Ocean Planet Yuck!
Mar. 22, 2002
BOOM! BANG! Slosh, slosh….
We are pounding away against the Caribbean tradewinds. Even on a relatively smooth sailing boat like this one the ride is rough. Last night I lost George’s excellent ceviche that we had for lunch, but I’m a bit better now. Poor Serge hasn’t been able to keep anything down. At least he’s drinking water to stay hydrated.
The wind was over 20kts for much of the night but is 16-18 now, not too bad if you have to go into it, it could be much worse!
We are sailing north, anticipating a left shift sometime, and then we will tack. If no shift then we’ll almost all the way to Jamaica and keep the big islands to the north of us.
Ocean Planet at 1530 UTC (7:30 PST): 11 47N, 79 59W, course 010-015 @ 7-8kts, wind 050-060. We’re holding back to keep the pounding down!
Bruce, Greg, George, & Serge
Ocean Planet 250 Miles down, 984 to go!
Mar. 23, 2002
At least it’s less than a thousand miles (as the crow flies) of beating left. We had a windshift a little to the left last eve so we spent last night on port tack going east. Now we are heading just east of north again on starboard tack. The ride over the waves is more comfortable on this tack so we have opened up the speed to 9+kts.
Our Position: 13 23 N, 78 21W, course 0-10, spd 9-9.5kts.
OP is sailing herself under autopilot the whole time, we just press the buttons now and then. I have given the autopilot the same name that my dad called the self-steering windvane on the boat we went cruising on when I was 14: The boat was the “Sara-B”, and the vane was called “Elbeauregard (say elbow-regard) Calpepper the 3rd”. So if I refer to our 5th crewmember El B, you’ll know who I’m talking about.
Anyway, we are hanging in there, I’ll send some pics tomorrow…..
Bruce, Greg, George, Serge, and Ocean Planet
Mar. 24, 2002
We are now 434 miles from Panama, but still have 934 miles to go to Antigua… when you have to go upwind you can never go straight where you want to!
Our position at 1546 UTC is 16 26N, 78 13W, course 35-40 mag. at 9kts, wind is 85-90 at 16-18kts.
We are now 434 miles from Panama, but still have 934 miles to go to Antigua… when you have to go upwind you can never go straight where you want to! Our position at 1546 UTC is 16 26N, 78 13W, course 35-40 mag. at 9kts, wind is 85-90 at 16-18kts.
Serge make some delicious chicken last night, which was the last of our fresh meat. It’s the cans and freeze-dried from here on out! I am getting into the groove now, eating more and having fun driving through the waves. We also saw our first freighter since Panama this morning, crossed just a mile or two front of us.
Antigua seems like forever away, but this is what it takes! Attached is a shot of the main with one reef, the same setting since we left Panama, and shot of Serge about to get soaked…
Bruce, Greg, George, & Serge
Bangin’ though the Caribbean
Mar. 26, 2002
Ocean Planet report, 1430 UTC March 26, 2002 Position: 17 49N 73 49W (just south of Haiti). Trying to get east, and of course the wind is 20 from the east….
Been out of touch for a few days, it’s hard to type upwind. Today is Tuesday, right? Let me back up a bit.
Sunday night we sailed right up to the lights of Kingston, Jamaica before tacking away. It was weird to see so many lights of a big city after no land for several days. A few miles before we snagged a low budget small fishing float assembly. I stopped the boat and drifted sideways while George was able to pick up the string end that had two small plastic water bottles. He walked the line forward and was able to pull up the other end which had a styrofoam float. The float now has a new identity as Marley, our new temporary mascot (and pal for Wilson) for the trip. By the time the sun came up, we couldn’t see the land so no official “land ho” until last night (Monday night), when we went by a strange unnamed (on our charts anyway) island. The island is about 30 miles west of Haiti, and is about 2 miles long. I told George I’d sell him the island if he would build us a nice dock there, he’s thinkin about it. Besides, he needs a new home for Marley…
Well, got close enough to sort of see the island (a couple miles) at night so that was our first land sighting since Panama. Then the fun really started. We tracked a couple slow moving freighters on radar that apparently couldn’t see us (we were right next to the island, after all) that kept getting closer and closer. One (the big one of course) was headed right for us and wouldn’t respond on VHF. It was getting pretty scary so I announced on the radio that we were taking evasive action by heading straight west (the ship was going south). The ship must have heard me and gotten confused since HE then turned hard west and was still heading right at us! It seemed like he was hunting us down…but we did a 180 and headed east and watched him go right by us. Very eerie.
Anyway, the plan was to sort of get in the lee of Haiti for a respite from the waves for a while. This worked, except of course the wind also quit which left us powering through sloppy rollers (we were powering during the dance with the freighter) much of the night. This morning the wind and waves (bigger than ever) are back, and we are working our way around the southwest side of Haiti. Saw two big Orcas (“killer whales”) earlier, very impressive but we missed with the camera.
We hope to cut in closer to shore today (behind a point to the east) and hope to get smoother water. Right now this plan may be backfiring as the waves are pretty cruddy. When we pound down it sounds like we are going to destroy everything, but the only thing really hurting is the silly humans in this rocket.
Humans from the Ocean Planet, Wilson, and Marley.
Back in the big wild open.
Mar. 27, 2002
OP Report, Wednesday (March 27th) Evening.
