Sunday, August 29, 2010

Last weekend we had house company. That usually means we ask them if they would like to go for a day sail. We asked. She accepted. We sailed.

We started the sail normally. We motored out of the marina. It was a great day. Wind out of the west at about 6-8 knots. So we turned up stream and I unfurled the head sail. Sailed up river for about 4 miles or about an hour. Turned around and gently sailed upwind and downstream back to the marina. Where it happened. I started to roll up the head sail. I got stuck. But instead of doing the smart thing I put the line on the winch and cranked some more. Where upon is just got tighter. It go so tight I could not release it. So I untied the sheets and rolled the sail up by wrapping it around the forestay. It was not pretty, but the sail was stowed. We motored back into the slip and docked with style. I checked the roller furling and decided to just cut the line and fix it later when I had some time.

Another guest came this weekend. He said sure he would help me fix the roller furling and then we could sail. I knew I would have to buy line, but I did not know what else I needed. We went to the boat and looked at the furling. It looked good at the bottom. Things seemed to be free and bearings looked good. No part was broken. I got the binoculars out and inspected the top of the furling. It looked like it was OK. What could be stopping the furling from furling.

Then the "Oh Sh....t" (some people might use the word "epiphany", but ...) moment happened. I saw the spinnaker halyard had wrapped around the sail preventing any further rolling. I freed the halyard and the sail rolled up just fine.

I am writing this in the hopes it helps fellow sailors. Look around and up when furling your head sail. It will save you the $33.00 for the new line.

I hope you got a laugh out of this post. I can laugh, now.

Friday, June 11, 2010

SYSCO Summer Series, Race 1, June 10, 2010

This was a no show for Aventura. The skipper, me, had a heart attack last Saturday. This attack was quite disconcerting. I had one 3 years ago, but that was attributed to high cholesterol. This one was just a clot at the stent that was put in at that time.

As I said in the previous post, my sail's leech hem had come undone about the level of the spreaders. I took it the Waagmeester's Banks Sails where I bought the sail. He mended the sail. He found lots of little places where the thread was broken, but no where the thread was weak from UV damage. He summized that the sail was flogged a lot.

On to last Saturday, I went up the mast with Bill spotting me. I use ascenders and one of my jib sheets to go up the mast. This gives me control of where I want to be without loading the spotter with all the work. I found some bare threads at the spreaders. The spreaders are mounted to the mast with long through bolts. Each bolt had about 1/4 inch of threads sticking out. The rubbers at the ends of the spreaders were cracked, but relatively smooth. Next time I will have to replace them.

I went up to the top of the mast and inspected the head. Everything seems fine there. On the way down, though, I had to stop a couple of times to rest. I had not been up the mast for years and thought, "Wow, this is more strenuous than I thought." I got down and took off the gear and was really thirsty. So I went below to get a drink of water.

That's when the chest pains started. I took about a minute to realize these were heart pains. I told Bill, I was having a heart attack. Please call 911. I laid down and put me feet up. Bill came down below and got cushions under my legs. I asked for aspirin, then realized the 911 call had not been done. Bill was still trying to find the aspirin. I asked again to please call 911. We can get the aspirin after that. He did. I ended up giving him the address to the marina and our slip number. Meanwhile, I was starting to go into shock with cold sweats. Bill gave me an aspirin and then I directed him to go meet the EMT's. I could hear the siren.

Bill brought the EMT's and Firement down to the boat. They managed to get three of them in the cabin with me. They had a hard time connecting the 12 lead because I was so wet with sweat. They finally got my vitals and the EKG. Yep, I was having a heart attack. The only problem was to get me to the gurney. They gave me some nitro. That relieved the pain slightly. I ended up climbing out of the cabin and over the side of the boat and walked to the gurney and sat down. They did not strap me in, because one of the EMT's stated if we fell in for any reason I should not be strapped to something that does not float.

This all started about 11:30 AM. By 12:30 PM I was in the operating room. By 1:30 PM, I was in CCU. Very fast and efficient. Thanks, Good Samaritan and Dr's Schroeder and Rosenbaum.

