A Travel Journal – Vetters versus the Sea Monsters
The weather could be kind of crappy this year. Without getting too technical, the trade winds haven’t stabilized the way one would hope. This will push the fleet to sail further south, cover more miles, and could turn it into a hate mission (masochists unite). Or perhaps we will have great weather since the big switch to good patterns is “never predicted by any model” and “happens in about a day,” according to the best weather navigator in the world (who generously briefed the fleet yesterday).
The chef sheds his brand new Hawaiian shirt in slow traffic – to find himself eye to eye with a disapproving CHP. And skates. This is a sign from Poseidon that we are meant to enjoy our race, far outweighing the 72 hour 500 milibar forecast (which says “gale”) for predictive ability.
There are three levels of competition. First is the whole fleet, which you can’t worry about because they start on different days with different weather and very different speeds. The next one is division; seven boats of approximately the same speed that start at the same time. Finally, for us, there is Dennis. Dennis got us into this crazy fiasco back in ’96 when he and our dad took his previous boat doublehanded. For the first time, we are racing different boats (and in the same fleet). Yacht Club, Fleet, God, Country.
You people, not us people. Typing up this list flashed me back all over the place. Family, friends from junior high, high school, college, projects in three states, climbing, sailing, roommates, exes, and all types from all over, I say “hello!” Gracious, I got four bosses on here. Point is, this sort of trip is a lot about bonding with the fam, but I am really happy it turned into an opportunity to reach out to each of you – see what I mean about cheesy emails?
Our First Email.
1st Off- it looks like were currently in first place, however, there are lots of variables ahead with three boats in chase. The main competition seems to have gone WAY south. INteresting and wish it had cost them more miles but we will see how it shakes out soon.
The weather still doesn’t look good, the surface analysis bears some hope but the upper level charts don’t really support that the good picture at the surface will hold out.
The Crew is doing well. TK and NJ are the only people who have suffered mal de mere, and we both did it in champion fashion. For every spinnaker setup step performed, NJ donated a little to the sea! Everybody is starting to finally settle in a bit and we are able to type for short periods! The boat is permanently heeled over 20-25 degrees and the waves are arond 5-12 feet. Moving around down below is a trick.
The Boat is doing great. All systems are going as hoped and we made a successfully role call this morning and could hear very well, we will get more info on how well we are broadcasting later today, when all the boats chit chat on “childrens hour”. We are pressing very hard but can’t quite set the spinnaker yet. tempting but we think it would blow us too far south.
We have already seen many birds and the dolphins joined us off and on for about 10 hours. The sea is very blue now and if feels good(finally) to be out here.
Not too much wit yet… were not up to that level of mental function!
We hope all is going well back home and wanted to thank Carly and Pam and Paul for there help on the last day. Paul degreased a bunch of winches, Pam was able to whip many of the ends of lines, and carly did general organizaton/work and storage run activities for 2days straight. All you help is much appreciated.
That is as long as i can type for now…
The water has turned that beautiful shade of deep blue accentuated by the sun. Awesome.
We have been racing near two boats for the last 20 hours. it is motivating but a bit of a mind game. You can see them but you don’t really know which direction they’re going, how fast, even which boats they are!
The crew has all aclamated to the motion of the boat and are sleeping and eating well. We started off with a little romen to warm up teh stomach and see if we were ready. Then we got into the seriously good food including a turkey based chili that was very very good, with just the right amount of spices and very few beans. SK calls it “Santa Barbara Chili”. You can taste every single spice in it. No one taste dominated the rest. Turns out it contains the Ground Turkey, Green Peper, Red Pepper, Maui Onion, White Onion, Tomatoes, Cilantro, Basil, Garlic, Jalepeno, Habanero, corn, black eyed peas (Pump it!), Cholulu sauce, Worcestershire Sause, Kidney beans and black beans. It would be fantastic on any day, after a day and a half of not eating, working hard and being sea-sick, it was unbelievable how good it tasted and felt.