Last night and this morning, we saw the last of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We sloshed around in variable winds and slopped about 10 miles offshore as we motored east and watched a big lightning and rainstorm hit the shore. In the morning, we sailed out past Capo Dominico (or Capo Beata, depending on which chart…) back into the wider expanse of the Caribbean. Our timing wasn’t bad as the winds and seas have let up quite a bit.
We are sailing Southeast at 9+ knts in 10-13kts of easterly wind, anticipating a right shift for tomorrow…..we’ll see how well the weather predictions do. It sure is nice to dry out and clean up as some stuff got pretty messed up slogging away during the days of banging away. Some cans of beer left over from the Pacific trip (I should have thrown them away), stored up in the sail locker popped open (?!) and the beer mixed with seawater sloshing around to create a yeasty soup. Yuck, never again.
My mental lists of jobs to do and improve on the boat are growing ever longer, and it was long already. I sure hope we find a sponsor for the Around Alone soon and can hire the support we need to get ready. Time is running out and if we don’t raise the bucks soon we are hurtin fer certain. To miss the Around Alone would be a big blow in preparing OP and me for the 2004 Vendee Globe.
But for now, Antigua Ho! Hopefully, we’ll get some more supporting crew for Antigua Sailing Week to show up and raise the funds to get us to Charleston, and then Newport. I’ve always wanted to do this event and it will be a blast. Let’s hope we don’t break anything expensive!
Position at 2050 UT (12:50 PT): 16 2N, 70 41W. 510 miles from Antigua! Speed 9kts, course 125 (we just got a big left shift as I am writing this).
Bruce (Haji), Greg (Friar Tuck), George (El Diablo), Serge (Saaayyyyrrrrrgggg), and Ocean Planet (Wylie’s Wocket!)
Mar. 28, 2002
A beautiful day on the good ship Ocean Planet.
Smooth seas, no pounding, the boat sliding effortlessy along at good speed (OP is lethal in light air upwind…). We listened to music, read, talked about everything and nothing…makes me forget the bashing a few days ago. I even put new strings on the guitar and played some tunes!
An ocean passage is such a wide ranging experience, from the most miserable (wet, bruised, smelly, and worried) to the most wonderful (gorgeous ocean, idyllic sailing, making music, beautiful sunsets..). Such a dichotomy.
Position at 2322 UT (3:22 PST): 16 43N, 68 14W. Course 050 speed 8kts, wind around 105 at 6kts. We are 811 miles from Panama (measured in a straight line), with 368 miles to go to Antigua.
I wish everyone as nice a day as we had. As hard as the world can be, we must always appreciate the good days we have on this ocean planet.
Bruce, Greg, George, Serge, Wilson, Marley, the teddy bear, and the boat of course.
Mar. 30, 2002
Ocean Planet: Panama-Antigua Report, the last night!
Position @ 2320 UT (3:20pm PST)
16 28N 62 56W, speed 9kts, course 96 deg. Temp 87, press 1011mb.
Well, after the days haven’t been quite as gorgeous as when I last reported, but not far off. We did have to motor most of the day yesterday, which results in an infernally hot environment inside the boat. Today it’s been about 50/50 motoring/sailing and we are scooting along under sail at the moment with the working jib at 9kts in 8kts of wind. If we were racing we’d have the light genoa up, but hey, this is fast enough…
The last two days have been pretty lazy ones. Aside from cleaning a few misc details we mostly read and nap while the autopilot drives. When the wind gets up to 6kts or so (and with a decent angle) I unroll the jib and shut down the furnace…I mean the motor. Greg will laugh at me since I will continue to fight to keep from turning the engine back on until we are barely crawling….
But mostly we rest up for the nights which are far more interesting. After the marvelous sunsets, the wind seems to come on a bit more steady, and soon there are rain squalls to look out for. They are a mixed blessing: the wind changes all over so there is a lot of trimming or tacking, but at least there’s wind! Sometimes the boat gets a nice rinsing too. We have a full moon later in the nights and the moonlight off of the puffy clouds is spectacular.
Early tomorrow we will arrive in Antigua and another voyage is under our keel. It will be exciting to get there, but we will be kind of sad the trip is over. This is a great group and we have had a good time getting through the rough first part of the trip to the easy sailing we have now.
Antigua Arrival, no foolin’!
Apr. 1, 2002
Monday morning, April 1, 2002
Position: 17 00.83W 61 46.22W
(The Falmouth Harbor Marina Dock)
Early yesterday morning, we arrived at this beautiful island in the Caribbean, after the most eventful night of the trip. We expected the last night to be lighter air with a lot of motoring, but as I heard someone once say, “One of the surest signs of potential bad weather is the presence of suspiciously good weather…”
The last few nights, we dodged a few rain squalls here and there, some of which had lightning, but nothing nasty. Saturday evening we worked to weather in a nice breeze as we passed about 10 miles south of the (erupting) volcanic island of Montserrat on port tack. We alternated between port tack, which headed us towards the French island of Guadeloupe to the southeast, or starboard tack which took us north towards Montserrat. Antigua was (as usual, dead upwind) to the northeast.
