Posts tagged WYC

Waterborne Again

After two months, Idefix is back in her favorite element, and sailing! And I’m released from my forced labor and have a life again! Just in time for summer (read: 65 degrees and partly cloudy)! How wonderful!

All polished and ready to go.

The bottom didn’t turn out quite as nice as I was hoping for. Despite sanding and burnishing, there were still quite a few spots left with a bit of rough texture, and the rudder still needs work, but overall it’s not all that bad.

Shiny bottom paint, doing its thing.

So I threw my bicycle on the boat, dropped the boat in the water, and sailed out of Everett, headed for Kingston. A nice breeze filled the sails, the sun filled the sky, and visions of delicious crêpes being served to me by delicious young ladies filled my head. Soon the wind died, clouds appeared, temperatures plummeted, I couldn’t find my audio cable, and the docks at Kingston were completely full of horrid little motorboats. To make matters worse, I was coming down with a cold. So I had to anchor in Appletree Cove and gaze upon the crêperie and its delectable servings, just out of my reach. Instead I dined on some bread and the cup or two of water left in my water bottle, and went to sleep, rocked by ferry wake.

Nothing is quite so pathetic as a baby seal trying to stay dry in the wake of a passing sailboat.

The night wasn’t altogether unpleasant, and in the morning I managed to scrounge some nutella to put on my bread. I tried not to think of the delicious Belgian chocolate, caramel and pecan crêpe topped in whipped cream, or the black forest ham, mushroom and gruyère crêpe that could’ve been my breakfast had those infernal little stinkpots not taken every single available berth in the harbor, while I picked up the anchor and motored across the placid Sound to Shilshole. There I picked up a motley crew of WYC members and we made our way to Blake for a weekend of quiet solitude and contemplative meditation, like modern monks. Most of us survived with nothing more than a hangover and a sunburn, but Hawkeye had to be medevac’ed with a broken collarbone.

Hassan enjoying the tough sail back to Seattle.

On Tuesday I finally got to hoist some ragged old sails and try out the boat against some of Seattle’s finest at Duck Dodge’s Tropical Night. We got a good start and hung out with William Buchan’s Sachem for a little while the rest of the fleet chased after us. Eventually we sailed into some holes and got passed, by a couple faster/smarter boats. I still can’t keep up with the J/29s, the ones around here are all ridiculously fast.

Putting the Blast in BlastCruise

Idefix joined forces with the WYC’s novice keelboat class last weekend for another quick cruise up to Kingston. The flotilla consisted of WYC boats Rascal (Ranger 26), Charlotte and Deception (Catalina 27s), and affiliate boat Perspicacious (San Juan 28).

Scott, one of the students in the class, joined me on Idefix. I was expecting a ~20kt Southerly and rigged up the 3/4 oz. chute while we went through the locks. We hit salt water around noon and hoisted the main and #4, and quickly put a reef in the main. For a minute I was thinking how 20kts definitely felt like a lot more wind than I remembered, as the boat slammed through waves and dipped the leeward deck underwater while reaching around in Shilshole Bay. We sailed upwind for a bit to get a feel for the conditions, and we were clearly way overpowered. As we got out from the protection of Magnolia Bluff, a  gust hit us and rounded the boat up, and I realized at the spray flying off the water and the roaring of the wind in the rigging that my 20kts was really more like mid-thirties. I decided we should stop screwing around and make course for Kingston. We bore off the boat and took off on a plane, helped along by 3-foot waves, which aren’t bad for Puget Sound. We sped by Rascal and saw Dennis on the bow, struggling to reef the lapper as the little boat danced in the waves. For a minute the racer in me took over, and I had a strong urge to hoist the chute, which was all rigged up on the foredeck, getting doused in the waves sweeping over the bow. I stepped up to the mast and prepared to raise the pole, when I came back to my senses, and realized a gale wasn’t the best time to demonstrate to Scott how to screw up a spinnaker hoist. To keep myself from doing something stupid I packed up the spinnaker and threw it down below, where it wouldn’t tempt me again.

We came to a crossing with Perspicacious, flying almost all her canvas, sailing the opposite jibe. Just as I was beginning to doubt that we could cross ahead of them, and wishing I could hit the gas, another gust came along and Idefix put the pedal to the metal, hitting 13 knots, and letting us slide in front of them. After a while I poled out the jib to sail a little deeper, and unbelievably the boat just accelerated more. Hitting 14 in the surfs regularly, and peaking at 15.5. We reached Kingston with the speed almost continuously in the double digits, and sought refuge in Appletree Cove. As we were waiting for the other boats, we decided to douse the main and play around with the #4 alone, which seemed to work pretty well. Eventually we called it a day and headed for the dock.