So that is why we did not race this week. Maybe next.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

SYSCO Spring Series, Race 5, May 27,2010

Great start. Everyone in the crew knew the time to the start. Bill made up a page with the starting times and flags. He wants to work on it some more. There were a few flags he left off. I gave Bill my watch that has a count down timer. We were close to the committee boat when they started the start sequence. The race starts were delayed due to the late arrival of the committee boat. But we caught the start of timing accurately and was able to keep track of the starts much better than last race.

The race was just double the first of the series, C-2-C-2-C. We have been running down the middle of the river on these races. We discovered earlier that staying in the middle was the way to get to the windward mark the fastest. It worked until the problem happened. First we rounded up because we were over powered. The track shows a bright green round up between to faster blue sections. Then the real problem happened when we were to tack to the mark. Aventura's head sail's leech hem unravelled at the spreader. The leech line caught the spreader and the sail hung so that it would not come across. We tried to tack again after getting out of irons and regaining speed. It hung again. Finally we had to head down wind to clear the sail from the spreader. By then the rest of the fleet had caught us. Second Half rounded the windward mark first.

We approached the mark on port tack. We had room between boats. We went into a broad reach across the river to the Oregon side. Then put up the pole for a little while. We took the pole down and lost ground on Second Half. We rounded the down wind mark and went into a port close hauled tack. We went to the middle of the river again.

We did better on this tacking through the wind because we did not play around. We dipped down wind to free the sail immediately. That seemed to work, but it made for a much slower going through the wind. The boat was handling great otherwise. The crew worked as a team. We tacked at B mark to the port, again using the downwind dip. On this port tack we made the pylons west of the concrete wall. As we came to our starboard tack the Hunter 34 tacked in front of us establishing her line. We had to yield mark room.

We rounded the last windward mark together and set our pole to port. We ran downwind, up river together until the finish line. We placed second in this race.

We finished second in the series in finishes and second in the series for PHRF handicapping.

I called the sail loft Friday. He said he could get it sown by the next race if I bring the sail in on Tuesday. I am. I hope he can. Otherwise I will sail with my other Neil Pride head sail. It is probably a faster sail, anyway.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

SYSCO Spring Series Race 4, May 20, 2010

This race was from 14-A-U-A-U-14. When the race was posted the winds were 6 to 8 knots out of the East. But when the race started, they were 3 to 4 knots out of the east. So it took forever to get by the committee boat without hitting others. The fast fleet was still trying to start when our start went. But that was compounded by our not knowing the starting time. I did not pick up the count when I should and really did not pick it up at all. We finally started when I realized there were no more flags flying on the committee boat. Not good.

Early sailing helps sort out the wind direction sometimes. I had the chart running from the slip and noted that one the port tack we crossed the river while on the starboard tack we went up the river. So the thing to do was to start on the starboard tack. But we waited too long as stated in the above paragraph. We crossed the start line a full 5 to 7 minutes after the start. This was better than some of the bigger boats who were still trying to start when we finally broke free. It took is six short tacks to start.

When we finally started we took a longer tack to the center of the river until the mark was well abaft the beam before tacking back to port. We had to look for the mark, which was not there. It had drifted downstream and only got back to almost its proper place when we needed it. Poncho reset it. They also indicated that it was the mark. Again we had to do two short tacks because the wind shift kept backing us.

When we made our first windward mark, we were playing with Vim again. They do seem to get in our way a lot. Looking at our track it shows that the wind was shifting southerly as the evening progressed. We used a long port tack to gain up river distance and waited until the mark was again well abaft beam before tacking to it. But with the wind shifting slightly more we tacked too soon and had to do a starboard tack to the mark which again we misjudged or were scared by the shoalling shore. We tacked at 10 foot depth. We did not quite make the mark and had to do two short tacks again.