We watched the radar constantly to monitor for squalls coming towards us, and there were some monstrous cruise ships going by now and then. The ships look like small cities (I guess they are) and are hard to miss by eye, but the radar lets you see exactly which way they are going. We could see the occasional flash of lightning ahead which worried me more than a little. Slowly, more and more of the sky got blacker to the northwest until all the stars and even the moon were gone. The rain signal on the radar was getting so wide that we couldn’t decide which way to go around. Since I didn’t like the idea of getting pinned against Montserrat to leeward, we eventually we went to the right (on starboard tack) as there was more room on the right between the storm and Guadeloupe. Unfortunately, this meant cutting through a corner of the rain signal that was now nearly black on the radar….
As these things go, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that the storm continued to expand till the signal return was a full ten miles or more across, with new appendages forming on the back (northwestern) side. Soon we were deep into it. The wind picked up to 20-25, which isn’t all that much, but there really wasn’t time to reef so we rolled up the working jib and cracked off to an 11kt reach so we would be going across the path of the storm in an attempt to escape to the right side. Did I mention the torrential rain that frothed the water white around us? This was easy to see since every 5-15 seconds there was a convenient nearby lightning flash to illuminate and blind us. Now is as good a time as any to mention to you that one of the hundreds of little jobs left to do on OP is to run a grounding system in the mast for lightning….. In other words, my stress level was getting up there as I visualized our mast getting vaporized and blowing a hole in the boat.
Greg took the soggiest job in the cockpit while I looked after the mainsheet from the vestibule where I could see the radar in the nav station (which was also being intently stared at by Serge and George). Greg kept reassuring me that the lightning wasn’t really all that close until one let off almost next to us (about 1.5 secs sound travel). “Okay, that one was close…..” We did make it out the right side and we were paralleling the storm system on our left.
We now were concerned about running out of room eventually towards Guadeloupe, and we desired to cut back north towards Antigua, but of course didn’t want to go through the cauldron again. A cruise ship was paralleling our course (we couldn’t see his lights now, just the radar blip) to the southeast between us and Guadeloupe. After a while we all noticed that the ship had turned 90 degrees to the left to cut behind us towards the north. We soon noticed that a space was opening between two big rain zones and that the ship was cutting through. I was kinda chicken that we wouldn’t get through fast enough, but the wind had shifted right some more and we would have a good angle close reaching to the north. We tacked, dropped the main, unrolled the working jib and took off at 10-11 through our gateway. Much to our relief we made it in a couple hours. I hit the hay for a nap and the guys kept blasting towards the barn. They tried to wake me for a reportedly good view of the volcano and lava flow glow on Montserrat to the west, but apparently I was out cold.
We zoomed into the harbor Sunday morning, pulled up to the Falmouth Harbor Marina where OP will be berthed through Sailing Week. Suddenly we felt very tiny compared to the mega-yachts. Mind boggling wealth is on display here, and I feel very out of place! But I’ll have a month to get used to it. Perhaps I can wash the decks of one of these monster boats for lunch money. Take a look at this shot of a Perini Navi ketch. The little light blue canoe on the right is Ocean Planet.
Gotta go! Was just invited to view the J-boat “Endeavor”, Yahoo!
Apr. 6, 2002
Saturday morning, April 6, 2002
Position: 17 00.83W 61 46.22W – Paradise
(The Falmouth Harbor Marina Dock)
Greg and George left Wednesday and Serge left yesterday, leaving me solo in paradise. Ever since we arrived I’ve been feeling drowsy and drained, so in spite of the long work list I’ve created, I spent much of the day yesterday snoozing, reading, and plunking on the guitar. Sent some e-mails from the boat, walked to town and bought groceries, and tried to find the guy who the Sailing Week organizers say is supposed to measure the boat for her Caribbean rating (no luck, and his phone just rings away unanswered). After that, I was a vegetable. Perhaps the past year of working so hard on the boat and fundraising is finally catching up with me, but I just couldn’t move once I sat still. Or maybe it was the two days of partying when we arrived….?
In either case, I went to bed early in spite of the pulsing reggae music (and I LOVE reggae) coming from the town below. It was my last night off the boat, and I’m moving back on today until more of our team arrives in a couple weeks. Time to get cranking on the work list again.
We are kind of on our own at the dock. The big boats immediately next to us left for other ports. However, to OP’s right is the famous J-Boat Endeavor, and to our left is another J, Valsheda, and a giant schooner named Windrose. A third J, Shamrock V was here a couple nights ago but left in a flurry (which included the crushing of a rental car beneath their massive mainsail) for a regatta this weekend in St. Barts. It’s hard to say which J is most overwhelming. Endeavor holds the most allure as a pure sailing machine, with her cleaner deck layout and enormous reputation. Valsheda exudes luxury and gleams with gobs of dark varnished mahogany, while Shamrock V possibly surpasses both with an astounding display of copper(?) plated metal (and I mean EVERY peice of metal visible from lifelines to winches, to cleats, to you name it). The amount of money spent on any one of these awesome boats in a single year would keep Ocean Planet going her whole life!
It’s three weeks before Sailing Week starts on the 28th, and on the 18th the spectacular Classic Regatta begins. Some of the huge beauties actually do both regattas! Which is crazy, since Sailing Week boasts around 300 boats, not exactly the safest scene for a 140 ft. classic.
