The A and B teams are working hard to log in more miles, each are approaching the 10 knot per hour average with the distances between each team very narrow.
Speed record today: 14.9 Keturah
Maui, here we come!
The A and B teams are working hard to log in more miles, each are approaching the 10 knot per hour average with the distances between each team very narrow.
Speed record today: 14.9 Keturah
Maui, here we come!
“Flying Fish!” has been heard a few time today. It’s a wonderful experience to see them for the first time, and again every time we get the chance. They have been small ones so far and not very frequent yet, but that will soon change.
As we approach the half way mark (1154 nm), probably closer to the end of the day, the question of visiting “Don’s Halfway Gourmet Cafe” has come up and it is a GO! What a treat. Nowhere else in the world does this Cafe exist, it is by special invitation only, to a select, limited number of individuals (10), at a location that is only divulged at the last minute and a mystery menu only divulged at time of service. I am able to share the menu with you (as we’ve already eaten it) and can report it tastes as good as it looks:
Dates Stuffed with Gorgonzola, wrapped in Proscuitto
Chilled Avacado Soup
Alberta “AAA” slow roasted Tenderloin
Jumbo Parwns d’Orleans au Gratin Potatoes
Sherbert Roll and Cheese Cake Squares
Served with Red or White wine
Violin accompinament (conditions permitting).
Needless to say the Violinist couldn’t make it as the weather was not up to his liking, but the dinner service as amazing and a great treat.
The evening’s sailing has resulted in the need for a few repairs today. Steve aka “Mr. Fix It”, attended to the regular “chaffe” inspection routine and discovered a few things that needed special attention. The Boom vang, which we modified a few days to reduce its noise, had a broken shakle that was barely hanging on (replace). Tightening again of the steering cables, taping of some lifelines that working sheets are rubbing against, inspection of the external halyard set up, etc... Steve and Dave are our go-to guys looking to fix, grease, tape, tighten, loosen, modify, weave, run, try, etc... you name it and they have probably done it. At times though, when all the little things have been fixed and all is in order, we get a little nervous, they only seem happy when fixing something. Like a hungry dog on a soup bone these two want to be chawing down on a problem. We’re worried they may in fact intentionally break something in order to have someting to fix!
Good downwind sailing today, winds of 14 to 30 knots: Travelling hot in radiant times eases exagerated nerves. The A and B teams are working hard to log in more miles.
Speed record 14.9 Keturah, winds 14-30
Distance 220+ nm, just over 1100 to go.
It’s Friday! Day six and we’re still in our fowlies, no end in sight, no tropical heat, no clear skys, no constant trade winds, not a pleasure cruise. Nope, it’s looking to be one of those years where we have to fight hard for every mile in challenging conditions, grey skies, winds 13 to 25, no stars, no moon, dark nights, lots of work.
But it’s the end of the week, not that we can tell, every day seems to meld one into the other. Because of our choppy sleep schedule it seems there are two mornings every day so it is easy to lose track of what day it is and what time of day it is. Our schedule, baring any necessary “all hands”, is four on, four off, four on, six off, six on, then it reverts to four off, four on, four off, six on and six off, etc... on and on till we get to Maui. The watches cycle at the same time every day. The six hours begin at 6am till noon, then from noon till six pm, then the fours are from six pm till 10 pm, 10 pm till 2 am, then finally 2 am till 6 am completes the cycle (and we do this for fun!). The hardest shift it the 10 pm till 2am shift. It’s all in the dark and one was probably well asleep from their off 6 pm till 10 pm shift. The 2am shift is tough too but we get to see the sunrise, which is always a delight and amazing display of the hope for the day to come.
Another great activity on this day was we all had showers! We have lots of hot water from running the motor every day to charge the batteries and keep the fridge/freezer cold. It was great to get cleaned up and smelling nice, because, you know, sometimes a guy just likes to feel pretty. Well, maybe not pretty, but good, or at least not rank. We’ll take not smelling bad any day over the four or five days of accumulated stench from being too hot due to being overdressed and working hard, then too cold from not working enough and sitting for long periods of time in our wet clothing (and we do this for fun!).
A common saying from our skipper is to “sail her like a stolen rental!” well, as Steve just told me, if we’re sailing her like a stolen rental then we’re sleeping in the trunk of a moving stolen rental! Sleeping is a challenge to say the least. Not only are we swaying side to side, front to back but there is constant noise from all the movement of people and boat hardware, also the rush of the water going by as the boat travels at 8 to 13 knots is amazingly noisy. Combine all this together with the rushing wind and breaking waves and a choppy sleep pattern and it makes for pretty trying time to get any good sleep. But when we do sleep and it does come, eventually, it’s efficient and effective. We all are getting enough to function well, drive well, eat well, make good decisions and take care of one another.
As Mike said: They have intense real times every evening now!
We have received great news! All our hard work is paying off, apparently we are in 2nd position overall and 1st in our division. This is inspiring and has been a good boost to the crew. We’ll soon be at the half way point and working on the fast half as the race always seems to go faster in the second half. Not only do we not have the Straits to get out of but we’re getting better at driving and have a more constant and efficient sail set. Here’s to “sailing it like we stole it!”
New speed record : 14.9 by Tim, downwind in 10 to 20 knots, gusting to 28knts
The Vic-Maui is about Adventure, Teamwork and Challenge, we are certainly experiencing our fair share.
The wind has finally filled in behind us, although quite lite it is nice to be running downwind averaging close to 9 nm per hour on each shift. That’s more than 200 miles per day, a great psychological boost to the crew knowing that we are eating up the miles. The competition has heated up with the A team closing in on the B team but still lagging a little behind.
Running downwind can be a bit tricky and nerve wracking until you get the hang of it. We are reaching speeds over 12 knots and there is thirst for more. But as much as the speed is exciting, there are a number of things that need to be watched and processed all at the same time for downwind sailing to be successful and not catastrophic. Visual inputs from the sails, the boat, the horizon and instruments along with feeling and anticipating what the boat is doing beneath one’s feet all must be taken into consideration and reacted to instantly. You need to know a heading to sail, the compass bearing to steer to. Then you need to know where the wind is coming from and how much you can turn the boat in each direction (so as to not round up into the wind or collapse the sail behind the main, either of which is not good). From there you need to watch the Spinnaker out in front of the boat as well as the bow of the boat as it travels through the water bouncing along, up and down crossing the horizon. The trick is to keep the spinnaker full out front, pulling the boat along as it squirrels back and forth wanting to round up or collapse down. This is not a natural position for the boat to travel and the only way to keep it in this direction is to work the rudder constantly, teasing the craft to stay in the sweet spot of maximum speed and away from the more natural tendency of head to wind or to back wind. The responsibility is totally on the helmsperson. They need to be focused and have all their concentration on the task. From all the inputs available they chase the wind and waves looking to “surf” down a large cresting wave as it passes under the boat. This will deliver optimum speed. The boat races down the front of the wave being pushed by the wind. We work to set up this scenario time and time again looking for the elusive personal best speed record or, if lucky the top of the leader board!
The race has had its first retired vessel with Crossfire throwing in the towel due to “multiple major mechanical failures”. We are disappointed to lose a competitor but understand that safety is a priority and the race is long and dangerous. The “space ship” that is our boat must be reliable and dependable for the entire crew over the entire duration. If it isn’t then the wisest course of action is to head back. Last we heard she is sailing back to Seattle.
On the topic of a dependable vessel, today we sent Dave up the mast to check on our external halyards, he made a few adjustments but was happy with the lack of wear. So far that set up is working beautifully. Another boat system is presenting itself to be a concern. The steering cables and wheel bearings seem to be giving us issues. The cables, which are brand new especially for this race, have been stretching. This was not unexpected as it has happened before and is a chronic issue with Beneteau boats, so Steve squeezed himself down into the rear garage behind the Wheel to make the necessary adjustments. This has made a big difference in the feel performance of the steering. The bearing on the other hand is a different matter. Although not critical it seems there is a metallic thump sound every now and again coming from what we suspect is a bearing around the steering shaft attached to the steering wheel. There is no fear of losing steering it just appears to be a wear issue that will need to be addressed at some point when we have access to parts and professionals.
Top speed of the day: Don at 13.9
A big “Thank You” to Brenda for her wonderful Pasta Cream Chicken, mmmmmmm Good!
As Gunnar stated: Thrilling high intensity ride through endless expanses nautical
Well that was a BFU!
The first opportunity to launch a spinnaker and it did not go well! For some reason the port spin haylard outer covering has cut away and bunched up exposing the internal core and rendering the line useless. For the next several hours TST worked to figure out the source of the problem and a solution that is both workable long term and safe. The solution came from the most experienced member of the crew, Gunnar, in a pair of external halyards, one down each side of the mast, and two turning blocks at the mast head strapped above the exit point of the old halyards. Needless to say much speed and many miles were lost in the preparation and execution of the work-around but we got it rigged and we soon had a spinnaker billowing before us as we resumed the task at hand towards Maui.
As Keturah stated: Twisted Halyards Incite Reduced Travel; Expensive, Even Now, or from Don: Two Halyards In Ruins, Two Extra External Now
The winds are off our starboard back quarter pretty consistently with a strength of 8 to 20 knots. We are achieving good boat speeds of 9 to 12 knots. With a rolling sea state of short, shallow cresting waves. The big ones haven’t set up yet so surfing down the waves isn’t happening but we know they will come.
Looking around the inner cabin of the boat the term “low hanging fruit” came to mind as I see swinging hammocks of oranges, apples, grapefruit and veggies. There must be somewhere near 70 or 80 oranges, about the same for apples, 20 or so grapefruit and a 3 foot long hammock stuffed with lettuce, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers and kiwi’s. The fresh produce has been wonderful on board. Many of the crew are eating an orange every morning and it’s not uncommon for someone to eat a kiwi straight – skin and all. The plumbs and grapes are disappearing quickly as well. We all know the need to keep our bodies hydrated and energized and the importance of fresh produce isn’t lost on anyone.
We’re starting to think about having showers as well. The growing stench below decks can no longer be blamed on the rotting fruit (there is none!). Our fresh water maker is working well and skipper John is confident we can have showers, something we all are looking forward to. Managing personal hygiene isn’t difficult it’s just we have limited our clothing quantity so as to reduce weight. The plan is to have everyone get “ripe” at about the same rate so no one particular individual can be singled out. It’s a good plan and there certainly will be a rush to the front of the line for the shower once the water is ready.
A little about the crew. There are 10 of us on board; three from Alberta, six from B.C. and one from Bellingham, Washington. Dave, Don and Tim are from the Edmonton area, Mort, Gunnar, Mike, Dan Steve and Brian hail from the Vancouver area and Keturah lives in Bellingham. There is a great deal of sailing depth and experience in this crew with everyone a talented driver not afraid to do what’s necessary behind the wheel in whatever conditions are present. There will be a combined total of about 24 Vic-Maui crossings with this crew once this one is complete and many tens of thousands of blue water sailing miles worth of experience. This crossing alone adds 2308 nautical miles and at least 300 hours to each sailors resume and experience bank. If you were not confident in your blue water driving skills before this race, you certainly will be after it!
Day three was marked with very low winds and sloooow sailing. One 4 hour shift was only able to attain 9.6 nm over ground a mere 2.4 nm per hour average. Much use of the “wind seeker” sail was in order, a lifesaver at times like these. The real difficulty in these conditions is maintaining focus, remembering we are racing and chasing every puff, hour after hour.
The noise below deck is very loud at times like these too. The back and forth banging of the boom as it flogs itself from the mast swaying side to side as we roll in the waves causes loud reverberations through the deck and hull, a noise magnified in the cavity of the comfort area below. The constant walking on the topside and the dragging of tethers across the deck, the sharp “whack” of a Tylaska shakle against the fibreglass or a metal part of the boat, the reverberating “twang” sound from a tensioning shroud, the “thug, thug, thug” of a sheet eased off a winch, or the ratcheting “clack, clack, clack” of a winch winding up pressure. Even the constant talking of the crew as we struggle to find an answer is heard by everyone above and below decks. Sleeping or awake the sounds continue. We soon learn what is important to pay attention to and what isn’t. When sleep is lacking it is amazing what can be tolerated when the body needs rest.
Everyone is eating better today having recovered from the difficulties of yesterdays rolling seas. The food has been amazing, a big “Thank You” to Marie for all the provisioning and planning. Some on-board improvising by Brian saw us eating egg and sausage english muffins with fried mashed potato hash. Almost like McDonalds, but better, wayyyy better! We’re making our way through the fresh fruit and produce trying our best to not let anything go to waste. Unfortunately yesterday’s difficulties resulted in some wasted calories, not intentional mind you, just a result of the conditions and conditioning. No one is hurting today though, our energy is back up, everyone is well rested and eager to tackle the duties of the day.
There has been a new challenge put forth by the “B” team; “Don’s Downwind Demon’s” to the “A” team; “Mort’s Masterly Mariners”, that of sailing more miles than the other team per shift. To date I am not happy to report but it looks like the “B” team as taken an early lead having clocked in just over 2.1 more miles than the “A” team on the first watch set. However, there is a long way to go and many miles and shifts ahead to enable the “A” team to catch up, so look out “B” team, we’re coming for you!
The water is starting to change its colour. It has gone from a dark, cold, uninviting black-blue colour to a deep, rich, sapphire blue that light seems to penetrate deeply. It almost looks like a blue glass. You can see into it deeply and are often caught looking over the side to see if there is anything swimming in its depth. It truly is an amazing experience to have the water change beneath you as you travel along its seemingly endless miles. It’s a much needed boost to the morale after the hard slog of the previous days. It signals to us the progress we are making and that the struggle to meet the challenge is paying off.
Hawaii, here we come: The Hawaiian Islands, Ready To Excite Every Nerve!
Quote of the Day:
Mike to Mort: “Your course is Good”
Mort in response: “I know I’m Good!”
