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Philpott
10-13-2014, 06:55 PM
After the 2010 Transpac racers offered some notes from their experiences. Is there any chance that 2014 participants can be tempted to share the same here?

Lightspeed
10-15-2014, 07:19 PM
The Generals barometer worked and Lightspeeds Expedition software did not. Relying completely on software routing technology can backfire! My lesson learned, is you need to do the race to know how to do the race!!...

hodgmo
10-16-2014, 06:49 PM
I second Rick’s comment: the 1st race is a learning experience. But so is the 2nd, I think, time will tell. That said, comparing my 2012 and 2014 experiences, what felt like the things I did differently that helped me the most are:

• Lighter boat (truck loads removed, no harpsichord, etc… F=ma I’m told)
• Better balance of seamanship and racing
– Forget comfort & accept sail and gear damage
– But if done well, with good luck, faster
• Realistic strategies (Frolic is not a sled)
• Lots of attention on relevant weather and my barometers (versus celestial which is fun but not fast)
• Better sleep habits (2 hr timer vs 1 hr)
• Beefed up gooseneck, etc (stuff that was edgy in 2012)
• Powerful below-deck autopilot drive (I destroyed two grand prix tiller pilots in 2012)
• Better spinnakers and gear (I learned a lot from Green Buffalo)
– More chutes, more sail time
– Two pole jibes (wow!)
– Outgrabber

It’s hard to quantify but I've no doubt that the interaction I've enjoyed since 2012 with SHTP vets, several who I now count as friends, really helped. It’s a great group and I feel fortunate to be a member!

But the real kick in my pants was the last paragraph in Lee Shore Blues – a must read :-)

peter00
10-16-2014, 08:14 PM
As usual, I should have kept my mouth shut

todd22123
10-16-2014, 09:48 PM
I second Rick’s comment: the 1st race is a learning experience. But so is the 2nd, I think, time will tell. That said, comparing my 2012 and 2014 experiences, what felt like the things I did differently that helped me the most are:

• Lighter boat (truck loads removed, no harpsichord, etc… F=ma I’m told)
• Better balance of seamanship and racing
– Forget comfort & accept sail and gear damage
– But if done well, with good luck, faster
• Realistic strategies (Frolic is not a sled)
• Lots of attention on relevant weather and my barometers (versus celestial which is fun but not fast)
• Better sleep habits (2 hr timer vs 1 hr)
• Beefed up gooseneck, etc (stuff that was edgy in 2012)
• Powerful below-deck autopilot drive (I destroyed two grand prix tiller pilots in 2012)
• Better spinnakers and gear (I learned a lot from Green Buffalo)
– More chutes, more sail time
– Two pole jibes (wow!)
– Outgrabber

It’s hard to quantify but I've no doubt that the interaction I've enjoyed since 2012 with SHTP vets, several who I now count as friends, really helped. It’s a great group and I feel fortunate to be a member!

But the real kick in my pants was the last paragraph in Lee Shore Blues – a must read :-)

What type of autopilot did you use?

Thanks,
Todd

hodgmo
10-17-2014, 01:33 PM
Frolic has Raymarine electronics, with the X10 autopilot computer and type 1 below-deck motor, but they are there almost accidentally and I don’t necessarily recommend them. While the Raymarine has so far been OK, there are probably better choices for blue water racing. For example, Green Buffalo uses an Alpha system (two aboard) and Jim seems very pleased with his redundant system. Ken Roper uses tiller pilots on Harrier. The best choice of course will depend on your boat. A J/92 weighs a lot less than an islander 36 and has a very different underbody. I don’t know anyone who has a broader knowledge of autopilots and their best application than Brian Boschma, and I recommend getting his advice on that topic.

