Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Look Back at the 74' Sydney Hobart Race

With the 70th edition of the race a month away, let's look back to a simpler time when men wore baby oil and boats did not have self tailing winches.  1974 was the year and the winds were light.  The start of the race features a stalled tanker in the middle of the race course.  It's a very cool look back at these now vintage boats.  Go full screen.

Had a beautiful sail on Saturday on my friend Tex's new to him boat.  This is the second boat I have helped him find.  This one is a 76' Pearson 35'.  It was raining pretty good on Saturday morning.  One portion of the crew cancelled.  I was tracking the weather and new it was going to clear.  Headed up and the skies were blue and the wind was blowing.  We headed under electric motor and raised the sails.  Glorious!  We tacked past the pier and deep into Richmond.  Another tack and we were off to the city.  Tex is much shorter than I and has no problem with the boom that extends half way thru the cockpit.  He took the helm most of the day.  A quick run towards the barn and I am feeling sorry for the excellent sail my friends missed. Rain check!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Breaking: Bermuda Will Host Next Cup

My sources tell me that the America's Cup will be held in Bermuda in 2017.   The announcement should come later today from Team Oracle.  Speaking under the condition of anonymity, they went on to say that San Diego just does not have enough wind to fly these beasts (their words).  While their is little shock to their decision, it is disappointing that SF was dropped from contention due to the fact that Larry and the SF City Council did not get along.  Larry made some promises that he later bowed out of and the City claimed they were $11m in the hole after the races completed.  I think that was a very short sighted view on the part of the City as the world wide exposure from the event will pay dividends for years to come.  The excitement on those piers during the races is something that I hope we see again but doubt that it will come to be in my lifetime.  I wish the best to the future cups but I doubt we will ever see a race that was as exciting as we saw on the bay they call San Francisco!

The Best Sailboats of All Time

There are so many sailboats to chose from that many buyers take years to make their final decision.  What if you could chose any boat you wanted for your next cruise?  Would you go for speed and a modern design or maybe something that combines traditional lines with a bullet proof build?  What if you took a poll and asked folks to pick their top choices from a list?  Well that is what Cruising World Mag did.  And they came up with a wonderful list indeed. Check it here.  And start dreaming of tropical sunsets and iced adult beverages.  What would be your first pick for that cruise of a lifetime??

#13 is the boat I hope to sail to New Zealand and Australia in 2018/19.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Red Bull Youth Regatta

During the SF Americas Cup, they staged a weekend regatta with some of the top young sailors from around the planet.  They used the 45' cats that had been part of the World Cup races.  If you remember, the Oracle boats were being inspected for these races and they found some illegal weights in the bows that gave Oracle an edge in the light winds.   This resulted in a 2 race penalty for Oracle during the finals.  Even though they had won 3 races. Oracle was down 8-1 when they made some adjustments to the boat and crew and came back to win it all.  I digress, check out the vid and enjoy these great sailing moments.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bonehead Moves Of the Month

Storms and much needed rain on the way to Cali.  Not much sailing at this time.  Hoping for a great couple of sails in December.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New Device WIll Alter SCUBA Diving Waterscape

A new invention looks set to change Scuba and diving in general. It’s shocking task lies in the idea of microscopic, nano scale ‘artificial Gills’, can effectively separate the oxygen from the water while diving, on demand. A series of tiny threads or strands have microscopic holes along their width, which are smaller than water molecules.