The run downwind to Mark U was quick and fun. The crew put up the pole and we zoomed down to the mark. By the time we got to U the wind was falling and still shifting south. We rounded the mark and went into a port tack and started straight for the mark. The wind kept shifting and falling. Until we put out the anchor. This is the second race in a row we have had to use that tactic. I don't like it, but I would rather to that than drift downstream and loose valuable ground when the wind dies. The wind died due to the rain squall that hit us. So we sat for 10 minutes. The wind picked up and we sailed some more. Then the wind died again. Again we anchored. But this time it was for only a few minutes. My crew was working pretty hard hauling anchor. We started sailing some more. Very slowly. Making less than two knots over the ground.

Poncho came out about this time. And went to Cepheron, who was upstream from us. They must have told them they were shortening the course, because they turned around and headed for the finish line. Poncho then came to us and told us that as soon as Cepheron went by we could head for the finish line. She did. We did, too.

Upon reviewing the race, we agreed that our timing the start needs work. I did a horrible job this time. We were too far from the committee boat to watch the flags without binoculars. I was the only one aboard responsible to the timing of the start. I had done OK for the three previous starts but this time I lost track of time. So we decided to designate another crew to keep track of the start time. This will leave me more time to consider strategy.

The race start timing is simple for one race but we have 5 starts. The first signal is at 6:30 and is the 5 minute warning for the first start, which could be any of the five starts. The start is identified by a number pennant which is raised at the 5 minute warning. The start order is determined by the race committee on the committee boat. It could be any of the five starts. They even could combine starts if they wish. It's all in the signaling of the flags. Our fifth start is a yellow-blue pennant. The usual order is 1 to 5. The next warning is the 4 minute warning and the preparatory flag is raised. At one minute before the start the horn blows and the preparatory flag is dropped. The start number flag is lowered at the start time. The next start flag is raised at this time. The cycle starts over again. The preparatory flag is raised at the 4 minute warning and dropped at the one minute warning. This progresses until all starts are completed.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thursday, May 14, 2010, No Race.

We did assemble at the boat, or at least one of the crew, Bill, and myself sailed Thursday. The day was warm. The wind light out of the NNW at 5 knots. This is the perfect wind to try my spinnaker for the first time since I had the boat.

Finding all the lines and connecting them was the first challenge.The second challenge was to implement them. We motored out of the marina, as usual. We decided to raise the main. I figured it would be nice to have to shadow the spinnaker when we had to take it down and raise it.

Two years ago in the rain an early spring sail with Steve Poland was the only other experience I have with a spinnaker. I took pictures and tried to pay attention, but the only thing I remember was trim the sail so the luff (which ever edge is the furthest upwind) just stops curling in. That's about all we did all the way up past buoy 14 and almost to buoy 18.

It only took me 6 years to fly the spinnaker. We bought the boat in 2004. The sail sat in my garage all this time. I think I will leave it on the boat. But I must get lighter sheets for it. The down haul for the spinnaker needs a block to attach to the padeye before the mast.

While rummaging for the lines, I found two lines with blocks tied to one end. The blocks are small one inch diameter blocks. The line attached is 3/8" diameter of about 20 feet in length. I wonder what they were made up for?

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010, SYSCO Spring Series

This was the longest non-race I have every been in. There was a first in this race for our boat and probably for the fleet. We anchored. The winds were light and variable, but mostly from the north west. Our race was C-2-B-C. This was a change from the straight down river to the windward mark and back to the finish. We actually had a triangle course.

We were about ten seconds early on the start and went over, but all we had to do was tuck back behind the start line and continue on. The track shows the dip. We stayed mainly in the deep center of the river on the windward leg. By dipping back behind the line, the pack caught up to us and we essentially started in the middle of the pack. The winds faded near the windward mark. The "fast" fleet ahead of us were slowly drifting downstream while valiantly trying to sail upstream. This sort of gave us a clue that the wind was very weak. We essentially drifted round the mark, but at least in first position.

We anchored when we realized we were not going upstream to hold our position as best we could. We sat there only about 5-10 minutes, then the breeze came back. We headed over to the Oregon side to take advantage of the shallow water current and to get away from the pack.

