I have a brand new fuel tank, and a newish fuel level sender that I’m not sure I trust. Because of the weird shape of the tank, when the indicator says half full it is probably well under half. I think. Because I knew my electricity consumption was expected to be high, I took some advice and brought a 6 gal jerry can of diesel in the cabin as backup. As of this morning I have run the engine 25.2 hours since filling the tank. The gauge said slightly under half. The wind and seas seemed as light as they would likely be. So for peace of mind, I decided to transfer the fuel to the main tank. This involved getting the 36 lb jug on deck, secured with a tether to the jacklines, and working it up the side deck to where it could be lashed to a stanchion and lifelines. Then use the siphon gizmo to do the transfer. With the motion of the boat and the need to keep all secure, this was over an hour to do a job that would be just a few minutes in the slip. But now I have all the amp-hours I might desire, and won’t have to do this operation while on short approach to landfall. Maybe I will run the fridge and chill some drinks to celebrate.
The wind had held to the mid to upper teens all day and boat speed was not great under mainsail alone. There hadn’t been and squalls last night or yesterday day, and the seas were reasonable. Time to nerve up and try another spin run. I had stripped all the spin gear after the blowup of several days ago, and it took nearly 4 hours for me to get everything out, sorted, led properly , untangled, re-led, checked, detangled, uncoiled, recoiled, and ready to launch. One of my twing line/blocks had apparently gone overboard, perhaps at night after all the fun of last time, so I had to make up a new one. I was taking frequent water and heat breaks, as it was blazing hot. The shy kite was dead; that left the next choices the near-new Quantum medium reacher S3, and the very old red 3/4 oz (?) runner. In modkerate air I used the S3 fairly deep, notably in the LongPac, and I though it was OK to use in the teens. Finally, after a lot of sweaty work and careful checking, I hoisted in about 17 kts. So far so good, though kind of floppy and unstable compared to the shy kite. It is also kind of hard to get the jib back down without crew to help ease the halyard in a controlled way. I got a pretty bad wrap, but was able to tease it out in about 5 minutes. No spin net up. I needed to sail deep, so I set up heading and trim for best course to the finish. I popped down below to get the camera to take the picture above, and also saw from the instrument log that the DDW spin-speed was not much better than main alone. I got another wrap, worse than the last, and screwed around and finally got it out. And then I felt the raindrops. Squall. A small one, only going to 25 kts, and it didn’t last long, but hard to manage with that sail. I had a bad roundup with me on the low side, water coming in, hanging on to the tiller for dear life. I thought I wasn’t clipped in, although in fact I was. OK, enough of this. At some point the spin sheet had again magically jumped out of the twing snatch block, and the sail was more unstable than ever. Also, on the spin sheet a place where the cover was badly chafed broke, although the line core held. I probably should have put the healthier sheet on that side. As soon as the wind dropped below 20 and things settled down, I went forward to prep the jib for raising. Jib up, lazy guy in hand, and a more or less successful conventional douse. Then I tried to lower the jib while still running very deep, and this time it was the jib’s turn to wrap its top. I forgot you can’t do that without a crew to manage the drop. More trips to the bow. To add insult to injury, by the time all this was all done the wind was back down to 13kts. I guess I can say I tried. I’m not sure about that red 3/4 oz runner, and now I seem to be short a proper spin sheet. I know that most people regard these Hawaii races as spinnaker Nirvana, but without that shy kite I don’t think I can handle conditions over 20 kts, which can pounce at almost any time. And it doesn’t always work to say, well I’ll just hang on till it drops, because sometimes it doesn’t drop for many hours. So I guess I will be back to grinding along straight DDW for now. I’ve still got those twins to try.
David Nabors s/v Temerity
As the leading wave of the fleet approaches Kauai, it is starting to feel like endgame as boats set up for their most favored jibes to finish. The scale of the race makes it easy to forget looking at the chart how far the race still has to run. For me, at 400nm from the finish, I still have the equivalent of an entire LongPac to run. And a lot can happen in that time and distance. Last night I experienced a pretty big lefty wind shift, which woke me with the banging of a near jibe. So I suited up, jibed, and got more on a VMG course, whereas before I had been cutting over north to hopefully get set up for a better angle on the extended forecast Easterly. Of course GRIBs are often not so accurate, and I make many mistakes in eyeball-routing off them. Wind now is light, about 15 kts. Other news from last night — not a single squall. Clearly we are in a different air mass. The sky was about 50% clear, it was nice to start seeing stars, and the moon is more than half full and waxing. I am so beat though that I slept through my alarm on three separate occasions — even using my new trick of setting up the alarm on the iPod and playing the alarm tone through my earplugs. I really should have found something louder or more violent, perhaps involving electric shock. For most of the race a simple kitchen timer has allowed my to wake up every half hour to two hours to check wind direction and so forth. It’s also getting pretty warm, and spending time in foulies is pretty uncomfortable. Some goretex rainpaints or other superlight wear would also have been a good idea. OK, off to see how I can get sailing faster.
