watching the conditions, and trying to build up my courage for the maneuver. I’m now getting close to the edge of the squall, and the wind is starting to lighten up. Eventually it drops to 15, and I leap up to the foredeck and start the jibe. This is my first jibe with the spinnaker net up, and I’m a little unsure of how to handle it, but I eventually figure out a method that works without tangling anything up. The jibe goes smoothly, and I head back into the squall, but I’ve wasted too much time hesitating before the jibe and end up sailing into the forbidden zone behind the squall. The wind immediately dies, and I am stuck chasing zephyrs for hours. I eventually oversheet the spinnaker a bit to keep it from hanging limp and go to bed. I’m woken from my dreams around 04:00 with the boat broached, pots and pans crashing across the cabin, spinnaker flogging. I jump into the cockpit to straighten things out, then put on my rain gear and hand-steer the boat across the squall before getting stuck in light air again until morning. The alternation of squalls and holes is exhausting, and I end up making only 61 miles towards Hanalei through the night.

The 29th turns into a hot day, and the trades are still weak. There is no refuge from the sun, and I haven’t been using the sunscreen diligently enough to avoid a few burns. I used up the last of my loaves of bread this morning for breakfast–still good after 10 days at sea! The trades pick up during the day and I get some good video of the boat surfing in the trades. This is what I’ve been waiting for: steady breeze, hot air, sun, warm, clear, blue water, and beautifully long swells. Like giant dragonflies, flying fish come out of the water ahead of the boat and draw long, graceful curves high over the tops of the waves before plunging back into the water. They seem to often come in pairs, flying in close formation like fighter jets chasing each other over mountains. By evening check-in I’ve managed to make a respectable 80 miles towards Hanalei in 12 hours. I’m now an impressive 121 miles ahead of Warrior’s Wish, still in weaker winds on its more northerly track. To the South, Solar Wind is sailing in good wind, but 230 miles behind, and I’m confident my lighter boat can stay ahead. Saraband is now 265 miles behind me, so I need to gain another 100 miles on her. With Hawaii 675 miles ahead, it’s not an impossible task, but it will be close.

My navigation display.

After my experience with the squalls and broaching the previous night, I decide I need to stop sleeping down below at night with the spinnaker up. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to break my circadian rythm and sleep during the day, so my remaining option, besides striking the spinnaker, is to sleep in the cockpit, hoping a squall will wake me before the boat broaches. The Olson 30 cockpit is not a particularly comfortable place to lay, and I want to be able to see the squalls coming from astern, so I eventually settle on a spinnaker bag in the front of the cockpit, with my legs hanging over the traveler and my head on the companionway step.

A lone squall, silently plotting my demise.

From my new “berth”, the squalls can be seen for dozens of miles in the light of the full moon, bright, towering clouds trailing a dark shadow of rain below them, appearing out of thin air, ballooning into monsters, wreaking havoc on an otherwise benign  sea, dissipating, then reforming again, moving alone or in single file, in columns, encircling me, trying to cut me off, plotting my demise. I open my eyes every once in a while to keep an eye on them, often having to extricate myself from my uncomfortable hole in the cockpit and adjust course to keep from being run over. By 04:00 I’ve realized I can’t keep this up all night. I’m groggy and sore, can’t get comfortable enough to sleep, and my brain is no match for the squalls and the unsettled winds they leave in their wake. I’m ready to admit defeat, douse the spinnaker, leave the boat beam reaching in a Southeasterly wind under mainsail alone, crawl into my berth and set the timer.

Read Part Six.

60mph Headwinds!

Stopping for a fill.

A lot has happened in the last week, and I’ve had spotty access to internet and little opportunities to post an update. Last Wednesday, Idefix was loaded up on a trailer and towed to Alameda, CA. Huge thanks to Tony for use of his truck. The ride was so solid we could barely feel we were pulling anything. Big thanks also to Peter for driving the truck and trailer back to their owners. And of course there’s my mom, who flew out to Seattle to drive down with me and help me get the boat ready!

