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Thread: Domino's Story

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Alameda CA
    Posts
    333

    Default Domino's Story

    Hi All -
    sorry it has taken me this long to write things up. DH
    Domino LongPac 2015

    Wow –that was long. And for a good portion boring, frustrating and beautiful by turns.
    I learned a fair bit about myself, but more importantly found some shortcomings in systems, and diet that will need some fiddling. That’s fine – I have time, and the event for me was more about stress-testing things than ticking a box.

    Something to bear in mind while reading – Domino is a Masthead rig; there are 13 hanks per headsail; 13 on and 13 off. ‘nuff said. Dom is also a bucket boat, eg No Plumbing. More on that later.

    OK –
    Day 1 – Didn’t get the start I would have wished for [about a minute behind the rest of my fleet], but not really important in the big picture. Started with the #3 and stayed with it until Bonita at which point it was time for the #1 Jib… North was the favored tack, so I headed for Drakes Bay and settled into a routine of resting [napping; once the starting adrenaline faded], checking things, log entry etc. Had a bit of a battle with the SC27 Crazy Rhythm, who seemed to have good pace in the light stuff. The gribs [at least one older model] had a bit of a build and NW shift around Pt Reyes around 1900, so I decided to play for that. Put in a hour tack South around 1700 to clear Pt Reyes, then back. Finally got some build in the breeze to about 12knts, and as we approached the point a north shift kicked in! Held this until I was well and truly headed, then tacked back to find myself sailing 248T with 10-12knots of wind! This was the highlight of a long slow day, and we got to sail in lifted pressure for almost an hour. Then it died back as the sunset, and the angle moved back down…. This was the most pressure (except for a brief period at the end of Friday] and the best angle relative to 270T that Domino and I would see for the next 90 hours.

    Day 2- Light winds, almost exclusively from 270 at 2-7knots. Lightspeed was sails up on the horizon all morning, and at one point came down close enough so Rick was hull up to me. Spend a lot of time playing with the spinnaker as a strapped in jib, going back to the one etc. wind direction was moving around a lot. Tiring and hot. Got some good naps in, generally frustrating but boring. I did unearth a problem with my charge controller for the solar array. Mostly that it was not working. While in process on the trouble shooting routine, I made a bonehead error and skipped the morning charge from the engine; I think the thought process was to see how the batteries did if I left them draw down a bit farther, and better see if the fiddling with the solar was having an effect. Regardless of how I got there, I broke the routine, and figured I would simply charge faster in the evening. Note; I have a separate starter battery for the engine that is charged on a shunt from the main bank when discharged; I was not really concerned about starting it up. This sloppy thinking would bite me later.
    Just before sunset the shifty breeze began to get organized into a mostly solid 7 knots of pressure [of course from 270T]. Rick was still in sight, and we both tacked and sailed as close as we could to 270 on starboard. The pressure was holding and we had good speed as darkness fell… I could see Lightspeeds masthead about 5 miles ahead. We sailed into the dark and it felt super great to be moving again. Then odd things started happening… the GPS antenna dropped out. Swapped to the internal input and things were OK, but that seemed odd. Then in short order the radio threw a low voltage warning, and the AP drive went super quiet. CRAP, YOU F***ing IDIOT!!! Turn everything on the panel off, starter Battery please work… hit the button and get nothing but the dreaded clicking. Try it again, more clicking. OK stop, your just draining things more. Fuck fuck fuck. THINK. There is still breeze, and with the helm centered the boat is still balanced and moving. OK, grab handheld GPS and VHF and the big flashlight, get up on deck. Tried to raise Lightspeed on the hand held, but he’s out of range. Hand steer and get things settled. Once I calmed my self down, I settled in to chasing Lightspeeds running lights for a couple hours and sorted through what my options were. Boiled down to keep going or go home. Either way was difficult and slow but not impossible with no autopilot, and I wasn’t going to make that call until the morning. I also thought through my electrical diagram in my head and realized there was one more thing to try. Kept sailing as West and as fast as I could, until the breeze died away. Things got very quiet in the dark. OK, one more thing; I’d remembered when I put together the electrical system last year I had run a branch from the main selector switch to the starter battery, so that the “combine” position does just that; combine the starter battery with the house bank. I remind myself again to be methodical; set the throttle, double check we’re out of gear… OK, I might only get one more shot at this so I say a very quiet “please” and hit the button. Click, click, click, rrrrr, click, click, rrrr, rrrr, rrrr, more clicking eventually builds to more turnings, Crap this isnt working but I am not taking my finger off that button, until finally -WE HAVE IGNITION!!!!. I watched the victron while the charge controller did its thing and finally let it be when we steadied out at 70amps running into the batteries. Went and turned everything back on, set the autopilot and collapsed. I slept for an hour while the engine warmed the boat up. Then I got up and started checking things. The only lasting effect appeared to be to the chartplotter; I’d lost the maps! It was still functioning fine as the instrument hub [calculating wind angles, routing data where it needed to go, etc] but had no functioning charts. Well, ok, a bit of a pain when we get back to the coast, but I have the handheld GPS, paper charts are all set, and have the radios AIS display both below and in the cockpit. Decision made; keep going west, painfully slowly…

