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Thread: What might have been.

  1. #11
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    1945 As forecast, it's been all upwind since the start, and we've made 5 tacks with the #2...mostly in W and WNW breeze 8-12. About 1600 the breeze freshened to 12-15 Knots, and now at 1945, on starboard tack, we have the SE Farallone Island abeam to windward, 6 miles. Speed is 6 knots, steering 225m (240T)

    2000 hrs With HEDGEHOG, GREEN BUFFALO, and SURPRISE hull down and barely visible ahead (can't tell who is whom), rigged for dark by setting the working staysail on its inboard stay, and set up runner. Then hanked on #3 below the #2. Dropped #2, unhanked and dragged aft. Retied jib sheets at correct lead and hoist away with #3, which is on an 8" tack pennant to allow water from breaking waves over the foredeck to not fill the foot of the sail, potentially causing damage. Boat speed probably dropped briefly to 4.5 knots with main and staysail during change, and now back up to 6.

    On offshore passages with the wind forward of abeam, I sail slightly hot sailing angles ("bow down") compared to inshore. But would remind that WILDFLOWER does not have any speed or wind measuring instruments except the handheld GPS and orange peel method and a Windex and telltales. All boat speeds are best estimates from sailing this boat for 33 years.

    In the first SHTP in 1975 I towed a Walker Log for the first half of the race, and crawled aft every 2 hours to read the dial. That was never a pleasant chore, but allowed the boat to have no thru-hull fittings. By halfway to Hanalei, hungry fish had taken all 3 of my spinners, and that was the end of the Walker Log usefulness. I'd even painted the spinners black to avoid any shiny attraction for sea creatures.

    At 0100 hours today (Sunday) we are off soundings (beyond the Continental Shelf) and into the synoptic (gradient) wind of "Windy Lane." There are 4-5 masthead tricolor lights in the vicinity, mostly aft and to weather. Wind speed is now 18, gusting 25 from the NW (315 T). I already had in the first reef and decided on the second. Not so much because we were tipping over, rather to neutralize any weather helm the windvane steering might be encountering.

    All 3 reefs have single grommet drain holes in their bellies to relieve the possibility of accumulating sea water in the reef folds if a larger than normal wave comes over the weather rail. In addition, these drains serve double purpose and can be fitted with a hose and nipple to catch fresh water from squalls for bathing. cleaning, and drinking purposes.

    Except for brief look-arounds every 20-30 minutes, I'm spending the night below, warmly dressed, drinking hot chocolate, watching the AIS glow, and napping. We are trimmed for a course of 225m (240t), and probably making 5-10 degrees leeway with current and drift. Handily, I can make minor adjustments to the tiller angle from the cabin. As well, I can shine a light through the forehatch to check jib trim and yarns on both the #3 and staysail. We are sailing fast, 6.5 to 7 knots, and not pounding, a pre-requisite for choosing my course.
    Last edited by sleddog; 06-28-2020 at 11:31 AM.

  2. #12
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    X+1 6/28/20 Noon Position 36-19 N x 124-56 W. 24 hour run from Start = 158 miles at 217m (232t). Speed average = 6.3 knots. Current wind N @ 22-28 with 9-14' seas. 90% overcast. Baro=1013 mb.

    Desired Course to Pt. A (33-30 x 130-00) = 225m/240t at 295 miles. Pt A is where I will enter the SE ridge of the EPAC High and enter the "Slotcars" portion of the Race as the wind begins to comes aft.

    WILDFLOWER is rumbling now, averaging 7 knots with the True Wind Angle (TWA) just forward of abeam and Apparent Wind Angle (AWA) at ~ 70 degrees There's a couple of sails on the horizon to windward. Having a two burner propane stove in the galley, I'm heating water for instant oatmeal and a second cup of coffee. Had a pleasant 45 minute nap after dawn. Then suited up for an on deck inspection. Reled the #3 sheet outboard lifelines. Windvane is doing silent, yeoman duty. It's so powerful I could barely overcome it's force when both connect lines are hooked to the tiller.

    Earlier I passed some kelp paddies 120 miles offshore. I hang on my belly over the windward rail to confirm keel, prop, and skeg/rudder are clean. This will be a regular 4 hourly ritual during the passage. Takes about 2 minutes and I use a cushion to lie on the toe rail.
    Last edited by sleddog; 06-28-2020 at 12:19 PM.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by WBChristie View Post
    Since all the racers are in their boats and cannot read this thread, armchair sailors are curious about some of the tactics. Is the Wind shift the only reason For this approach?
    Also closer to great circle route and quicker to the stronger winds...?
    Good luck, we are enjoying the ride!
    Thanks! Coming out the Golden Gate yesterday at 1300 hours, the wind was SW. Port tack took you up towards Pt. Reyes. Starboard tack aimed you at Half Moon Bay. As the front and its veering and increasing wind was approaching the Coast from the NW at 10-15 knots, any distance gained in that direction would be of benefit when that progressive shift begin to be felt later in the afternoon and further offshore. I was willing to sail 5-10 miles on port tack in what looked like the wrong direction (but actually closer to GC) to take advantage of meeting this shift earlier than boats that tacked to starboard earlier.

  4. #14
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    Day 1 + 6 hours 6/28/20
    1800 DR = 35-43 N x 125-37 W. Wind continues 22-26 knots from N. Reaching fast at 7 knot average. A couple of ships rang the AIS, set at 12 mile range, but no-one coming our direction. Overcast continues except for vagrant patches of blue. Boat is well balanced and not on her ear.