Harrier
10-18-2014, 08:49 AM
The only equipment failure on Harrier was one Raymarine tiller pilot 4000 (might have been a 4000GP).
But it really just wore out. Stopped working after 4 days, but what failed was the little plastic (!) gizmo
in the drive unit. Replaced the AP with a like unit (a relatively new one, but not unused) and it worked
fine the rest of the way...11 1/2 more days. As a matter of fact, it worked all the way back to LA too.
I do carry spare motors, but never have had to replace them. Keep the water out with a cover and
silicone grease on the thruster so the seals are kept functional. My supply of "tiller type" pilots is fairly
extensive....Some Navicos, but mostly Raymarine. The latter interface with my sailing instruments so I
can sail in "wind mode" when it suits me. I have an Atoms wind vane, but didn't carry it on the race.

I do get weather fax with a XAXERO software connecting SSB transmissions to my laptop. Had very
little luck with this on this race until I replaced my recalcitrant SSB rig (poor receiver performance). So
I had good wx faxes on the way back...tee hee. My barograph is pretty sensitive and kept me in the
wind the whole way over on the race.

Didn't tear up any sails or rigging in either direction. Only used one 3/4 oz GP chute and it held up fine.
Probably because I had 4 other chutes and also used my nylon twins a lot.

If I weren't getting so damn old, I'd look forward to #14 with essentially the same gear and boat.

Fair Winds to all Ken

peter00
10-23-2014, 10:23 PM
Alone in a strange town with too much wine, I will add my thoughts. Like Frolic I did a lot to lighten Scaramouche this year. Unlike Frolic it did not improve my performance. I was first to finish only because the hotshots like Jim Q and Alex didn't enter. Now I'm hoping Brian B will step in and explain all this but.....When I entered the Paccup in 2010 it was explained to me that if you lighten the boat, you're cheating. The boat is rated 'as sailed' which I think means you must weigh the same in the race as you did when weighed. I got my weight from a travel lift operator who said the weight was approximate even when the straps were vertical but because of my forefoot the straps were anything but vertical so it was very difficult to determine the weight. A boat like Frolic is one of a series and I have no idea how the PHRF determines their 'as sailed' weight. The PHRF seems to be nonsense to me anyway as in the Northwest my rating is 114, in NorCal it was 80, and on appeal changed to 90.
So if a person was considering entering the race and was concerned about doing well it is important to sail at the weight you are rated at and to have a boat that you have some hope of sailing to its rating. Or you could do like I did and just make a ton of great friends, drink too much wine, have the greatest family reunion ever, and suffer thru a couple of weeks in that hell ship known as Kauai.

BobJ
10-24-2014, 10:07 AM
For the SHTP you can (and should) take excess weight out. However, you can't remove stuff that is standard from the factory. Skippers have gotten in trouble for removing the door to the head or a table, if it was factory-installed. This is because your boat's PHRF rating is for a stock boat.

So if your WhizBang 32 came standard with a compressor to inflate your life-sized crew doll, you have to race with the compressor. I hope that helps.

This all got weirder with Pacific Cup, especially this year.

brianb
10-24-2014, 10:22 PM
So if your WhizBang 32 came standard with a compressor to inflate your life-sized crew doll, you have to race with the compressor. I hope that helps.

This all got weirder with Pacific Cup, especially this year.

Wow, what could be weirder in the Pac Cup than a life-sized crew doll with inflater ?

BobJ
10-25-2014, 09:11 AM
Wow, what could be weirder in the Pac Cup than a life-sized crew doll with inflater ?

No, that was a SHTP deal. The inflated doll was even attached to the backstay for the start - there's a photo somewhere.

solosailor
10-27-2014, 09:19 PM
Got a pic of of the doll up at the masthead with "her" legs around the skipper..... will have to dig that one up.

peter00
11-01-2014, 08:11 PM
Getting back to the topic (I actually had an inflatable doll but couldn't remember what she was used for and when I did, couldn't manage to blow her up). I can recommend Ensure for the first few days when you feel shitty but need to keep your strength up. On my suggestion Al tried it and was happy with it too I think. If I ever do another SHTP I will report back on the efficacy of Depends. I use a Panasonic Toughbook loaded with Nobletec for navigation. Obviously I have lots of duplication but my AIS is displayed on the Toughbook as well as navigation so it's important. The Toughbook may be tough but a splash of coffee or a drip and it's out of business. Stretch and Seal or one of those products stretched over the keyboard gives a ton of protection. Returning to Canada we had my usual weatherfax info as well as Keven's gribs. I really don't understand this fascination with gribs which as far as I can tell are uninterpreted computer projections. The weatherfax gives the same information interpreted by people who have spent their whole university careers studying meteorology. Now to be completely fair, there were a couple of days when my Weatherfax didn't receive and the gribs came thru' (on the sat phone) but I suspect I just wasn't interested enough to tune the weatherfax.