It’s called the ‘Triton Oxygen Respirator‘ (Image Below), a miniature but incredible device that will do away for the need to move bulky tanks on dives, and allow the dives to last much, much longer than can be had with current equipment.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Electric Motor Review - 3 Months in and Going Strong

Our diesel died in May after 33 years of faithful service.  We purchased the boat 14 years ago with any where from 3-6 partners on board and the boat out of the slip 6-8 times per month, so heavy usage over that time period.  She served us well.  We installed the electric motor in July and by mid August we were sailing again.  A few weeks after install, we had a small glitch when we exceeded 2000 rpms.  She stalled out.  We sent a note to our supplier and they sent us a new engine controller and we have been issue free since.  The motor has proved to be powerful enough to get us out of the harbor when the wind is blowing over 25 kts.  We mostly use the engine to get in and out of the harbor and to a lunch spot.  Plenty of juice to do that.  I have had her down past 50% only once and she has done fine.  We are very pleased with the new power plant and would recommend it highly as long as your range was under 15 miles or so.  There alot of boats that will need repower in the next few years and we highly recommend electric.  Our supplier was Electric Yachts of Southern California.

Here were the other power options we considered for our Newport 30.
Outboard old $1500
Outboard new $3000
Electric new $8000 (including batteries)
Diesel rebuild $8-10000
Diesel new $12 -14000

Submitted For Your Approval

Great to be back from the Haha but I am still thinking about all the fun we had as well as the sunsets and sunrises (and the full moon rise on the 6th just as the sun set).  If you ever get a choice in watch schedules, take the 4-8 time slot and you will see both each day (depending on time of year and latitude). 

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Day in the Life - Volvo Race Around the Planet

On The Cusp of a Hurricane - Baja Haha 21 Recap

 That's me enjoying the game and hammock.
 Turtle Bay

Our adventure in to the 21st annual Baja Haha begins with a recent trip to San Diego.  I was visiting my son in San Diego two weeks before the 750 mile rally from San Diego to Cabo.  I had a few hours in the morning and thought I would head to the docks and see if I could snag a ride on this years voyage.  Sure enough, after knocking on a few hulls I met a gentleman who was heading down with his young family and he needed some help.  The boat is a 42' Waiquez ketch.  I told him I would return the following weekend and prepare to shove off for Mexico. 
This is my fourth Haha. In 2010, I joined Rainbow, a 36' cat with a crack crew.  In 2011, the boat I was on failed to make it SD and I joined Go For Broke, a 52' steel cutter that was overbuilt for MX cruising and we motored the whole way.  In 2012, another boat failed to make it to Cabo and I joined a young family with an 18 mo. old boy.  The boat was a 41' cutter.  All the trips were great and I learned much as I am preparing for my own cruise in 2018/19 to Australia and New Zealand. 

I joined this years boat on Sunday evening, the day before the start.  The crew is a family of four from BC.  The skipper is a pro mariner who owns a barge and a tug operation near Victoria.  His wife Tina and two kids of 5 and 7 years.  The boat is well prepared and I hope to learn a bunch from the seasoned captain.  In the morning, we head out to the parade and start.  There is little wind so we begin 3 days of motor sailing and very little sailing to our first stop at Turtle Bay.  We arrive and drop anchor at 1am and head to bed.

The highlight of the stay is the beach party.  I am in charge of setting up the volleyball net and bocce.  We are ready to go and I grab some lunch with my friends.  The games begin and the ball is very wet and difficult to hit.  We have a blast anyway and lose every single game.  Oh well, it was fun anyway.  My old sailing instructor is on the trip this year and it is great to hang with him.  We meet many others and the weather is perfect.  Head back to the boat and I am beat and go straight to bed.

The next morning, the Fleet Captain announces we will not be departing due to the hurricane the is churning near PV.  Hurricane Vance is still 700 miles away but we need to be cautious and see what develops.  We decide to go for a sail and the conditions are spectacular.  15-18 kts and sunny.  We catch a few fish along the way and head home.  Steve and I talk in the cockpit after dinner and have a great time.  Soon it is time to hit the hay but I linger on deck and enjoy the moon and stars. 

