Althea SHTP: Day 12 – All wrapped up in sailing

The last few days have been pretty focused on sailing and Althea and less on gourmet meals. Things are going pretty well as I push to have a solid finish. We need to keep driving hard to get west of Celia before she rolls over the course, otherwise I am afraid we’ll be caught in her calms or in her nasty backside. This mornings breakfast was a large helping of spinnaker wrap. 5am, bright and early, the foreguy slips of the primary winch jaw and the pole slams into the headstay. Althea rounds up, then backs off a little to agressively after she gains her feet and we gybe. Sheet was wrapped pretty high up not allowing me to bear off and have it sorted itself out. Within 90 minutes the kite was hoisted again and we were on our way. I was pretty happy about that all things considered. The patched up kite has otherwise been doing well. The guy has been banished to a cleat. I’ve also been fighting with the autopilot who seems hell bent on returning us to San Francisco. Everytime the wind hits near 20 she gets afraid and tries to turn around. Not helping our cause for sure. This has led to a hand steering when the blow picks up. There’s an ingress of water through the shaft log leading to needing to pump out the bilge at least twice a day. I don’t leave the pump on as to not wear through my battery with all the cycling and have been pretty good about remembering. I’m not crazy about crawling back there to tighten the gland so it’ll just be. Saw the port nav light was ripped off this morning. What took that so long? All minor things considering how well Althea is doing. It’s amazing the ammount of force exerted on her… I know my buttocks are seized up from all the clinching. Listening to: Van Morrison and the Chieftons

Althea SHTP Day 8: Halfway

In less than an hour I’ll cross the halfway point of the SHTP. That’s quite amazing. Not so much that it’s been 8 days (I just realized I lost track of days and thought this was day 9), or 1100 miles travelled. But in the sheer amount of experience we’ve already had. And that those experience will only account for half of the story… That’s what blows my mind. Today experience was learning how to tape a spinnaker back together. You see, last evening I taught myself how to blow out a kite. I guess you could say I was over anxious to get back to racing after Poseidon’s timeout. I was expecting winds 15-17kts throughout the night, but instead as evening drew near the winds built to 20, then upwards to 23… to 25. At this point I’m at the helm, working the sheet. The autopilot is doing resonably well steering, but the seas are confused. Mixed swell, short period, certain trouble. This whole time I am trying to figure out how the hell I’m going to sock the beast. I knew I waited too long. I don’t think it could of ended any other way but to make a long story short, in an attempt to change the apparent wind speed, I squared up the kite and headed a bit too far downwind. This caused us to start pitching, and it was 1,2,3 and the 4th rounded us up and got us pinned down. I eased the sheet but not far enough (I guess I should of let it go). Flogging started as I tried to get us off our side and the next time I looked up there was a huge hole at the clew. I still had to get it down, so I let the sheet out and eased the halyard while pulling on the sock line to lead the head onto the deck. That kinda worked, half on the boat and half in the pond. In my excitement I started hauling the spinnaker on deck and just let go of the halyard. Whoosh, off it went flying to leeward. I just stared at it, pausing for what felt like 10minutes wondering how I could be so absent minded. Whatever, deal with one problem at a time, Brett. Get the sail down the hatch and then take a moment to think through the halyard retrieval. Thankfully, by the time I got the sail down the hatch the halyard had not wrapped around anything. It was still flying to leeward. I went back up to the helm knowing I had one shot to round up into the wind to get the halyard to swing back to the boat. I needed to snatch it or it would be tangled in the shrouds and spreaders. In a stroke of luck as I ran to the foredeck and the boat turned up, the halyard glided back and I was able to lean over the pole and snatch it. It’s still blowing a steady 22-25kts and I’m glad the kite is down. Perhaps next time I’ll do it a little more gracefully. Listening to: The Joe Rogan Experiance

