Posts tagged sleep

Idefix Arrived Bundaberg

Idefix has finally arrived in Australia. There’s a problem with the wiring for the HF modem so I apologize for the previous update posting late. If you’re interested in me digressing on a bunch of topics, you should just scroll down and read it.

Being only a few hundred miles from Bundaberg, I felt that it wasn’t worth the time to troubleshoot the modem wiring to get a weather update. Because Shirley was somewhere between sea-sickness and actual illness, I had been hand-steering almost continuously for the last two days, with only a break here and there. The last forecast had shown mild winds for the rest of the trip. On Sunday, a line of convergence clouds obscured the horizon to the south-west of us. I knew there was a zone of convergence, but didn’t expect it so close. About mid-day, lightning started flashing in the clouds, which were clearing getting closer. At nightfall the clouds were almost on top of us, and around midnight we sailed into the thunderstorm. Lightning was almost continuously flashing all around us, but there was surprisingly almost no thunder. I tried not to think too much about what could happen if we suffered a direct strike. More worrisome was the fact that we were at precisely that distance off the coast where freighters like to cruise when we were surrounded by rain and the visibility dropped to only a dozen feet or so. But the only thing that hit us was heavy rainfall. I took cover in the cabin and steered the boat with our rope contraption, until the downdraft hit us and the boat heeled over dramatically, pinned hove-to with the jib aback. I ran back out to the tiller in the pouring rain and straightened out the boat, heading due south for a bit. The wind then veered another ninety degrees and I jibed and pointed the boat back at Australia, making six and a half knots. Just as the seas started building, the wind shifted another sixty degrees and started easing. By the end of it all I was completely soaked and getting cold, so I hove-to and changed to dry clothes while Shirley made me hot tea. We somehow managed to avoid the other storm cells, and around dawn we sailed past Sandy Cape and into Hervey Bay. The land is so flat here, and the water so shallow, that we had to stand off far enough from land that we couldn’t see any of it. Only about 3 or 4 hours later did the first sign of land appear: “The Hummock”, the only hill in Bundaberg. By early afternoon we had completed our last ocean crossing of this trip and were docked at the marina, which is a little hike away from town, and cleared in with customs. The boat is confined to Bundaberg until the importation paperwork is completed, which will hopefully take less than a week.

Made it!

Idefix is in Hanalei, rafted up to Green Buffalo (thanks Jim!). Got in shortly after midnight last night. The last day was an incredible white-knuckle ride. During the night I’d taken down the spinnaker in a squall, just left main up and gone to sleep for 5 or 6 hours. I woke up on Friday and the wind had finally arrived. The waves had picked up quite a bit too. The boat was moving at 6 or 7 knots with just the main. I did some quick time-distance-speed calculations and was faced with a conundrum. I was 150 miles away, and I could slow down some and get there early Saturday morning, as planned, but I would’ve felt stupid trying to slow the boat further. I didn’t want to arrive in the pre-dawn hours, because I’ve been falling asleep at 3am like clockwork. But I see that if I average 8 knots, I can get there at midnight. So I decide I’m going to put the pedal to the metal and try to get there as early as possible. The catch is that there’s no way the autopilot is going to handle the boat with a chute up in 20-knot winds and messy 10-foot seas. So I finish breakfast, toss an armful of snacks and drinks into the cockpit, crank up the music, hoist the chute and am off on a wild ride that’ll last 16 hours. I was doing mental math the whole way and calculated an average 10 knots for the first hour, and 9-9.5 for the rest of the day. I got drenched by waves breaking into the cockpit within the first 10 minutes, so needless to say it was not a comfortable ride. I managed to leave the tiller 5 or 6 times to fuel up on food, water or caffeine, but that often ended in a broach or accidental jibe. At some point I went past the research ship Kilo Moana, which was hoding station 85 miles from Hanalei, and chatted them up on the VHF. They mentioned they’d seen another sailboat go by five days ago, by the name of Truth, and he was hauling like me. I was pretty flattered that they thought I was anywhere near Truth in speed! Eventually the sun went down, and the Kilauea lighthouse came into view. Then it was down to the last few miles, and soon I was trying to pick out the lights of the condo, and trying to reach the race committee on the VHF, and getting run over by squalls. Last time I had cleaned up and shaved before the finish. This time I took one last big gulp of coffee and managed to spill it all over myself. Oh well. Finally just pulled out my cellphone and called the race deck. Last couple miles the wind shifts a ton. I’d been expecting it, but then forgot. Fighting to keep the chute up, eyes riveted to the GPS to make sure I cross the line without hitting the reef. Finally I’m there.
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Sent at 2012-07-13 15:50 UTC from 23°11.21’N 156°57.58’W

Coke bottle in the middle of the ocean.

SHTP Part Three – 22nd June 2010

Read Part Two.

During the day, the wind turns to a very light breeze, dotted with intermittent puffs, with big shifts that get the boat going 7 or 8 knots, but only last about 10 to 20 minutes. These are challenging conditions, and I have to stay on my toes all day to take advantage of each gust of wind. As night falls, the puffs keep coming, and I know it’s going to be a long night. The boat will sit for up to a half hour moving at a snail’s pace, then a puff comes through and I have to react quickly to keep the sails trimmed and get the boat up to speed. By 04:00 I’m exhausted, and the yerba mate I’ve been sipping (the only caffeine I allowed myself on board) can’t keep me awake. There are no more puffs of wind to be found, and I douse the spinnaker and let the boat drift under main alone until daybreak.

