Day 14,15, 16 Summary – Playing Catch Up

So the summary posts have been delayed by finishes!!  Nine of them between the two days.  Clearly the bell curve bunch.  Saturday saw the winds fill back in for the back end of the fleet and the middle of the pack approached the island.   First were Rainbow, during the day, and Fugu and Riff Rider, during the night.  All the while the comfort clump is sneaking up.  Thankfully, daylight greeted the first of the next six finishers roughly each an hour or two apart.  Dark Horse lead the pack, with JouJou, Jacqueline, Dolfin, Iris, and finally Crazy Rhythm finishing off the day just before Tree Time.

The next due in would be the following morning.  Sleep for RC.  Kyntanna followed a couple of hours by the Owl.  All are well and in safe.  We are now only awaiting our dear keeper of the east Morning Star.  We expect him possibly tomorrow afternoon.  Remnant rain of a tropical depression is moving through the area to day with light winds forecast offshore.  They may slow Morning Star somewhat, but we look forward to his finish.

Update from Dark Horse 7.7 9:15 PM PST

Tonight is my last night at sea. The trades have been very steady, around 20 knots with some squalls up to 30 knots. I have just the mainsail up and trucking along, the boat and autopilot have been dealing with it pretty good. It has given me some time to recover and fix some things. I got my solar charging at a sufficient rate after I lost one panel. I had to rewire a controller back to the battery. I have also had time to read “Not a yacht club”, which is a great book and I am very proud to be part of the SSS.  I also found time to read “Experiment in Survival”, an interesting book. Seems like a lot of trouble for a publicity stunt.

I am really excited to get to Hawaii and see everyone and start eating again!  I’m really looking forward to tree time. Looking back at the trip, I was expecting to say the hardest part of it was leaving, but I can’t say that. There have been some very challenging, emotionally and physically, times over the last 2 weeks. Overall I am really happy with the boat and how it performed. The biggest thing I would change is to bring a whisker pole. Not having one really reduced my miles in these conditions leaving me to be under a main more than I would like. With the heavier conditions, it was too risky for my to fly a spinnaker.  20 knots was my limit. I was expecting to do a lot more spinnaker work, but it didn’t allow for it. I also expected it to be a lot warmer. It really didn’t get warm until 4 days ago.
I am happy with how dry my boat has been, the bilge hasn’t even filled up once!  Thanks to the dodger, and new hatches and all the work I put into sealing all the holes.  It sure makes a big difference psychologically having a dry place to go to and sleep. I am happy with my autopilots and electrical system. Everything ran perfectly and I had plenty of power.
Next time I would bring more fleece pants and long underwear. I also would provision a little more differently too. The same meal gets pretty boring and then I don’t want to eat.  I spent today cleaning up the boat and packing bags that go ashore so I can just anchor and head to the beach. It will be a dream come true tomorrow, hopefully the squalls won’t be too bad tonight.
2 days ago I came across a group of dolphins, there must have been hundreds of them. They would swim along the boat and jump right in front of it, kind of playing with it. This went on for about a half hour, sailing along with all these dolphins in the middle of the sea, it was a very unique experience I won’t ever forget. Reminds me of a time I was working on a ranch that borders Yellowstone National Park, and after a long day of fixing fence up in a high mountain pasture, I was riding home across a hay field and came across a herd of 400 elk. Next thing you know I was loping my horse in the middle of this herd of elk across a field. There was nothing like that in the world. Purely living in the moment.
Well, that’s all for now, gotta get things set up for night squall sailing!

Day 13 Summary – back to the trades

Today saw the finishes of Passages and Nightmare, congrats to them!  The rest of the fleet saw lighter more manageable conditions and sentiment traded back to how great the sailing is, except for the poor sods who have AP or electric issues.  They kinda stayed at the “just get me to Hanalei” mindset.  Folks in this category are Crinan II, who hand steers and stops to rest, Riff Rider is doing the same, and Fugu who, with full sun, did manage to get some power and some rest from hand steering to conserve amp hours.  The latter two crossed paths with each other today.  Crinan II will be the next to finish tonight.

The comfort clump continued to enjoy great conditions and they are still seeing good wind.  Dark Horse continued sprinting ahead and now has fewer miles to go than JouJou – quite a show. Morning Star has less than 550 miles to go and then this race will move into history.  Winds are forecast to lighten up over the next few days, lets hope a lot of distance is traveled before then.

Dark Horse saddling through

Dark Horse Update 7.5 (2:30 PM PST)

The past couple days have been very trying. Monday the seaway was starting to build, I was making my way down after a short night sleep due to little squalls all night that kept the wind shifting so I had to constantly trim sails and change course all night. Monday afternoon my rudder started to shake pretty bad. Wind was in the 20’s with 8’ seas. I was really hoping it wasn’t major, I wouldn’t know what to do if it was in those conditions. I replaced the bearings and the rudder is brand new, so I was just hoping seaweed or something. So I took the headsail down and faced into the wind a couple times. The great thing about Olson 30’s is that their rudder turns 360 degrees. So after spinning it, whatever was down there freed up and came off.  Tuesday the seas were the same but a cross swell started in the afternoon. When one of the big main swells met one of big cross swells, the main swell picked up the boat like it usually does, but the cross swell hit at the same time flipping the boat on its side pretty violently. Immediately the boat was knocked over and it catapulted me out of the cockpit and I landed in the water by the boom. I grabbed on to whatever I could and crawled back into the cockpit before the boat came back up. Luckily I was wing on wing with no pole, so when the boat came back up, it was naturally hove to. Quick report was a damaged solar panel and looking on the horizon was a big squall that was causing the cross swells. I only had time to repack my life jacket and get back on deck to secure the panel and get ready for the squall. I ended up cutting the wires to the one panel even though it was tied to the second panel, and I’m glad I did because a little bit later another wave took the whole panel. It would have ripped out the wires to the other one and left me with no panels on the back. I spent that whole night soaking wet, sitting backwards in the cockpit steering according to the waves. Wind was at least 40 knots.  It was squall after squall for at least 12 hours. I did not take my eye off the sea at all and doubled up on tethers.  Without enough charging capabilities with one panel, I hand steered all Day yesterday and last night as well as looking out for squalls. Today I was able to rewire a spare panel and charge controller to the battery and is charging pretty decent with plenty of sun. I also fixed a couple other boat things. I had a chance today to rest for a couple hours and cleanup from the knock down. Looks like 3 more days till Hanalei, looking forward to getting there.