And the huge schooner Windrose:
On the 16th, our friends and supporters start arriving to help on the boat. We hope to go out and view at least the last race of the classic regatta, that will be WAY cool. Then the rest of our gang pulls into town for Sailing Week (we have practice sails scheduled on the 26th and the 27th). This is going to be some serious racing, against boats like Roy Disney’s Pyewacket (who boasts several SF Bay Area rock star sailors on the crew). Ocean Planet is not a bouy racer, but we’ll take advantage of the tradewinds here to put on a real show (20+ kts?) on the reaches and runs. It is still not too late to join our supporting crew . . . and I hope more do or we may have trouble paying the bills for this regatta! Let me know if you are interested by calling me on my cell phone (which sometimes actually works here!): 510-866-6582.
Workin hard to escape paradise,
Thought I’d take a break from today’s boat project fun to drop a note from an internet cafe right here in Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbor, Antigua. This is a beautiful place with a rich history from the original inhabitants, the French, and mostly the English who controlled much of the Caribbean from Lord Nelson’s navy stronghold. There is much architecture and buildings here from that long era, and some of the newer establishments here in Nelson’s dockyard (a historical monument) are built right into the older brick and mortar buildings. It’s very nice and keeps the old flavor alive as well as providing services like this computer I’m using right now…..15 cents a minute may seem like a lot for an I-cafe, but it’s a lot less than the $3.00 a minute charged on Ocean Planet’s Mini-M inmarsat phone!!
I took a walk through the museum the other day, and it was sobering to note how much use the English made of slavery here to bolster their control of the region. There is always a lot to learn from the past, and to see how far the world has come. Of course when I get back from an ocean trip and watch the world news, I am reminded of how close we are to sliding back to religious and racial turmoil. There is only one Ocean Planet (besides the boat) for all of us to share, and there is no room aboard for religious or political fanaticism from either the East or West….only sailing (or other fun-loving) fanatics allowed!
Checking the panels on deck:
At least I already replaced the rotating mast boot, so that won’t leak anymore….I have to feel proud about finishing something!
“Hey, want to buy a piece of Ocean Planet? Actual thru-hull core sample for sale!”
But you will also have to pay Steve Rander and Schooner Creek boat works (http://www.schoonercreek.com/) for their secrets on how to build a boat this way…..
That’s it for now, I’m gonna do a little net surfin and then head back to OP and get back to work…
NYC Start of Around Alone.
Apr. 11, 2002
Ocean Planet Antigua Update #1, April 11, 2002
Big news if you haven’t heard: the September 15th start of the Around Alone (remember, that’s what Ocean Planet and I are gunning for.), has been moved to New York! The start will be the grand finale of the tribute and celebration “Sail for America” taking place in NYC exactly one year after the tragic events there last September. This is a very meaningful change for me, as I have strong feelings about the importance of a thoughtful recognition of what happened on September 11th. Even though the financial odds are not stacked in my favor, I will try harder than ever to make the start of the Around Alone. As the only American entered in Class One, I will be heartbroken if I can’t represent the USA in this challenging international race.
Please take note that we have a $50,000 matching grant put up by a group of our supporters, which we can only receive if we raise an equal $50,000 by June. So if you want to see Ocean Planet in the race, now is the time to help out! Also appreciated are leads to corporate entities that could use the international exposure that we have to offer in the Around Alone.
Check out the race website for details on the race and the new start: www.aroundlaone.com, and visit www.oceanplanet.org for info on how you can get involved and help us out.
From Antigua in the West Indies, Bruce
Ocean Planet Antigua Update #2
Here on the tropical front: Events coming up soon here in Antigua: The Classic Regatta, which runs from April 18-23 (no, OP won’t be racing that), and Antigua Sailing Week, April 28-May 4. My old boat, Rumbleseat, will be here for the classic regatta!! She is now named Diva and is owned by a famous surgeon from Tortola, Dr. Robin Tattersall. I can’t wait to see her, and Robin has invited me to come aboard and race the classic regatta! I will just do one or two races, as my sweetheart Jeanie will be in town for a short visit and we hope to spend at least SOME time together. Besides, you know how women are about old girlfriends, even if they are a boat…;-)
Yesterday I applied some underwater epoxy to some nasty scratches on the boat bottom that must have happened in Panama. I checked today and my patch jobs look pretty good, although we’ll have to do a real fix in Charleston when we get there. I also did some scrubbing on the hull and bottom:
Another project we did was to take EVERTHING off the boat, as required, in order to measure her for her Caribbean rating.
The local measurer, Tony Maidmet, was very careful and thorough. It will be interesting to see what rating we get! But I don’t really care that much, as Ocean Planet is not a bouy racer, and we will be racing Sailing Week mainly to have fun and show off some down wind speed if the wind pipes up. Cross your fingers for breeze!
It’s great how people show up to help out. For the past few days, a sailor from Sweden, Bo, has been helping me on the boat working on winches, cleaning, whatever. The extra hands sure came in handy when we had to move all of the gear and sails off and on the boat. After today’s work, Bo, another sailor from South Africa (named George), and I went up to the famous hilltop bar/restaurant, “Shirley’s.” This spectacular place is located on a precipitous hilltop overlooking English Harbour, and on Thursday afternoons a great steel drum band plays there. The view and sunsets are stunning, and you can see the island of Montseratt and more. What a great way to wind down after a day of lugging boat gear!
Tomorrow I start on a keel project, winches, work on the watermaker, go shopping for supplies,etc, etc….time to hit the quarterberth, read a little, and pass out.
My Early Birthday Present?