Harrier
11-03-2014, 02:35 PM
As an ex-military aviator, I lived with weather fax pictures as interpreted by our friendly Air Force meteorologists. After a while, some of their expertise naturally rubbed off, so that's what I use at sea. Never even heard of grib files until I got involved with SHTPers. I'm just more comfortable seeing the whole wx picture, rather than just the winds.

Philpott
11-03-2014, 07:04 PM
As an ex-military aviator, I lived with weather fax pictures as interpreted by our friendly Air Force meteorologists. After a while, some of their expertise naturally rubbed off, so that's what I use at sea. Never even heard of grib files until I got involved with SHTPers. I'm just more comfortable seeing the whole wx picture, rather than just the winds.

Just how friendly are those Air Force meteorologists? Will they share with mere singlehanders or does access require a high (really high) rank? In other words, Sir, is that information available to civilians?
?

BobJ
11-03-2014, 07:21 PM
I completely agree Ken. Focusing on GRIB files completely screwed our Pacific Cup effort. We chased those little barbs all over the ocean while our competitors focused on the interpreted charts and left us behind. I've learned my lesson.

Jackie, these are available to us from a number of sources for free. I suspect the Air Force version focused on higher altitudes - we'd be interested in surface conditions.

Lightspeed
11-03-2014, 07:52 PM
[QUOTE=BobJ;10072]I completely agree Ken. Focusing on GRIB files completely screwed our Pacific Cup effort. We chased those little barbs all over the ocean while our competitors focused on the interpreted charts and left us behind. I've learned my lesson.

Boy do I agree, I also learned my lesson. Gribs and software only see a short window 24 hr at best. They gave me a screaming right turn where I sailed faster than the fleet, but I also sailed into nowhere. The next morning they said woops you should have stayed were you were! You must step back, take a breath and look at the big picture. No substitute for experience and Ken has us all on that one...

Harrier
11-06-2014, 02:26 PM
Jackie
Any decent book on meteorology is full of info on interpreting wx fax charts...isobars, etc. If you want to get really expert, learn how the 500mbar charts (winds aloft...jet stream) affect the weather by forcing movement of the highs and lows. I have good book on that at home. I'm not so good on that score, so i just try to get the surface faxes twice a day.
They also publish 24 , 48 and 72 hr forecasts. I sometimes look at these to confirm what I THINK I'm going to see. I think it is important for those of us that are moving at 6 knots, or so to realize that , unlike in an aircraft, we can't make big changes in our current (and therefor tomorrow's) position to modify our situation
vis-a-vis the forecasts. Makes it all the more important for us "slowpokes" to look ahead. What you are doing today pretty much dictates the next couple of days...We can't react to drastic wx changes since our moves are so slow!

Philpott
11-06-2014, 05:22 PM
Any decent book on meteorology is full of info on interpreting wx fax charts...isobars, etc. If you want to get really expert, learn how the 500mbar charts (winds aloft...jet stream) affect the weather by forcing movement of the highs and lows.

Okeedokee. I'll go to the library and get a children's meteorology book. Seriously. With a liberal arts background, this kind of information eludes me, but I'll start from zero. I listened carefully to Mike Jefferson regarding electrical work on a boat, but it was the book from the children's section with the simple drawing of an AA battery, a piece of wire and a paper clip that finally offered the "aha!" moment. True that, as they say.

sdpaine@cox.net
11-06-2014, 09:24 PM
I was really weather stupid when I started. In fact I was not able to get any weather fax for the first two weeks, until I realized I needed to shut down all the electrical noise on the boat to allow my Sony mulitband receiver, hooked up to my Macbook, to get the signal out of Pt. Reyes. The setup also allowed me to listen to the SSB conversations, until it became to depressing as listened to the position reports and knew I was slipping back further and further each day. Next time out my #1 target will to be far better prepared with respect to receiving, and understanding, the weather faxes and how they relate to my sailing.

