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Thread: Farallons race - would I "need" self-steering?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
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    11

    Default Farallons race - would I "need" self-steering?

    Thinking of trailering my Cal 20 down to SF for the Farallons Race next spring. I don't, as yet, have reliable self-steering, and my budget is tight.

    Is it crazy to think of doing the race without self-steering? Admittedly, I have limited singlehanding experience (but hope to have more by the time of the race), so I'm not sure how best to manage the boat without reliable self-steering, other than tying off the tiller occasionally to hold the helm steady when needed (to go forward to drop a sail, etc.), but that is not self-steering per se. I assume others have done the race without reliable self-steering?

    Just trying to get an idea of whether the 56 mile trip out and back would be too much without self-steering. Of course, this is a totally subjective question, but just curious to see what opinions are. For the record, I'm early 40s, am fit, so can handle long spells at the helm no problem, but...........but, then again....how long would the Farallons race be in a Cal 20, lessee, 56 miles at a max. 5 knots average = 11-12 hours? Nuts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Fremont, CA
    Posts
    123

    Default

    there are some good instructions on how to steer without self steering here. http://www.sfbaysss.org/tipsbook/index.html?id=4
    some people use a line running up to the bow through some blocks attached to the stanchions and attached to the tiller to steer the boat briefly.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Petaluma ,CA
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    30

    Default

    It would be most likely less than 11 to 12 hours ,,, IF you fly Spin ! ! 4.5 knts average upwind ,,, and depending on the wind speed coming back in the gate ... it could cut down the time to 8 hours or so ... We've had our cal20 up to 13.6knots over the bottom in and out of the SF bay !

    Although , we were not able to complete the Farallons race this year , we got within 7 miles of the island and the wind shut off.... It was still a LONG WAY in under motor !

    Good luck ,

    Paul Sutchek , Cal20 #624 Can O' WhoopAss !

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PSutchek View Post
    It would be most likely less than 11 to 12 hours ,,, IF you fly Spin ! ! 4.5 knts average upwind ,,, and depending on the wind speed coming back in the gate ... it could cut down the time to 8 hours or so ... We've had our cal20 up to 13.6knots over the bottom in and out of the SF bay !

    Although , we were not able to complete the Farallons race this year , we got within 7 miles of the island and the wind shut off.... It was still a LONG WAY in under motor !

    Good luck ,

    Paul Sutchek , Cal20 #624 Can O' WhoopAss !
    Paul - thanks for the info re: time to Farallons and back...hadn't thought of the added boost from tide through the Gate. (I assume that's how, combined with good wind behind you, you would've had your Cal20 up to 13.6 kts!) I'll have to give you a shout at some point to talk Cal20 stuff. I've just re-rigged mine after owning for a year, but haven't sailed it enough.

    Todd - thanks for the reference to Foolish Muse's book. I've only ever just skimmed it, but now I realize I should take a closer look at his sheet-to-tiller stuff and give it a try.

    Separately, I just realized I accidentally started this thread in the "For Sale, Rent or Loan" part of the forum! Ah, now I know why --I had been here browsing around, looking for a cheap used windvane for sale! (so my mind was on self-steering)

    Jud
    Last edited by Jud - Vancouver; 11-02-2011 at 06:04 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Novato
    Posts
    122

    Default

    The amount of time spent at the helm shouldn't be a problem. It's not that long of a race, and it's so much more fun to stay at the helm anyway. But my sense is that you'll need a pilot for sail changes. You said your gear isn't reliable, so it sounds like you at least have something. Maybe it's enough. It only has to keep you on a heading for a short while to reef, hoist the chute (usually in the lee of the island) and douse the chute. You don't even have to jibe coming home if you want to avoid that. One challenge will be the seas on the return leg if you leave the helm for even a few seconds. In spring the seas are typically large. You'll be confounded by the seas grabbing your port quarter and tending to round you up. So stay at the helm and enjoy the ride.

    Paul/Culebra

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    320

    Default

    it could cut down the time to 8 hours
    Not to be a kill-joy but 8 hours for a Farallones race in a Cal 20?? 8 hours would be a fast time on my old Black Soo 31' Starbuck and it has taken me 8-9+ hours on my (57 rated, 1st mono to finish) Azzura 310. First mono in usually doesn't break 7-8 hours.

    You need to be realistic. It can be VERY rough in the Gulf of the Farallones, especially during periods of Ebb tides. I would not want to be out there without an autopilot myself.

    On a Cal 20 I would expect a fast time would be 11-12 hours. I've been out there on my 198 rated Thunderbird 26' for 23 hours!

    Now get out there and practice and we'll see you next spring!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    109

    Default It's doable, but you may not be competitive

    I did the 2011 Farallones with just a 6 ft. surgical tubing and plastic bungee hooks. It worked real well on an Express 27 going to weather and even acted as a steering damper. It allowed for a 15 minute headsail change and two five minute pees.

    However, on the way back, I had to self steer on a beam reach. When I peed, I had to put it on a close haul again. Not chute-able conditions.

    Best 6 bucks I spent. But, I now have an auto-pilot which will allow me to go off the wind hands free. I love the X5 and looked at it as a safety/performance purchase.

    PM if you want some details.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Petaluma ,CA
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    Yup ,, I was really off ...

    I went back to one of our other OYRA races ... and we finished the 43 mile Jr Waterhouse race in 8 hours 24 min ....

    We were NOT the first mono to finish but it was quite a feat to accomplish non the less...

    So ... Back to the Farallons race ,,, it might be 35 miles upwind at 4.5 knots in a cal20 and that might be 7 3/4 hours and then 30 miles back in with good wind with a boat speed of 8 knots would be 3.75 hours ... with a grand total of .... 11.5 hours ! what was I thinking of in that last post ??

    Good luck

    Paul

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    7

    Default 12 hours?

    Some pretty optimistic folks on here. Sure it can be done in 12 hours on a good day when the wind is strong and reliable and the tide reasonably cooperative, but how many years does that happen. Often the wind is less than you'd like so boat speed is <3kt and you have to go a long ways north to weather the island. That's perhaps after you've fought your way out the gate against the flood or got caught in the ebb gyre and had to start over. If the tide is adverse on the way back you can spend a lot of time going nowhere.

    I've only done the full trip three times in my Westsail 32 and never actually finished the race. Earliest return to the dock was close to midnight when I motored the course after the wind died. Only one or two boats finished that year. Latest was about 4 am. Problem was always dying wind. Rounded the island once at 2:00 in sight of Black Feathers (a Cal 20). Thought that was the day. Wind died and neither of us got home before midnight (Robert caught a crab pot that trashed his outboard and had to get towed in the next day.)

    Also had one great ride double handing in 25-30kts on Brian Lewis' Wiley 39. Home for dinner!

    Don't mean to discourage you, they were all great trips, but you ought to have the full range of expectations before you go.

    Mike C.
    Cape Farewell

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    2,130

    Default

    and your boat has lifelines, right?

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