SK had been having trouble sleeping since the start, but yesterday he finally crashed out. We were able to set the kite for the first time and he didn’t even notice. We successfully used the kite to get the south you see in our course since yesterday, dropped it around nightfall to get back to our good course. Still a bit worried about our position (north-south) in the fleet. They are all sailing WAY below even the lowest numbers ever suggested by the weather guys, but maybe this year really is that different? While we are running in first place still, the second place boat, Bequia, our ‘must beat’ boat gained a bit yesterday to reduce our lead. We will keep pushing and see how it goes. the weather now is very tricky and there is lots of guessing going on. To add to that, the weather is getting very light… Tricky for our boat relative to Bequia. Early this morning we set the heavy kite again, expecting a reach and had to very quickly change out to the full size kite. It is much faster but that is 3 kite sets/dowses in < 10 hours… expect that pattern to continue! The numbers show that Bequia is only about 2 hours behind us. CLOSE! The other boats are much more south and are around 6 hours back. It is possible that their southerly positions will benefit that much but only time will tell.
Otherwise we have been just trying to push the boat, and the brothers are trying to get the elders to consume more of the contraband (beer) that they brought on board. IT weighs too much! Water and food consumption is way below planned, we may start getting rid of the mucho excess we brought in a few days. we need to see how the ridge crossing works out before w know if that’s a wise idea!
We have found a couple of leaks in the deck, and one drips right on a bed… yuck, but it isn’t generally a problem, just the first day and night we had green/blue water on the deck a lot. Other systems are performing very well.
We are now 1758 Miles from the finish. I think if we stand up tall, that we can see the islands from here. 😉
We hope everybody had a fun and safe 4th of july. We missed fireworks this year, but we still are feeling the independence, from out hear and now as much as ever.
Tutto Bene Crew-
No one really sails this race for the first two days (which simultaneously remind you of the michilin man for all the clothes you are wearing and also the campfire story from Lean On Me.) Day 3 was a good step in forgetting — an absolutely gorgeous day of spinnaker sailing. What could be better than beautiful blue water in a calmer sea state, puffy clouds, and endless rolling with 10-15 knots of breeze? Gourmet dinner you say? Shrimp scampi, are you kidding? DONE. The chef served up excellent feast number two as the layers were shed, sun soaked up, and wine consumed.
There are penalties for preparing late, however. Grave penalties. In an attempt to shed weight, intoxication, and hangovers in one fell swoop, half the wine was shuttled at the last minute without chef approval. Now comes the sad part, prepare yourselves. The only wine left on the boat is white. I know. We had to take a moment.
Other than that, we are cruising along steadily with a minimum of drama, fired up the radio for Death Cab and Stevie Ray Vaughn, looking forward to a night of productive sailing, and awaiting the tense moment of check-in, when we find out the price we will pay for our attempt to get further south (we are already even with santa barbera). Until then, it is just another day in paradise.
The strategy here is to trade off the extra miles if you choose a southerly course for what you hope will be more wind. usually, there is a strong high in the middle of the Pacific eastern side that gives us the right direction of wind. that high pressure area is typical of the summer weather patterns out here. unfortunately the picture is still of the winter weather that leaves much of that area with incredibly light winds. curiously, the change to summer weather patterns happens without warning over a 12 hour period. this year there is no high formed yet so people make one bet or another. either we will go south more to get to better wind and sacrifice the extra miles it took to get there OR we will not go so far south and hope that the switch to summer weather patterns will happen one of the next couple of days. we have taken a middle course which so far has not hurt us terribly. the next two roll calls will tell the difference about the bet every one made. if we get enough wind to keep our boat speed up then we will continue to do well. if we founder too much in the light stuff, the more southerly boats will make out and we will fall behind. drum roll please……
Sausage and eggs with oatmeal this morning from the chef. oh how we suffer out here! a very light air morning. Stephen and Jack were on watch and, through collaborative magic, managed to eke out 2.6 knots of boat speed from 2.9 knots of “breeze.” we used the time honored formula of lightening the boat’s beer stores and cigar weight while we fussed with the sails and direction endlessly. really, it has frustrated all of us to constantly deal with such light air. now at six in the evening, we finally have some air. for the last ten hours, we haven’t seen a wave more than about 10 inches high. in the end it took a change of watch to “fix” the wind problem. now we are cooking along at 5.9 knots in 7.0 knots of wind. oh yes this is more like it!
The shirts are off for this weather. It is gorgeous. Clouds here and there across the sky from here to the horizon. At these speeds the boat makes a kind of mild ruffling sound. A perfect background for swapping lies and telling stories… oh yes dear readers, a lot of the stories are about you! Now if there are any stories that you particularly do not want any of us to share… you had better let us know which ones they are…..