Day 12 Summary – Carnage continues, but there is a rainbow at the end

At least one racer can attest to that rainbow so far.  Double Espresso made it into Hanalei bay just about at sunrise, in time to see there really are rainbows.  Passages and Nightmare are due in later this evening and tonight.  Crinan II, despite reporting a series of issues and a lack of functioning AP, is still holding his own and will follow.  Rainbow has been silently creeping up on others who are contending with some issue or another and is now on pace to be the fifth finisher.  Riff RiderFugu, and JouJou (the others) have all reported power issues or AP issues and so are sailing much more conservatively.

Taking the opportunity to gain some ground is Dark Horse, who may actually pass some of the former leaders. The comfort clump is still rocketing along, all be it with a little bit less wind, and a lot more sun, and eastern Morning Star is still keeping pace.  He could get a boost in wind from the front of the tropical depression remnants.  He should be far enough ahead as to not get stuck in the dead wind behind it.  Looking forward to more arrivals and the official beginning of Tree Time – let the Mai Tais flow!!

Day 11 Summary – Remember that carnage?

Well, there has been more carnage reported, but so far everyone is doing fine and hanging in there, from a lost solar panel to a ripped main sail on a boat that only has one sail, to AP issues, to various lines breaking free, the increased winds have dealt their blow (ha, pun)  – the back half of the fleet has gotten the strongest, reporting sometimes 33 kts.  The sentiment is starting to switch from let’s enjoy this great blue yonder to: yeah, I’m kinda over this and can’t wait to hit Hanalei.  Well, for our fastest boat the wait is almost over as he is expected to arrive sometime Thursday morning.  RC is gearing up to be ready to greet Double Espresso as he makes landfall.

We’ve seen our clump stay dispersed somewhat today and Dark Horse, despite suffering some of the aforementioned carnage, has continued to surge and is almost overtaking JouJouRiff Rider has hung back a little, likely due to AP issues, as well Fugu, suffering some charging issues, may rest.  Until he jibed back, it almost looked as though he decided to go see the erupting volcano on the Big Island and give Kauai a miss.  He’ll jibe back again.

Dolfin, and his AIS alarm, have kept their distance from Jacqueline, and Crazy Rhythm has volunteered to keep Jacqueline company instead.

Winds should lighten up slightly so the fleet won’t be quite as on edge.  Looking forward to the first finisher tomorrow.

Dark Horse bucked…

Dark Horse Update 7.3.18, 10 PM PST
This is a report from Shad’s shoreside contacts following a SatPhone conversation.  On Tuesday evening, Dark Horse experienced a knockdown that took out one of his 120W solar panels. He still has one 120W panel left as well as a 48W panel left (70% of original charging capacity). Everything else on the boat, including Shad, is fully operational. He slept 6-8 hours last night, is eating and drinking and plans to stay up all night driving to conserve power.  He has been in contact with these boats around him on SSB: Dolfin, Morning Star, Iris, Rainbow, and Owl. [RC was able to listen in and Shad’s nearby fellow competitors are monitoring his situation and are ready to divert and assist; so far no need.]

Day 10 Summary – Wind all around

Well, today saw the end of the fleet reach halfway, and it appears they are getting blasted, with reports of winds at 20 kts and building to 27 kts.    Just the kind of conditions the back of the fleet thrives in.   The weather is warming up and some boats are having fun with squalls.

The comfort clump has expanded into more of expanded mesh as boats take off and sail to their ratings.  One of these is Dark Horse who has surged ahead of the slower boats and has closed the gap on some of his ultra light competitors, sneaking up behind JouJouNightmare continues to bullet along, giving Passages a tease as he creeps nearer.  Crinan II, in contention to win after time correction, has jibed south and continues to hold his stead.  Double Espresso is maintaining first to finish position and is looking at landfall likely sometime on Thursday, July 5th, if all continues to go well.

Dolfin has broken away from his nemesis Jacqueline and it appears Iris and Owl may dance together next.  Our eastern protector Morning Star has now under 1000 miles left to go.  The wind should hold for most of the fleet, but we are hoping the tail end doesn’t get waylaid by the coming tropical disturbance upsetting the tradewind flow.  Let’s all blow in the direction of Kauai, perhaps our collective hot air can help to keep the windspeed up enough.  Well, no, but it would be pretty cool to watch if the whole Bay Area stood along the coastline blowing in the direction of the fleet.  Digression, but it is exciting to begin preparing for finishes as the first of RC has arrived in Hanalei and is prepping everything to be ready to greet the first finisher. Mai Tais are pending!

From 6A evening SSB net

boats are reporting 20 knots and rising through to 27 knots sustained,
speeds in the high 6’s.    They are moving right along.  Sounds like folks are reefing down.
They were told RC is beginning to arrive in
Hanalei.  The response was we want to get there, too.