Apr. 14, 2002
From the lilliputitian “Ocean Planet” in the land of giant boats…
My friends tend to joke about my birthday being “tax day'” in the US . . . April 15th. If you were wondering what to get me, just make a donation to The Made in America Foundation instead to keep Ocean Planet going….you can’t say I don’t think of every angle!
As if on cue for an early birthday present, Robbie Doyle (that’s right, THE Robbie Doyle) of Doyle sails came by yesterday to say hi, and invited me to sail today on the J-boat “Valsheda.”
We will be checking out Valsheda’s new cool carbon D4 Doyle racing sails. Here is their foredeck this morning. Each one of these sails weighs hundreds of pounds and would be a lot heavier if they weren’t D4!
This experience will be a real treat, as long as I don’t get crushed by a giant sail.
I’ll try to get some sailing pics if I don’t soak the digital camera. We sure could use a waterproof one…
Antigua Update #3
Apr. 16, 2002
Okay, so I didn’t get to go out on the J-boat Valsheda the other day….they were delayed for several hours working various projects and sundry modfications. It is nice to see that ALL boats have a hard time getting it together to leave the dock.;-) So when I was invited to “a quick lunch over at Jolly Harbour” with the fun crew of the beautiful mega-sloop Shamoun that is moored right next to us, I went for it….oops!!
Four hours later and after two long bumpy rides over hill and dale on a sometimes barely noticable road (the return trip in a taxi), I made it back….and missed the Valsheda ride (it was a short one, anyway). Advice: When joining up with “quite mad” English professional crew after their charter guests have departed….be prepared to party and accept the consequences!
Yesterday was my birthday, and a special treat for me was to visit my old 30-square metre, Rumbleseat (now named Diva), that is here for this weekend’s famous “Classic Regatta!!” The old girl still looks good, although I won’t be able to resist nagging the current owner, Dr. Robin Tatersall of Tortola, to look after a few details. If you didn’t already know, Rumbleseat is the boat I won the 1996 singlehanded transpac race to Hawaii.
Last evening the “end of charter season” blowout continued aboard the fantasically plush Shamoun (clue: this boat has a WALK-IN freezer….), including several (extremely bad) versions of “Happy Birthday” sung by her crew in honor of yours truly. I was invited to play guitar and sing, which was well received in spite of party clamour. A fun birthday indeed!
But this morning was an even more special experience. I met a very sweet family from France that is finishing up a year of cruising from France to Morocco, across the Atlantic to Venezuela, and then the Caribbean. They are a humble family aboard a small sturdy boat, sailing on a tight budget but thoroughly enjoying the ups and downs of sailing with their children. I gave them a tour of Ocean Planet yesterday, and they were delighted when I asked to visit them on their small boat, which I did today. The experience was so nostalgic for me, since I spent three years cruising with my dad and brothers long ago. I want to say “Merci!” to Fredo (the father), Gertrude (mother and professor), their three beautiful daughters Adele(12), Violette (10), Suzan (5), and brave young skipper Moise (7) for reminding me how much the same all sailors and travelers are no matter what language we speak. Someday I will visit them at their farm in France!
I want to say “Merci!” to Fredo (the father), Gertrude (mother and professor), their three beautiful daughters Adele(12), Violette (10), Suzan (5), and brave young skipper Moise (7) for reminding me how much the same all sailors and travelers are no matter what language we speak. Someday I will visit them at their farm in France!
Being here with the mega-yachts and the display of wealth is fantastic, but the hand painted blue seashell pendant given to me by little Suzan and the fine shells from Moise (both wrapped and labeled Ocean Planet!) were the most memorable birthday presents, indeed.
Today it is back to working on the boat. A big thanks to volunteer Swedish sailor “Bo” who has been helping out! My Dad arrives tonite for his first (long story…) look at Ocean Planet…..
Antigua Update #4
Apr. 20, 2002
Hi there again from Antigua!!
Today was the first race of the famous Antigua Classic Regatta (Antigua Sailing Week starts next week). Huge J-boats and 150+ ft. schooners are the marquee yachts here, but there is a huge variety of fantastic classic yachts. One of the most popular and most lethal on the race course is none other than my old boat, (“Rumbleseat”) now called “Diva.”
I was invited by her current owner, Dr. Robin Tatersall of Tortola, to come aboard for the first race of the series. What a great experience to sail on my old boat that I spent so many years (13!) restoring and then racing in the Pacific.
Because Diva is slightly (ahem) modified, she races in the highly competive “spirit of tradition” class, where the boats are quite new, but (somewhat) traditional. Oddly, all the boats in our division are less than 10 years old, but Diva was origially built in 1930! The next smallest boat in our class is 57 ft and the biggest is 80 ft! On the start, Dr. Robin (who is vastly experienced racing the Caribbean) had a great start and off we went. I trimmed the boat for maximum speed since I sailed thousands of miles on her (including the 1996 Singlehanded Transpac) and know how to make her happy….
We had ample inspiration to get to the first mark as quickly as possible, for the start behind us was none other than the monster J boats “Valsheda,” “Shamrock V,” the new 153′ Schooner “Windrose,” and the huge and beautiful “Hetairos!!” They were catching up just as we got to the mark, and we could hear the deafening shriek of the easing of the tortured sheets on Windrose over our shoulders as she cracked off just behind us.