When the boat is moving or even when it is not, this trip is made up of some of the best days sailing ever…..
The Journey continues at an agonizing pace. The whole fleet has slowed way down. Day runs of 140ish are horrible when your staring at 1400 miles to go! The weather has been very light and sunny and the progress slow. Given our northerly position on Locomotion and Irish Lady, we have been surprised every day to see ourselves still in first. Today is another chapter in the we expect to be third by morning waiting game. Today did have some high points of great runs and good southerly courses but overall, the weather situation is tenuous at best.
The climber made his return from last trip to the routes of the pacific with the first ascension up the mast. He attempted to put reinforcing material (think sail cloth with one side covered in a think layer of contact cement) on a few places on the main were we might be getting some chafing. The first attempt failed so we will try a different approach tomorrow. A constant problem last time were the Spinnaker halyard blocks. They kept breaking any affixing method we came up with. This resulted in sort of a big mess and another trip up the mast. However, prior to this race, Nicholas conceived and built (at the top of the mast for 2.5 hours) a set of very complicated and tricky block attachments. After almost 48hours of continuous load and rocking, they look fantastic!
Speaking of long time spans… We set the 3/4oz (lite) spinnaker on Wed morning around 8am-ish and haven’t taken it down since. The longest in the bay race lets you fly a spinnaker for around 3 hours. we have had ours up for almost 2 days. In the brief periods of good winds, we apply the terms “good eats” and “let the big dog eat”. For while the nautical person may realize that the colors of the spinnaker or the code flags “c” and “v”, it just looks like the Purina puppy chow symbol to us.
The navigator is pretty high strung. Doesn’t really like any of the options and is trying to look for a way to consolidate the fleet and turn it into more of drag race and less of a weather guessing game. We shall see. the next 48 hours will reveal much about the outcome, which was mostly decided on the first night! Aaaahhhhhhh – Ocean Racing Can be Brutal!
Our meals are simply fantastic. The Master Chef is getting more creative and revealing more little secrets with each passing day. It is the best series of dishes i have ever eaten in a row.
We shifted our watch schedule today. The old one was burning people up mid-day, 6 hour on watches in the day proved too fatiguing for optimal performance and so we have cut them back to 4.
The news of our slip to second has been expected for a few days, so while not surprising it did sting a bit. The size of Locomotion’s large course change was a bit surprising given the forecast, but we will see how all the decisions hold out. The game for the next 4 days is to drag race to the ESE and see who can get within 500-600 miles first. At that point, there are a few more opportunities to gain through better weather predictions, strategy and angles, so if we can stay close it will be a great sign. If we do, we will do our best stay right with them, otherwise we will have to out think them or catch a break.
Today was a mix of some unbelievably nice sailing and a patch of about 2 hours in the middle of the day of <5kts of wind in a very lumpy sea. It required an exhausting level of attention to get the boat to move at all. The whole time you’re just hoping the other guy got some of it too. After our Boat Bully scared up some wind for his watch (as is typical) we rocked out to the Black Eyed Peas and have been flying along ever since, pointed just south of HI averaging over 8kts Speed Over Ground (SOG). As always, role call is on our minds.
There is always a half way party and we are getting anxious, so the justifications have started. We have probably sailed half of the total distance we are going to sail (having gone south), but are still 200 miles from halfway — is that good enough?
The meals continue to impress, we have started a photo documentary of the resulting dishes. Breakfast today was over the top. A vegetable and spiced omelet in a wine glass standing in the middle of a gumbo of black-eyed peas and rice, including something like #16 shrimp! Tasty and well presented. Dinner was breaded sole over rice with artichoke hearts – also fabulous. Our chef is almost certainly going to win the best food award!
Normal maintenance continued with an engine check out today with the Skipper putting on his Engineer pants. Everything looked good: minimal belt wear on the alternator and identical fluid levels as before we left. To improve our steering “feel” we disconnected the autopilot and tightened the steering cables. This made it both easier (you don’t have to fight the autopilot ram) and smoother (less “slop”). The Mole did this work in his favorite claustrophobic compartment; delicate since there are very nasty pinch points, the loads are very high and the whole thing is moving the entire time. We think he is beginning to like it back there. Great job. We still haven’t taken down the spinnaker, it will be 72 hours by morning.