After a cold, windy and rainy night, lots of pasta, plenty of wine, and a couple delicious treats at the local crêperie, it was time to head back to Seattle. Wind was a gentle 10-12 out of the south, flat water, and clear sky, a rarity this time of year! After a bit of anchoring practice in Appletree Cove, we sailed out onto the Sound under #3 and full main. It was a leisurely beat along the coast, trying to stay out of a strong flood, and Scott practiced retrieving a fender and taking a compass fix. I practiced hiking out as far as I could, filling the bilge with hot water while trying to make tea, and getting in a fight with the autopilot. On the last leg across the Sound, the wind died and we peeled to the #2, which although a pretty sail, seems to have a leech-flapping problem. I also need to look at my rig tuning a bit, as the mast wasn’t really in column. We had an uneventful locking and motor back to the WAC, and made it home at least an hour before the other boats.

Back Home

Idefix got back home on Wednesday around 23:15 PDT after 2864 miles, 23 days at sea and a 5-hour stop in Port Townsend to pick up the outboard (thank you so much, Greta!) and stretch our legs. A rather large contingent of WYC friends surprised me at the dock. It’s hard to express how happy I was to see all of you there. Thank you.

Since I started preparing for this race a year ago, I’ve felt a lot of guilt for pouring myself so completely into such a selfish endeavor as a singlehanded race. Now that the sailing part is over, I’m convinced that I’m a better person than the Adrian who left San Francisco on June 19th, 2010 (for the record, I was not out there to “find myself”, and I did not have any sort of spiritual awakening, or some such nonsense). But I realize now that what really makes something like this worthwhile is sharing the experience. I think you will not be disappointed by the story I have to tell.

The crew

WYC Snooze-n’-Cruise: a Taste of Disaster

The crew

Our crew for SNC: Cintia, Heather, Lorena, Kristin, Billy & Georgios.

Idefix and I had some good sailing in the WYC’s Snooze-n’-Cruise this weekend. This is a quarterly event where we take a bunch of club boats, a couple personal boats, load them up to capacity, and take over nearby Blake Island State Park for a weekend. It’s usually a good time for everyone, except maybe the park rangers and the attendants at the Ballard Locks.

This weekend Idefix was blessed with a very friendly crew: Billy, Kristin, Lorena, Georgios, Cintia, and my sweetheart Heather. I was busy fixing the boat on Saturday morning before leaving, putting in place the new compass (mostly just to plug the giant hole in the bulkhead, as you don’t quite need a compass for daytime cruising on Puget Sound…). I wasn’t quite done varnishing the little bits of teak on deck, so there was masking tape all over the place, which I didn’t bother to remove for the weekend.

The new self-tailers get a workout.

We had a good beat to Blake Island in about 10kts. My new self-tailing winches performed well, and the boat was handling well under full sail. My new carbon tiller “paddle” turned out to be well worth the effort, making for some very comfortable steering in a variety of positions. It also got lots of attention at the dock, including derisory comments from a jealous John Courter 😛

The trip home was a broad reach in 18kts, which made for a quick trip. The mostly novice crew did a great job hoisting the spinnaker, and we were quickly surfing the little Puget Sound swells home.

After going through the locks, we unloaded the boat, and I was about to switch the electrics off when I noticed nothing was getting juice in the first place… Smelling trouble I opened the battery compartment and found, to my horror, that the negative terminal on my battery had half melted away! All the battery wires had suffered from serious overheating as well. Wanting to see the voltage on the system I touched the negative wire to the little puddle of molten lead on the battery and sparks flew up. Not good!

Destroyed battery terminal

The destroyed battery terminal.

Kregg came to the rescue with a multimeter and we quickly traced the problem to the second battery box. I hadn’t put the second battery in, since this was just a little weekend trip and one big battery would suffice. Turns out I hadn’t properly stowed the cables for the second battery, and they came loose and caused a short. Since they’re big cables, they didn’t melt, but instead melted the lead terminal on the battery itself, until the cable broke free from the terminal.

I’m testing the battery to see if it will still charge and discharge OK. If the capacity is good, I might try to fix the terminal. We came really close to disaster though – this incident could easily have caused a fire!

On Friday I had been mulling over whether to just bring a little 33Ah racing battery, but figured I wanted to test my SSB and autopilot for the transpac. I ended up not testing anything, so I was kicking myself for damaging a big, expensive, 110Ah battery for nothing, two weeks from leaving for San Francisco!

Pulling the Stick

All lined up and ready to go!

This weekend was a busy one for Idefix and I. On the to-do list was taking down the mast so I can work on the rigging and install some equipment at the masthead. I rounded up a handful of hardy volunteers (Peter, Kregg, MacAdam, Brandon, Fred, John and Matt N.), and Strider and Waka donated their (longer) sticks to serve as cranes.

It took about an hour to prep the boat, removing the boom, pulling halyards out of the deck hardware, removing the mast-mounted speedo, disconnecting the anemometer wires and SSB antenna feed, and finally pulling the cotter pins out of the shrouds and stays. We then sandwiched Idefix between Strider and Waka, wrapped their halyards around the mast, unscrewed the turnbuckles, and hoisted away! Then, or course, we gently laid the mast down on the boat. It was all actually pretty easy, but a bit of work. Of course, this being Seattle, it rained pretty much the whole time.

Idefix is now a sad little motorboat.

More below if you’re interested in tearing boats apart… (and rainbows!)

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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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