Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Well things with the Select did not quite go to plan. A few days prior my fuel cell stopped working and I was unable to get it repaired prior to the start. While it was working, it may have been masking another issue, that the batteries were not holding a charge.

So, after starting the race with what I thought were full batteries after 12 hours I was into major power conserve mode. This meant no GPS, no instruments, no VHF and most painfully no auto pilot. During the first night it was tough but not too severe since there were a lot of boats nearby to gauge off of both speed and direction.

The boat seemed to be going well although sail changes in the variable conditions were a challenge without the pilot.

By the next day, fatigue was starting to mount and my mood was starting to deteriorate. Was near the back of the fleet getting to the turning mark at Bourgenay. This was a lot due to sailing the boat earlier in the day to maximize solar panel exposure versus for performance. At Bourgenay, I was able to talk to the committee on the VHF and let them know I was having some power issues. I had already missed a couple of mandatory check ins due to not having enough power to transmit.

Once around Bourgenay it was a port tack favored beat back to Yeu. That went pretty well as I was feeling a bit energized to be heading back towards the finish versus away from it. Also the sun was shining which never hurts. Both were to be short lived unfortunately. As it got dark, the wind continued to build with the approaching cold front. Once clear of Yeu, I sailed for another hour or so on port before tacking to starboard for the long hitch out to clear Belle Isle and hopefully lay Groix which was to be left to starboard. Without a pilot, my only option was to tie off the tiller to try to get a little sleep. This worked ok but was not really too great for performance.

Shortly after sunrise, during a boat check, I found that the starboard lower rudder fitting was leaking. The leak itself was not too severe but I was very concerned with the possibility of the holes in the transon elongating which would have made the leak worse and likely damaged the rudder. At this point I did not even have enough electrical power to turn on the GPS to get a position fix. The sun did come out long enough to get some power out of the solar panels to get the GPS working and find my position. I still had a quite a way to go to get to Groix and was very concerned with coming back south inside of Belle Isle in the dark without any sleep, or instruments as there are numerous rocks and reefs here. If this were an area I knew well this might have been a non-issue but I had zero interest in piling my new boat up on the first race.

So, at this point I made the tough decision to head for Pornichet and withdraw. That still wears a bit heavily on me even now 48 hours later. The frustrating part was that the technology which was supposed to make a tough race easier completely failed me and I was not able to make up the difference.

Now I am faced with how to continue on from here. Classe Mini requires a person to have a C-level race completed before they do a B-level race. The Select was to be my C race before the Mini-Pavois which is a B race. Yesterday, I sent an email to the Classe to ask whether I will be allowed to race in the Mini-Pavois. I hope they allow it. If they do not I will be unable to race in the Mini-Pavois so will have to come up with a new plan to get my miles done. Also I may face late withdrawal penalties from the Mini-Pavois for dropping out less than one month before the race.

A technician from TEEM electronics should be here today to get my fuel cell operational and sort out the battery issue. Yesterday I bought a battery charger and it has been charging since 1430 and is still humming away trying to get the battery levels up. When I finished, they was not even enough power in the batteries to charge my cell phone. There are a few other items on my to do list but overall the boat came through very well.

Here is a link to website that has a number of pics from the race: http://www.imagesdemer.com/2bgal/disp_serie.php?id_album=133&stat=ok

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Getting ready for the Select 6.50

Hello from Pornichet. We are about 60 miles south of Lorient. Sailed down here on Monday night. To add a few extra miles of sailing, we went outside Belle Isle which is the first mark of the course for the race tomorrow.

The sail down was good aside from my pilot tripping the breaker and shutting down for a while. My boat appears to be plenty quick which is a very nice thing.

Since arriving in Pornichet the days have been a bit of a blur. Had to get the boat fully measured and get all the safety inspections done. Finished that all up yesterday afternoon with my sails all getting stamped by the head measurer for the class.

Today will be looking at the weather, snapping some pics of the boat for class mini, emptying the boat and getting some food and rest.

The race tomorrow starts in the afternoon. Right now it is looking like it could be a little light on Sunday but overall the weather is probably going to be a mixed bag.

Here are some pics I took during the measurement:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lots of Lines

Got the boom back and the boat is now pretty much fully rigged. Prior to the boom going on, I took a few more pics of various things on the boat.

The cabin top with its plethora of lines. From port to starboard it is: Reef 2, Outhaul, Vang, Sprit flipper, tackline, MH Spinnaker Halyard, Main Halyard, Fractional Spinnaker Halyard, Solent halyard, Solent Reef, Babystay, Reef 3 and finally Reef 1

The lines on the cockpit floor looking aft. From starboard to port: Runner, Mainsheet fine tune, Runner fine tune, Mainsheet (not yet rigged) and port runner.

One of the checkstay adjusters

The adjustable foot rests or, as Bob Perry calls them, Bensons

The obligatory oarlock

The starboard side deck. From the center of the boat working out: solent athwartship adjuster, solent fore and aft adjuster, spinnaker twing, outrigger line, brace. The solent sheet and the spinnaker sheet will go through the two empty blocks just outboard of the brace clutch.

Another view of the same sidedeck area.

The autopilot computer. The NKE ram is currently connected with the other plug being for the Autohelm/Raymarine, spare ram.

A look down through the keel window at the keel.

Today I need to get some final bits installed up the rig and will be getting my sleeping alarm installed too. The alarm is LOUD which is a very good thing.

rudders and bow numbers

Yesterday we took my boat to AOS Lorient to pull it out of the water to apply the bow numbers and to install the rudders.

We also dropped off the boom to get the outhaul exit sheave installed at the forward end.

While we were there, I also learned that Banque Populaire was being pulled out to go back to the builder for some work. It was being pulled out of the water in the fishing port.

If you look closely there are some people standing under the port float.

On the way out of the water

A dirty hull and keel.

Bow numbers going on.

NKE Speed sensor

NKE Speed and depth sensors

Numbers on, heading back into the water

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Video of Nacira #1



Well I have been here now over a week, I am really enjoying France. True, the weather has not been the greatest but it is still a nice place to be. It only rained part of the day today so my feet are almost dried out and the laptop on my lap is helping to warm me up. Probably the biggest challenge has been internet access so apologies to anyone who was hoping for more frequent updates. As things seem to be working well today, I am trying to get a little bit caught up. My french is still poor but I am doing a little better each day.

Have been busy with the boat every day, typically lots of small jobs that make me think of another small job and so on and so on.....

Last Friday I went with Sylvain from Demi-Cle in his inflatable to AOS Lorient. The facility is right next to the U-boat pens from WWII. A very awe inspiring place. Lorient is a definite center of sailing. The most notable boat that was there was the new Banque Populaire the maxi Trimaran. The boat is somewhat put away with a lot of the parts off and the covers all on. The rig was fully canted over to port so the port float would stay in the water and not ride up on the dock. The dyneema strop for the shrouds that leads from the composite cable over a sheave in the float to a built in hydraulic cylinder is at least 1.5" in diameter, possibly more.

I am going to try a modified jib lead system on my boat from what is on hull #1. I am doing a system where one line controls the fore and aft and another controls the lead angle. I feel this will be easier to duplicate setups and to make changes and keep things correct more of the time. This is especially crucial when I'm tired.

Tomorrow we take the boat to AOS to hoist it out to allign the rudders and apply the bow numbers. After that, weather permitting, we'll take the boat for a short sail.

Banque Populaire showing the amount of rig cant

U-boat pens in Lorient

The dyneema link between the shrouds and hydraulics

Banque Populaire

One of the Classe 40s in Lorient

Banque Populaire next to a ~50' cruising boat

Craig Horsfield's Zero in the AOS yard after its trip from Spain

The AOS Storage area, Minis and Figaro 2s

Another of Banque Populaire

A boat getting careened against the bulkhead in Locmiquelic over the weekend.

The electrical panel in my boat with my iPod charger plugged in.

The view out the hatch, watching it rain.

Nacira #1 in front of my boat in the marina, note the nice tall wand on my boat.

The two Naciras with a Pogo2.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Greetings from Locmiquelic

Arrived here on Sunday after a nice long flight from Seattle to Paris. From Paris I took the TGV to Lorient with a change of trains in Le Mans and then a short cab ride to the boat. Note to self, carrying two bags at the max weight for the airlines is not fun on the train.
Since I got here it has been very busy with getting the details sorted out on the boat. I have been making a few small rigging changes/upgrades and there are some in store on the boat too. The biggest one in the works is the fuel cell got installed in the incorrect spot and will have to be moved. It will be getting moved forward to reside next to the batteries to help centralize the weight.
The biggest surprise of the boat is how roomy it is down below. Well roomy for a 21' boat. Earlier today we had 3 people in the boat and while cozy did not seem too cramped
The weather has not exactly been cooperating for assembling the boat since it has been raining sideways and barely 50 degrees.
Where I am keeping the boat is a great little marina, St. Catherine in Locmiquelic. I am tied up right next to Nacira #1 so have been able to see what is on that boat.
Tomorrow I plan to snap some more pics.