The next few minutes were something to see as one by one the largest and most impressive racing sailboats on earth passed close by with their acres of spinnakers and gennikers flying. We tried to avoid the huge wind shadows as best we could, and took off surfing on the wakes on the kind of power reach that Diva loves. Even though there was no keeping up with these awesome crafts, we had several rides up to 13-14 knots and lost surprising little time.
After the next mark there was a long beat where we got “in phase” with the windshifts and clobbered our class, actually gaining on them boat for boat even though they owed us time! One more power spinnaker reach, then a fetch to the finish and my memorable race aboard my former love was over.
Dr. Robin wants me to race the rest of the series with him, but tomorrow I go back to work on Ocean Planet. There is just so much to do to get ready, and I have little time before the Guadelupe-Antigua race, Antigua race week, and then we’re off to Charleston, SC to haul out and begin prep for the Around Alone. That is, assuming we keep getting donations and can afford it!
Below is a shot of some of the classic boats here. You can see the tiny 39 ft, Diva on the right.
Oh by the way, we won the race by six minutes on corrected time.
Antigua Sailing Week, T-2 days.
Apr. 26, 2002
Antigua Sailing Week, T minus 2 days and counting. (by Ocean Planet team member, Mark Wiltz).
After a Guadalupe to Antigua race, Ocean Planet sits at the dock getting ready for ASW. Crew that have shown up include Robert Flowerman, Steve Hodges, J.B. Currell, Jason Winkle, Greg Nelson, Jim Mirowski, Lydia Vargas, Dave & Beki Fullerton, Mark Wiltz, Tarek Hamid, Jeanie Sousa and of course Brewster Schwabster…. and more are coming! Hey, isn’t this supposed to be a singlehanded boat?!
It seemed to be a 14 or 15 hour trip to get to Antigua from the left coast, but well worth the drive. One clarification I was able to get from the locals was the correct pronunciation of the place. I was sticking with Antigua (Ann-Tea-Guh), mostly because that’s how I heard Jimmy Buffett pronounce it in a song. Others were correcting me with their pronounciation of Antigua (Ann-Tea-Gwah). Local knowledge is that the latter is a city in Guatamala, with the former a Caribbean island. Thus ends today’s geographic lesson…
It’s true that Ocean Planet looks dwarfed by the boats in the harbour. I’ve been told that all the red lights at the tops of all the masts (which is something I’ve never seen before) is a required indicator light for masts of 100′ in height or higher! There were many red lights in the evening sky above the harbor. What a colossal show of fine sailing ships. Words and pictures can’t adequately convey this accurately, although Bruce’s updates sure got me excited to join his supporting crew here! I’m glad I came.
Having just gotten off the ski/snowboard slopes of Mt. Hood, and then flown to St. John, Antigua, I’m easily the whitest boy on the island. And I forgot my sunscreen! It’ll be hard to get as tanned as Bruce! Upon arriving on the Island, we visited the boat, got an official ASW – Ocean Planet teeshirt, and then walked smack-dab into a caribbean/loud music/live band/free rum/volleyball/everyone welcome beach party. Some of our crew took advantage of the festivity and went skinnydipping while someone else took their clothes. (Ask fellow crewmembers Jason and Steve for further details…).
Today consists of doing some boat jobs then getting out on the water to get to know the boat. Bruce has his hands full trying to get the crew up to speed, but is an enthusiastic coach. For bouy racing the boat can really use the crew, both as rail protoplasm as well as running the sails. Check out the Pics: The burro teathered to the sailboat mast with the million dollar yachts in the background is true Antigua. More crew showing up in the next few days, so stay tuned.
Mark Wiltz for Bruce Schwab.
Antigua Pre-race practice
“Tomorrow we Race”, Day 1 ASW
Apr. 27, 2002
Reports by the Ocean Planet crew!
Today we were fully crewed-up with 12 folks keeping the boat powered and somewhat flat. We went out on the water before noon today and saw windspeeds of 20-23 knots, 80-some degrees making for a great day of tropical sailing. As you can see from the picture we had up our small staysail and full main for upwind work.
Today was also the day that Bruce’s lovely Jeanie left us for the mainland. Now we have Bruce all to ourselves!
After a bit of far-offshore work we noticed “Pyewacket” working up the shore. We seemed to be doing ok against them, but lacked a bit of their pointing ability. However, after turning off the wind,we were having our way with them. With Pyewacket in our class rating of 1.297, and ours at 1.199 it’s going to be some good racing. This is a time-on-time rating system. It’s going to be a great week. This is a Caribbean Rating System that I know nothing about. Tomorrows race is the longest of the week at 34 miles.
Tomorrow (Sunday) we start races with a jaunt half way around the Island in a CCW direction. We should have 13 or so folks on the boat. The forecast is for sunny skies, winds from the NE at about 20 knots.
“MAS man on the rail after a gruling yet cumbersome tack this old man may know his glue, but god keep him out of the cockpit. Obviously he is in good hands with Bruce at the helm behind him, and Robert Flowerman covering his every move even this amature can look good. With guys like J. B. on the boat Bruce needs all the cash he can raise to keep them off,its the only way he’ll win. Come on Guys and Gals Pitch in Big for our boy we need an American on an American boat to show the world what were made of .”
“Beki and I arrived Friday after flying all night from San Francisco. After getting some well needed sleep, we were ready to get on the boat and get out on the water.