48 TST had a rough day 2, we made good time with winds cycling from lows of 8 to 9 knts to highs of 16 to 18 knts invery confused sea state with good sized waves coming from many directions, sometimes breaking and sometimes not. This made for a rocking and rolling, pitching and pulling ride above and below deck. Clearly the “top side” was the place to be and management of seasickness a priority. It’s taking some time to work with the motions of the boat, the heat from cooking, the unsteadiness when using the head, the noise and motion while trying to sleep, but morale is high and spirits good. Everyone is settling into the routine and no one is going to let a little queasiness stop them from doing their best and enjoying every minute.
We’ve sailed down our chosen route quite well sometimes leading the fleet sometimes trailing. It has been fun checking the position of the others and a little odd to find us all quite clustered together for such a long time. The nighttime sailing has been exciting with all the other sailboats relatively close together and their lights easily seen around the horizon. With no stars to speak of due to heavy cloud cover the surrounding boat lights provide comfort like distant neighbours with their porch lights on.
Sail choice has been challenging in these conditions. We are still head to wind beating into the seas but with the challenging sea state and up and down winds it has been hard to decide when to change sails. Sometime we have light winds so the #1 is the choice, which only lasts till the winds cycle up to 14 or 15 when the #2 is the better choice. Then we’ll find the wind shifting a bit and dropping back down to 8 to 10 where the A-sail would work well, so we wait for the conditions to stabilize just to find the wind shift back towards the front so the #1 is back in order, so up it goes. Back and forth our “dance of the deck sails” continues, hour after hour. All three sails reside up on the deck at the moment, the #1, #2 and the A-sail. Although the #1 has been our primary sail, the others are ready at a moment’s notice.
Dave has had the best ride of the trip so far having been on the bow working on a sail change when his watch captain, Don, missed riding down a rather large wave and instead launched us up over its top then buried the bow in the following trough with a loud Bang. Dave was framed on both sides with walls of water, a good deal of which drained down inside his foulies as gravity restored order and brought the water, and Dave back down to earth and the deck. Soaked clean through there was never a complaint from Dave, instead his comment was “That was refreshing!”.
And so it goes with TST. Everyone pulling their weight, all pulling together, managing their personal needs and those the boat and crew, acutely aware of the task at hand and the task ahead. It was a challenging day but very rewarding. As Don stated: The Heros In Racing Take Every Event Normally
Quote of the day:
“Guys... are you talking or are you Doing?”
24 Hours that is, day one in the bank and TST (Team String Theory) is doing well.
After a busy day of provisioning and attending to final details, one of which was to replace crew member Paul, due to an unfortunate visa issue with US Customs. Paul was replaced by Brian, who was to be on the return trip bringing String Theory back from Hawaii, and this opportunity was too good for him to pass up. We welcome Brian but are sad to lose Paul who we were really looking forward to sailing with, maybe next time. Cheers Paul.
There was great excitement on the docks and with the crew as we prepared to cast off and head to the start line. We said our final goodbyes and released the lines while waving to our loved ones. Many came out on String Theory’s support boat to watch the start.
The weather was looking good for quick start and it didn’t disappoint. A quick crew meeting to assign start positions and procedures then we worked the boat up to the line. With Don at the helm we positioned along side the line counting down the seconds. But the hope for a quick start soon faded as the wind dropped before the start gun and we sat on the line trying in vain to get across. Eventually our sails filled and we crossed the line and were off.
Once the wind picked up it was a quick passage through Race Rocks and a race down the strait with a speed that would be the envy of any Swiftsure racer. On the way down the strait we had a little excitement as we sailed into a fog bank, which caused us to change to our #2 headsail and then to the #3 headsail very shortly thereafter. After a few rigging adjustments and some other kinks worked out we were on our way at a good clip. We reached the vicinity of Neah Bay around 7:30 PST, and continued on to turn the corner into the Pacific Ocean. A few humpback whale blowspouts were sighted near Tatoosh Island.
Twelve hours in. Rounding Tatoosh. Everyone excited now!
The evening was satisfying sailing with just a few light spots that the drifter and Code 0 sails took us through. Everyone was very satisfied with our first meal – Marie’s delicious homemade chili. Not a bad way to start the voyage! There were no stars but the phosphorescence were very bright, with the wakes off of the stern very mesmerizing. At one point a crew member noticed three lit up “torpedoes” alongside the boat....dolphins! They were playing alongside and underneath the boat and you could see the entire outline of them underneath the water from the luminescence.
Onward south and merging west. Still sailing upwind at the end of the 24 hour mark, but spirits are high as we making good way to Maui!
Team String Theory
Is a competitive yacht racing team with a focus on offshore sailing. We will compete in the 2016 Vic-Maui International Yacht Race.