    Day 3 and 4 – painful slow intermittent progress Westward, trying to stay on the lifted tack. Only thing of note is on Sunday I woke up from a nap and started to cough. Deep upper bronchial coughs, the first one of which gave me that uh-oh feeling… don’t know how to describe that whole body chilling moment when you just know there’s something in you, you’re definitely sick. Mostly tried just to rest and hydrate, but coughing is work, and it keeps you awake, and I begin to feel legitimately run down.

    Finally get some legitimate breeze filled in from 5-10 knots on Sunday night, and carry it all the way to 126’40, which I hit almost exactly at 0500 Monday. As soon as I hit the turn point and the sun comes up, and I get the boat turned around all breeze dies. Total and complete glass off. By this point I am no longer surprised or frustrated. I know what to do. Go to Sleep. The breeze will come back and will wake you when it does. Set the boat in the right direction and go the F**k to sleep. When I wake up 2 hours later, there is a little wind, about 4 knots from the NW. And it is even filled in across the horizon. Get the boat going with the number one Jib. Breeze keeps building and clocking North through the late morning and afternoon. Begin to put some serious numbers on the board. By 1400 we are power reaching with the #1 and full main in 12-15 and the making 8.5kn SOG. By 1600 wind is 15-17 and we are seriously trucking. OK, this is getting good, but we have some decisions to make. Boat is holding course and the AP is handling the load, but I am seeing where this is going and looking at the gribs it will be an interesting bash going in.
    About this time, my lower bowels turn on me. I’ll probably never know the cause; stress, poor diet, the illness I’ve been feeling, poor hygiene, who knows. Suffice to say, diarrhea on a boat with no head 150 miles offshore is a legitimately shitty situation. I have a mess of pedialite that I always carry, so I am not too concerned about getting hydrated nutrition in, but I don’t have anything to stop things up [apart from the wood plugs tied to the seacocks. Never mind]. Seriously, this is not good. Imodium goes to the top of the meds list, but it’s a long sail to get any at this point.
    Meanwhile, the breeze is continuing to build, and Domino is continuing to send it. By sunset we are in ligit 20kn true with a full main and #1. AWS is only about 12 though as the SOG is around 9.5. we’re beginning to make some leeway on the COG as the seas are building up. Can’t really come up with this sailplan, but for now things are ok and we are seriously munching miles. By 2200 its time for a new plan. Wind is 23, Seas are up to 6’ or so on the quarter, the pilot is working hard but the boat is still glued to the ocean, and we’re not wiping out. Thank you Larry Tuttle and the new rudder. OK, get all the gear on, think about what your going to do and go do it. Plan is to get one down, & the 3 up. Get on deck, turn boat down. Lock in new course. Wind in #1 so its inside the lifelines. Drop halyard and move forward, dressing things and gasketing the sail as best I can in 3 spots. Unhank the sail and pull the tack. Drag #3 into position and put the tack in, count on the hanks. Get the halyard on. Move to clew and swap the sheet and lead from the #1. Go back to cockpit and hoist. Get the boat back up to course. It all goes pretty much according to plan, and I sit back for a second to relax. Immediately followed by a frantic shedding of gear and find the bucket! Damn, I didn’t think I’d eaten all that much; whatever is in me is not letting go, but I manage to get most of my insides into the bucket and over the side.
    2 hours later we are still moving at over 10kn SOG, the wind is 25 gusting 28 and I need to get more sail out of the rig. Get geared up again; this takes 2 tries and an intervening bucket drill from full gear on. Diarrhea really really sucks energy and focus. On deck, drop main put both reefs in. Mostly drama free, but I get pretty wet in the process. Change all my clothes again. I can feel my body crashing, but there’s not a lot I can do about it. Mentally still pretty with it. Sleep is out of the question, but I rest as much as possible.
    0400 Day 5 - We are now about 90 miles from the gate. Boat is still hauling ass at 8-9kn SOG and the AP is handling things OK, but my COG bearing has me heading somewhere around HMB. I don’t want to be South. I particularly don’t want to be anywhere near the south bar in the sea state I am seeing. OK, new plan. I go get the bag I never thought I’d use and unfold the storm jib in the cabin. Yep, all there. Something in my tired brain locks in that there are only 7 hanks on this sail. OK gear on. Only get half way through before reversing course for yet another bucket dance. Finally get geared up. Repeat process of getting #1 dropped and stripped with the the #3. Rig Storm Jib, get boat heading in the generally correct direction. What’s the new course? Oh, right, get the tiny handheld screen zoomed in enough to find the Farrallons. Go there. Ok, set pilot for new course. We are sailing about 45 AWA. Wind is still in the mid 20s, and we are making about 6 SOG. Maintainable.
    At this point I seriously crashed. Could do nothing except lay in my bunk and rest. I slept a little. Tried to gather some sort of strength. Tried to stop shitting, and was mostly successful.
    I ended up going between North and South Farallon, and in fact got a bit closer than intended to noonday rock, but managed the transition and turn for home just fine. At somepoint knew I should get more sail up for the final run in, but I was all out of push and only got the 3 and the storm jib swapped around Bonnita.
    Called the Jan and the committee as I was crossing under the gate. Was really surprised to have them shoot a gun for me. Wow, all that and I’m first in for my division? Unreal.

    The aftermath of all this is pretty grim. Whatever bug I had did not really let go or let me keep anything down until Thursday [I finished Tuesday night]. I’m down about 15lbs from when I stared the race. I am as of Monday feeling pretty good, but I cant recommend this as a way to lose weight.

    For the most part the boat did her part really well. Other than the solar controler and the chartplotter reload, no real gear issues.

    Sleep management was OK, though the fatigue side gets a C+.
    Diet is a whole other subject, and I have some serious study to do on that score.

    OK, That’ it.

    Best,
    Dave Herrigel
    SV Domino
    Last edited by DaveH; 07-23-2015 at 02:15 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Santa Barbara Sometimes
    Posts
    166

    Default

    Dave - What a story. I doubt that I'm alone in being very glad you made it, and made it back safely. I guess now I understand why the rules require us to carry two buckets. Steve

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Alameda CA
    Posts
    333

    Default

    Thanks Steve - I'm glad to be back...

    Like any good story, there are some parts I've left out, and some characters that don't appear in the original telling.
    First, I need to acknowledge that not all of this happened in a complete vacuum. My wife Naomi played a big role in helping me keep my head on straight when the proverbial shit hit the fan. We stayed in abnormally (for us) close contact via Delorme text and the occasional phone call. She's not a sailor, but knows the rules re the tracker and more importantly knows me well enough to know what's going on, not freak out, and was unstintingly encouraging throughout the whole deal.

    Second, Ronnie and Adam -
    when I finally hit the dock in Alameda, I was truly running on fumes. I had enough energy left to get the boat tied up, gather my clothes and trudge to the shower. Mostly to wake up enough and make sure I was ok to drive home. Ronnie and Adam had been watching me in on the tracker and had been planning to catch my lines and hand me a beer. An incredible gesture of solidarity and support. Their timing was a little off with the tracker delay, and as things worked out Ronnie found me in the parking lot when I started my car and he was tossing trash. What was said is not important, but it meant a great deal to me to see my friend at that point.
    Ronnie and Adam then did me the incredible solid of going by Domino in the morning and at least sorting the mess of sails on deck and putting the halyards right. This simple gesture was huge to me, in that it allowed me to mentally release and continue to rest at home. Thank You Brothers, you are amazing.

    OK, enough already.

    SV Domino, out

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