Sunday morning we are hoping to depart but there is alot of uncertainty with the weather.  We are getting conflicting reports about the depression and there is a chance we may stay another day.  The Poobah does a roll call of the 150 boats to determine if they want to go our stay.  The majority want to go but there is a large contingent that wants to stay and be cautious.  About 30 boats decide to depart and head in to the fray.  My skipper is gung ho and we hit the highway.  Officially, we have dropped out of the Haha.  We hit the outside of the bay and it is 15 knots and climbing.  All the sails go up and we are flying.  During the afternoon, we see gusts above 30 and the boat hits a high of over 10 kts,the waves are substantial as well.  We have some fresh fish for dinner and I retire for the evening.  Of all the Haha's I have participated in, this is the most wind I have encountered.  And one of the best sailing days as well.

During my 4am to 8am watch, I head out on deck to watch the stars and listen to some BS&T.  The seas are a bit lumpy as we head towards Santa Maria and the wind is in the 15kt range.  As we finish this leg, the winds come back up in to the low 20's.  We enter the bay near midnight with lots of shrimp boats near our path.  Steve has a great set up at the helm with a chartplotter and radar combo.  We enter the bay with about 20 boats already at anchor.  With the anchor down, we hit the hay.

Tuesday is spent on the boat, resting, swimming and listening to some of my favorite tunes over the newly installed speakers in the cockpit.  Its blowing 22 by 11am and we are having a great time aboard.  The rest of the fleet is beginning to arrive as they started a day later.  The whole hurricane issue was a nonfactor and all of us understand that the fleet captain needed to be cautious as he cannot put the fleet in harms way.  Thursday is the beach bash with a band, food and more vball.  More soon.

Looking back on our sail and day in Santa Maria:
Our sail into SM was sublime.  I joined the skipper on deck about 2 hours out.  Winds had picked up into the low 20's and we were cooking.  Lots of large shrimp boats were in the area and we stayed well clear.  The entrance to the bay is five miles wide so we do not expect any issues. We enter the bay towards the south side and head in.  A perfect landing and the anchor is down.  

Tuesday we spend the day on board and the wind is in the 20's most of the day.  I have a two hour nap in the afternoon and it is glorious.  Dinner is nice with some peppercorn steak.  Everyone heads to bed at nine and I stay up and enjoy the fine evening and some tunes in the cockpit. The bay is littered with over 100anchor lights which looks very cool.  I think about life and how wonderful it all is and how fortunate I am to be here.

Beach party today and I head in early.  By 11:30, the net is up and the breeze is there again. Up on the bluff is where the food and band are set up.  Lunch is served and I am the first in line.  During lunch I meet some fellow haha'ers and we have a nice time.  One of the gals is not getting along with her crew and she talks of jumping ship.   About 3pm, the wind has calmed down and I announce the volleyball game.  We head to the beach and the games begin.  Lots of laughter and good times ensue. My friend Steve and Sonny are there and we have some big fun. Head back to the boat for a quick meal and bed.   We depart at 5am and and the winds are 10-12". We put up all 3 sails and motor sail toward Cabo.  Have some fun with the kids and we have a green flash sunset and a full moon rise.  It's my 21st wedding anniversary and I shoot off a quick email to my wife thru sail mail.  

It now 530am and I am standing my last watch. Jupiter has been looming large the entire trip.   We should arrive in about 6 hours. It's been one of the best haha's ever and I hope to have many more.
One of the more amusing things that happened was my skipper Steve from the 2011 haha.  He did not join this year but was shading the group.  Just as we depart Turtle Bay, he arrives in the bay looking forward to the beach party.  His favorite part.  He breaks into the morning net asking about the party, sorry you missed it by a day.  Happened again in Santa Maria as we had to push the party up a day due to the extra day we spent in Turtle.  He again breaks into the morning net as we are all departing and asks about the beach party.  Sorry again Steve, you missed it!  I am sure his crew was even more bummed! 

We sure had some great weather along the way and we met some great folks as well.  Here's to another successful Haha and many more. Adios amigos!

-- Craig Russell s/v Addiction Newport 30 1981 Emeryville, CA