The downwind leg was sailed essentially wing on wing, but instead of setting the spinnaker pole the crew chose to use the boat hook to hold out the sail. This allowed us to go to a broad reach when the shifts of the wind direction allowed us. We played with Bill Sanborn's Upstart for a while. But along toward the committee boat the wind died. At the end we were being over taken by Vim our "arch rival". The closer we got to the finish line the lighter the wind became. Until we were within 3 boat lengths of the line and the wind died entirely. The sun was almost down. It was the time of dusk when wind dies and the world holds its breath. We anchored for the second time in this "race". We sat. There was a breath of air after about 15 minutes and we tried to sail only to loose ground. We anchored again. About 9:25 or 2 1/2 hours after the start of the race, the race committee called the race. If either Vim or Aventura had finished the race we would have been the only finishers and the race would count. But since no one finished in our fleet, the race does not count.

I am still conflicted about using the boat hook as a whisker pole. It is good because it allows quick changes of the head sail down wind. The spinnaker pole is just too unwieldy for quick changes. It is good in a blow, but takes two to set it with any speed. Next item for the boat is a whisker pole.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Thursday, April 29th SYSCO Spring Series Race

This was one for the story books. A couple of misadventures that make for great tales for cruising and racing budies happened this evening. At least we made it out of the slip without problems. I did forget to check for water in the exhaust, but we did by the end of the fairway and there was plenty. We actually arrived at the boat 10 minutes early and Bill was waiting in the cockpit. We got the boat ready in short order, ate our sandwiches and was off by 5:30.

The wind was about 11 knots. The river was rough and since we have not had that much experience with this level of wind we sailed. We actually went upstream under main only and was doing hull speed. We were all bundled in jackets and I always insist on everyone wearing PFDs. We were so early Poncho and the committee boat was not even out yet.

After a practice rounding of 14, we decided to reef the main. I know, racers don't reef, but tonight since we had time and we needed the experience, we reefed. We actually started with reefed main and head sail only unfurled to 100%. It is a 135 sail, so that means the head sail's clew was just back to the mast. She sailed well. We were still doing hull speed.

The committee boat showed and we went by it once under main only, but it was before the come-by-me flag was up. We circled around when the come-by-me came out and discovered our course, C-2-C-B-C. The race committee added a leeward mark and another windward mark to our race from last week.

Since we were going to 2 which is more to the Washington side of the river, I discarded the port tack start and joined the crowd on starboard tack start. The crowd would probably hug the mark away from the committee boat. They did, but we were behind them. We watched a couple of the lead boats being forced to turn around and restart. They were forced above the mark. They almost looked like they were rounding up, but upon reflection, they were forced above the mark due to leeward boats forcing them above it.

The wind was calming down, but we still had our reefed main. We let out the head sail. We tacked to port. The wind was calming even more now. The white caps were gone. So we shook our our reefed main. Tacked to starboard at the Washington shore. We waited until the concrete wall on the Washington shore was abeam until we tacked to port again. We were crossed by Vim. I just had to ask him how he did it? His boat is a fast little one.

About that time, a tug with 4 barges coming upriver from I-5 bridge tooted its horn. Most of the fleet was heading to the first windward mark and right in its way upriver. More toots. We decided discretion is the better part of racing a tug. Sail boats are bad enough. So I told the crew we were going to do two short tacks. This would mean instead of approaching the windward mark on starboard tack with rights, we would approach the mark on port tack without any rights. But it worked out. We were second around the mark. The tug and barges were part of my strategy. They worked for us. (right!?!?!). I am going to ask a tug to come through each race about that time. The tug will make the race more interesting.

We rounded the mark and went to a starboard broad reach over to the Oregon shore like the big boys do in their races. This takes advantage of the lesser current in the shallow waters. We turned and put up the pole to port when the line with C mark was right for wing on wing. I might go a little more over to the Oregon side next time. Looking at the plot of the course I turned early.

