Monday, September 28, 2009

San Blas Islands - 9 33N 78 51W

Hello all...greetings from the hottest plalce on earth...we are currently roasting in the san blas..there is very little wind so it has made for quite the warm streak...try 98degrees (in the shade...hey what a great name for a song!)and 91 in the boat which is where I've escaped to for the moment. Bill and Gram are once again fixing things...this time trying to trace a leak in the AC refridgeration system so they would probably tell you it's more like over 100 in the boat..Ah for the cool fall nip in the air of Maine. Seriously tho' all is well and we are having many good times. Have met up with some of our friends from our time here prior to coming home so good cocktail parties and communal dinners...reminds me alot of our hippie days in Thorndike when it was all about getting together with friends and hanging out. We are currently in the Hollandes in the anchorage nicknamed the swimming pool because the water is so clear and turquoise that it looks like a pool. Makes for excellent snorkeling which we've done the last two days and today we are planning a dive/snorkel expedition to the "grottos". We have a date set to go thru the Canal which will be 10/5. Gram's friend Meg will join us to make our 4th linehandler so Jo will be happy for some female company. We had one amzing dinner out at a french restaurant that we dinghyed thru a mangrove to get to...nice trip there, way home a bit interesting in the dark but we got back safe and sound and only ran aground once. Zak seems to be doing ok . He has now turned his computer internet addiction into a kindle/reading addiction...could be worse things but it would be nice to see the face not just the top of the head. He loves the hammock and he and Gram make a good pair up on deck in their dualing hammocks. Hope to do a better job of keeping up now that we are on the road again...we came with 800 lbs of mostly boat parts so hoping that the things we need we now have. love to hear back from any and all of you.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back to Kuna Yala

En Route to Kuna Yala - 09 35.7N 79 04.9W

We arrived back in Panama the evening of the 15th and got started right away putting all our stuff (approx 700 lbs of luggage between us, mostly boat parts) away. Saturday morning we were finally done and left Shelter Bay marina for Linton. We dingied a mile or so through the mangroves over to a french resturaunt at Panamarina. Quite good food and very cheap, but the best part was the dingy ride back through the mangroves at night with no light due to the new moon. We got through the mangoves fine, but did run aground on the other side as it was rather foggy/misty and visibility was marginal at best. Today's sail is proving to be a long upwind motor-sail slog and Zak is sea-sick, so isn't having any fun. Hopefully he will enjoy the Lemons and Hollandes for the next 10-12 days.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

6mR World Cup - Day 4 & 5

Day 4 brought more of the same high winds. We started with the #2 jib and had a decent start and a good downwind leg, rounding the leeward mark deep in the middle of the fleet. For the second beat we changed to the Heavy #1 Genoa as the wind was down enough to carry the newer sail, and Alana came alive. Suddenly we could point with the competition and started reigning in Madcap as we had done last year. About 3/4 of the way up the beat, just after a tack back onto port tack, I looked up and saw a wire hanging from the rig. It took a few seconds to figure out it was the leeward running backstay that had pulled out of the rig through the tack. To avoid breaking the rig, we had to bear off, and sail on port tack all the way back to the mooring, retiring for the day. We looked at the rig and determined that it couldn't be fixed properly, but we could lash the runner around the mast after raising the mainsail and the only problem would be the inability to lower the mainsail. We bought the chafe gear, spectra, and shackle we needed for the jury rig and headed to the bar to drown our sorrows.

Saturday morning the forcast was for drizzly medium breeze, 10 to 15 kts out of the North, so we raising the main on the mooring, hauled me to the hounds and I died the running back around the mast. A load test on the mooring looked good so we headed up the bay for racing.

The commitee started right away with a black flag start, disqualifying anyone on the course side of the line within the last minute of the start. We started second row, but with speed and a hole to tack onto port and head to the right hand side of the course we wanted to go to. We had a nice upwind leg and followed Great Dane (placed 3rd or so in the regatta) into the windward leg. Downwind the breeze started to fade and we fell back a bit to some boats with more sail area. We chose the right hand gate mark and headed up the left hand side of the course as we didn't have any good lanes to get back to the right. This proved painful as we lost a few boats who went right. We passed Syce on the final downwind leg to finish 15th just as the wind was dying and rain squalls loomed overhead. We were held waiting for wind for about an hour, then sent in completing the regatta with races. Overall we placed 22 out of 24, much worse than we had hoped, but if you ignore our DNF's due to brakedown, we averaged 17.5 which is decent.

Even with the less than stellar performance, it was a blast of a week, and we had a thoroughly enjoyable crew and the best support boat on the course. The next two days I need to get ready to fly back to Panama on Tuesday, so no rest for the weary.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

6mR World Cup - Day 3

Day 3 brought similar conditions to day 2, but slighly less breeze and smaller seas. Fortunately, it did not bring similar results as we finally got back in the hunt. In the first race we had a 2 good starts that got recalled, the second one was really good, but the third start that counted put us on the second row, but at least allowed us to go out to the right hand side we wanted. We rounded mid fleet, and went to raise the spin, when the halyard came detached. A quick recovery launched the kite on the backup halyard. We passed back most of the boats that passed us on our slow hoist, then had the spare halyard fly away after the douse. On the downwind leg I noticed we had lost a mainsail batten, so we called David to ask him to drive to the Hood loft to get a replacement and bring it out to us ASAP, hopefully between races. We again rounded the windward mark around mid fleet, and Toby managed to grab the dangling halyard saving us having to douse the jib first to use it's halyard for the spin. We again had a late set, and again had to try to claw back a boat or two that had passed in that time. Again we passed two boats back and finished 17th.