While there were two notable failures on the boat (bolt a the masthead leading to a spreader failure and the Delorme tracker I was using for communication), there were also some success. After reading all the blogs, forums, and books I could get my hands on I learned that the Raymarine ST1000 and ST2000 were not highly reliable. I took one of each, but connected them to a traveler located in front of the vane. Lines from the traveler led to the vane servo blade which in turn provided the power to move the tiller. I tried direct linkages prior to the trip and did not find a setup that worked well. By using the traveler I was able to alter the purchase and come up with a system that worked really well. I never had to go to the second ST2000 as the ST100o worked perfectly through most of the trip, which makes sense as it was under almost no load at any time. Downside - I had the drag of a servo-blade, small though it was, Linking a tiller autopilot to a wind vane servo blade is not a new idea, but I think the traveler set up might be a new wrinkle. I used the wind vane during the delightful first three days as it is a really strong unit.

hodgmo
11-07-2014, 01:25 PM
FWIW, I have found it very useful to compare my barometer reading to what I download, FAX or GRIB. This gives me an idea of how accurate the current and forecast synoptics are, especially if the wind speed/direction don’t seem to jive.

Some 'weather' books that I have found to be useful:
- USA Today Weather Book, http://www.randomhouse.com/book/191118/the-usa-today-weather-book-by-jack-williams
- Bowditch, American Practical Navigator, ch 34 etc. Freely available from http://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=msi_portal_page_62&pubCode=0002
- This is good for understanding 500 mB charts: Mai-Lai Chen & Lee Chesneau, “Heavy Weather Avoidance,” http://www.chesneaumarineweather.com/?p=203
- Steve & Linda Dashew, “Mariner’s Weasther Handbook,” http://setsail.com/mwh.pdf
- David Burch, “Modern Marine Weather,” http://www.amazon.com/Modern-Marine-Weather-David-Burch/dp/0914025082
- William Crawford, “Mariner’s Weather,” http://www.amazon.com/Mariners-Weather-William-Crawford/dp/1461040507

WBChristie
11-13-2014, 06:38 PM
I completely agree Ken. Focusing on GRIB files completely screwed our Pacific Cup effort. We chased those little barbs all over the ocean while our competitors focused on the interpreted charts and left us behind. I've learned my lesson.

Jackie, these are available to us from a number of sources for free. I suspect the Air Force version focused on higher altitudes - we'd be interested in surface conditions.

Did you fly a kite while chasing the little barbs all over?

BobJ
11-14-2014, 11:48 PM
Yes, but a reacher. We spent many hours flying the A0 to create apparent wind. Once the breeze finally picked up we flew the A3, even finishing with it. The A2 saw little use, which was bizarre for a Hawaii race.

WBChristie
11-15-2014, 12:03 AM
I can just imagine it, like the backstage scene in the movie "This is Spinal Tap"

You don't use real spinnakers?

BobJ
11-15-2014, 12:10 AM
According to Kame Richards, that's right - he thinks asymmetrics aren't the real deal. Except for the A0, we flew them on a pole:

WBChristie
11-15-2014, 10:22 AM
Beautiful sails, I'm jealous. Nice pole too!

BobJ
11-15-2014, 10:39 AM
That jibtop has a bazillion miles on it. It's a paneled Kevlar sail so it will go a bazillion more.

I need to get the rust mark off the main (at the tack reef) - it bugs me every time I see that photo. Any idea how to do that?

BobJ
11-15-2014, 11:00 AM
Back to the thread subject - these work great, until they don't. This one crapped out off Diamond Head:

WBChristie
11-15-2014, 12:33 PM
That jibtop has a bazillion miles on it. It's a paneled Kevlar sail so it will go a bazillion more.