We have been sailing past a fair amount of trash this year, makes us sad. Mostly this consists of old commercial fishing gear (nets and bouys), with a few random plastic bottles thrown in. The blue of the water at sea is impossible, timeless, too pure for memory. Garbage floating in it is simply offensive.
On the flip side, we are seeing our competitors FAR more than in any of the other 8 crossings. Normally, you lose track of everyone after the first night, but we have seen other boats almost every day. Today we had two at the same time; (we think) Locomotion to the south (having gybed across our bow this morning) and Irish Lady to the east. Fun stuff!
Sailing day and night in various conditions, chatting, chowing, navigating, cooking, working hard to go fast. It is what we do. And we are ready for more.
28 North by 136 West
One of the things that happens, it turns out, when your sleep schedule looks like a sloppy tic tac toe board, is that things get a little mixed up. We have had people show up on deck with fifteen minutes of preparation, harness, water, special sox, hat, granola bar, gloves, numerous fleeces and a big energetic smile….only to find out that they dreamed that someone came to wake them for their watch. One intrepid sailor woke and found in the pile of clothes, hats, pfd’s, sailbags, water bottles, shoes, and foulies … a pig, albeit a small one, lying down peacefully in the mess. The professional sleeper has woken [?]thinking he was in different places in the boat pointed in different directions on different trips.
These visions are not limited to sleepy sailors. one usually steady soul, while on watch, was certain there were apartment buildings on the near horizon. And if you think you never dream, try a four on, four off watch schedule – the images are getting vivid indeed (you are going to have to follow up with your favorite pac cup-er for content details.)
It never ceases to amaze me that people can have such diverse ideas of how to get to Hawaii. We have had several times where another boat has crossed us at a 45 degree angle. We traveled for two days with both Irish Lady and Locomotion in sight, only to see the Lady head south, followed by Loco continuing to reach north while we are taking a more direct route to Mai Tai heaven. We will see, but not for awhile yet.
The moon is just about full here, which means lots of light all night long – we miss the stars, but moonlight on the ocean is surreal, giving waves real contours, casting shadows, and surrounding everything in a soft texture that brings to mind the phrase “bathed in moonlight”.
As for our continued culinary delights, tonight was pork loin adobo with tortilla that were simply divine. Every day at dinner we just shake our heads, wondering if we are dreaming this, too.
Day 10 #1
It has been 10 days since we saw a rock… The “Rock” in fact but any rock sort of seems intriguing… That and we seem to recall these things called plants…
We entered the trade winds last night… Had winds from 15 to 25kts all night long and squalls every hour. We finally had to take down “puppy chow”… a remarkable 6days and 20hours after we set. REMARKABLE…. The halyard block tie downs that Climber worked so hard on before we left have been fantastic…
We opened up huge last night playing many of the squalls and stagically placing the boat to teh west of teh squall lines… it seems to give us about 4-8kts more wind from a more favorable direction… we are currently making 8kts right at HI on starboard. At some point we are going to have to Gybe and will be going in on port but that is probably 1-2 days away… for all you sailing folk… we are faced with an interesting situation… is it possible to overstand a mark if your going right at it? While we are currently on downwind angles on Stbd, when we gybe to port we expect to slowly be headed untill almost a strong reach… but gybing now is like driving away from the mark, increasing the path length… weird…
Strategically we did great and locomotion closed guage with us, decreasing their leverage… good for us… Irish Lady (we have other names for her on the boat) is still very south and we hope she doesn’t get some sort of unpredicted benefit. The charts still look good to us… We will see. with 4 days left a lot can happen. We need to push hard on our fast, light kite but can’t blow it up or we surely fall to 4th! lots of stuff going on here and we are all very tired after a hard night. We expect them all to be like this from here on out…
Emails may be hard to keep up with… we will try…
Stephen cooked another bunch of fantastic food… and don’t let him kid you with the 20deg stuff… cooking on teh ocean is not easy… teh stove is litterally swing around as the boat heels and try using a knife in a room where all of a guy in the next room yells “Sorry” and then the room leans over 30degrees and everything, including you, go flying across the floor! It is really hard, and he has done a unbelievable job… There is award for best meals… we are taking pictres and are confident our cook will “fare” well…
It is mid day but we are all struggling to get extra sleep… gotta run… in the mean time Locomotion and Irish Lady better keep sailing hard, we’re going for them today and currently making 7.5kts+ right at the finish…
Racing Hard, Sleeping little…
Day 10 #2
No one has attempted to describe the inside of the boat during this voyage. It is a lot like a teenagers room — to the untrained eye, it may seem like a mess, but to us it has its own obvious order. The pineapple and oranges on the port settee go nicely with the spare battens for the upwind sails and the extra rack for the DC panel. The little tray next to the nav station has six pairs of glasses, sunscreen, headphones, little flashlights, pencils, tape, and a calculator. It is full all the time despite a twice daily cleanup.