Our second start got delayed due to a reset of the starting line, so we had just enough time to replace the batted David had brought out. We had to drop the main, measure the batten, cut the batten, install and then raise the main. With 4:30 before our start, we still had the main on the deck, and we were about 45 seconds late to the start, but luckily it was also a general recall. 2nd start was again a black flag and we got forced down by a windward boat, but got a decent lane and worked out to the right. The second half of the leg saw the left come back into favor so we rounded mid fleet, had a strong downwind leg and passed a few boats at the rounding. We lost Madcap upwind, and then clawed them back and almost passed Jill downwind, all three boats finishing within 2 second with us between Jill and Madcap for a 15th place finish (24 boats total in classic fleet).

Overall it was a blast of a day, but rather chilly after climatizing to South America. Forcast for day 4 is another breezy day out of the north east, and we hope we can continue to improve on our 21st overall position.

See Full results at Sail Newport

Day 1 & 2 Recap

Racing started Tuesday with light winds and a delay. The RC tried to get the moderns off, but abandoned as the unexpected Northerly died and the sea breeze filled in. The classics first start was AP'd (abandoned) with about 10 seconds left as half the fleet was over the VERY skewed line. The second start saw a general recall and for the third start the committee went to the black flag, disqualifying any boat that went over the line within the last minute. We had a great nose out position, but for fear of a DQ I had us hold back, blowing our lane. After a clearing tack we wanted to get back to the left hand side of the course, but for some reason when the lane appeared we stayed on port and got pinned by the moderns rounding their leward mark. Unfortunately, as we had expected the left payed off and we were at the back of the pack with little opportunity to pass. We finished 2nd to last in a disappointing start to our regatta.

Day 2 saw high winds and a VERY wet tow out (see pic below). We had a decent start considering we were about 30 seconds late as their was a pile-up at the favored committee boat we got stuck behind. We went to our desired left hand side, but unfortunately the right payed off a little better (the good news is we had some rather talented company on the left with us. A great downwind leg pushed us to mid fleet, but when we went to round the leeward mark, the spinnaker wouldn't come down. 5 minutes later, the halyard finally came free, but by then it was too late and we headed home early. There were several other casualties, including booms and several spinaker poles as the wind was a steady 20 kts with gusts to 27. Spirits were high as we were sailing well and can't do much about equipment problems.

Today winds are slightly more moderate, but could build to similar conditions. Keep coming back for updates.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

6mR World Cup - T-minus One Day

Here is a the Six Metre Wold Cup Website

There will be more information as the race gets underway there. There is also a facebook page that will probably be updated more frequently. I am sailing on the 1929 Fife - Alana, owned by Toby Rhodes. Our goal is a top 10 finish in the classic division, but will be happy with top 15 (out of 22 or so classics, with 11 or so moderns sailing on a different start, but the same course).

Saturday and Sunday was the North American Championships, really just a warm up regatta for everyone. Saturday was light air, which is not Alana's forte and we struggled a bit. A couple of bad decisions and we found our way at the back of the fleet. Good lessons learned though and that was the point. Sunday was a nice stiff breeze so we put up our #2 Jib, which was just recut from an older Heavy #1 (larger sail). It unfortunately is a bit too deep (too much curvature), so I am meeting my friend Tim Woodhouse at the loft this morning to recut the sail again. Once again this put us at the back of the pack, but at least we learned something. Races 3 & 4 were better, but we didn't have great starts and couldn't always go were we wanted to. Crew work is improving greatly and I think we are feeling decent with where we stand. Our biggest issue is that we just can't point as high as some of the newer narrower boats. Alana is "beamy" for a six at about 6'-9" with the boats built in the 50's being as narrow as 5'-9" and the moderns (post 1965) as narrow as 5'-6".

Today is all about getting final preparations done and getting some rest to be ready for action on Tuesday. More later.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hurricanes can't keep is down

Last weekend was the 6m Tune-Up Invitational in Newport and was a chance for me to get back in tune with Toby (pictured) in prep for the 6m World Championships next week. Saturday was a wash out with a tropical storm coming through, but we needed to scrub the bottom so we put on our wet-suits and rowed a sketchy wooden dink out to the boat. As we were scrubing the wind went from 10 kts to about 28 kts and suddenly the dink was nowhere near big or stable enough to take us back to shore. It was a brutally tiring 200 yard swim across near breaking waves, but we got in fine. Sunday was long wait for wind and then 3 good races. The mood was soured a bit by some very rude treatment from Dewey Isdale (former NYYC Comedore and helmsman of Madcap) after we tried to have a friendly discussion about the major foul he committed at the finish of the second race which almost caused a pretty bad collision (Toby managed to miss Scout, a 1909 Rule 1 Six, by less than one foot).

I head back down to Newport on Thursday in prep for North Americans Sat/Sun then Worlds start on Tuesday and run through Saturday the 13th. Stay tuned for more updates.