We had all sorts of trouble getting out of Seattle: the trailer didn’t quite fit Idefix‘s narrow bow, so we had to improvise a shim for the front pad, and the trailer’s brakes had a broken wire that took several hours to locate and fix, so in the end we left about 4 hours late, which put us right in the middle of rush-hour, and cost us an extra hour getting out of downtown.

Mom's ready to get this thing in the water!

This was the first time trailering such a big load for me, but it all went well, and after 820 miles and a 4-hour rest at the grandparents’ place in southern Oregon, we arrived in Alameda. The boat spent the weekend in slings, so I could replace the speed transducer and fair a little gash in the keel, and launched Monday morning. Rigging it was fairly quick, and soon we were sailing up the Estuary to our slip! Now comes the hard work of cleaning up, stowing gear, connecting the final pieces, and getting her ready for her inspection.

I also got to meet a handful of the other racers and they are a great bunch. Ronnie and The General are on the same dock as me, so I’ll be seeing plenty of them before the race.

CFRP Deck Reinforcement

The new carbon fiber deck reinforcement.

One item I wanted to take care of before putting the mast in was some sort of reinforcement for the deck. The underside of the deck is currently strapped down to the front of the mast with a turnbuckle, but a lot of Olsons race with an aluminum or carbon fiber “beam of destiny” bolted between the chainplates. Unfortunately, this restricts passage to the area forward of the bulkhead, which I don’t think is worth it, especially for 6 weeks of sailing on the Pacific. I decided to do a compromise and create a carbon fiber rib in the deck just forward of the mast. This is against class rules, but I figure the odds of my racing the boat in a class event are pretty low anyway, and the boat doesn’t meet the rules for a number of other reasons.

Second layup inside the vacuum bag.

Peter and I spent Thursday night sanding away the paint and into the glass, which created a gigantic dusty mess throughout the boat. On Saturday morning I set up all the bagging equipment and cut the carbon and trimmed the foam, which I had previously shaped. We then used some spray adhesive to stick the first couple layers of carbon overhead before wetting them out. Some more adhesive got the next layers sticking too, but the foam just wouldn’t stick to anything, so one of us had to continuously hold the rest of the assembly against the cabintop while we finished the layup of carbon, then peel ply, breather, and the vacuum bag. Getting a good vacuum was very tricky, even after I realized I should plug the holes for the jib track and downhaul screws in the cabintop.

When the first layup went off, we tore off all the bagging material and did it all over again to add a couple more layers of carbon. This time the vacuum was solid right from the start. Tearing off the bag a couple hours later was very satisfying. There’s a slight misalignment between the two pieces of foam I used, but overall the beam looks really solid and I think it will stiffen up the boat nicely and keep the deck solid for a while.

Stick is Stepped

The bilge, my home for the last couple days.

Finally got the mast back up this weekend. Progress on the rigging was really slow. Here’s an overview of what’s been done to the boat in the last few weeks:

Keel Nuts & Bolts

I spent a couple days cleaning out the bilge with a toothbrush, cleaning off the threads on the keelbolts, and replacing nuts and washers. The keel bolts are all in good shape, except the big one, which is heavily corroded. This is probably because it’s almost impossible to fit a 1.5″ socket on it to remove the nut, and the bilge pump inlet sits on top of it, which probably keeps it wet. Unfortunately, this is the one that the lifting eye fits on. There seems to be plenty of steel left, but I’ll be pretty nervous if I ever have to use a single-point hoist.

Chainplates

Home-made backing plate with the "jock strap" plate bolted to it.

I removed the old chainplates, filled the bulkhead and deck with epoxy, and redrilled holes to the new chainplates. Unfortunately, a bunch of the epoxy didn’t cure completely hard. I have no idea why. It seems like it will seal all right, so I’m just going to leave it in, but it’s a little soft, and a couple years down the road I might have to redo it. Made some chainplate backing plates out of 1/4″ aluminum and put the new chainplates in with new hardware all around.

Read on for more boatwork.

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