The floor is the real challenge. One small area is the staging ground for all spinnaker packing and for storing the one that is not up — each kite seems to come down somewhere between a little wet and sopping. The jib we were storing on the foredeck was dragged through yesterday to get to the vberth, but it was taken off the foredeck because it was full of seawater. Also, the storage: the cooler is in here along with the horse blanket. There are at least four or five changes of clothes along with numerous shoes, not necessarily matching, tethers, jackets, warm stuff that couldn’t be put away since it was wet, and as Pops would always say “excuses, excuses”. In all fairness, Young’un and Chef keep their things ship shape in the aft cabin.
As we remember these trips we have a tendency to recall the exhilaration of the monster waves and the big wind. Tonight was, in contrast, a beautiful mellow night. No squalls. No rain. Just plenty of wind with the boat pounding out mid 7’s and occasional roaring 10’s.kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk That means we’re tired. We think all our lives should have a soundtrack, so we put one together for the trip. Most of the time we go with the normal sounds of sailing and the ocean (and they are plenty loud, actually). For windy afternoons it is the classic rock block: Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, and Dire Straits for starters. Grey mornings are cheered by Getz and Gilberto and Louis and Ella, and the surreal evenings mix well with The Postal Service and The Go Find. If you are driving alone and tired, change your reality with The Matrix or Puddle of Mudd.
Culinary delights continue: fresh pineapple with breakfast, pounded, pan fried chicken sandwiches for lunch, and poached salmon for dinner. You heard me right.
Crimany this is a long email.
Oh, and we jibed to port (often indicative of the final, long run into the islands), but anticipate a number of future wind shifts that will keep us on our toes.
So, Some of you may know that the high season in HI is not July… why you ask… cause down here at 24deg North, it can get hot. While the air temperature is a not too bad, mitigated by the 75F water… the sun intensity can roast a person in no time flat. This has changed our strategy for crew resource management to a “one person on deck” strategy. A person standing watch for 4 hours in the sun and not seeking lots of shade comes downstairs and is cranky and just looks beat up. Sail changes are requested from the driver and the other person on watch comes up, makes the change, makes sure everything is set and then goes back out of the sun.
One discovery we made about 2 days ago was that the foredeck, (front of the boat), is hidden in shade under the kite, near a lot of misting spray from the bow and generally a wonderful place to relax… If the driving station and cockpit are the ‘grill’, then the bow is some sort of pool side retreat.
We are proceeding with our north corner strategy which continues to look favored by almost every weather model. The other ones says go as far south as you can… humph… We am not sure these weather guys know what is going to happen… The question lies in whether the bumps in the pressure contours due east of HI are “just bumps” or part of a “tropical wave”. The tropical waves are basically the seedlings of hurricanes never formed over Mexico and they move across the pacific making changes to the wind directions as they move. CW says that if you’re getting to HI before a Tropical Wave, go south in front of it. that way you get the favorable direction shift and a bit more wind. If you’re getting there after it, or there aren’t any (and the bumps are just bumps,) then go north… So when they draw the bent pressure lines like a wave, but the wind directions still look like north pays… what to do…
To add a little spice to the mix, Hurricane Bud, a tropical wave turned Tropical Storm turned Hurricane, which has already gone form 125kts sustained to 95kts, has formed off Mexico and is forecast to move WNW at 25kts. This should put it near HI by Tuesday/Wednesday. Some of the trailers in the fleet may get to use this storm to speed into HI. Note: Hurricanes like this are not like Andrew or Katrina, they are very small and you actually purposefully go near them to get some extra push.
