Thursday, August 28, 2008

Chicago - Mac / Bayview Mac Lessons Learned #2

Pre-race Preparation: Since we tend to either cruise Reboot or race around the buoys I have never really gone from bow to stern checking everything on the boat. I can assure you that Nigel did and he taught me a great deal in the process. First Nigel checked every single connection of every piece of hardware. There were an amazing number of loose items. They all got tightened. Then anything that could snag anything got taped. Anything that could pop open at the wrong moment got tied down with tie wraps. Then Nigel went on to lubricate everything that moved. (I lubricated myself with a beer - it was hot that day!) In the course of checking the moving parts Nigel discovered that the traveler bearings were worn (some) and missing (most.) Once in port at Port Huron he was able to locate replacement bearings and install them. It was amazing how much easier the traveler works when the sheaves have bearings! It turned out to really matter as we were doing a lot of traveler work in very heavy weather over the next few days. I did have spare fuel filters and a spare impeller but Nigel discovered that the "fan belt" (there is no fan on a marine engine but a belt that drives the auxiliary parts) was pretty worn. We replaced the belt and also purchased a spare spare so we would have one in case the new one broke. Nigel also climbed down and checked the entire steering system. In the process he discovered the source of some play in the system and suggested how I might revamp the mountings to remove the play. Since this is a semi-major project we did not do it then but put it on the fall/spring to do list. About the only part of the boat Nigel did not check was the part in the water. For some reason swimming and diving in 68 degree water was not on his agenda. I can't say I blame him. I was much more confident in Reboot as we left Port Huron to start the race. That was a good thing since we started in a thunderstorm with high winds and 100 foot visibility. More on Nigel's work in my next post.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Chicago - Mac / Bayview Mac Lessons Learned #1

Over the course of the next few days I will be blogging on lessons learned in our 22 days "before the mast." OK, Henry Dana did 2 years, but who is counting. Today - Lessons Learned from Sue... First, because it was so extraordinary, I learned it is possible to eat well at sea. Sue took responsibility for the provisioning and the food preparation. She placed a strong emphasis on fresh foods rather than prepared, something I don't even do at home. In the course of her cooking we learned a couple of things: 1) You have to have fiddles to hold the pots on the stove - I have them somewhere, but they really need to get back on the boat. 2) We suffered from not having a tea kettle to boil water. We used an open pan and were constantly spilling water while trying to pour. 3) Know the limit of the stove's ability to tilt. We would race at a greater heeling angle than the stove could swing (see fiddles, above!) 4) Understand the stove's balance. I had never used the oven so was not prepared the first time we opened the oven door and the whole stove over tilted (see fiddles above!) 5) The cook needs some kind of harness arrangement to ease staying in place while cooking. I am so big that I sort of fill up all the space, I could tell that Sue was working hard sometimes at just standing in front of the stove. Second, have something to keep you occupied during your time on watch and particularly on the rail. Sue sketched and wrote in a log book the entire trip. (She also prepared a safety equipment location sheet that we needed for the race. She clearly enjoyed keeping a record. Next time (yes, I know, light is fast, take off all unnecessary weight) I will bring a book or two to keep me occupied. Third, be quiet when on watch. I had completely forgotten how noises travel at night and was, frankly, too loud. Sue pointed this out to me but was gracious enough not to demonstrate when I was trying to sleep. Sue also helped me understand some major setup deficiencies in Reboot. They were: 1) No lee cloths. Our sleeping suffered. 2) No good place for a "wet locker." We used the main salon but that was not very desirable. Perhaps the next time we will use the aft head and use the forward head as the "head." 3) As noted above, better setup of the kitchen area for cooking. I am sure she taught me more, but at the moment nothing is coming to mind. Thanks Sue for all the lessons learned. Feel free to comment on what I have forgotten!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Wild Goose

I met up with Glyn at the MAST post race pizza party last night and got myself a ride today on Glyn's Soverel Wild Goose. With a displacement of 3900 lbs the boat is about as different from Reboot as one can imagine. Very tender (in other words it heals over very easily) and very light it accelerates in seconds compared to Reboot's minutes. We did a series of three windward leeward races (2 laps) in conditions to keep everyone on their toes. At the start the wind was blowing about 10 knots true, in midcourse about 3 knots true, and at the windward mark about 18 - 20 knots in gusts. We were further challenged by the fact that this particular crew had never sailed much less raced together at any time in the past. The results - 2, 2, 1. Sounds pretty good don't you think? Unfortunately there were only two boats in our division! As always it was not about doing things right, but rather not doing things wrong. We missed some sets and got ourselves all tangled up in our lines a couple of times. It was just enough for us to be watching the competition's stern instead of vice versa. The weather was sunny and warm so even with the results being a little less than we would have liked we all had a great time. Thanks Glyn for inviting me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back to Blogging

We are back from the Bayview and Chicago Mac races. We have been moving into a new place and have not had much Internet connectivity. We expect to get full Internet service back today, so we will be blogging again with stories from the races and lessons learned. Stay tuned!