I need to get the rust mark off the main (at the tack reef) - it bugs me every time I see that photo. Any idea how to do that?

I have heard that oxalic acid crystals dissolved in warm water (I forget the ratio - Google is your friend) But I'm too scared to try it on my staysail ... which also has rust stains after the Hawaii trip.

WBChristie
11-15-2014, 12:35 PM
Back to the thread subject - these work great, until they don't. This one crapped out off Diamond Head:

One of those steered my 21 000 lb boat to Hawaii and back. After all the negative feedback on how cheaply they are built (and they are) I was pleasantly surprised. I do have 2 of them and did switch them a few times.

WBChristie
11-15-2014, 06:02 PM
Although I feel that I was in the company of far more experienced and accomplished (not to mention gracious) sailors during the race some neophyte like me might take something from my experience.

What worked: Westsail 32. The first 3 days were probably well suited to my boat, the best run during that time was 172 miles...somewhere around a 7.3k average on the third day. I was simply along for the ride and spent most of the time napping. Top speed 10k that I saw. My tiller snapped off at the heel on the first night but the boat just kept on sailing at 6.5k (did come up slightly but only about 5 degrees)
After those 3 or 4 days I heard I was doing ok, so ran around trying to be a sailor and fell 3 positions in the standings. Sorry Elizabeth Ann.

Light 4oz genoa from Lee sails worked well poled out until I broke the whisker pole in half. Symmetrical spinnaker from minneys worked well as did the pure white (cheap) symmetrical from Island planet.
OpenCPN with grib overlay plugin worked well. I figured out how to use it (the grib overlay) about halfway across when it didn't really matter anymore. Before that, I relied on Daniels demonstration of Adrena aboard his boat before the start, and Ken. I'm not ashamed to admit I basically followed Ken to Hanalei and had huge amounts of fun talking to him and others on the radio every night. After the race talking to Lee I admitted that I had just followed her Dad. Her response "Well if he doesn't know the way, the boat does" hahahahaha

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztU10DbuDi0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnoYEsXRK5Q

What didnt work:The Raymarine evolution A/P was not so great. It only has 3 settings, performance, cruising and leisure. Yes leisure. Using leisure setting resulted in feelings not so leisurely as the corrections were way too slow and small. "Cruising" was also frustrating. The "performance" setting was too aggressive. On the way home I finally figured out that I could fine tune the response with the hard over time setting.

Would love to hear from Daniel, Brian, Barry and others who have not written about their experience here.

Thanks again to all involved. Rick, you are my favorite to win the next race. Yes, I know - the kiss of death.

hodgmo
11-15-2014, 09:43 PM
Is that a Raymarine Grand Prix tiller pilot? I destroyed two of them in 2012 steering an lslander 36 to Kauai and Oahu, strange change in groan tone followed by black plastic teeth crumbs on the cockpit sole. They seem allergic to spinnakers in squalls. I've had no problem using the type 1 below deck motor on same boat, there and back again.

WBChristie
11-15-2014, 11:00 PM
Is that a Raymarine Grand Prix tiller pilot? I destroyed two of them in 2012 steering an lslander 36 to Kauai and Oahu, strange change in groan tone followed by black plastic teeth crumbs on the cockpit sole. They seem allergic to spinnakers in squalls. I've had no problem using the type 1 below deck motor on same boat, there and back again.

Steve, no they were the standard tiller drives. The grand Prix model is discontinued and no longer in production. I did find one still in stock somewhere but the price was in the region of $1300 so I settled for another standard one. The drive that saw the most use has become quite sloppy at the end of the stroke
Was the type 1 below deck electric or hydraulic? Did it use a lot more power than the tiller drive that you used previously?

Also, if you don't mind - could you explain the 3 minute jibes with 2 poles? My jibes were like gearing up for a full scale invasion. I even put shoes on and long pants to minimize carnage to my body

hodgmo
11-16-2014, 12:11 PM
Hi WBChristie,

My below deck drive unit is the Raymarine M81130, which is electrically driven, see

http://www.raymarine.com/view/?id=579&collectionid=30&col=5915

This unit certainly can demand a lot more amps than the GrandPrix, and in fact installing it required ‘upgrading’ the Raymarine brain box from the X5 to the substantially larger and heftier X10 (FYI Brian B’s A/P can handle the peak power requirement and more I think). But in actual usage the below deck drive drew about the same average power as the tiller pilot since, when the boat is balanced, very little energy is required to maintain course and the drive unit is essentially idling. The difference is in situations where the boat is out of balance – eg, a round up in a squall – and then the drive unit will quickly be tasked to put out all it can. The below deck drive can provide much higher force more quickly, thus draw a higher current, than the tiller pilot so can better handle these events. Fortunately, in my experience, speaking objectively, unbalanced situations haven’t happened that often, and when they do happen they don’t take much actual time (though it doesn’t feel that way), so the boat’s power budget is essentially unaffected.

Two-pole jibes worked for me quite well but maybe it was beginners luck. Or maybe it was practicing and crashing on the S bay in the months prior to the race. Anyway, I was fortunate to be able to sail on Green Buffalo a few times and saw how Jim Quanci had his 2-pole system set-up. It’s essentially a port and starboard pole, each with their own mast attachment, topping lift and foreguy. On Frolic, with a sheet and afterguy on each clew, it is relatively fast and easy to rig the lazy pole on the lazy afterguy (after relieving the outgrabber load from the guy to the sheet), then shift the load to the newly setup pole so the boat is now running with load on both poles, then swing the stern thru the wind and jibe the main, adjust the windward pole if necessary, then complete the spinnaker ‘jibe’ by shifting the load from the newly leeward guy to the leeward sheet, and lower the relieved, leeward pole tip to deck (and then free the lazy guy from the pole and set the outgrabber). Everything but rigging the pole is done from the cockpit. After working out the bugs, this process takes me a few minutes, much faster than I can sock and re-rig the spinnaker, and, for me, it is much ‘safer’ (less to go wrong) compared to jibing with a single pole (especially without a sock which is what I did in 2012). It takes me more time to jibe my poled out genoa!

There’s an interesting discussion of 2-pole jibes, socks and spin nets at http://www.sfbaysss.org/forum/showthread.php?843-To-Sock-or-Not-To-Sock
Jim Quanci (not surprisingly) made a spot-on comment (March 2012):

“…Had a brisk debate with Stan the other day on socking versus double pole jibes. :-)

One thing is clear, both socking and double pole jibes work great if you are well practiced and know the proper technique for your boat - especially when the wind and waves are up. If you are not well practiced and aren't sure what the proper technique is both socking and double pole jibes can make for a mess (gordian knot around the headstay, broken pole, etc). … ”

Steve

Lightspeed
11-17-2014, 07:31 PM
Thanks again to all involved. Rick, you are my favorite to win the next race. Yes, I know - the kiss of death.

I was ready to go again before I got home, even with the banged up shoulder, but the little lady Admiral Linda wants me to take a break after the 2012 PacCup and 2014 Transpac. I will do the race again but 2016 is looking more like a race committee volunteer.

svShearwater
01-16-2015, 11:39 AM
I completely agree Ken. Focusing on GRIB files completely screwed our Pacific Cup effort. We chased those little barbs all over the ocean while our competitors focused on the interpreted charts and left us behind. I've learned my lesson.

Jackie, these are available to us from a number of sources for free. I suspect the Air Force version focused on higher altitudes - we'd be interested in surface conditions.

I keep coming back to this. Gribs vs. charts. I don't think that is the issue. The issue is how you interpret either and remembering the fundamental rule "If in doubt - shortest route." You always have to have a more compelling reason to sail a longer distance than the shortest route and serious deviations from shortest route need to be backed up with convinction that a much longer route is absolutely, positively going to get you there quicker. If there is any doubt, play it safe. My 2 cents.