    Weather fax shows an "Omega Block" over the EPAC....a horseshoe curved, N/S, 500 mb jet stream along the West Coast. This will anchor the Pacific High in position for next 2-3 days, making for good confidence in forecasts. However, after July 2, the Pacific High begins to deflate to 1028 mb and wind along the course drops to 10 knots or less. Thus I will begin aiming slightly further south, a safer bet. New desired course now 220m (235t), which is 5 degrees lower than we've been sailing, and faster yet. Will likely be able to change up to #2 early tomorrow, as breeze on our track is forecast to diminish slightly, to vicinity of 20 knots.
    Here's the 24 hour, 500 mb, map:
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    Day 1, X+13 hours (0100) Shook out 2nd reef. Now 1st reef, #3, and staysail, sailing 220m at 7 knots. "dark, dark, dark" said the harelip dog. No AIS traffic at 12 miles, 2 ships on 20 mile range. Happy to get out of town when we did. Winds in Gulf of Farallones astern have gone light and from the south.

    Night sailing, the only ship's lights are the glow of the red, starboard side compass light, the white AIS receiver, and the masthead tricolor running light, which illuminates the masthead Windex mounted on top of the tricolor.

    X+18 hours (0600) first light of dawn. Begin sail change from #4 to 125% Jib Top (high clew) reaching jib. .86 poly spinnaker cloth built by my brother. This is a powerful sail and sheets both to the boom end or the transom corner. Change took about 5 minutes with the main and staysail keeping the boat at about 6 knots. At course 220m AWA is now abeam or slightly aft and TWS is 18-20 from N. If I had an asymmetrical spinnaker, we'd probably consider that. But we only have one spinnaker, a .75 symmetrical spinnaker in our 2008 sail complement. Making an honest 7.25 knots BS and possibly more SOG with surface current of >.5 knots. This will be a good 24 hour run. WILDFLOWER, with her 21.5 foot waterline, has never run 200 miles in 24 hours. Best on record was 194 miles, which would be hard to break. We can only average 8 knots with favorable current. Without current, 7.5 knots average could be considered "hull speed" for this IOR shaped pumpkin seed, and that takes >20 knots of wind aft of abeam. I know our SHTP competitor Bill Stange, on Westsail-32 HULA, is going to be doing better than that in these conditions. Go Bill!
    Last edited by sleddog; 06-29-2020 at 09:53 AM.

  5. #15
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    X+2 6/29/20 Noon Position 34-47 N x 127-57 W. 24 hour run from Start = 178 miles at 217m (232t). Speed average = 7.4 knots. Current wind N@20 with 7-12' seas. 90% overcast. Baro=1018 mb.

    Desired Course to "Pt. B" = (28-00 x 140-00) = 223m/236t, 730 miles. "Pt B" is just an aiming mark along longitude 140. It is adjustable N/S depending on weather forecast. Point B is in the area where we will enter consistent NE tradewinds of the EPAC High as the wind direction begins to align with course to Hanalei, i.e. DDW.

    Today, now that wind and seas have come aft, and my stomach has settled, it is time to "go to school" on competitors. Bigger, faster boats ahead all have experienced Transpac navigators, and with daily rollcall positions available, slower boats astern can use this experience as their "probes," or "guest navigators." HEDGEHOG heading more south? GREEN BUFFALO liking the northern side of the track? Where's SURPRISE!? Where will they be crossing my theoretical "Pt. B?" along Longitude 140W?

    In an attempt to keep things simple and not having to remember, 2x/day I post a piece of duct tape with the desired course written in black magic marker above the compass. This is not necessarily the course we will sail. That depends on what ever is fastest, boat speed wise. For example, I don't want to sail 4 knots on desired course if it's DDW and I can sail 6 knots by steering 25 degrees higher.

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    Here's the GFS Grib File Surface Chart for 4.5 days from now, July 3, when I will be approaching the area of Pt. B. Not looking so windy, eh? Good news is that by July 7 the trades will build to a more usual regimen: 15-18 knots, with 25 in night squalls.

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    Thanks, Hans, for your suggestion about discussing food and food prep...That's a most important part of this passage. I hope to talk about food in a couple of days when I'm able to lessen isometrics hanging on here in the cabin with 5'8" headroom, 4" short of not hitting my head. Anyone else with comments or questions, fire away.
    Last edited by sleddog; 06-29-2020 at 01:26 PM.

  6. #16
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    This recreation is a great tutorial for those that never sailed to Hawaii (me and probably others too).

    The sailing description and navigation is excellent.

    Now that your stomach has settled, can you include some notes on food and food preparation. The Why on food choices would be interesting to know also.

    Keep up the speed!

    Ants

  7. #17
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    Thanks for doing this sleddog! I'm playing along too. Your write-ups are really helpful. I'm sure I'll have some questions for you, but I'm way too tired/sick right now to come up with anything worthwhile. The last 48-hours pretty much kicked my butt, and I'm just happy to still be sailing west. You can't see my tri-color... I'm quite a long way north-east of you;-)

  8. #18
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    What kind of boat is Patience? We gotta know that.

  9. #19
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    Hahahaha, right? Cape George 38. She's not a racer, but she's what I've got;-)

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by patience View Post
    Hahahaha, right? Cape George 38. She's not a racer, but she's what I've got;-)
    photo, please! Gotta know what all these fellas are racing against. Do you enjoy ice cream aboard, ala Green Buffalo? Over the weekend I spoke with Steve Saul, who said that his boat was referred to as the "Pleasure Palace" when he did the race. Maybe in the 2004 race or was it when he went again in 2014?
    Last edited by Philpott; 06-29-2020 at 03:25 PM.

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