Coke bottle in the middle of the ocean.

A coke bottle floating in the middle of the ocean.

At the morning check-in, I’m elated to find that my hard work paid off and I made up my 16-mile deficit on Warrior’s Wish, then pulled an additional 10 miles ahead.  But I’m completely drained from the long night, and the wind is completely dead, so I spend most of the morning sleeping. I awake to find the boat bobbing on a sea of glass. The water is a beautiful cobalt blue. Plastic objects float all around me: a coke bottle, a fishing float, a small crate. All have mussels and anemones growing on them. I fill a bucket with water, strip my clothes off and wash myself down, then dry myself off in the sun. In the afternoon the wind starts to fill from the northwest. It plays with me for a while, coming and going, and I spend most of the day hoisting and dropping the genoa. It’s an old kevlar-mylar laminated sail, and it’s become rather fragile with age, so I drop it in the calms to avoid it slatting against the rigging in the swells. Nevertheless, sections of mylar are peeling off of it. I hope the sail will make it to Hanalei, as I’ll be needing it on the trip home.

Idefix drifts on a deep blue ocean.

At the evening check-in I learn that Warrior’s Wish is back in the lead by 10 miles. I’m disappointed, as I thought we were sailing in the same conditions, but Ronnie is reporting 5.5 knots to my 0.0. Suddenly I think I’ve made a serious mistake in selecting my route. The forecasts pointed to the wind shutting down on the whole course, then picking up slightly more in the southern part than the north. Could they be all wrong? During the night the wind shifts to the southwest. Well, this is unexpected. I’m sailing to Hawai’i on port tack, close hauled, when I should be on starboard tack, broad reaching. But I keep the boat pointed at Hanalei, and she moves at a decent 6 knots. I spend much of the night trimming the sails to the ever-changing conditions, and by 03:00 I am too exhausted to pay much attention to the pod of dolphins playing around the boat, and go to sleep.

I spend most of the 24th close-hauled with the #3 jib. In the evening the wind dies and finally turns back to the north, so I re-set the reaching spinnaker. All these sail changes are exhausting. Over the last 24 hours Ronnie has increased his lead on me to 33 miles, and I’m still going quite a bit slower than him. I’m hoping that the wind will turn to the northeast and pick up before he gets too far ahead. I spend another night trimming the spinnaker, but can’t stay up past 03:00 and end up sleeping through my alarm, waking after sunrise to find the boat sailing quietly along at 6 knots.

Drying things out while reaching in a light, warm breeze.

The 25th is a turning point in the race for me. The morning is markedly warmer, and I spend some time sunbathing, before digging through my gear to find a Hawaiian shirt. The boat is on a beam reach with the spinnaker up, sailing a decent 6 knots in 7 knots of wind. Ronnie and I had been discussing weather information at the last check-in, and since he had access to high-resolution weather data, he advised me to not venture too far south, as there seemed to be an area of lighter winds ahead. This fits nicely with sailing high to keep the spinnaker full and the boat going fast, so I’m heading due west, or slightly north of west, for most of the day. My only trouble comes in the afternoon when the topping lift bridle on the spinnaker pole breaks. It was severely chafed and I should’ve replaced it before the race. I douse the spinnaker and re-set with the backup spinnaker pole, and take the other one below to fix the bridle, a ten-minute job. Around evening, the wind has picked up to 15 knots and I’m growing impatient, so I bear off and hoist the

First evening of surfing with the big chute.

big spinnaker. I’m soon surfing at over 8 knots, pointed straight at Hanalei, happy as a clam. At evening check-in I’ve managed to reel Warrior’s Wish in by 4 miles, leaving me 40 miles behind. In the beginning of the night, I spot a heavy barrier of rain in my path ahead. It seems to be perfectly stationary, and I wonder if I’ll get a gust of wind when I sail through it, like I would in a tradewind squall. I’m soon in the downpour, and the wind immediately hits, sending the boat on a 10-knot surf. I’ll have to keep an eye out for squalls from now on, but the road ahead looks clear, and the boat seems to handle fine under autopilot with the big chute up, so I manage to get a fair bit of sleep. I’m now tuned in to the boat enough that the rig shaking, or too much heel, will wake me, but I’m still setting a kitchen timer at 45 minute intervals. At morning I find the guy almost completely chafed through by the unfaired end of the backup spinnaker pole, so I douse the spinnaker to change back to the old pole, and shorten the guy. I’ve managed to make up an extra 8 miles on Warrior’s Wish, and the boat is surfing handsomely on small swells in 15 knot winds.

Read Part Four.

SHTP Qualifying Cruise

Well, this is the first post on this site, which I think will mostly be dedicated to my preparation for the 2010 Singlehanded Transpacific Race. So I guess I’ll kick it off with a repost of my log for the qualifying cruise I did in November. I originally posted it on the Washington Yacht Club’s newsletter.

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