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Puerto Vallarta Race Update

Feb. 27, 2002 


The good, the bad, and the smelly: 

What a night (and day).  Besides trying to sail fast, I was going nuts last night about a strange crackling noise coming from somewhere around the batteries near the keel.  I spent hours (or at least the time between the sail changes) checking the cabling, feel the batteries for heat, and in general worrying that we were going to catch fire and sink.

No answers, and no fire, so I quit fussing with that and went to our other headache, trying to have the right sail up.  Our big masthead kite doesn’t fly right on the genniker halyard, but still works ok if there is enough wind.  In the light spots, our “Borland” genniker (Borland Software bought us this sail with a giant “Borland” on it) works better and is much easier to deal with.  So when the wind drops down to 5-6knots, time to snuff the kite and go for a bald headed change since the two sails now share the same halyard.

Now of course the goddess of Mexico seabreezes has an active since of humor, so naturally the wind picks up soon after your change.  Now you can’t sail low enough, the genniker is smaller and doesn’t have the oomph.  So roll up the genniker, lower it down to the rolling deck in into the foredeck hatch, switch halyards, sheets, and tacklines to the big kite and try to get it up before we lose too much ground.

Say the wind is up to 10 knots after the change.  In this much wind our best VMG with the big kite is when sailing hot with some water in the ballast tank.   The wind soon picks up to 15+kts (hurray!) and you can ease the sheets, dump the ballast water, and start to zoom along like a giant skateboard.  This lasts 15 minutes, the wind drops, in goes the water ballast and grind in the sheets.  Down to 5 knots a little later, out goes the water, down comes the big kite which is now trying drag in the water on the (too) low halyard, and switch back to the Borland genniker.  Oh, we got lifted, better gybe again too….  Repeat over and over until dawn.  This will be more fun singlehanded.  Did I mention it’s boiling hot?

Relief on several fronts this morning when we dangle a jibsheet from the bow and I jump in to pull off the kelp that has these little mussel clams hanging onto it that are making the clattering noise on the keel.  The threat of burning to the waterline is over, I’m cooler and smell better, and we aren’t giving kelp and mussels a free ride to PV.

We have cut the distance to Merlin and Magnitude in half, as everyone skids to a near halt in the slow end-game of this race.  We sat in a hole long enough ourselves to let the darn TP 52’s catch back up and we are finally putting them back into their place behind us.

A digression: Right before we left SD, my friend Erik Simonson the photographer sent me a genuine “Wilson” volleyball, a la Tom Hanks in the movie “Castaway.” I figured now would be a good time to get a picture of Wilson and our other mascot, “Teddy” Turner.  So I hand Wilson to Richard in the cockpit, who says “what’s this for?” (he hasn’t seen Castaway), and promptly tosses the ball off the back of the boat.  All hell breaks loose as I yell “Wilson!!” and we go into a ridiculous volleyball overboard drill.  The LAST thing we need to be doing in the middle of a boat race. But Wilson is saved for other adventures.

OP @ 4pm 2-27: 21D 43N, 107D 24W. Wind: 3-4 knots, Boatspeed: 5.75kts, VMG: Terrible, no matter which jibe we take…

Bruce, Kevin, Greg, Lydia, Stephen, Frank, Richard, Wilson, and Ted

Ocean Planet

Bruce Schwab


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