We rounded the leeward mark without incident and went to a starboard tack. We stayed on the starboard tack for a short time and went to port tack staying in the deeper water and thus the favoring current. Again looking a plot of our race, it looks like a port tack at the mark, staying on that until the mark was abeam would have given us better current. I don't remember the wind at this time. We tacked to starboard tack when the mark was abeam, but the wind had headed us and we tacked early. Thus we had to add two short tacks, again. The crew must like them. On the final coming about of the evening, one of the crew stepped on the tiller splitting it. As long as it stayed in the rudder head I could steer.

We rounded the windward mark and had problems broaching. The tiller could not be raised high enough to keep the main from dragging us around on the jib. We put the pole out to port again. I managed to keep the tiller in place. This set us up for a protest from Vim.

Vim was leeward and to starboard. I was busy keeping the tiller in place, when I hear a hale saying "We are leeward. Give me room." By this time I had overtaken Vim. He was overlapped and had rights. If I steered to port my head sail would have been out of shape. I had the room. So far no results have been posted so I don't know if Vim filed a protest.

By then I had lost all track of the race, being very busy with the tiller situation. We crossed the line in second place behind Second Half. But just barely. We traded places with him from the last race. I finished first last race next to the committee boat. He finished first this race next to the committee boat. I was the one by the mark this time.

After the race I started the motor and the crew stowed the sails. We made it back to the slip without mishap. This was really a good race. Especially for the story value.

Here's the plot of the race. It looks like they moved the finish marker and committee boat a little between the start and the finish.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010, marks the first for us. We came in first out of 6 boats. We race in the Cruising-S fleet of nine boats. Two started, but did not finish. One did not come by the committee boat.

Nice to get back out on the river to race. Of course we had to have at least one misadventure, this is sailing. Again it was while leaving the slip. I backed out of the slip without mishap, but did notice I back out in front of another boater. But he was well away from us and if I would just get moving down the fairway, I would not have been in his way at all, but . . . . Instead of putting the engine in forward to turn and go down the fairway, I put the boat in reverse. The tiller being put to starboard made the boat just back up faster until I realized we were in reverse and weren't going the way I wanted. We bumped into the boat across the fairway from us. We did get away from the boat after the crew fended us off. Instead of just leaving we went back to the boat. The only thing I could see was that his outboard motor had flopped over. Aventura did have a scuff mark from the motor. Later, Warren from Second Half inspected the motor and put it straight. He said he would talk to Mike the owner of the boat and tell him what happened. But It looked like there was no damage and that I would not have to buy the boat.

After that, we went out to find the race. The winds were very light, less than 5 knots. We went ahead and put up the sails and started up river to find the committee boat. There was already a mark placed just out of the entrance to Tomahawk Bay Marina. This is "T" mark. "B" mark was set at the coffer dam at the east end of Tomahawk Island. Poncho was down at Buoy 14. We sailed until 6:10 and then restarted the motor. By then the come-by-me flag was up. We fell in line and got our race sheet to discover we were in the fifth start. I had to reset my count down timer from 20 minutes to 25 minutes.

We discussed tactics. The wind was building. Our race was 14-T-14. Simple short race. I wanted to stay in the center of the river to use the faster current there while going down steam to the windward mark. One possibility was to start on the port tack, but then we would have to dodge traffic at the start. So we joined the rest of the boats on starboard tack at the start. One boat went over early and had to go back. We crossed the line about 4th and at its middle. We sailed over to McCuddy's and tacked to port tack. We dodged the starboard tack boats without incident. Crossed the river and tack to starboard tack, but had not gained enough downstream to make the mark on that tack. So we tacked again about mid river to port tack. We did not have any traffic. We were essentially following Shamrock the whole course. Everyone bunched up at the windward mark. We round fourth and were surprised when the three leaders were blanketed by our sails. They slowed down while we stayed in clear air and actually passed them. We put the spinnaker pole up to port and headed for the committee boat. The other three leaders headed for Buoy 14 which meant they were in the middle and the stronger current. We stayed in the 20 foot depth and slower current. We inched our way ahead of the rest. About a quarter of mile before the finish line, we hit the zone where we get tricked into thinking the wind is dying. There is a zone in the river where the wind from the gorge and the wind from the ocean meet. The sails luff when the boat catches the wind. Sometimes it's enough to fool the skipper into changing sails, thus loosing some momentum only to have to change the sails back. We held our position long enough to cross the finish line first.