We had a solid days run yesterday and while Locomotion gained a itsy bit (about 1sec/mile) they sailed a much faster angle then we did, so they will have to pay a little to the piper soon. We feel good but are hedging back their direction to mitigate any difference in wind. It is a bit of a match race strategy, stay between the other guy and the finish, but right now, they are the boat to beat. This means we have left Irish Lady alone to the south, they are 40nm back and must beat us by 9hours to win so hopefully the south doesn’t become massively favored (see tropical wave discussion above). We are definitely getting into end-game strategy and there is still around 486nm to go(R:1534), so there is much to be done…
P.S. Don’t let some of the crew fool you… they have an entire bunk and a bit of floor themselves to store stuff, for the other two, the extra bunk and floor are in the main cabin and keep getting raided by some as an alternate bunk, whimsically sleeping wherever they choose -relegating our stuff to the main cabin floor.
As of this morning, we had four plus hours on the next boat. They would have to make that up in 498 hours since we should finish in the morning on Sunday. they have only beaten us on two of the days so far and on those days it was a narrow margin whereas on the other days we soundly were ahead on some of them. This has been a good day so far. We kept the shy kite up until early afternoon then set the Big Dog free. There was considerable discussion about the risk of failure of the kite, small but real, the consequences of failure of that kite, potentially great if the wind goes down, and the marginal advantage of the bigger kite……. in the end, up went the Big Dog to its and our pleasure. Jocelyn never made a nicer chute. We are still pounding out a big miles day and just put up the Warrior again for the squalls tonight. It is midnight here. There was some discussion after we were all ready….so Nick took a nap on the kite bag at the rail.
We also decided the ad hoc adjustment of the watch schedule between Travis and Jack designed to five him some slack over his navi-guessing duties, wasn’t working. We put together a new schedule with shorter times on watch and Stephen put it into a chart. First watch, Travis and Nick exec decisioned the thing after sharing their first caffeine in two weeks. They say the sunset was the best yet and the wind became more enjoyable right when they were supposed to give it up.. the best laid plans……
This was preempted by events…
An amazing speed run in the morning led to an 8.4 knot average over 12 hours, clipping off a 102 miles – though unconfirmed, the previous 12 hours overnight could probably match it. It was looking like a solid 200nm day with expected heavy squall activity that night. With a bit of slip in the standings the day before we were looking for a good productive night to get a solid lead going in to the last day.
The night was very difficult; the squalls had no wind but tons of rain, the angles were terrible resulting in many crew waking gybes and progress was slow. Crew were strained and frustrated, and knowing that Locomotion may be moving well was on everybody’s mind. And the inevitable hardware malfunctions were about to begin: for no apparent reason the main seemed to be lowering itself… We could not make out the issue at the mast head and decided to wait till daybreak to try to diagnose and address the problem.
0900 check in revealed we had opened up our lead to 10 miles boat for boat! We had gone 192.6 miles, an average of just over 8kts! Great speed! In the words of the communication boat “looks like you have them Tutto Bene.” We need to be clean going into the finish and we should be fine…
At 0940, we changed kites back to “puppy chow”.[aka “Big Dog” –Ed.] To solve the main halyard problem, we created a plan where Climber was going to have to go up a single halyard and transfer himself to a fixed point on the rig 40ft up, then untie his only line(and way down, clear a block and re-tie it to go up another 4′. THEN he was going to have to untie another line that is already up there (dutchman) and use it to go up to the top of the mast, this is not a line designed to do this! He could then fix the main halyard and undo the process to get back down…a safe plan, but a nerve tingling one. Luckily, we were able to lower the main with the halyard still attached, repaired the connection and reset the main. Climber and crew were relieved.
Late This morning in the middle of a kite change, Tutto Bene lost control of one of the control lines on the spinnaker pole resulting in it pointing straight up in the air… called a “sky pole”. It can and in this case did result in the complete destruction of the pole end, fracturing an aluminum casting about 1 sq inch. The other pole was transferred to stbd and rerigged for the set. We then took the inboard end off the reaching strut and drilled and tapped new holes in the fitting, re-rigged the new pole and gybed. The process took some time but resulted in little or no extra miles… This is really the first time we have had to resort to tools to get a problem solved. It was very fortunate the extrusion was not damaged and we were able to replace the part…
1705 PDT Tutto Bene performed her 100nm check-in… Locomotion Checked in approx. 55min. later… we need to keep pushing if we want to win boat for boat… the chess game sees mate in just a few more moves.
