Thin Man News — 2007
The weather was a bit kinder this week, so I dashed up to City Island to see what could be done about poor, frozen Thin Man. As you can see below, there was still plenty of glazed snow left in the cockpit.
Fortunately, with the help of a plastic dustpan from the car I was able to shovel out most of it as slush. I did manage to heave one sizeable chunk (40lbs) over the side to good effect.
Once the cockpit was clear, I started pulling stuff out of the cabin and into the car. I'll empty everything removable so that some of the messier repairs I'm planning don't foul things unnecessarily. Sheesh, what a packrat!
The mast is almost packed up for the winter. I have to buy more messenger line from Home Depot so I can pull the remaining two halyards. I'll also remove the stays so they can enjoy a warm, dry winter.
Brrrrrrr! Mother Nature hit City Island a bit worse than it did Brooklyn. I checked on Thin Man this afternoon and encountered a glazed snow-covered boat instead.
In other news, the order for a new carbon #3 and Code 2A spinnaker is in the capable hands of Kerry Klingler at UK-Halsey. Can't wait to try out the new rags!
Yesterday was the EBYRA awards dinner at Stuyvesant Yacht Club. Duncan, Brian, Alex and Michael joined me to celebrate a great first season. The results speak for themselves.
The winter media extravaganza has begun! Since Thin Man is hanging out on dry land these days, I thought I'd start by updating the front page. Plenty of raw video footage is now captured to disk and ready for editing. Here's a quick little sampler from earlier in the season...
We dropped Thin Man off at Barron's Boat Yard on the other side of City Island on Sunday, but not without going for one last sail (and a pumpout). It was hard to walk away, knowing that the next time I see her she'll be on dry land. But what a great first season!
I hope to make the coming weeks a minor media extravaganza as I get some time to sift through and edit the photos and video. Remind me to tell you about our speed record of 11.5kts on Saturday playing around in Eastchester Bay while Hurricane Noel zipped by a couple of hundred miles offshore. Here are a couple of treats to whet your appetite: real sailors like a breeze and what better for a reach than a reaching chute?
Manhasset Bay Fall Series 2007! That's us crossing the J/92s (new, improved? version of the J/92), and us following Rift (J/29, we beat them too) around a mark. More details to come...
The Gearbuster was a bust. As in there wasn't enough breeze to warrant the 4-hour schlepp to Greenwich and back that would be on top of umpteen hours of a 46.5nm race with 5-10kts for the duration. Yawn. I polled the crew and many, like me, had other stuff that they would rather be doing if it wasn't going to blow more than 15kts. We'll save our strength for the Manhasset Bay Fall Series and hope for some breeze.
Instead of the Gearbuster on Saturday, I opted to go for a daysail out of City Island with a few friends. Leigh and Alex were the only ones left from the crew who still wanted to go sailing, so that's what we did. But first, what's a great thing to do when it's sunny, warm and relatively calm winds and seas?
If you've been following the story line here for the past few months, you'll know that I had to leave a job half done early in the summer. Remember the port side logo? Well, with help from Leigh and Alex it was a snap to put it on. Now Thin Man is ready for the Manhasset Bay Fall Series coming up these next two weekends.
Conditions last night were perfect in every respect. First and foremost were the people. My college friend, Martin, flew up from Virginia yesterday in his Piper Cherokee to sail with me, having last sailed with me 20 years ago in Annapolis (his first time). Alex and Brian from the core Thin Man crew were there as well, and newcomer Keely joined us fresh off the jetway from Chicago.
It was a shame that many of the Thin Man regulars couldn't make it last night. Duncan was getting his 'racing fix' across the Sound in Oyster Bay; Jared had to go to London for work; Nikolas went to Greece for a bit of a vacation; Michael had business in Connecticut and couldn't make it back in time. It really underscores the commitment that folks demonstrated showing up consistently week after week. But I digress.
Although it wasn't a race night, we followed the usual routine so that we could at least get started in daylight (sunset last night was at 18:47). Because there was nobody at the club, we actually got to the boat quicker than usual—no gabbing at the veranda or long trek delivering crew to other boats on the launch ride out. It was not as breezy as Tuesday afternoon, but we still had 8-12kts out of the South and cloudless (but hazy!) skies. While it was unseasonably warm in the city, the water managed to cool the breeze enough to make it comfortable in shorts, t-shirt and windbreaker. We had Eastchester Bay pretty much to ourselves; only three or four sailboats to be seen. Just as the sun set in the West, the Harvest Moon rose full in the East and the haze subsided somewhat.
The crew voiced a strong desire to fly the spinnaker, so we needed to work our way upwind for a while to get some runway. We put up the brand new North #2 and the venerable Quantum main, sailed off the mooring and made for Throgs Neck Bridge. After a few tacks, we passed under the bridge and eased off to a reach toward the Whitestone Bridge. Shortly after the turn, we had some commercial traffic ahead of us, maneuvering erratically but purposefully. That was our cue to turn around and head back to Eastchester Bay for some spinnaker play.
Mr. Smiley (the chicken chute) went up and we rolled into a casual downwind driving clinic, giving the crew a chance to learn how to steer and gybe the boat with an asymmetric spinnaker.
When we ran out of room to continue downwind, we got rid of the chute and the unanimous vote was for more time sailing. After sailing upwind again for a bit, the hour was getting late and we were getting hungry.
We returned to the mooring and picked it up under sail on the third try (bow person: be sure you get the mooring pennant on the cleat right away!). After a quick cleanup and a few minutes to relax and savor the amazing conditions, we called the launch and made our way ashore. The club was completely dark, not a soul to be found anywhere. We headed over to the Black Whale and had a delightful meal in the back garden.
I brought the video camera so I could have detailed pictures of the existing rigging to consult when designing the new fine tune for the main sheet. While I was at it, I got a great shot of Martin (remember, 2nd time sailing, ever) propped in the leeward stern pulpit with beer in hand and foot on the tiller, steering a perfect upwind groove. I'll post that footage tomorrow.
Thin Man is going sailing tomorrow! I couldn't go last week because of an important business commitment, a very minor sacrifice considering I was able to show up every week for every scheduled race over the entire season, rain or shine, with a crew ready to race. As someone said to me today, the boat has already paid for itself in the pleasure it has brought me.
I'm really looking forward to the Gearbuster on October 6 and the Manhasset Bay Fall Series the following two weekends. I have a crew raring to have a crack at Hustler, and I don't want them to leave disappointed. We even have a nicely set up husband/wife rivalry going between the boats now, with their trimmer's wife crewing on Thin Man. Yarrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
We won our division for the Wednesday night series. What a GREAT TEAM!
I'll write up last week's final Wednesday night experience (we were the Race Committee) later this week. Due to a business engagement this week, I won't be able to take the team out for a victory lap until next week (26 September).
I received notice over the weekend that the volunteer boat scheduled to serve as Race Committee this week has engine problems and EBYRA needs another sacrificial lamb (err, volunteer). As much as I love to race and hate the thought of missing the last race of the season, it really makes sense for Thin Man to serve as RC since our position will not be affected either way. Maybe Edd will cancel that contract he took out when I asked for half of the series to be rescored with the new rating?
So, Thin Man will be the party boat this week. BARGERS WILL BE SCUTTLED!
It's been a while since the last update, and there was plenty of fine sailing to be had (and reported) in the past week.
First up after last Wednesday's glorious victory was the Vineyard Race on a J/133: 238nm from Stamford out to Buzzard's Bay Light and return via the south side of Block Island. Conditions were spectacular: clear skies and winds mostly from the northerly quadrant at 10-15kts with some gusts near 20kts made it a reach out and a reach back. We started Friday at 1600 and finished Saturday at 2130. That is FAST! Sadly, it was a drag race almost the entire way and waterline length ruled the day.
Since the Vineyard Race finished so quickly, I had more free time over the holiday weekend than I originally anticipated. Taking care of a few chores on Sunday and early Monday left me with the afternoon to go for a jaunt on Thin Man. As if beautiful sailing conditions were not enough, my wife and dog agreed to join me, making for an unforgettably delightful afternoon sail (westerly 10-15kts with occasional gusts to 20kts). I put Catya on the helm and we just reached back and forth in Eastchester Bay making 7+kts with the #3 and a full main, giving both of my girls a chance to get comfortable with the boat in a moderate breeze.
Which brings us to last night's race. Oops! I did it again. The Race Committee announced the course over the radio as we were approaching the starting area. I carefully read the course off the sailing instructions, double-checked and triple-checked. Note to self: ALWAYS READ THE COURSE BOARD DURING YOUR SEQUENCE!!! That's right, I went for the wrong mark because I didn't hear the subsequent announcement of the correct course, nor did I read the course board. My apologies to a wonderful crew for blowing the race. We ended up in 5th place, missing 4th by 3 seconds and 3rd by 12 seconds. We spent a good 3-5 minutes sailing 20° below close hauled aiming for the wrong mark. Once we noticed that everyone was going to Little Neck Bay instead of Kings Point, we decided to follow the leader while I hastily consulted the sailing instructions. Turns out they sent us on course S-D rather than SE-D. We spent the rest of the race digging ourselves out of the hole I put us in.
Also worth mentioning was the drama during the start. The committee boat was heavily favored, so we positioned ourselves to own it (which we did). Unfortunately, Wild Child and Kinsale were stacked to windward of us and believed (mistakenly) that they could go between us and the committee boat. We put the squeeze on Wild Child who, most unfortunately, did not pass along the favor to Kinsale to windward of them. They got into a very tight squeeze and I eventually had to bear off to avoid hitting them since they weren't responding to my luff. Shame on Kinsale! And shame on Wild Child for not hailing them to keep clear. In any case, the Olson 30 sailed a very clean race and aced the fleet. Well done.
Sadly there is only one more race in the season. See you next week for our grand finale!
Monday's entry cost me dearly... up 'til 2:30am typing and preparing pretty media to spruce up the blog. This will have to be a quick one (like the race tonight).
I watched the weather develop anxiously today, as two of our crew cancelled this morning due to unexpected events and we would not be able to keep the boat flat in a strong southerly. Light air good, heavy air not so much. Fortunately it turned out to be a dying sea breeze out of the SSW which was 10-12kts before the start and softened to 6-8kts for most of the race with patches of 2-4kts now and then. I had the tremendous pleasure of having aboard another of my favorite skippers, a brilliant racing sailor to call tactics and trim main. It turned out that six was a very good number for the conditions.
We got the start we wanted, at the committee boat with speed exploiting the huge vacuum at the boat due to the strong (adverse) flood. The plan was to go over to the toll plaza right after the start and follow a lift along the shore all the way to the mark. We didn't go all the way to the shore and later found that those who did made out HUGE on us when we checked back in for a second crack at the shore. We kept short-tacking the shore, passing all of the competition save the Olson 30, then crossing tacks with the them (rating even with us) and trading the lead a couple of times. We ultimately managed to lee bow them on one crossing and force them to tack under us on the next, when we could roll them as we got close to the windward mark, the nun at Little Bay next to the bridge.
We went for a simple bear-away set of the spinnaker and ended up staying in a very nice flood for a while as we headed to Stepping Stones. We decided to check back in with the Olson 30, pulling a mediocre but successful gybe and accelerating as we got just a hair more breeze in a new wind line. The pressure gave us just enough down that we actually made it across the line with speed and without having to gybe a second time!
We crossed the line first and two minutes ahead of the Olson 30. Indecent Proposal was next at just a shade under four minutes behind us corrected time. Interesting tidbit of trivia: every boat's corrected finish position was the same as their scratch finish position. Can't imagine that happens too often.
Well, we managed to survive our first distance race on Thin Man. Admittedly 40nm is not all that far as distance races go, but it was enough to get a feel for how the boat would be on longer races. I opted for a crew of six on this race—not only did I need lots of help emptying the beer cans, it also happened to be the number of safety harnesses we had at our disposal.
We were well-prepared with food, water, ice and beer. We also had all the safety equipment required to meet the YRALIS Category B (in-shore distance race) safety requirements. Thin Man is always a safe boat.
The start was at Big Tom, only about ten minutes from the mooring. We spent a bit longer than expected at the mooring preparing the boat (rigging the crew overboard pole, dropping the top swivel for the furling gear so we could do jib peels, stowing gear, assembling the radar reflector, etc.). The first gun was listed as "no earlier than 1020" and we didn't know which division we were in, since I couldn't find a scratch sheet on the web site before leaving home. We passed Exhilaration on the way out to the starting line and asked which division they were in, since our ratings are very close. They were in Division 1, which meant we probably were also. We made a bee line for the Race Committee and reached past them inquiring about a scratch sheet, only to be informed that we were in Division 1, the one minute signal would be in just over one minute, and code flag Bravo was flying to indicate the short course (40nm) for all classes. ACK!!!
Our competition included a Santa Cruz 52 rating -12, a Beneteau 36.7 rating 84, our fine selves weighing in at 108, and a pair of X-332's rating 114. The forecast was for 10-15kts with gusts later in the day up to 20kts, mostly from the southwest but backing mid-afternoon to the south. That's not what we had by a long shot!
The wind was only about 5-8kts out of the west southwest, so it was a downwind start and getting the chute up as quickly as possible would be essential. We sailed past the RC on starboard for about 40 seconds, tacked over to port for the final approach to the boat end of the line, and gybed onto starboard tack right behind Exhilaration and only about ten seconds late for the line. We got our chute set quickly, dropped the genoa and rolled right past Exhilaration. Not a horrible start at all, and especially good under the circumstances!
We had a great pace and stayed ahead of everybody (including the SC52!) as we worked our way downwind looking for pressure and gybing when we thought there was either a wind or current advantage. The current was starting to ebb as we took the south channel past Execution Rocks, and we were still holding a pace well ahead of the rest of our class. We held loosely to the Long Island shore until we crossed the mouth of Hempstead Harbor, then took a hitch back out to the center of the Sound riding the tide out of the harbor. Once more we checked back in with the fleet, most of whom were sticking to the Long Island side of the course, still leading the pack. After Matinecock Point, we took a long port gybe over to the Connecticut side where we saw more pressure on the sails in that area. When the pressure started getting softer in the vicinity of Greenwich Harbor, we took a hitch back toward the rhumb line once more. As we approached 32A, the wind really started going light and shifty. We got a major wind shift and had to douse the spinnaker, so we put up the #1 genoa. Within a minute or two, the wind went completely flat. Zilch! Zip! Nada!
We expected a mid-day calm, so everyone settled in for the wait, all the while looking at our competition way over on the Long Island shore. We put up the dazy staysail to maximize our chance of catching a zephyr. It worked, because the bubbles were continually moving behind us, albeit at a painfully slow rate. About this time the sun burned completely through the haze and it got a trifle warm. Hot, actually. Steaming when you add in the extreme humidity. With nowhere on deck to get out of the sun, Brian and Duncan took over the main cabin settees and soon enough we heard twin engines down below. The one saving grace of this episode was that the current was pushing us directly toward the mark at about 1.0kts. No anchor required, as long as we managed to get around the mark before the current turned!
After a mere two hours slatting in glassy calm seas, the wind gradually returned and we got the genoa back up pronto. The new wind was still from the east, which meant we were now beating to the turning mark but also meant that we would have a run back home. While we were working upwind, we saw all the boats that had held to the Long Island side fetching the mark easily, eroding the solid lead we had maintained almost all the way out. The SC52 was able to reach to the mark flying a Code Zero, gybing around only 18 minutes ahead of us. Since they owed us 120sec/mile, they were about 22 minutes behind us on corrected time. Still safe! We saw Exhilaration (X-332) ahead of the Beneteau 36.7, but far enough behind that we were not in any danger handicap-wise.
We opted for a simple bear-away set of the spinnaker, which could have gone more smoothly. After the chute was flying and we checked our heading, we realized we needed to gybe onto port in order to maximize VMG toward home. Once we cleared up from a messy gybe, we saw that we were still not making the rhumb line course. We spent a few minutes debating the merits of keeping the chute up for speed and heading toward Connecticut (seriously not a good idea), followed by a few minutes getting the genoa plugged in and hoisted. Once the chute was down, we looked around and saw the competition not very far behind us and charging forward right on the rhumb line. We had to tack to get back to it, crossing just ahead of Exhilaration and tacking onto their wind. This was bad—we owe them four minutes and we were less than a minute ahead of them at the halfway point! Not to mention the next division seemed to have caught up to us as well.
The Beneteau got set up for upwind mode and started hauling freight, higher and faster than anyone else. They rolled us quickly and, fortunately for us, the wind backed a little bit so they cracked off to the rhumb line while we climbed a bit higher to clear air. Exhilaration also had great pace and started eating up the distance. They were climbing higher even than we were, so we sailed a bit low to try get more speed and a little separation, but nothing could hold them off and they pulled slighly ahead. We kept tweaking and tuning and managed to match pace, but that was all we could do. We spent about three hours admiring their transom from a safe leeward position.
The SC52 disappeared into the haze and we gradually lost track of the Beneteau as well. After a while, we noticed a Beneteau hardly moving as we passed to port of them. A quick check with the binoculars revealed the shocking truth—it was our Beneteau! We kept focused on Exhilaration and found the wind going lighter and the distance shrinking gradually. We started heading a bit higher so that we could roll them to windward if we did succeed in reeling them in. Before we were able to close on them and as we were both approaching Hart Island, we saw them tack over to starboard, heading almost perpindicular to the rhumb line. Huh?!? We kept going, hoping that this would turn into our big break since we weren't doing any good following them. Once they got to mid-channel, they tacked back. Meanwhile, we were gradually lifting but still not clearing Hart Island. It looked like it wouldn't be long before we had to tack out. We stuck it out a bit and saw our competition take yet another hitch to the left. Double HUH?!? About the same time, we were lifted cleanly above the shoal marker at Hart Island as we left Exhilaration behind. It was a drag race for the finish, and we timed the delta from our finish to theirs. We needed a full four minutes, but the stopwatch said it was about 10-15 seconds shy of that. Bummer! We figured that meant we probably got third, since the SC52 was so far ahead we figured they must have saved their time.
We packed up the boat and put her on the mooring, then met up with the rest of the fleet at the bar for some post-race banter. Race Committee arrived after a bit and announced the results: Exhilaration got first in class and Thin Man got second by TEN SECONDS! Another competitor mentioned to me that they thought that Exhilaration had the wrong rating, which I didn't understand and didn't really want to pursue as it seemed like a bit of a spoiler tactic and that's not my style. However, he explained more clearly by e-mail (you can read that as "I understood what he was saying better after the dark-and-stormies had a chance to evaporate") and the point was that the rating used to score Exhilaration was the wrong one: it was the W/L buoy racing handicap instead of the distance racing handicap, which is a difference of 3sec/mile in our favor. I reported the discrepancy to the race committee and they promptly confirmed the error.
That's right, folks. Thin Man won Division 1 and no sails were hurt in the production of this saga! At the same time, I'd like to congratulate Exhilaration for an excellent performance and Exuberance in Division 2 for absolutely crushing all of Division 1, correcting 17 minutes ahead of us. Even the first two non-spinnaker boats beat us, so this race seemed to favor the slow boats. Probably an argument for using a time-on-time handicap, but it's PHRF and we will just have to live with its massive warts unless and until something better comes along.
My hat's off to Bob Johnstone, who has raced his J/92 "Ragtime" singlehanded from San Francisco to Hawaii not once but TWICE! That's only 50 times the distance we covered in 10 hours, in the open ocean and all alone. I completely understand the attraction, having grown up doing a few ocean races and in-shore distance races each year as a youngster. We had so much fun this time that Duncan has succeeded in talking me into doing the Indian Harbor Gearbuster in early October. No more August slop. I want some serious breeze and I want to see speeds in excess of 12knots. Let's have it!
I am so impressed by and proud of the crew of Thin Man, I don't know where to start. Our finish time in last week's Race 10 has been confirmed by the P.R.O. It probably won't get updated on the score sheet because it doesn't change our finish position and I've already caused enough trouble with the rating correction. We beat our nearest competitor by four minutes. Nice!
Since the score for Race 10 won't get updated, we felt bound to make a clearer statement this week, so we beat the next boat by five and a half minutes! It was a delightful (mostly) steady Easterly breeze at about 6-8kts and the course was simply to Hewlett Point and back. We got a good, clean start and generally hugged the left side of the course going upwind against the current. We rounded the mark first and decided we wanted a gybe set, which we got mostly right. The wind was starting to get a bit shifty and we didn't stay on port gybe for long, which is just as well... gybing to starboard put us right in the deep water/fast current and heading for the finish. We needed one more gybe just before the finish, and crossed close aboard the committee boat so we could thank the folks onboard for a great race.
Tomorrow is the City Island Distance Race, from City Island to Stratford Shoal and back (70nm). Thin Man is entered and we have a crack crew of six ready to take on a Santa Cruz 52, a J/46 and a few boats closer to our size. There is also a team trophy, so we have formed a team with Forza and Exhilaration. Stratford Shoal or BUST! We're looking forward to a bit of fast reaching somewhere along the way. See y'all Sunday.
I swear I don't love controversy!
I remember besides being incredibly happy about how the evening had gone that I was a little bit surprised that we didn't have as great a lead on the rest of our class as we thought, according to the score sheet. The big boat we crossed on the last downwind leg rounded not too far behind us and we ended up neck-and-neck with them on the final leg. We thought we were trading tacks with a Beneteau 36.7 and I wanted to see which one, since that indicated we were doing pretty well.
I knew that we finished about 10 seconds behind the bigger boat, so I looked for someone on the score sheet finishing that close ahead of us. To my surprise, the boat finishing just ahead of us crossed at 20:35:29 while we were listed at 20:38:39. Where did those three minutes come from? Or did we finish behind some other phantom boat? Also, I remember looking at GPS time just moments after we finished and remembered (if I can trust my memory!) 20:35:30 as the time.
Since I wear my trusty Garmin eTrex Vista Cx Eddie Bauer Special Mark 49 Limited Edition GPS on a lanyard around my neck for every race, I have a very accurate record of our race. The only unknown is the committee boat position, since I don't bother to ping the boat for Wednesday night races. I pulled up the GPS track, estimated the committee boat position and found that we crossed the line at roughly 20:35:39 according to the GPS. The start time estimated from the track matched up with the published start time of 19:25.
It looks like there might have been a mistake somewhere between recording our finish time out on the water and entering it into the scoring software. Possibly the handwritten "5" looked like an "8" during data entry? Fortunately EBYRA has excellent record keeping practices, so any confusion will be easily cleared up.
Assuming I'm right (I tend to do that), one can translate our average boat speed (course length divided by elapsed time) to an equivalent elapsed time for the course that Divisions 6 and 5 raced, it looks like we would have beat the fastest boat's corrected time and elapsed time. We definitely beat Aeroplane by four minutes. We were haulin' freight last night, my friends.
Last, but certainly not least... The tight reach to cross the jib-and-main racer's stern followed immediately by a gybe and shortly after by a gybe douse of the spinnaker around the mark consumed all of 1:30 according to the GPS. That was a lot of superior boat handling in a very short amount of time. Thank you, Team Thin Man!
Wow! The EBYRA races were re-scored with the 111 rating and posted to the web before early afternoon. Awesome work, Edd; thank you.
We had an outstanding team tonight, seven of the finest and craziest people you could hope to meet. Our guest rock star was none other than Norm Dean of Whacko (Soverel 33) and Just Plain Nutz (Mumm 30) fame. Crew work was flawless (well, other than an incomplete first hoist) and the wind conditions were just delightful (clear skies, WSW 8-12kts, smooth water). We were a little early to the line, which put us down toward the pin rather than at the boat where we wanted to be for an early hitch to the right. We rolled Excalibur right at the start and went fast forward for a while until many boats had peeled off and the rest we could cross (Kinsale closest). Material Girl did her usual J/27 thing and pointed straight upwind, dogging us the whole way up the first windward leg while we footed off the way the J/92 (or at least the old rag sails) likes. Boat speed was excellent, which gave us much latitude tactically.
The first leeward mark we came in on starboard gybe and nailed a perfect gybe drop going around the mark. The breeze came up a little bit after sunset and we had all bodies on the windward rail for the next short leg upwind. After a perfect spinnaker set going around the mark, we started hauling freight in some nice sustained puffs in the 14kt range, driving us at 7.5-8.5kts through the water.
When we were near the starboard layline, we gybed over to get closer to the mark, crossing ahead of one big boat and shooting up over the stern of a non-spinnaker racer headed straight for the mark. Just beyond their stern, we rotated into a snappy gybe and squirted right out in front of the leadmine headed for the mark. The leeward mark once again presented us with an opportunity for a gybe drop, which we again pulled off with perfection. PERFECTION! The final beat to the finish line was just a gravy train.
Our division was incredibly tight tonight, with first and last separated by less than 3 minutes. We got first. Good times.
I'm slowly recovering from three days of non-stop fun. Guess what? I can't wait to go racing again tomorrow night! But first, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum (regatta, whatever)...
I learned last Thursday, when the scratch sheet for the YRALIS Championships was first published, that my rating is not actually 108 as I was originally told by the handicapper and as stated on my initial PHRF certificate. They overlooked the roller furling on my application and when they discovered the error, the PHRF committee adjusted my rating. That's all well and good, but I never received notice of the adjustment, verbal or otherwise. We've been giving away roughly 18 seconds for every hour we race on Wednesday nights!
Looking back over the season's results so far, it turns out that the results for Race #4 would change (yep, we'd be scored 1st instead of 2nd), as would the results for Race #9 (that's right, another 1st). Hopefully there won't be any difficulty getting the scores amended.
As for the regatta last weekend, the initial scratch sheet showed a split at 110 which would put me in the slower class if I entered with a 111. The J/92s rates 99 and was in the faster class. I wanted to race against that boat so badly I chose to enter with the 108 rating. When the final scratch sheet came out, they combined the two ranges making my rating sacrifice pointless. With the more favorable rating, I would have placed 3rd instead of 4th in the second race (the only race in which the 92s beat me, by three seconds), but the overall results would have been the same—I would have lost by 2 points instead of 3. It would have been nice to say that I beat the 92s in every race. Maybe I'll get my act together for next year.
The Wednesday Night Series has a somewhat complicated scoring system intended to give boats that can't make it out for every race a chance to win the series. It's a Cox-Sprague system with one throwout accumulated for every two races beyond eight in which you race (i.e. no throwout for nine races, one throwout for ten races, two throwouts for twelve, three for fourteen). Because of canceled races, we have a maximum of fourteen races, which means I can earn up to three throwouts since I haven't missed a single race. Kinsale is one race behind me which means they can only earn a maximum of two throwouts. Indecent Proposal will not be able to earn a throwout at all because they started the season so late. If one more race is canceled, I'll lose one of my potential throwouts and Kinsale won't. If two races are canceled, it will be impossible for Indecent Proposal to qualify for the series.
Analysis is all well and good, but we still have to keep sailing well and beating boats to win this thing!
In closing, I would like to thank the wonderful team that helped make the Championshps an incredibly fun event. And for those of you who could only make Sunday's non-event, you'll get another shot—Thin Man likes to go racing.
We fought long and hard against the lead boat, which had a brand new set of sails and the sailmaker was aboard, too. In the end, we only had the three races on Saturday (no wind on Sunday) and came up with a second place in class by three points. What a GREAT start to Thin Man's pickle dish collection!
Above photo courtesy of Allen Clark and photoboat.com
Yesterday we delivered Thin Man from City Island to Stamford after a big production to spot a spare car in Stamford (so we'd have a way to get home after the delivery). The conditions were not ideal, either for driving or moving the boat—we had 15-20kts with gusts to 25kts out of the ENE, gradually backing to NE as we got to Connecticut. The chop was short and very steep, forcing us to twist off the sails and ease them a bit so we didn't pound the boat to death! Despite that, we averaged almost 6kts over the ground (against a strong, wind-driven flood tide no less) and made the delivery in 4½ hours mooring to dock.
Duncan and Phil were great crew, we had a blast, and I got some very valuable lessons about handling Thin Man upwind in a big breeze (note to self: don't try to punch the bow through the waves!
Today is Day 1 of the YRA of Long Island Sound PHRF Championships. We're ready for some good competition and a lot of fun. After some early confusion about the correct rating for Thin Man, we are now in a class of ten boats including a new J/92s. I can't wait to see how we stack up against them with a 9sec/mile rating difference. Time to run, gotta get lunch for the crew...
Got the gun at the finish and missed 1st place by 3 seconds corrected time. GUTTED!
Indecent Proposal sailed well and capitalized on our mistakes (atrocious spinnaker hoist) and misfortunes (collision with a very large submerged log). Plenty of competition to keep this series lively for the rest of the season!
In other news... Thin Man will compete this weekend in the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound PHRF Championships (whew, that's a mouthful!). Friday afternoon we'll sail the boat 20nm to Stamford and race the weekend out of Brewer's Yacht Haven. Then back home to City Island by water on Sunday evening.
The excitement is building (can you feel it?). I've managed to pull together a great crew for the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound Championships next weekend (August 11 and 12). The City Island Cup was a good warm-up regatta for a really green skipper and crew—we'd only been racing for three weeks at that point—but it's time to face tougher competition and bring our game up a notch (or three).
I'm disappointed that YRALIS lacks the wherewithal to provide effective communications on the Internet. The URL in the NOR/Entry Form (www.yralis.org/2007ChampionshipRegatta) points to a page that was nonexistent until I pointed it out to them a few weeks ago. They corrected it by putting up a holding page containing no information. I have no doubt that calling the office and requesting information would be successful, but that's not the point. The Germans have a great saying that applies perfectly here: Wenn schon, dann schon! My loose translation: If you're gonna do it, do it right! Seriously.
The host yacht club for the circle on which we'll likely be sailing is Riverside Yacht Club. We won't know until YRALIS publishes information sometime, somewhere, somehow. It could also be American Yacht Club or Indian Harbor Yacht Club, but who knows. I'm going to hedge my bets and bring the boat from City Island to Stamford on Friday evening. We'll use Brewer's Yacht Haven as our remote base of operations for this mission.
One of the side benefits of this regatta is that there will likely be at least one professional photographer taking pictures of the action. The only shot of Thin Man racing so far is from the first Wednesday night race, when we didn't even have the name on the boat. I want a picture worthy of a big print!
Well, another race night down the drain. The high pressure system that filled in yesterday moved across the area tonight and gave us extremely light air conditions. We got the boat rigged at the mooring while I fixed the port running light (just a burned out bulb). We backed out of the parking lot under full steam and did a quick spin 'round to forward motion once we were past Big Tom. While we were tooling around the starting line I hoisted the main (after dumping Tommy unceremoniously on his keester when I released the main halyard supporting the end of the boom). Sorry!!!
The official race was canceled at 1945 and we promptly hoisted the 2A spinnaker for a casual sail. Just as we got the sail up and filled, an unofficial race was offered. At first it seemed that nobody was going to throw their hat in the ring, but once Exhilaration hailed the Race Committee, a few others did as well and it looked like a practice race would be run. It didn't seem like enough wind to pull it off, but at the warning signal we actually had noticed genuine sailable puffs on the water. The crew decided to enter the race, so down came the kite and up went the North #1. The course was to Hart Island and back.
We were accidentally not too far from the pin end when we got the genoa up with about 01:30 to the start. We were on port tack and all the other starters were at the committee boat end on starboard, so we simply pressed on to build speed until a tack would put us to leeward and abreast the first starboard tack boat (Illyria, J/120).
The beat up to Hart Island was entertaining, with positions being traded frequently as boats found breeze or a lift or maybe a giant hole. We rounded the mark close behind Illyria and Eagle. The boats ahead of us chose a gybe-set and were parked after the mark with flaccid spinnakers, so we chose a bear-away set to take us to a different breeze. We made decent speed when we heated up to almost 90° TWA, but we found ourselves reaching back and forth and making no more progress than the boats that were trying to sail dead downwind. Having completed a fair number of very successful gybes, we decided it was enough and doused the spinnaker.
With engine at full throttle, we went into full post-race mode (cue beer can tops popping) and headed for Chicken Lickin' Point (South end of City Island). As we got near City Island a distinct breeze line showed on the water and we braced ourselves for new conditions. With 8-10kts of SSW breeze, we unfurled the genoa and killed the motor. As we settled in on a close-hauled port tack course, we noticed Eagle ahead and to leeward, still racing. We started to pass them to windward and then thought better of it, since it would not be the nicest thing to blanket them when we had already abandoned the race. What to do? Oh, what to do?
Yup! We reached off to pass close astern, got about two boat lengths to leeward, then powered through their lee and worked up to one boat length to leeward and several boat lengths ahead before we decided we were close to fouling their breeze again and had sufficiently proven the point. Dropped the genoa and motored to the mooring to finish off a beautiful, hot, mostly windless evening.
I'd really like to have an official race, OK?
I'd like to wax poetic about last night (yes, it was that good), but time is not on my side at the moment. I'll just give you the undisputed facts.
- Headcount: 9
- Stowaways: 1 (bowman)
- Winds: SSW 5-8kts
- Skies: clear
- Sails: Q Main, North #1, North Old Runner
- Course: Little Neck Bay 4 legs (JLJ)
- Competitors: 9
- Start: Committee Boat (+2 seconds)
- Barging: Aeroplane (apology accepted)
- Finish Position: 1st
- Handicap Position: 2nd
- Series Position: 1st
- Fun Factor: High
More later. I promise.
Well, the port side logo will have to wait for another day. It was very windy when we got to the boat around noon. We dallied at the dock for a while to get a sense for how much it was bouncing and splashing. In the end, there was only one thing on my mind: I'd rather be sailing!
We had a really good turnout with seven adults and two kids. The cold front came through last night and left us with breezy, dry and (relatively) cool air, mare's tails in the sky the only impediment to the blazing summer sun.
We started out with the Quantum main and #3 (my favorite cruising combo) heading downwind on a broad reach. The wind was out of the NNE, at times blowing 15-20kts and occasionally moderating to 10-15kts. With kids aboard it seemed prudent to keep the boat on her feet, so we took the first reef in the main before heading upwind past Hart Island and Execution Rocks, almost to the westernmost circle of Larchmont Race Week. The reefed main works very well and we had an easy upwind climb with a couple of tacks to keep us clear of rocks and shorelines that came too close.
Once we got clear of Execution Rocks, we reached off toward the the East and then gybed over to starboard, heading back toward home. The angle was perfect for a spinnaker, so we set up to hoist the chicken chute (remember Mr. Smiley?). Unfortunately, some confusion led to the wrong kite going up and we found ourselves flying the Red Reacher. We hit 10-11kts on a nice gust, then noticed that the kite had a rather nasty tear near the clew, so down it came before the problem became too serious. Oh boy, more business for UK-Halsey.
Stomachs were rumbling by now, so we kept the jib furled and sailed on a broad reach scooting along at 5-6kts with just the reefed main so we could eat lunch and relax a bit. That kept us entertained until just past Hart Island, at which point we unfurled the jib and picked up a little more speed. We headed up Little Neck Bay with the wind just abaft the port beam, then gybed around and headed upwind to return to the mooring. I just LOVE the roller furling jib. It makes sailing onto the mooring a snap.
Lots of cameras were snapping photos throughout the day. I should get the ones from Kevin and Steve soon, but here are mine. The GPS track for today's excursion shows the average speed for the entire day was 5kts! Lots of stretches of 6-8kts speed. Thin Man surely loves to go fast. Thank you to my wonderful friends for sharing such a beautiful day on the water with me.
I have to finish up with the vinyl logo on the port side, and tomorrow looks like a gorgeous day to be at the boat. This time I will have friends to assist—many hands make light work! We will go sailing, of course.
We did race last night, though it was not scored. The conditions were light and variable, so it didn't meet the criteria required to start an official race. Our PRO, Eben Hansmire, was very smart about it and started the sequence anyway (unofficially). The course was to Hart Island and back.
We port-tacked our fleet from about mid-line going a whopping ¾kt aimed directly at the mark. Shortly after the start, we got headed consistently and decided to tack over to starboard and found ourselves once again aimed directly at the mark. Full steam ahead! The breeze filled in as we got closer to City Island and we actually had everyone on the windward side at one point. Honest!
We stayed at the head of our class; once we got around the windward mark and set the kite, we took off. GPS shows we were in the 6-7kt speed range going downwind. We started at 2000 and finished at 2038. We beat the Olson 30 by about 52 seconds and the Carerra 290 by just over 3 minutes. For a 40 minute race, the maximum we owe anybody is about 2 minutes, and for the two boats just mentioned it was only a few seconds.
Could we please do this in a race that counts?!? Here's the < a href="gallery/ebyra-2007-07-18.png" target="_blank">GPS track.
I finally got my hands on the vinyl graphics for the boat on Friday, thanks to the very generous efforts of Patrick, a crew mate from the Soverel 33 "Whacko" program. The weather forecast looked more promising for gentle conditions on Saturday, so I planned to get up to City Island as early as possible in order to work on the boat at the floating dock without too much wind- or stinkpot-driven chop. Typical for me, "as early as possible" translated into 1300 at the boat. Time for breakfast, stop off at the hardware store looking for a squeegee I need for the job, pop into West Marine looking for a few odds and ends that they didn't have, wander over to the cafe next door to get a sandwich (built very, very slowly)—it all adds up.
Bringing the boat to the dock single-handed was easy (only about 5kts of wind and very little current). The outside position was initially good for having the breeze push the boat off the dock, but the wind shifted while I was still gathering all the tools and supplies for the job. I untied the boat and walked it around the end of the dock and the pilings, tied off on the inside with a building Westerly pushing the boat away from the dock.
OK, so here we go. I've never done this before, but I've gotten detailed advice from a number of people with lots of skill and experience. How hard can it be? Heh. The Sign-A-Rama guy took very good care of me, though—he printed an extra copy of the name and also the home port, so I could count on one mulligan. Thank goodness I had the spare, because I surely fouled up the first logo. I wetted the hull and logo thoroughly, just as I was told to do. Nobody mentioned taking off the adhesive-side backing paper first. The backing quite happily disintegrated as I tried to peel it away from the logo. Oh well, write it off to experience.
Right, let's see if we can learn from our mistakes. We still have a spare home port, so let's try doing that one next. It's smaller, more accessible (upside down, but still not as bad as working from the dock), and I can still afford to screw it up. Spares are good. To make it even easier, the stainless backstay tang insisted that I cut the home port into two halves. Let's go with "CITY ISL" on one side and "AND, NY" on the other. I took it slow, methodical and careful. Then I threw out all the good advice and just slapped it onto the wet hull, lining it up by (upside down) eyeball. Drum roll ,please... It worked. Woo hoo!
With my confidence renewed, I set out to tackle the starboard side logo once again. I had my field nicely marked off with blue masking tape. The curvature of the hull made it impossible to tape at the top, so I steeled myself, splashed a lot of water all over everything and slapped it onto the wet hull. Did I mention that this thing is 48" wide??? I really couldn't smooth everything out fast enough with the hot sun drying the surgical field so quickly. I ended up with two wrinkles in one of the letters, and things seem pretty well lined up. Lots of squeegee action followed, to get everything pressed firmly and smoothly (as much as possible) and press out the excess water.
Now my not-so-early start and lengthy initial efforts coupled with a 15-20kt breeze meant that it would be a really bad idea to try to apply the port side logo. I was hot and tired and I'd had enough of impossible contortions seated on a hard dock, so the port side will just have to wait for another day. At least I know how to do it now!
Sadly, there were a few other casualties of my activities on the boat yesterday.
One clumsy step across the cockpit and I succeeded in wrenching the swivel end off the tiller extension. While pumping the head as I adjusted the seal around the pump shaft, I managed to wrench the handle off the pump. Oops! Double OOPS! Time to order some replacements.
In case you wonder what it looks like from the launch... I really like it.
If you noticed the lack of results on the EBYRA web site for last night's race, you may have guessed that the race was canceled due to stormy weather. Would that it were so! The storm passed through just in time to allow the race committee to go to the starting area in the tail end of the showers and wait patiently in the post-storm vacuum. We motored out and buzzed around for a while without get uncovering the main or running the sheets, since it seemed pointless to get things wet when the odds were against getting a race going. We were pleasantly surprised to see the wind settle in from the South at about 5 knots and the sequence began about 1945 (normally 1905). We switched to prep mode and got the boat rigged and sailing in record time. Duncan was appointed tactician for the evening and gave us an entertaining start, reaching along the line from the pin on port tack with moderate speed at mid-line when the gun went off, with a quick flop over to starboard to avoid the rush boats charging toward us.
As dismal as the start first appeared, we pulled off a reasonably good tack and boat speed came back up quickly enough to keep us ahead and to leeward of the fleet, accidentally owning the left side of the course. To add to our good fortune, the next wind shift was a 10° left shift which put everyone neatly behind us.
We pushed on into the header to be sure it was going to hang around, then tacked to cross the fleet. After a couple more tacks to keep in the middle of the course, we suddenly noticed a tug pushing a barge Eastbound on a collision course. We took a short hitch to the right and then tacked back onto starboard cross close behind his stern, maximizing the favorable push of his prop wash. That brought back memories from dinghy racing in Annapolis!
We kept on pushing the VMG and rounded just a few minutes behind a Beneteau 36.7 which started 10 minutes ahead of us and owes us around 2½ minutes per hour. Yep! Crushing the fleet. That's where I like to be. Up went the chute (nice repair thanks to UK-Halsey on City Island) without any carnage for a bear-away set. After getting the boat settled down, we quickly gybed onto port tack and found ourselves heading within about 5-10° of the finish line. The light was fading quickly and we were drifting along at 3-4kts with a huge chute blocking my view of any traffic that might be coming at us on starboard. Somewhat nerving, actually.
We heated up to avoid another commercial vessel, a fishing boat brightly lit and headed Eastbound. Then the wind really started getting fluky, and suddenly we were in a huge, persistent header. Out rolled the #1 and down came the spinnaker and once again we were headed smartly for the finish line (albeit upwind).
The Sailing Instructions state that the first boat in each class must finish no later than 2145 in order for the race to count for that class. At 2145 we were surrounded by Division 6 boats about ½nm from the finish line when the dreaded announcement came over the radio that racing was abandoned for the night.
But we crushed 'em!
Yesterday was a very fine day to be sailing. Kurt and Jo-Ann joined me and Duncan and Brian for a romp around Eastchester Bay. The wind was out of the west and very gusty; strong gradient winds aloft mixing down in the afternoon thermals gave us some solid puffs in the low 20's. I've been curious to know how the boat goes with the main reefed, so we loaded the #3 on the furler and hoisted the main with the 1st reef taken in. It made for an easy and comfortable sail in the heaviest gusts, and our speed upwind was not far off the pace even with only Brian hiking on the rail. Nice to know it's a viable option in a pinch.
Starboard tack off the mooring took us up to Ft. Schuyler. Given our collective state of mind, we decided to go with the Smiley Face chute. Typical foul-ups with the lazy sheet and wraps and whatnot couldn't deter us... the chute filled and away we went toward Little Neck Bay and points South. We were more interested in heading East toward the Sound, so we gybed (eventually). Initially, we were on a broad reach and upright. As we approached Stepping Stones and the cruiser toodling along in front of us, the wind worked its way forward and we suddenly found ourselves with plenty of breeze and a powered-up Smiley Face on a beam reach. The rudder was still sticking to the flow, so no big deal, right?
As we tried to sail under the cruiser and leave him with a clear breeze, he came down closer to Stepping Stones. These are not the most familiar waters for me, so I much prefer to let him have the inside overlap at that particular "mark". If you've been following the trail of breadcrumbs, you'll have figured out already what happens next. Heading up to go over the cruiser means plenty of breeze and a really powered-up Smiley Face on a close reach. The rudder was still sticking to the flow, then suddenly it wasn't.
Cue surfer music... W I P E O U T !
Well, we were on a close reach already so it wasn't much of a roundup. Since we weren't quite past Stepping Stones, I didn't feel like fighting the kite and the traffic and the rocks all at the same time, so we doused the kite (eventually). With things back under control, we continued on more casually with jib and main (still reefed, 'cause we're lazy). Once we got to the Southeast corner of Hart Island, it was time to head back.
Exhausted from all the earlier excitement, I opted to call up the reserves for duty on the helm. Jo-Ann bravely took the challenge, and in no time we were charging upwind toward Kings Point. In the spirit of sharing, she allowed Kurt a few minutes on the tiller as well. After a few tacks to shake out the cobwebs, he brought us cleanly to the mooring and stuck the dismount, olympic style.
Sitting on the veranda at the club sipping dark-n-stormies with friends after a birthday sail? Priceless.
Thin Man will be out on Sunday for a casual daysail with a few friends. Meanwhile, progress continues on various fronts.
I dropped off the old North spinnaker at UK-Halsey on the way to our sunset sail on Tuesday, to have the rip repaired properly. We'll have it back in time for Wednesday's race.
Since the kite is, well, old, it seems only fitting and proper to start planning for a replacement. UK-Halsey is busy gathering the info required to design a spectacularly fast Code 2A for me. The beautiful thing about the new kite is that it will probably be within class limits, allowing me to lose the 3 second penalty that PHRF assigned on my initial certificate because the North runner is larger than class rules permit.
More good news came last night—the vinyl graphics for the hull are complete and I should have them in hand next week. Thin Man will not be naked much longer!
Having spent so much time slaving away over graphic design programs to get the logo just the way I wanted it, I thought it would be fun to re-use some of the graphics. If you want to show your support for Thin Man, wander over to my little shop at Cafe Press and adorn yourself (or your car).
Last, but certainly not least... I want to start lining up some additional (non-Wednesday night) racing events. Looks like the City Island Yacht Club Distance Race on 25 August could be beaucoup fun. Who's in?
Happy Birthday, USofA! As much as I wanted to take Thin Man out for a sail today, I wanted to avoid drunken revelers in motorboats much, much more. I had planned to go to Stamford last night to fill in for Kurt on Desperado, but the Breakwater Irregulars Race Committee decided there wouldn't be enough participants and canceled the event. What to do? Oh, what to do? Hmmmm. I know!
Yes, of course I took Thin Man out last night with a few good friends. The weather was perfect, mid 70's and crystal clear skies with a gradually fading sea breeze, 10-15kts out of the SSW. We sailed off the mooring with the main, cleared the mooring field and unfurled the #3. Starboard tack close hauled allowed us just to skirt the nuns marking Big Tom, so we carried on to Stepping Stones and tacked over to Fort Schuyler. Back on starboard tack, we went as far as mid-channel off Throgs Neck, bore off and hoisted the red Code 3A kite. Once we got the kite settled a bit, we gybed over to port and settled in for a casual 8-9kt run at 135° TWA for about fifteen minutes. La la la.
Everyone got a shot at the helm and trimming the sails. Bruce did a stellar job landing us on the mooring under main alone, coming to a dead stop right at the pennant with no waggling or backing the sail. Sweet! Duncan was once again a great teacher, introducing the finer points of yachting to an eager audience. Carrie seemed to fall instantly in love with the boat and, were it not for the stronger attraction of civilized facilities ashore, we would likely have had to carry her bodily from the boat. Welcome to the crew pool, Carrie!
It was pointed out last night that I had a permanent ear-to-ear grin fixed to my face. How could I not???
I called up a few crew who had expressed interest in a practice day, and Saturday was open for all of them. We mustered at New York Muffin Company and drove up to the yacht club, where we met up with our newest crewmember, Nikolas. He found the EBYRA web site when he moved to town recently, and through that he found Thin Man and presented himself for duty. Welcome, Nikolas!
The breeze was minimal, zephyrs and patches of glass spread out somewhat randomly. We motored for a bit to charge batteries and run the autopilot (I wanted to test it under way after last week's replacement of the plug). I calibrated the speedo as we wandered around Eastchester Bay under full throttle. It would be much better if I ran a measured mile back and forth for a bit, but I'm just not going to bother investing that level of effort for these instruments.
We flew the ratty old North 155% genoa; plenty baggy and worn out mylar, but good enough for practice. We conjured up just enough breeze to launch the jumbo kite and try a few gybes. Somewhere along the way we managed to tear the chute in the middle, just above the foot. Inevitable, I suppose. Time to get to know my sailmaker better.
There's no race this Wednesday. See y'all on the 11th!
Music figures prominently in many things I do, including sailing. If I had to pick a theme song for last night's experience, it would surely be Riders On The Storm by the Doors. I don't happen to have that on a CD, but there's always good music playing thanks to my friend (and competitor!) IJ Catling's company, Dance Tracks Digital.
We had really gusty conditions and lightning popping constantly to the south of our playground. Kudos to the Race Committee for making the right decision and sending us up to "N" deep in Little Neck bay and back for a simple two-legger. Given we were once again shorthanded (only four of us), the fewer legs the better! Winds were in the high teens with gusts in the low to mid 20's. The house battery needed charging, so we motored out to the starting area with bare poles, delaying the inevitable flogging of the main as much as possible. At ten minutes to our start, we put up the main and the #3 and got the show on the road. After a short postponement we were sent on our way.
The committee boat was heavily favored, we could almost lay the windward mark on starboard. Aeroplane barged in, but they were early and I didn't want putting the squeeze on them to leave me early to the line as well. We got pole position and led the pack to the mark, with Excalibur putting some very good pressure on us. Once we got well into Little Neck Bay and lighter winds, we started legging out a bit. The extent to which the wind was skewed off the rhumb line forced the call for a gybe set. Duncan was on bow and a gybe set was duly executed. Once we got everything squared away and made sure we were heading in the right direction, it looked like we might actually lay the finish line. However (ain't it always the case?), plenty of shifts along the way brought us a bit high of the finish line and thus the gybe from hell was born. Only about ten boat lengths from the RC, Aeroplane nipping at our heels the whole downwind and now everyone getting a free comedy show at our expense. The spinnaker block ratchets were sticking in the on position and the old sheet wouldn't feed fast enough to prevent the horrible wrappage that just wouldn't come out. After biting my nails for a minute, I asked for a gybe back to give it a chance to clear, which actually worked. Now it was *really* time to gybe for the finish, which we did well enough to slip over the line and beat Aeroplane corrected by four seconds! Unfortunately, Mustang Sally apparently had a very good downwind leg and corrected 32 seconds ahead of us to snatch 1st place from our feeble clutches.
I should mention that I forgot my foul weather jacket at home (doh!), so I was quite interested in the how the weather was changing. Amazingly, we were able to finish and get the boat on the mooring with the main flaked and the jib furled before the rain came, so we slipped down below to listen to Sentimental Cooking by Langoth and savor a beer or two while we chatted about the weather (34 knots peak at the mooring). The rain and wind abated after a bit, so we flaked the #3 and hopped on the launch to have a bite at the club, again missing the rain. Soooo entertaining to hear the tales from those bedraggled, rain-soaked sailors from boats that were still racing after we finished. First they got hit by a brief calm, followed by a 180° shift and breeze building to 34 knots or more (Chaika saw 42). Not much fun, particularly with the horizontal rain.
For us, though, it was a fabulous evening. Burned into my memory is the vision of the mast briefly wobbling as a really solid gust threw itself at us coming out of Little Neck Bay. Sustained 10+ knots under the jumbo kite was effortless and the boat was incredibly stable. I was bracing myself for a broach that never happened. Go Thin Man!
At last, a bit of time to catch up on old news. It suddenly got busy at the end of May, what with crewing for Butch on the Annapolis-Newport Race (J/133 SirenSong, 2nd place IRC!!!) followed immediately by entertaining house guests for a few weeks.
Where to start? Oh, yes, let's have a quick re-cap of Wednesday Night Race #3 (6 June):
- really great crew lineup with a special guest from Charlotte
- wasted about 2 minutes heading for the wrong 1st mark (coughkarencough)
- flubbed a gybe or two
- lost the race by 2:04 (coughkarencough)
- had a TON of fun
Next up was City Island Cup (9-10 June). We were middle of the pack in all three races on the first day with 10-15kts of breeze and only six bodies (two novices). In hindsight I would say that the biggest factor was pinching in the chop and generally not keeping the boat moving fast. On the second day with 5-8kts of breeze we led the division all the way around the course in the first race. Sadly the race was abandoned because RC tried to shorten course but couldn't get into position due to a fouled anchor rode. In the second race we were again leading solidly to the first mark, only I had read the wrong chart and therefore rounded the mark at Hart Island instead of Gangway Rock (oh no! not again!), neatly disposing of six minutes while we executed a perfect spinnaker set, gybe and douse. We clawed our way back to third in that race, so we definitely had good speed, occasionally going in the right direction. The competition was great (much better than Wednesday nights) and we learned alot about getting the boat going in different conditions.
I already covered Wednesday Night Race #4 (13 June) below, so let's talk about Race #5 (20 June). We finished 4th of 6 (about 2 minutes shy of 1st), not really what we're used to. The conditions were incredible with clear skies and 10-15kt breeze with gusts near 18kt early. I tried hard to come up with some extra experienced crew to cover the gaping holes in our lineup caused by Block Island Race Week. Naturally we ended up with rock stars all over the boat:
- Bow: Brian--5th time doing bow ever
- Pit: Jared--2nd time sailing ever
- Trim: Alex--never been primary trimmer in a race ever
We just took the evolutions slowly and talked through everything (including a gnarly spinnaker wrap on the hoist for the second downwind). It was a great on-the-water classroom session for some folks that wouldn't ordinarily have a chance to touch those particular strings during a race. No yelling at all, nobody got hurt, nothing was broken and everyone had fun. And the Guinness was cold. In that context I don't think we did too badly. And let's not overlook the fact that we beat all of the Division *6* boats both scratch and corrected!
Which brings us to the present. A cold front went through Friday and left us with really gorgeous but very breezy weather this weekend. I managed to carve out some time on Saturday afternoon to go to the boat (with Button) and take care of a bit of maintenance. The List Of Things To Do never goes away. I was going to calibrate the speedo and charge the batteries, but lack of time and very gusty conditions combined with Button appearing to be less than pleased with the motion of the boat at the mooring convinced me to take it easy and tackle other things on the list like replacing the deck socket for the autopilot to eliminate an intermittent wiring problem (successful).
I'm also quite pleased that the solar panel is working nicely, as I prefer to sail on and off the mooring as much as possible and rarely run the engine. Last, but certainly not least, Thin Man now has a bottom cleaning by John the Barnacle Buster every Tuesday or Wednesday, starting last week. I checked the rudder and the bits of the bottom I could reach hanging over the transom, and the fuzz is gone. Fast!
Later today, real busy, get to it right away, blah blah blah... Yes, I'm still behind in my reportage. Entertaining Catya's parents for a few weeks took priority, that's my excuse. It was a very fun time—last Friday's afternoon sail is a good example.
Anywho, it's Block Island Race Week and I'm not there because I "wasted" my boating vacation time on Key West (not a bad decision, I assure you). Half my crew is out there, though, so we'll be shorthanded tomorrow. I figure it's better to race shorthanded and get more time on the water than sit it out and imagine what might have been.
Sorry I've fallen so far behind in reporting the exploits of Thin Man and her crew. I'll back-fill details later today. For those hanging on the edge of their seat waiting to hear about last night's race...
We got 2nd place, missing first by 11 seconds. We sailed a very fast, very clean race but we were stuffed by Kinsale's sloppy start and then boxed in between a number of boats for the first minute or two of the race. It wasn't worth going to the protest room this time, but I will not give them another free ride. With the breeze in the 12-15kt range out of the East and gusts occasionally a little bit higher, we went with the #3 jib and sailed very comfortably upwind with Bill doing a marvelous job working the main and backstay in the rapidly changing conditions. Downwind we pulled off a decent gybe-set and took off like a rocket. One gust took us to 11.4kts, our new record. Unfortunately, we sailed fast enough that we got ahead of the best puff line and the folks behind us got to ride along in it for a bit longer. Excalibur did a great job both upwind and downwind and earned the win. And we beat Kinsale anyway, so there!
More details later today.
We had an all-star crew tonight, but we were too busy having fun to let a good race get in the way. Despite ourselves, we came in 2nd. The breeze started out in the 15-18kt range, but by the end of the nearly two-hour race it was in the 5-8kt range. We would have had a much faster ride if I had remembered to bring back the jumbo chute which I took home last week to dry out. D'oh!
We ended up very shorthanded this evening with three people canceling at the last minute. Despite the additional handicap, I'm proud to say that Team Thin Man stepped up and delivered tonight. We got a solid first, and the team made it happen. Well done, all!
Conditions were 5-10kts out of the South, with the occasional gust to 12kts. Current was flooding strongly for the duration, seas were calm and the sky was crystal clear. The line was skewed a good 20 degrees to the pin end, so we hit that end of the line with speed at the gun (mutinous crew claim I was three boatlengths shy of the line... what do they know?!?). The left was good for breeze, but not so good for current. Kinsale headed right early and made out well at the first check-in. We stayed over by the bridge and trimmed on as the wind piped up near Throgs Neck. Once we got around the first windward mark, we set the old runner reasonably quickly and started working our way down. A couple more fairly clean roundings and we were on our way to finishing six minutes ahead of Kinsale scratch, two and a half minutes corrected.
It was a very busy weekend and fortunately I had an opportunity to go sailing with my lovely wife and lively dog for the first time in our new boat Friday evening. Sheer bliss! We dropped off the mooring at 2000 for a 2015 sunset. Being lazy and running late due to the awful holiday weekend traffic, I simply unfurled the #2 jib and left the main under cover for the duration. Catya took the helm for the majority of our little tour of Eastchester Bay. Just as on our honeymoon, she is a natural. I do believe we will see her out on the boat again in the not too distant future.
Today I was able to steal away from chores for a few hours, so I stopped by the boat to take care of a few things.
- Moved the Quantum #3 from the wrong (#2) bag to the #3 bag
- Removed #2 from furler, flaked it and bagged it
- Hooked up solar panel with charge conditioner to Battery #1 (House)
- Drilled out and replaced broken rivets on forward hatch port stop
- Drank a beer (hey, skippers need maintenance too)
And if that wasn't enough, Chaika was serving as Race Committee last week and Dave snapped an outstanding picture of us racing to get to the start (late). Thanks for the great shot, Dave!
We had really fun and challenging conditions for six people who mostly haven't raced together and, of course, never on Thin Man. We had a fresh breeze (10-15kts, gusting close to 20kts occasionally) out of the South which gave us 9.5kts on the speedo a couple of times on the downwind legs. We screwed up plenty, including 20-30 seconds late for the start. In the end we missed 1st place by only 43 seconds. Darn!
Detailed results are posted on the racing page. Sorry, no pics from tonight. Maybe something will come from the race committee boat.
I finally found a few minutes to edit the video footage from the maiden voyage last weekend. Enjoy!
While we're doing the whole video thing, here is classic footage from the first Wednesday of the 2007 season.
What a treat! I got out to the boat in the afternoon to take care of a few things including fixing the speedo. I reseated every wire in the speed/depth terminal block and noticed that the speedo ground wire was not connected to the depth and display grounds. Twisting them together did the trick and now Thin Man's speed through the water can be observed scientifically. Ooooooh! Aaaaaah!
I also loaded up the backstay to try out the new Harken Airblocks on the tackle. Movement was smooth and much easier than it was with the worn out standard blocks. When we installed the new blocks on Wednesday, we also shortened the tail on the coarse stage of the cascade so that the fine stage would have maximum range of adjustment. It worked out quite nicely.
Since there was a 10-15kt breeze out of the W/NW, I decided to enjoy a brief sail in Eastchester Bay all by myself. First and most importantly, I put on my lifejacket. The thermometer hanging in the water read 55°F today. Brrrrr.
Before leaving the mooring, I hoisted the Quantum #3 jib and furled it, then uncovered and hoisted the Quantum main. I threw off the mooring bridles and sailed off on a reach out of the mooring field. Once I had the outhaul where I wanted it and sorted the mainsheet, traveler and backstay, I unfurled the jib and Thin Man leapt forward.
Getting the halyards tensioned properly and trimming the jib, adjusting the jib lead cars and tending the main through the gusts was quite a handful. I threw in a few tacks and gybes to see how challenging it would be. With the tiller extension set at a certain stop, the handle rests against the leeward cockpit wall and the boat tracks straight enough that I can run forward briefly to adjust a jib lead or halyard. Steering using my foot from a position forward of the traveler works well for adjusting the jib. The boat balances beautfully, and is stiff enough to keep the rail out of the water even when a good puff loads up the sails.
Wanting to get back home at a reasonable hour, I furled the jib and started the engine, hooked up the autopilot and dumped the main. A couple of sail ties to keep it from blowing off and I headed over to the mooring after a quick pass by my neighbors on Starlight to say "Hi" to Sean and Wendy. I positioned the bow right on the mooring and grabbed the pennant from the bow. Voila!
Cleaning up after the sail was a chore, naturally. Flaking the main was actually pretty easy, since it has slides instead of a luff groove. I decided to leave the jib furled rather than dump it on deck and surely watch it blow into the water while struggling without success to flake it. Getting the cover on the furled sail was a little tricky, since I had to hoist and zip the cover simultaneously while standing at the headstay. In the end, I think I got it wrapped up neatly enough. About that time, a minor squall blew through and brought a beautiful rainbow behind it. Then it was time to go home and edit and post the brief video from today's escapade.
The GPS track shows some steady 8kt stretches when I was sailing on a reach, and 7kts going upwind with the jib poorly trimmed. I can live with that.
I'm proud to say that after the first Wednesday night, Thin Man is undefeated! Yup, that's right... the race was abandoned from shore due to strong storm cells associated with a cold front passing through. It couldn't have been tood bad, as the J/24 fleet went out for at least one race on their own.
Despite the weather, we had five hardy souls (Bill, Duncan, Alex, Karen and myself) in full foulies and ready to race. We brought the boat to the dock to unload some of the older sails and, with an extraordinarily low tide, touched bottom (soft mud) just a few feet from the dock. It was close enough that we simply tied the bow to the dock and handed the sails across the pulpit. Then back out to the mooring so that Duncan and I could replace the backstay adjust blocks which were DOA for last Sunday's delivery.
We finished just in time to catch the launch back to the dock before they shut down at 2000. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the lock on my locker left by the former tenant had been removed, so we were able to store the excess sails there. Then it was up to the bar for drinks and dinner with the crew. A good time was had by all!
I'm still "savoring the flavor" of the wonderful day we had yesterday. Mmmmmm.
I received a wonderful gift for the boat today from my parents... a solar panel to charge the batteries at the mooring. This will be great as I can hopefully avoid running the engine (I prefer to sail on and off the mooring without the help of the iron jib).
More new goodies are due to arrive (hopefully) on Wednesday: some of the backstay adjust blocks were spewing ball bearings, so I took Kurt's advice and ordered a set of Harken Carbo blocks to replace them. I should be able to install them before the race on Wednesday.
EBYRA finally posted the scratch sheet for Wednesday night racing. I was hoping for Division 6, but there is a J/120 registered this year which, due to it's low rating (51), makes it unreasonable to include a J/92 rated at 108 in the same division. The Division 5 group seems to be larger, heavier boats (Taylor 34, X-332, etc.), whereas Division 4 has a bunch of light-ish 30 footers (and others). Thin Man will be the scratch boat in her class, owing time to everybody. We will need to own the start so we can get out in clear air ASAP.
Here's the GPS track from yesterday's delivery:
The delivery went off without a hitch in picture-perfect conditions. We had a clear blue sky with a northerly breeze of 10-15kts with gusts up to 20kts. We tried a few different sails including the 3A reacher and the chicken chute (Mr. Smiley Face). Top speed over ground on the GPS was 9.9 (the boat's speedo is not currently working).
It took about four hours to make the trip from Stamford to City Island, plus half an hour of playing around with a few of the sails to see how they looked. This is going to be a really fun boat!
Check back tomorrow for video footage from the delivery.
Well, it's been too long since I wrote an entry, and plenty has happened! It's very late, so I'll keep it short and sweet.
The bottom was painted with two coats of VC Offshore (red) and then burnished to a very smooth finish at the end of this week. Thin Man was launched today, mast stepped and tuned by Kurt. Minor issues with aging equipment will be dealt with in the coming days.
Tomorrow we are taking her for her maiden voyage on Long Island Sound, delivering Thin Man from the boatyard in Stamford to her mooring at City Island Yacht Club (approximately 20nm). I will be accompanied by Brian, Alex and Karen, as well as Karen's husband Adam and daugher Willow. We're gonna have fun! This will be a media event.
I was hoping that tonight would be an opportunity to get out and practice before the first race, but Thin Man is unfortunately still not in the water. Instead, I will be going to the EBYRA skipper's meeting at City Island tonight. Hopefully the race organizers will have made a decision on the division splits.
Assuming that Thin Man gets launched later this week, the plan is to do the delivery from Stamford to City Island this Sunday.
Although Duncan and I managed to head out of Brooklyn at a reasonable hour, it took almost two full hours in the pre-weekend traffic heading up I-95 northbound before we got to the boat yard. Kurt had pulled the boat out of the shed so that the bottom could be washed (the shed is EPA certified and therefore has no drainage). We took to the project with gusto and managed to scrub the boat with soap and water from top to bottom and stem to stern in about 90 minutes. The bottom has been filled and sanded to a very nice, smooth surface. All we need now is two coats of VC Offshore rolled on with at least 16 hours between coats.
The working plan is to have a shakedown sail next Wednesday, the 9th of May, out of Stamford in preparation for the big delivery from Stamford to City Island on Sunday the 13th.
This Saturday and Sunday are the second weekend of the AYC Spring Series, so I won't be working on Thin Man.
Thanks to an unexpected conference call and heavy traffic, I arrived at the boatyard about 20 minutes after they closed. Thin Man is locked up in Building 19, waiting to be painted. I wandered over to the mast and inspected the silicone seal on the masthead tri-color light, but there wasn't much else I could do with the boat in the pokey for the night. So I thought, "Hey! I'll just drop by West Marine and buy a bolt or something." No dice; they were closed, too.
To salvage the evening, I went by the huge ShopRite down the street and stocked up on a few things for home and boat.
This past weekend was the beginning of the racing season here, with American Yacht Club's Spring Series taking center stage. Since I was crewing on a J/133 (SirenSong), there was no time to schlepp out to Stamford to work on Thin Man. We're fighting tooth and nail with a Farr 395 and an IMX45 (with Duncan on board), both well sailed. After five races, we're in second place with five points to make up on the Farr and one point advantage on the IMX. Next weekend should be lively!
On to more important news... I received a very welcome call this afternoon from Kurt informing me that Thin Man has been moved into the shed for the bottom to be sprayed. Progress, at last! There's a decent chance that she'll be in the water by this weekend. Looks like next Wednesday might be practice and delivery all rolled up in one.
Also today, I received Thin Man's PHRF certificate in the mail. It's official, we're sailing with a 108 rating this year (same as in SoCal).
This Wednesday will be the final checkout of the boat before she gets wet. If all goes smoothly, Friday afternoon could be her first sail on Long Island Sound.
My stalwart friends, Duncan and Brian, accompanied me to Stamford on a cold, rainy evening for work party #9. We got to the boat quite late thanks to heavy traffic on the way out of the city. We took care of the masthead and steaming lights, and tried out a paper mock-up of the boat's name plastered to the hull with the copious amounts of water falling from the sky.
Brian and I spent the day working in summer clothes under a merciless sun. Our efforts were supervised by Button. Despite a couple of unfortunate "dropsies", we made good progress on the LIST OF THINGS TO DO. Most notably, the new primary winches are installed and looking beautiful. Be sure to check out pictures of the day's adventures.
Wow! What a glorious day; sunny and warm, like a Spring day should be. And the icing on the cake: we had running water in the yard!!! Today's work party started with just me and Alex. In the afternoon we entertained some VIPs bearing cold, amber-colored beverages.
We knocked off some crucial items from the LIST OF THINGS TO DO. Alex tackled the teak and stainless with gusto while I removed the old Barient 23 primaries, reamed out the old bolt holes and filled them with epoxy. Alex also polished the prop shaft where the new zinc was to be installed. Just before heading home for the day, we spread the North runner out on the lawn and measured the dimensions in order to confirm the details required for a PHRF certificate.
Tomorrow the new winches will be installed, the bow sprit will be inspected carefully and the mast prep will be completed.
The weather for the weekend is looking good. What a relief, considering what remains on the LIST OF THINGS TO DO.
Despite the inhospitable weather, we were able to organize another work party. For this episode, we removed the secondary winches from the cabin house and stripped them clean. Long after sunset, we finished greasing, reassembling and mounting them. It was a big job for such a short amount of time. Thanks to Duncan and Brian, we made it happen.
With a Nor'easter scheduled to slam us on Sunday, there was no point in aiming for a two-day project like winch replacement. The weather forecast indicated sunny and moderate temps for Saturday, clouding up in the afternoon. We needed a Plan B which did not require Sunday follow-up activities.
Enter Plan B: compounding and waxing the topsides. We stopped off at Home Depot for extra sponges and a big bucket, since we have no running water and the topsides had to be washed first. We also needed... (wait for it...) NEW POWER TOOLS! It took a few minutes agonizing over the meager options for a random orbital buffer, but stock availability had the final say in this particular battle. It certainly helped that the 1/2amp Ryobi with one applicator bonnet and one buffer bonnet was so cheap relative to the others that each and every willing participant (me, Brian and Duncan) could have their very own NEW POWER TOOL!
Finally arriving at the yard around noon, we quickly organized bucket brigades and washed down the topsides with soap and water. Then we opened up the new buffers and Duncan attacked the lower part reachable standing on blue styrofoam blocks while I hit the upper part standing on a ladder. After compounding the starboard side, a mutiny was organized as the skipper failed to provide beer as required by relevant maritime law.
Off to secure consumables of the edible and drinkable varieties, we sent our quartermaster into the nearest liquor store to get some beer. Innately resourceful, he returned with the beer, of course, as well as Goslings Black Seal rum and ginger beer. Under auspicious skies we carried on to West Marine to investigate the trickle-down theory more thoroughly. Following a quick sortie through the aisles, we headed over to the supermarket to pick up a couple of limes and some excellent sandwiches from the deli counter before heading back to the boat. At the supermarket we discovered another variety of ginger beer, spawning a plan to conduct an objective taste comparison between Goya and Regatta brand ginger beer (trademarks™ wherever you feel they belong).
After a quick bite relaxing in the cabin with a CD playing on the stereo and icy Dark & Stormies in hand, Duncan and I went back to compounding while Brian started waxing and polishing behind us. Almost all of the streaks and splotches came off, and I'm proud to say that (if you don't look too closely), the hull is really in nice shape and shines quite nicely. What a pleasant surprise that the cheapest buffers turned out to be so handy!
At 6:30, we declared our job complete and packed up for the long ride home. Now Thin Man is ready for some new vinyl lettering. Stay tuned for details, and of course don't forget to watch the LIST OF THINGS TO DO grow ever longer.
The new winches arrived this morning. Weather permitting, we'll pull the old winches on Saturday and fill the holes so that the new winches can be installed on Sunday.
With freezing temperatures almost every night lately, Yacht Haven is not surprisingly waiting until next week to turn on the water. We have two buckets to shuttle water from the restroom, but we clearly won't be able to do anything requiring significant amounts of rinsing (e.g. washing the hull).
The really good news is that work on the bottom has started today. Too soon for an ETA, of course.
The (optimistic) plan is to shoot for an April 21 delivery from Stamford to City Island. I'll have to use next Wednesday night for a shakedown, assuming the boat is splashed that quickly. Fat chance? Maybe.
The new Harken primary winches should arrive tomorrow or Friday. Mmmmmmmmmm.
Both Duncan and Brian turned out for work party #4. Thanks guys!
The LIST OF THINGS TO DO has been updated with new and completed items. We have formally (Duncan as Grandmaster MC) removed the old name. Brian's elbow grease applied to a plastic scraper blade with a feeble assist from a compact hair dryer were the recipe for success. We couldn't do much of the cleaning and polishing on the list because there is no running water yet. At least we had shore power available to charge the batteries, and West Marine grudgingly took all my money in exchange for a few worthless trinkets.
There has been no progress on the bottom (no surprise). Brian and I headed out bright and early today to rig the mast, rig the deck tackle, and do a little shopping. We made a serious dent in the LIST OF THINGS TO DO. We now have the mast fully rigged, except for the spreaders and the backstay (replacing wire with Tech12). The backstay, traveler and genoa car adjust tackle is all installed.
Duncan and I will go back to the boat tomorrow to do a little more shopping for cleaning supplies and scrape off the old name.
The bottom job is scheduled to start later this week. I reviewed the LIST OF THINGS TO DO and started putting dates on the various activities. There's an awful lot to do between now and splash day! Friday is a company holiday, so guess where I'll be and what I'll be doing?
I took Friday off from work, and Duncan accompanied me to see how she looks and lend a helping hand. We started THE LIST OF THINGS TO DO, and checked out the inventory of sails. Other than a possible discrepancy with one of the spinnakers (reacher vs. runner, North vs. UK), all sails are present and accounted for. Plenty of decrepit sails, but it looks like I have two good mains and a good chute, as well as a good #1, #2 and #3. Nice to have choices.
Huge thanks to Duncan for helping me flake and brick a ton of sails!
As far as the bottom is concerned, it looks like it needs some TLC. There is corrosion and pitting of the metal on the port side of the keel, as well as a spot on the trailing edge just above the bulb. The rudder's starboard face looks like it was patched over some blisters. The yard is going to blast off just one or two layers of paint and fill and sand the problem areas, then spray a fresh coat and burnish. If the corrosion on the keel does not reappear, then stray current in the San Diego marina might explain it and we can plan on a more thorough bottom job next year.
Today, Catya and I grabbed some gear and hopped in the car with Button to go see the boat. Button was sure-footed walking around the deck, and Catya was really pleased with the boat.
Before leaving, we unwrapped the mast to see how it fared after the cross-country ride. There was absolutely nothing scuffed or scratched. My San Diego rigger, Erik Rogers, did a stellar job of disassembling, wrapping and securing everything on the boat. Not a single detail was overlooked. Thank you, Erik!
And of course I brought my camera to take some pictures of this momentous occasion.