Shouts and high fives all around. Not bad for the first race.

We actually had a knot meter this trip. This is only the third head for Aventura. The first one was not working when we bought her. There was a new one in the box that came with her. It was newer and had a different connector for its transducer so it was not just a simple replacement. We installed the new transducer and ran the wire to the meter and installed it. It worked for two seasons, then quit. I repaired it once. Then it quit again. Last year Chuck won a $100 gift certificate at the awards dinner. He gave it to the boat. I used it to by another analog knot meter. This meter had the old connector with it. I plugged the old transducer that was still lying in the fore peak into the newer used meter and it worked. So it is installed now. Still needs calibrating, though. Because when we were doing 5 knots or better it was reading only 3 knots.

While sitting around back at the slip celebrating our win, we toasted our beers with "The only way to go now is down." We all laughed flush with our victory.

Here's the plot of the race. Looks like we need to work on tacking.

Thanks, crew: Chuck, Bill, and KD

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Picked up the boat from Schooner Creek Boat Works on April 1, 2010. She looked very happy to have a clean bottom and waxed sides. The greased prop helped. I noticed immediately the difference when the engine turned off. There was vary little drag and her carry was much more. Very nice.

We held our practice sail this Thursday, April 15th. We had our misadventures. Really only two. The crew, Bill, Chuck, KD, and myself are adjusting to each other. Bill and KD made a good cockpit team with Bill leading the pair. Chuck took to the foredeck to avoid the chaos of the cockpit. The San Juan 28 has a small cockpit for a 28 foot boat. Four people can sit cosily in it, but sailing gets it quit crowded very fast.

The first misadventure was when the port jib sheet overran itself on the wench. At least it happened at practice. We were able to use a fid and pry the sheet over the wench to get a loop free. Once that happened, we were able to get another loop and then free the line. But not after having the several hundred boats out there pass us in the non-race (just kidding).

The second misadventure was suddenly presented us by a long loud toot from a tug. Those barges on the river are ever present and sneak up on the unaware quite silently. We had just practiced rounding the upwind mark at buoy 2. We were headed over to the Oregon side when after just settling in to a broad reach, the toot happened. The tug with 4 barges was about 500 ft downstream and coming at us pretty fast. So we turned tail and ran back to above the buoy for another practice rounding the mark. Discretion being the better part of being run over by a barge.

The practice weather could not have been better. There was the normal evening breeze of 5 knots from the west. There were a few other boats out there practising or at least enjoying the evening. The wind died about 7:40 so we were out there about two quick hours. We then retired to the marina where we enjoyed a round of beers to celebrate the beginning of another racing season.

Thanks, crew to a great evening. I am looking forward to the season even more than before.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

February 28, 2010

We opened the engine cooling water seacock this afternoon to start the engine. I ran the engine on the starter for about 15 seconds with the decompression levers set to build up oil pressure. Then closed the levers and started the engine. We dropped the mooring lines only to discover we forgot to disconnect the shore power. I disconnected the power. Engaged the forward gear and took off from the mooring.

We took the boat over to Schooner Creek Boat Works. Aventura is getting a bottom job and waxing the hull. We motored over without incident and left the boat.

It seemed like such a simple manoeuvre , but it was great getting back on the river. The weather could not have been more cooperative. It was 59 degrees F. Sun was out.

March 6, 2010

This weekend we went to the boat and I greased the propeller. It is a two bladed feathering propeller made by Bianchi of Italy. I also added a zinc.

We went to West Marine to get the new zinc after I looked at the old one to check for size. So for the $13 zinc, I spent $210. I could not pass up the Lifesling and two new shinny blue Taylor Made 8"X30" bumpers.

Hannah's vacuuming now so I need to stop loligaging about and mow the lawn before the rains this week.