Very very bright day out here and hot too. The flying fish were popping out of the water all around, and the terrified looks on their little fishy faces told me that they were being pursued by game fish. So I thought to give fishing another go. I used the same lure and setup as before. My speed was 6 – 8 kts, which should be OK. After about 90 minutes after putting the rig in, I heard the ‘clunk’ of the hand reel banging on the coaming, and saw the elastic shock absorber was stretched out. Fish on! I started to bring him in on the reel, and as I did, a puff and a wave put my speed momentarily above 9 or 10 kts. Snap. The 80lb test woven line broke, and I lost the fish. This trolling thing really only works from 4 to 8 kts. So I am again saved all that cooking and cleanup time.
This afternoon the sun came out, and the nasty steep mixed seas sorted themselves out into longer, lower swells. It started to feel more like I remembered; like one might be approaching Hawaii. The wind is still over 20, so I didn’t set a spin. But it looks from the position report that I might have been getting complacent about the competition. Right now there is a classic squall going on, and hopefully calming down in a few minutes — very sudden onset, wind veered 30 deg from 75deg to 105 deg in a few minutes, and kicked up in speed to 25 gusting 30. Pouring rain. Right after I changed all my clothes to dry. Well kids there is no way I can handle that kind of action by myself in the dark with the spin up. So I think at night I will stick with a ‘duck and cover’ strategy (also known as ‘cower and whimper’) and the race will have to take care of itself. I never could figure out what those strategy guys would talk about, how you had to “exit stage left” or whatever it was. Or maybe it was, when the squall hits, get on port pole so you can ride it all night long? It has something to do with the squall itself not moving in the direction of its surface wind. I’ve also heard the saying ‘you win the race at night’. Maybe someone can explain it to me in Hanalei.
Slept a lot, nearly 8 hrs, in part thanks to finding the ‘good’ earplugs which had been mislaid. Sea state in morning much improved but still kind of hairy. I considered shaking the 2nd reef, but then some more clouds, light showers, and more wind rolled in. Winds 18 – 25 kts gust to 30. So I held tight and charged the battery, again. Fuel use much higher than planned due to AP load and amount of use, and lack of sun over last several days. So today I will try to play with course for best CMG and maybe try to find a more balanced sailplan. Haven’t checked overnight standings, they must be coming out later this morning.
Ugh seas building and building, very hard to steer as deep as I need to without rounding up and so forth. And the AP has to deal too. Wind building and gusting to 30. Not at all what the GRIB promised. And much nastier than any of my other Hawaii trips. It’s all reminiscent of the last day of LongPac 2015 — going deep, wind building, steep seas. I didn’t have a jib up , I wasn’t sure how reefing would go with out it. In fact, it was pretty easy. I remembered how in 2015 I had single reefed, and then later really wished I had gone all the way to double. To tonight I went full double reef, no headsail, wind in the 20s but now the big seas are over running me more than they were before. But at least the smaller sail won’t over power the tiller, and I think that the double reef sail also has a center of pressure closer to the mast, so less moment to round up the boat. There is a big wad of sail hung off the boom, the wind prevented flaking it symettricaly and binding it up. So there it is. Is this a race? Funny configuration for one. I admit I am egotistical enough to check the position reports and see that I could afford to slow down a bit in the interest of peace of mind and possibly safety.
Still running w/o spin after yesterday’s drama. Making good time though, I think. I looked at my speed log from before and after the crash, and the spin actually does not add as much speed as you might think, though of course you feel fast during those 10 second 13 kt surfing runs. But it took me hours to clean up after, and that’s not fast either. Today dark and cloudy all day winds 18 – 26 kts up and down, short steep wind-wave driven seas. I can steer faster than the AP but it is tiring. Wave after wave of rain clouds passing through, I got pretty wet. Not exactly ‘Champagne Sailing’! And the solar panel could use the light too. Once again the GFS/GRIB is calling for a big storm (Celia) to swing on to the course. In the previous two cases, the lows melted away before they could get to us. I hope that GFS is again exaggerating. Either way, I am conscious of racing to beat the storm and have the storm well to the East as I am reaching Kauai. I really hope she melts though for all the other boat’s sakes.