Althea SHTP Day 8: Poseidon’s Timeout

I slept most of the night to wake up to? well, no wind. To say the last two days have been fustrating is… well I’ll just leave it at that. I’m not sure what I did, but Poseidon defiantly had me in a timeout. The good news is I am moving again. Very interesting how your whole mood changes when you see 5kts and that time was just past noon. I stayed north, even loosing ground south to try to get to the stronger winds that were close. It paid off, at 17:00 winds shifted back to 40deg and shot up to 15kts. Althea is happy as can be and I’m pointed at Hawaii again. Giddy up. After detailing the interior of Althea yesterday; unable to sleep and lacking appetite, I was pretty restless. I read for a bit, but that didn’t work so I did something I have been courious about for a while. Can I code while at sea? Short answer is Yes. I wrote a sweet little computer program that takes the position reports Brian sends out and spits out all sorts of interesting stats and trends. I was so tied up in it that at one point yesterday that when I did move I didn’t even notice that A) I was moving, and B) it was in the wrong direction! lol. Lost 15miles traveling north east. Safe to say I love coding, almost as much as sailing. I also took the opportunity to practice gybing the spinnaker. Inside and out. I will not be doing inside gybing. A wrap in 3kts is easily sorted, thankfully. Also learned how not to get the lazy sheet hooked under the boat. Glad I was prudent. Other tasks included refueling the portable honda generator. To give you a sense of the conditions, I chose to poor the gas out of the 6gallon jerry, rather than use the syphon. Not a drop spilled. For Dinner: Salami Mushroom Penne Pasta Listening to: Grateful Dead – The Golden Road (yes, still! It’s a 16 disc box set.)

Althea SHTP: Day 7 – Where did I stow the Pledge?

Welp the ship is as clean as she ever has been. Ya know? It’s great being parked, you get all sorts of shit done. (warning you’re about to beat straight into a squall of sarcasm) Highlights include: * Spending the night sheeting the shit out of 2kts of tws. Hawaii here I come, lol. * Learning how to do a backwards 360 under spinnaker. Not enough wind to tack so I’ll just back her around, lol. * Trying to fly both a spinnaker on the prod and a genoa of the furler. Gotta get polars for that ya know, lol. * Passing the same piece of flotsam more than once. Wait a miniute didn’t I just pass by that milk crate 30 minutes ago, lol. Serously though, bad luck. A high of whatever developed itself above my mast and I can’t get out of this dang thing. Why won’t you just go away? I don’t like you. While it’s a weather high, and a sailing low. It’s times like these I just have to smile and remember how lucky I am. I’m having the time of my life. And you better believe when I see 10kts on the wind gauge, you’ll hear my hooting and hollering. I’m just worried I won’t be able to sleep anymore without the sound of slapping sails. .brett S/V Althea  Listening to: The Grateful Dead – The Golden Road (65-73) Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Althea SHTP: What’s this about Polars?

Eight months ago I didn’t know what a boat polars were. Nope, never heard of them. But as I researched a downwind sail plan for Althea I kept running across references to aquiring them for your boat and then using them to achive optimal downwind sailing angles. I did some searches and found some free collections of polars but nothing for a Cavalier 39. I then contacted US Sailing and they didn’t have them in thier database. Nope nada. That’s when I came across OpenCPN, a free software navigation tool. I hear it’s like Expidition, but free. It runs on Windows and Mac, and has a number of plugins you can install. There are a lot of very usefull plugins, including one to create polars. Basically you can input boat speeds at various angles and wind speeds to get graph and table of boat speed against true wind angles. Now here’s the magic part. Using a NMEA feed[1] from my onboard network, I can record live data to create these polars in realtime. Yep, that’s right. What this means is that I now have now have sets of polars for my all my sail combinations. I know what sailing angles I am performing best in the current conditions. Realtime baby! A zillion times better than any stock polars would provide me. I did a few spinnaker changes yesterday and tested some angles at various windspeeds and recorded it all. I know have pretty good confidence when I should fly which spinnaker and what target speeds to trim to. It was also a chance to practice my spinnaker changes. I’d start the stop watch and go nascar on the foredeck. Best one was just over 10 minutes, lol. But no fouled lines and that’s all that counts. [1] For my NMEA network feed I have a Simrad GoFree WiFi controller. Connect to the wifi network with a device or laptop, set the ports, and them BAM, live, integrated data with my android and mac apps. P.S. Fair winds to all you PacCuppers leaving soon. It’s glorious out here! And bring mouthwash and baby wipes. thank me later. All the best.