Ocean Planet is definately an “E” ticket ride, combine that with the incredible conditions here at Antigua and you get an unforgettable experience. If you ever doubted the clarity of the water, check out the light colored shape in the photo – its bulb keel, located 15 feet below the surface of the water!
The day’s practice sessions really drove home what a special boat Ocean Planet is and how lucky we are to have such a boat to represent the US in single handed ocean racing. Thanks to everyone who has donated money or time and made all this happen.” – Dave Fullerton.
“Arrived in Antigua Thursday afternoon a thrilling flight from San Francisco where the plane’s port engine exploded on take-off, almost missed the connection to San Juan in Chicago, and the flight crew on the inter-island LIAT flight seemed to be too young to drive a car in the States. It was worth it! We are staying in a house overlooking English and Falmouth harbour with some of the most beautiful (and expensive) yachts in the world.
On every tack, here is a view of OP’s unique carbon compsite mast as I slide my butt underneath the mast. Here’s some Mast-twist for you. “It’s just a big windsurf rig anyway, eh?” – Jim Mirowski
We will be away racing for a few days, so expect yet another update in in a few days.
Bruce’s friends on OCEAN PLANET
Antigua Sailing Week
Apr. 29, 2002
Hello all from the Happy Island of Antigua. We’re into our third day of racing and haven’t broke anything or anyone yet. OK, we tore a small hole in our BIG kite launching it. OK, it was a medium size hole but we think we can get it fixed before our race tomorrow, and it was a true accident, really. Nobody, and we mean no one is blaming any foredeck personnel for it.
Right now we are anchored outside, and I mean WAY outside Jolly Harbour as we draw 10 feet and it’s a shallow bay. We were achored next to Pyewacket until a squall came though and moved us a few hundred yards across the bay. Thanks to Robert, our lone watchman on board, the boat was saved, with the anchor just resetting, with Robert adding more scope. It seems the rainy season is starting up here.
Jolly Harbour is a true cruisers destination, as well as a resort area on the island with lovely beaches. The harbour was totally packed with boats, and the big anchorage full of sailboats of every size, make, shape and construction.
The racing has been excellent, but a buoy raceboat OceanPlanet isn’t. She’s set up for long legs with the wind beside or aft of the beam, which buoy racing doesn’t tend to be anything alike at all! But boy do we have fun going off the wind. Even the competition smiles when we rocket on past. Because of our dubious rating, and the fact that we don’t point with the Big Dogs, we are still sitting in 17th place overall in the regatta. But with these buoy races, it seems all we do is go to weather all day. Probably because our downwind bursts go buy so quickly and with so much rasta-man happiness.
The list of boats racing is a long one of nearly 200+ yachts. A whos who of yachting from the Atlantic, the Med and even some west coast yachts like OceanPlanet. For instance there are THREE boats from the organization of www.formula1sailing.com (or something like that) from England, as well as the boat below, “girlsforsail.com” sailed by, what else! All Girls! Guys with small restaurants and businesses are here racing their floating billboards and tax write-offs. Spain, France, Portugal, Denmark, Norway, England, USA,… they all seem to be here.
Most of the boats in the regatta are cruiser/racers like Bene’s, Swans, etc. Some of the Moorings and SunSail charter boats are racing as well. Now THAT aughta be some food for thought for next spring!Today we picked up our anchor from outside Jolly Harbour and raced back around the Island to Falmouth Harbour where we started on Monday. Falmouth seems to be the drier side/end of the island where Jolly Harbour has a wetter climate. Last night I think it got down into the lower 70’s with the system that came thougjh, which felt cool. The water continues to be about 80 F degrees. Since we didn’t get our “Big Mamba” kite repaired, we didn’t use it today, but it didn’t seem to hurt us much as the downwind opportunity was very short and our BORLAND Code Zero did just fine. This is a roller furling headsail on it’s own luffline that reaches well and deep. We just drop the head of the sail off of the mast a foot or two and this sail acts just like a kite, wrapping/pulling to weather. It’s awesome to watch it lift like that and pull the boat over the water.
Above is yet another one of my favorite photos of the mastflex of the top of the big unit. When we do run into gusts, two things happen; the boat accellerates and the mast bends off, loading up and spilling wind off the main. When the gust goes away, this mast/spring unloads back into the mainsail and adds more power to the boat. It’s such a win-win situation spelled C-O-N-T-R-O-L, it makes me grim ear to ear just thinking about it. In fact on a ride out to the boat with one of the local West India water taxi’s I was talking with them about the planets visible in the sky, (they seemed to know much more about them than my American friends, probably because of the consistently clear skies and the 6:30 PM sunsets) and then about OceanPlanet as we approached. I described the rig and they instantly understood; “Just like a Laser, Mon?”. Almost presicely I answered. These guys knew how to pilot an over stressed water taxi with no running lights, AND they knew sailboats.
Here we are sailing back from the racing with just the main up at 10 or 11 knots. The speed on this boat is so deceiiving. (Did I spell this right; “I before E except after C, except for about a million exceptions”). If we ever drop down to 8 knots or less it feels doggie and slow. But up around 13 and 14 knots things start to seem like all is right with our world and with OceanPlanet. She just loves to fly. Here life really doesn’t begin until 15 or so.