Ah dinner… in wild conditions “guerilla chef at 20 deg” whipped up beautiful huge steaks with lime and blue cheese dressing… with champagne. While the champagne may be premature, we have another in waiting in the fridge. [belated thanks to Dan Sheets who did the repairs two days before we left]. I must admit that concentration levels dropped a little during that stretch. Nick and Travis enjoyed their food on the foredeck in the only breezy shade on the boat. Knives seemed a little dangerous so they reverted to Tom Jones type total involvement with the food. The short break was welcome but we were all quickly back to the task at hand.
2000PDT: A little cleanup is being done to repair the clutter damage to the cabin. Oh that’s where that hat went and that shirt really is stuck in the floor boards. Not just domestic things though, we also took a look at the 125% jib which started the race and was removed from the foredeck to get the trapped water off there. Since then it lived in the v berth in a pile. There is a small chance that we would need it to make the finish line, it has been properly flaked and is ready to hoist. The Engineer and the Econ have been largely responsible for these types of anticipatory failure preparedness. They have done a great job of it.
Those MaiTai s are looking very good now. The folks at KYC know how to greet you. First, an escort boat gets you into the harbor through the narrow Sampan Channel, then they hand you off to interior harbor folks who direct your docking assisted by line handlers. Even if we arrive in the middle of the night, the KYC folks greet all the boats with drinks and fruit and applause. One year we got a hula from a student!
The crew is anxious but desperately needs sleep… current ETA is 0300 hours but nobody has slept much in the last 48… Mistakes at this point can be “bad”…
Going for the “W”
P.S. we understand Dan had to run off for work so we are sending this one through a few other channels as well.
So, Just as we are about to send this, we get a low voltage alarm-> no big deal, you start then engine run it for an our and a half and then done, but the engine, which has run perfectly for the whole trip won’t start… We need it to motor into the yacht club and charge the batteries for finishing stuff (radios) and we only have 50nm to fix it… well, turns out there was water in the diesel, drain the fuel/water separator, replace the fuel filters (coarse and fine) and bleed the engine… poof. One more issue averted… what else can happen in the last 200nm?
Arrival — victory!
After putting Locomotion to our stern one last time, Tutto Bene started to come apart at the seams with main halyard trouble, a broken spinnaker pole fitting, and engine trouble. But the last night was beautiful and surreal; running to the finish under conservative sail selection without a squall in sight. Overall it reminded us a little of the ceremonial last leg of the tour de france. Shameless comparison, we know.
We arrived in a group of boats finishing, many having started a day or more after us, creating a fun atmosphere at 3 in the morning. At the dock, our bottle of rum was set upon after the customs forms, race inspections, and standard festivities. All crew members wear their hawaiian crew shirts, creating pockets of bright colors and helping us find our competitors to trade our sea stories (so to speak).
At the bulkhead of the marina, the amazing differences in the boats pop out: 27 foot spartan sport boat E.T. tied up alongside monstrous 52 ft. Siderno, having raced side by side across the ocean.
And of course the result – we could not be more pleased. We were able to take advantage of favorable conditions for our boat (and stretch our lead even when conditions favored others) and sail to a convincing division win. We knew we were poised, and we are thrilled to have made it happen. Like any successful venture, it is made all the sweeter having been done with great people, with family, a great shared experience.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the effort, from best wishes and encouraging words to helping out to simply putting up with our time crunches. Special thanks to the wives, who bore the brunt of much of the preparation.
As for us, the Skipper dreamed the dream and made it real, with a commitment level that exceeds and an attitude that can’t be beat. The Prodigy made it possible, a triple threat of boat prep (and repair underway), ‘A’ game driving, and navigating a winning line. The Chef made it fun, with a even temperament in all conditions and an extravagant menu that was matched only by its execution. While any boat is lucky to have a Goon, the superior reasoning, seamanship and sailing skill of ours is unparalleled and made it a winning endeavor.
This was definitely one of the best sailing trips ever.
Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii