Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Race Night 2014-07-30

This was quite an unusual race night in that not only was there a good wind of 15 to 20 knots (force 4 to 5), but 7 boats were on the water for the race. That is the most I have seen. There were only 6 for the big Harbour Cup race in 2013.

I had Lloyd Kelly crewing with me, and it was the first time that we had raced together. It was actually only the second race ever for Serenity in her 9 seasons on the water with me. My racing experience is rather limited on any boat, and Lloyd has not done much more. It was to be a learning experience.

It is not really fair to call this a race. It was just 7 boats chasing each other around three buoys, 2 orange and one green. The official yellow buoys have not been put out yet. At the start, there are three orange buoys close together for the clubs moorings, and there was some confusion as to which we had to start from and round.

Some boats did not have their radios on, and of the ones that did, some were not on the correct channel, or were having problems with their radio. This led to a couple of the boats starting 10 minutes before the others. I was still raising sails when I noticed sailboats already well down the line to the first mark. We decided to track our own time, but I couldn't get the timer to work on my watch. Might have helped if I had the chance to put on some glasses to see how to use it.

My sail plan for the wind conditions was full main and working jib, but Lloyd and I quickly realized that the gusts were going to be too strong for that much sail in the little boat, and we popped a reef into the main. Even with that, we had to often employ a fisherman's reef (the act of quickly releasing the main sheet and letting the sail drop temporarily to leeward) to maintain a heading, and not be forced into rounding up.

Michael (Chrysler 22) about to be passed by his father, Mark (Mirage 35).

We knew at the beginning that this was not going to be a serious race, so we just set about to make it around the buoys as best we could. Starting well back in last place, there was some ground to make up. Eventually, we fell into somewhat of a rhythm, and mistakes became fewer. We played with the jib sheet runs for better sail shape. The boat began sailing better, and faster. We went from alone at the rear, to up with crowd. By the second lap we even managed to pass a boat, Moon Shadow, a Chrysler 22. On the third lap, however, one of the boats that left early, and the fastest one on the course, a Mirage 35 lapped us.

Wednesday, August 6 will be the annual Harbour Cup Race. It has been held for the past 3 or 4 years as part of the Lewisporte Mussel Bed Soiree. Tonight's race I consider to be just a training run for that one. It will be a bigger deal, with a committee boat, and hopefully the yellow buoys in the water. Trying to find the correct little orange ball, from across the harbour, while staring directly into the setting sun was not fun.

Overall, I'm pleased with how we did. Had all the boats started at the same time, once the handicaps had been applied, I think that we would have done quite well. Catching up to and then passing another boat, of similar class, is quite enjoyable. I think that Lloyd and I make a pretty good team. All the other boats had at least 3 people. I need to find another person to crew. Are you interested?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Family Exploits Voyage 2014

The resettled community of Exploits in Notre Dame Bay, consists of two islands, Exploits (western island) and Burnt (eastern island), and two main harbours, Upper (southeast side) and Lower (northwest side), between them. The population was near 1000 people around 1900, but the Newfoundland government relocated the residents of many outports from the mid fifties to the mid seventies, including Exploits. It has since become a popular location for summer cottages, and visiting boaters. My mother's family has roots there going back to the early 1800s.

My sister and niece are visiting from Ontario, and over the weekend we went out to Exploits Islands for two nights. There were 5 of us and the dog, Lucy, aboard the PY23 while travelling, but only my wife and I, and the dog, sleeping aboard. The others stayed in the house my mother grew up in; constructed about 81 years ago. Mom is 84 and took the tiller for part of the way out. The voyage was about 4.5 hours each way from our home port of Lewisporte.

Rachael, Roxanne, Nancy, Margaret

One of my favourite spots on the boat.

Birchy Tickle ahead. Winds were too variable for sailing so we just motored out.

The dog, Lucy, seemed to be enjoying the boat too.

Most of the way the waves and wind were somewhat behind us, but variable in both speed and direction. After a while, we gave up trying to sail, and just motored out. After clearing Swan Island it was a different experience. That final stretch of water had the wind and waves on our port bow. It was cooler with the northwest breeze, and chilly spray kept washing those of us who remained in the cockpit. It was a rough crossing, but nothing the boat couldn't handle easily.

Once we arrived at Exploits, and the boat was docked, we had to transport all the food, bedding, and so on to the cottage, and open it up for the season. This meant doing a bit of a tidy, and hooking up the water line, propane range, and fridge. I sold the cabin back in 2006 to finance the purchase of my sailboat, but since it has remained in the family, we still get the use of it. Best of both worlds, I think.

At the dock and unloaded

Following supper, Nancy, Rachael and I decided to see if we could get some ice from the chunks breaking off the icebergs. We saw several about the size of a kitchen table floating past the entrance to Upper Harbour as we had approached Exploits. Using the tender, we took the opportunity to also tour the harbour. With no small ice to be seen on the south side, we headed for Lower Harbour. At first we didn't see anything, but after a turn around the cove, we spotted a piece.

It was far too big to get into the little boat, but it had an anvil shaped section that a rope could be put around, so we tried towing it. The little 2.3hp Honda, however, was not up to the task, and we had to try plan B. I had brought along an axe, and was able to chop off a few pieces we could scoop into the boat. Once we had enough to help keep the coolers cool, as well as our drinks, we headed back and relaxed for the rest of the night.

On Saturday morning we all went for a hike down to Lower Harbour. Along the way, Rachael and I climbed up a hill while the others waited below. We had a great view of Upper Harbour, and across "The Run" to Swan Island. Even though there were a couple of icebergs out that way, we could not see them from here.

Rachael on a lookout. The cottage is left of the little island, in the field.

The narrows between the harbours where bridges used to be.

One of the reasons for this climb was to find Rachael's first Geocache. There are two on Burnt Island, and this was the closest to us. With the ups and downs, and trees in the way, it took a while to make our way, but it was there. Mission successful!

Rachael near the cache. Note the icebergs on the horizon.

With the first find under our belts, we hurried down and met up with the other three on the trail. We briefly stopped by my cousin Rosemary's place, and admired the new deck, and continued on to the breakwater. This structure is probably over 100 years old, and built without the assistance of any heavy machinery. It was made to stop storm surges from coming through a narrow gap in the hills into Lower Harbour.

The breakwater is just left of the white building and cottage under construction.

Grounded iceberg background left, with part of breakwater foreground right.

The beach beyond the breakwater is a fun place to explore and see what is among the flotsam. For those who know how to do it, there are many potential whistles there. Rachael didn't quite master it.

From there we went through the old cemetery, past the headstones of my 3x great-grandparents (James Wells b.1790 - d.1871), and on up to the lookout. This vantage point offers views of the North Atlantic where the next landfall is Greenland. That is where all these icebergs are coming from.

Nancy and Rachael look out over the ocean.

From there we went after the second Geocache. This one was on a trail I can't remember being on before. That is the great thing about Geocaching. We had no trouble finding it, but the contents were wet, and the log impossible to sign.

Rachael finds her second Geocache.

In the afternoon, I borrowed a boat and taught Rachael how to row. We stayed in the sheltered waters created by the high tide. Rowing is one of my favourite things to do in a boat. As a kid I would take my grandfather's little wooden punt on the same route.

Rachael and I out for a row

As it was getting later in the afternoon, we were wondering where our expected friends were, so Rachael and I went to the mouth of the harbour to have a look for them. There was a sailboat over by Swan Island that might be them, and it looked to be about an hour away. We stopped for brief chats with people on boats, and Rachael got the chance to drive a boat with an outboard engine.

Rachael and I go looking for Shelby Lynn.

Eventually they arrived. Steve and Joanne have a Challenger 24 (aka Challenger 7.4), and this was Joanne's first trip out this far from the marina. They were accompanied by Lloyd, a visitor from Ireland, who is working in Lewisporte for just the summer, and then heading back home following a cross-Canada adventure. After we had them snugged down on the next wharf, we set about to make supper.

Shelby Lynn docked at Exploits

Once the supper dishes were cleared away, it was decided to go for a walk to Lower Harbour, and be back before dark. It was the first time there for both Joanne and Lloyd. We didn't have time to take in too much, but it was a nice stroll.

As the sun sets, with Lloyd, Steve, Joanne, Roxanne and Lucy

Sunday morning, after a good breakfast, we went off to explore most of Burnt Island. We first climbed up to the nearest look out, back to where the cache was hidden, and then headed south as far as the trail goes. It ends at a house that no one has lived in for a long time, and it has recently collapsed. A sad end to a familiar sight at the harbour entrance.

Lloyd and Steve taking in the view.

An abandoned house finally succumbs to disuse and old age.

Upper Harbour through some trees.

After lunch we loaded up the boat, and prepared for the sail to Lewisporte. There were many things left that we could have done, like walk through Taylor's Nose, and hike out to the lighthouse, but those are thing to look forward to on the next visit.

Preparing to leave. (Photo by Lloyd Kelly)

Shelby Lynn took a different route back which offered a closer pass by the icebergs.

Shelby Lynn taking the western route back.

This was the first time my wife has been away from the dock in our boat since 2006, when she nearly fell overboard because of a wet deck and slippery boots. The intention was to make it as comfortable as possible for her, so that she might go out again in less than 8 years. The trip can be done in under 4 hours, but I didn't push the boat over 5 knots, or use very much sail. Roxanne even took the helm for a good portion of the return voyage.

Rachael, Roxanne

This has been an exceptional summer for both weather and icebergs. You can be enjoying 30ÂșC temperatures while watching huge chunks of ice drift by, or go aground and break up.

2 icebergs on the west side of Long Island.

Iceberg photo by Lloyd Kelly

Icebergs are not formed locally. They break off (calve) from the glaciers in Greenland and float down our way over a couple of years. They are quite a bit smaller by the time they reach us, and some are still gigantic.You have to be very careful around them, since they are prone to collapse without warning, followed by some big waves, as demonstrated by this YouTube video taken near where we were boating.

An Auto-Awesome Google made.

We motored across The Run, and put up a reefed main to motor sail as far as Tinker Island. This is where we dropped hooks over the side and attempted to catch a cod. It was not an ideal spot, but I didn't know how the boat was going to drift with the dinghy in tow. By the time I was satisfied that it would work fine, the women were tired of fishing and requested that we carry on home empty handed.

Passengers down below were relaxed enough to sleep.

While passing the eastern side of Sivier Island we raised the full main in the diminishing airs, and made the final push back to Lewisporte. It had been a very full weekend with much time spent on both the land and the water. Nancy and Rachael are looking forward to another visit to Newfoundland, and Roxanne might even go out in boat again.

Heading into Lewisporte Harbour

Red - route out, Green - route back

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Race Night 2014-07-16

I don't know why, but for years, on Wednesday evenings when we hold a sailboat race night, the wind disappears. The only exception to this is when it is blowing a gale, and not a good idea for the smaller boats to be out in the harbour. Today not only was there almost no wind, but there was fog, something we very rarely see.

None of the other boats wanted to race in such conditions, so I took advantage of the light air to try out my sails. My main sail had just recently arrived back from a sailmaker in Nova Scotia where it had been sent to be refurbished. It is old, but the budget did not allow replacement. This should get a few more years out of it.

The main did not receive a lot of attention, but it does now have all new slides/slugs. The design of the new ones is different, and while they will protect the webbing better, they tend to get jammed in the mast gate. Some sort of modification is required there.

Also, I have been given a genoa which I estimate to be a 130, but I'll have to take measurements to confirm it. It has been raised at the dock, just to confirm it could be raised, but never before taken out sailing. With almost no wind, this would be a good test.

The genoa does not have a lot of clearance at the head, but there is a long pigtail that I use for the jib that can be bypassed or replaced for this sail. Otherwise, it works very well on Serenity. From the shore, friends could see me moving along pretty good, as I was able to maintain 1.5 to 2 knots, and occasionally get up to 4 with no wind to see on the water.

Sailing up to the fog bank

Moon Shadow trying to catch up

Photo of Serenity by Dave Leyden

It was a good evening for the testing I wanted to do, but I did not get back to the dock quickly enough to avoid the rain. I could see the weather was changing, and rushed to get the sails down and get in. It started just as I was entering the marina. Never good weather on race night.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

When to Change Sails?

Serenity is a small boat, with a LOD of 22' 7". It is also a fairly light wind boat, with the BDR being about 38, and the SADR at 20.5. Considering these bits of information, and my opinion that 15 to 20 degrees of heel is generally what most modern boats require to sail efficiently, I've been pondering when to change sails.

The boat does not have furling, so my sail choices are a 130? genoa, a jib with one reef point, and a mainsail with one reef point.

Here is what I plan to experiment with:

up to 10 knots (up to Force 3) - upwind or downwind - genoa and full main
11 to 16 knots (Force 4) - upwind or downwind - full jib and full main or genoa and reefed main
17 to 21 knots (Force 5) - upwind reefed jib and full main - downwind full jib & reefed main
22 to 27 knots (Force 6) - upwind or downwind - reefed jib and reefed main
28 to 33 knots (Force 7) - upwind reefed main only - downwind reefed jib only
34 or higher knots (Force 8 and above) - be safely docked somewhere protected

The idea is to have the boat heel no more than 25 to 30 degrees in gusts. If it is consistently tipping past 20 degrees, then it is time to reduce sail. This makes things more comfortable for the passengers and crew, and puts less stress on the gear.

When racing, perhaps 5 or 10 degrees can be added to the above heel numbers, but at extreme angles of heel, you will be making more leeway, so probably not getting any benefit from a fraction of a knot speed increase.

When sailing solo, I'll set the sails more conservatively. ie In a force 5, use just reefed main and reefed jib. Winds around here can be very gusty. It is better to go a bit more slowly, than be overpowered, and unable to do much about it.

I'd be interested in knowing what other people's opinions are on this, so if you have any thoughts, please comment.