Althea Day 6

Pancakes! Come and get em! Just scared down a triple stack… Life is great here aboard Althea. We’re in pure I don’t care that I am only moving 4kts mode. Last night I dreampt about 4kts. Dream do come true. For a solid 4hrs I slept as Althea played rubber ducky in this big bathtub they call the Pacific. Wind has been pretty varible. Everytime I get to the ridge, it moves further west and leaves me back in northerlies. It was 13kts for about 30 minutes earlier this morning. Oh if only you could have heard the hooting and hollering. Doing the rodeo dance and slapping the horse’s ass. Giddy up. To pass the time and deal with my obsession of the wind speed, I’ve been playing a game of auctioner. Most likely originating from my childhood farming roots, I stand in front of the guage and sell knots of wind to the highest bidder. Can I get a 3.1! A 3.1 a 1 a 1… !!3.1!! Can I get a 3.2 a 3.2 a 2 a 2 a 2 do I hear a 2? Going once? SOLD! Can I get a 1.7 … Yeah things get wierd when you are all alone in the middle of nowhere. Like a couple nights ago, when we *were* sailing, spinnaker was up, Althea humming along at 7kts. I drank a rather large cup of coffee and had a full out dance party on the transom until the sun came up. Literally. For hours. It was grand. But the thing I realized about dancing and well singing, practice doesn’t make perfect. I reckon I’ve been praciticing for close to three days now and I’m pretty sure it’s much worse, lol. Can’t wait to show you all my new moves when we get to Hanalei! reading: Lee Shore Blues .brett S/V Althea

Meet Althea – My Cockpit

Now that the spinnaker is dialed in, I thought I’d have some fun and share some of the setup I have going on Althea. First up is the cockpit. I spent the most time preping for the SHTP upgrading Althea’s rigging. If my qualifier (Sitka->SF) taught me anything, it’s that a main and a 120% gennoa can’t do it all. I added secondary winches, and a forespar pole on the deck. Installed a fixed pole toggle for the pole, and cut holes for a Spinnaker halyard, and toping lift on the mast. Starting from just having a main and a fore sail, that’s a whole lot of added lines. It was neat setting it all up this evening and seeing all the lines running fair and everything put to work back in the cockpit. Attached is an image of what’s what. Hopefully it doesn’t get compressed too much and you can read the annotations. I’m pretty happy so far! .brett s/v Althea ** Hopefully I’ll have the time to do a series of these, showing how things are arranged and highlighting what’s working and what’s not. Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Althea SHTP Day 4

Well enough day dreaming, it’s time for some sailing. Just set my A3 and as a result boat speed and nerves sky high. Wind speeds steady at 13-18kts, 020 degrees. Got a bunch of rest this morning after my first hoist attempt resulted in a very large sea anchor. Gotta remember to not get ahead of myself. Everything must be done one thoughtful step at a time. Steering is very stiff, i hope Im not dragging something. Will dip the go pro and take a look in a bit. In the meantime Im just hoping it sorts itself out. Time to do some trimming. Cheers, .Brett S/v Althea Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Althea SHTP: Day 3

Jiri and friends

Happy 4th of July everyone! Things are great aboard Althea. We’ve been enjoying a wicked beam reach for the past 18hours. Winds have ranged from 16-26kts, just now swinging past 0deg. Pressure at 1021.7. Amazing sailing. Unlike Saturday night, last night’s wind angle allowed me carrying full sails. I had two reefs in to keep tight on GC route on Saturday. A lot of bouncing around, I can only imagine being on a lighter sled. Mad respect. Conditions comfortable aboard. Amazing sunset under the North Pacific High last night even with Dolfin crossing my bow and photo bombing my view 🙂 A night sky full of stars brought in the holiday, I’ve never seen the Milky Way like that. Today has been partly cloudy bringing the first sun I’ve seen on the trip. Had some dolphins visit and play under the bow. Welcomed friends. Sleep has consisted of 30-60m naps when I’m tired, trying to adjust to sleeping during the day. Having a noodle bowl (with added chicken) for dinner tonight. The last two nights have been chilli out of a can, I’m over that. I’ve gotten into all my snacks. Lemon water keeping me refreshed. Entertained by staring at gribs and listening to podcasts. I’m also a world champion day dreamer and there is no better stage than the open ocean. If anyone has any questions, I can to answer them here. Email me them to me at *myboatname* where *myboatname* is replaced with my boat’s name. Cheers! .brett S/V Althea