Tomorrow is a layday, so we’ll get to some winches that were binding and in need of being looked at, as well as having our big kite sewn up from our bad launch yesterday, and be ready for action again Thursday. Plus we will be able to have Bruce write some of his thoughs to post here (El Capitan has been a busy hombre). As a grinder, the rest will be welcome as well. I’m just happy OceanPlanet isn’t a masthead rig with 150 genoas. The fract. working jib is enough!!
Mark Wiltz for Bruce Schwab, the Crew and OceanPlanet.
Antigua Sailing Week – Lay Day
May 1, 2002
Hello all from the hot humid and Happy Island of Antigua again. No, we arn’t complaining. Today is a day off from sailing in warm tropical waters, where you can can watch the bottom of the ocean slide by from 50 feet or so above. Yes, the water is that clear. I’ve been feeling bad telling of all the great sailing and fun that we are having here, so I finally get to make up and tell you how hard we have been working. And it feels like work too, especially when under the hot Caribbean sun.
There are a few chores to attend to like cleaning the winches, one of which was causing us some problems. These were so full of general gunk that the 4 of them took all afternoon to clean, grease and reassemble.
Jason went aloft to work on the masthead sheave that we use for our big kite. He’s up there over 80 feet in the air, yet still having to look up at the masts around him. Our kite that had gotten ripped yesterday will be ready for tomorrows 38 mile ocean race, the longest of the regatta.
English Harbour is the next bay to the east of us here in Falmouth Harbour, and an easy 10 minute walk. Within English Harbour is the prettiest piece of living history in the Caribbean today. Once the base for Admiral Horation Nelson’s fleet in the 18th century, it’s now a busy destination anchorage and is under the eye of the National Parks of Antigua/Barbuda. Most all of the original buildings still stand, and are now stores, restaurants, hotels and other establishments.
St. Johns, the capital and Antigua’s largest town is where a different cruise ship everyday docks and spews passengers into the town. It’s nice to be on the opposite side of the island. But we do have mesquitos that come out after sunset and start eating. I’ve been staying on the boat and have been essentially bite free!
Well off for a quick snorkling adventure to a hidden beach over the hill from our house, then back to the house to see if the water is working yet.
Remember that we have a $50,000 matching grant put up by a group of our supporters, which we can only receive if we raise an equal $50,000 by June. So if you want to see Ocean Planet in the race, now is the time to help out! Also appreciated are leads to corporate entities that could use the international exposure that we have to offer in the Around Alone. Saturday we will be having an open house on Ocean Planet for the folks who have been watching us to gain a closer look at this machine.
Mark Wiltz for Bruce Schwab, Ocean Planet and the crew that have helped sail her this week.
Antigua Sailing Week – Day 5
May 3, 2002
You have been staying current, right? That and we didn’t go sailing today (because of our torn mainsail) so we don’t have any sailing pictures. With no sailing remaining in our race schedule, the crew all got assembled and went out to dinner together, and some ended up afterwards swinging on a Swan 68, consuming beverages, and dancing to the reggae band that was on the foredeck!!!!! What a blast-o-rama that was! They didn’t have to rise early in the morning to go sailing! By the way, after 4 days of sailing were we in 19th place overall. Plus we beat a “buoy boat” in our class with our Around The World racer!
Today was the last day of racing for ASW 2002, and the boats that did get out saw winds peaking over 30 knots, which would have been two reefs and the little staysail upwind for us had we sailed. It was so windy that “Equation” a SC-70 retired early not wanting to risk people and the rig. Our navigator Ashley, who went out with them today said “After we buried the bow going downwind at 15 knots, washing the foredeck and the #3 back to the companionway, the skipper decided to call it quits. We almost lost the sail.” In fact there were reports of folks getting separated from their boats and others getting hurt. A few were dismasted, and one boat came in with a rig that looked like it should have come down, it was so twisted, bent and out of column. It looked like a gust hit the chute and the runners were not on.
Meanwhile, OceanPlanet was at the docks, getting cleaned up for Tomorrows Open House on the boat.
Some of the crew are sticking around for the awards presentation and Nelson’s Formal Ball Saturday night. So with not much else to do today the team photographer and web-wonk took some local pictures of historic English Harbour to take home to his family, and to share with you here.
Some new faces and some old reliable standards were on hand. Second from the left, Wadadli (Wah-Dodd-lee) the local beer. In fact “Wadadli” or maybe “Wahadli” used to be the name of Antiqua as used by the West Indians.
Again, we all had a terrific time. Thanks Bruce! But tell us why the flights home are so much longer than the same flights that brought us to Antigua?
OceanPlanet will leave Antigua for either Tortola for sail repairs, or may jam straight for Charleston SC. Right now the weather is perfect for that dash to the north. Stay tuned!
The delivery North to Charleston
May 08, 2002
Ocean Planet, on the Way to Charleston…at 8:20 Atlantic (5:20 Pacific) time.
Last night was AWESOME!! Flying along on a crystal clear night with sparkling islands on both sides, we quickly left Antigua over the horizon. Reaching along at 12-14 kts in 12-17 kts of warm wind, we watched the lights of tiny, mountainous nations slide by, with the occasional shooting star thrown in for good measure. The sky was clear enough to see the silhouette of most of the islands against the stars.
We left Falmouth Harbour at about 5:30 p.m. yesterday, and are now about 170 miles away just about to pass the last of the Virgin Islands (Anegada) on our left.
Present position is 18 42N, 64 09W, course 320 at 12.5kts.
USA, here we come!