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Category: Race Preparation

06/27/09

Permalink 02:08:10 pm, Categories: Race Preparation, 1278 words   English (US)

Third Cruise

With leaden skies, thunderstorms forecast, a decent 15 knot breeze and seas of 1-3 feet, WhimSea and crew slipped the docklines. The tasks for the day were originally to do some whiskerpole work, stand abbreviated watches to get used to having an available four man crew, do an MOB exercise, rig and use the preventer stay system and watch some training videos. We got all of it done excepting the whiskerpole work and I was pretty tempted to do that.

Since we had moderate seas it was nice to get some helm time in with the newest members of the crew, Michael and Matt. Sailing downwind is probably the more tiring of conditions especially as the seas pick up and start playing with the boat. It's more taxing physically and difficult to be able to keep the course and wind directions more constant. The forecast was calling for the wind to diminish in the afternoon but while we had it we sailed towards Duluth on a broad reach. With the crew in training mode and a bit of an abbreviated crew in the first place, it didn't make sense to pole out and run deeper.

The preventer stays worked awesome! What we did was to connect a line to the first mainsheet bail, run it to a shackle connected to the toe rail even with the aft lower shroud and ran it aft to the cockpit and aft cleat. The line floats so if it goes over the side we shouldn't have to worry too much about prop fouling (might as well make it as idiot proof as possible). It's also a bright yellow so while cluttering the decks a bit more it's still easy to see. Since it's run aft to the cockpit there's no more leaving the cockpit to secure a preventer. In the past we had used a dockline that we tied to the toe rail. Doing that involved so much more effort and opened us up to the possibility of an accidental gybe (even more likely when considering the helmsman's activity lookin' around during the preparation). With this in place the stay can be unsecured but still held by one of the afterguard while everyone else is on station. It's sweet!

We were figuring on sailing in the Duluth entry, doing a beam reach through the harbor and then beating back to Knife River. About 2:00 or so we hove-to and had lunch. Deb had made us the most excellent sandwich relished by the entire crew, thanks again Deb!! Seeing as how the wind was diminishing fast and the lake lying down it seemed best to start heading back. I don't think we sailed more than five miles when the wind deserted us entirely. We fired up the engine and took everything down to motor back. We did get wet though on the way down and a bit on the way back from some rain but nothing too bad. Never once did the rumble of thunder make itself heard.

After getting back we worked on hoisting an MOB aboard. During the last cruise we outfitted the boom-vang with quick release shackles (with a breaking strength of over 3300 pounds). When I had last replaced the vang line I did so with the idea that I would use it as a hoist, for getting stuff off the boat in the fall when she's on the hard, maybe bringing our dingy on the fore-deck with the whisker pole and spinnaker halyard and using it as an MOB hoist when attached to one of the reefing bails on the boom.

Our cockpit lifelines detach allowing for an easy embarking/debarking process. I had originally thought the easiest way to get a person aboard, considering our three feet plus of freeboard, would be to detach the lifelines, connect to the MOB and do the hoist. Now here's the rub. If a person is in cold water, and I mean water below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, after 10 minutes their capacity to even do rudimentary things is diminished to the point of non-existence. Having a hook and a hoist is not going to do anything for the crew in the water if they can't help themselves (and that's not even considering they were injured in the overboard incident). We worked on two scenarios, having a harness with D rings and having just a lifesling.

In the harness scenario if the MOB could connect the d ring to the hook, no problem. If not, no dice. If we were doing the lifesling with no D ring we could haul and connect the hook ourselves but with the tackle and the length of line, we would run out of hoisting space before the MOB was still mostly in the water. We learned that with our freeboard there is no way for someone on deck to connect the hook to someone in the water. Furthermore, now keep in mind it's not necessarily the case that the MOB could even get themselves in the Lifesling, we would not be able to haul the MOB aboard without having three or four guys heaving at the side of the deck without lifelines. Not a pleasant scenario.

Unlike a lot of boats of our vintage (1988), we have a swim platform and ladder. I think in many instances the MOB drill figures that the MOB would be able to use the ladder. In some instances this may be true but doesn't the adage go; 'plan for the worst and hope for the best?' Having the same MOB, putting a person on the platform brought us close enough to hook on to the MOB and hoist and it didn't matter if it was the D ring or the Lifesling. Furthermore, we had some play in the stern pulpits, the closer to the deck we were the better off we were. I think we figured out what we need to do. Now we just need to make sure that the rest of the crew understand what needs to happen when it comes to the process.

Lastly, we watched some training videos. When I bought the life raft we have aboard an instruction DVD was provided. The more familiar someone is with the process the less likely things will be forgotten even in a panic situation. Hopefully that'll help should it ever need to be deployed.

When I sail I typically don't wear a lifevest. We sail in water that has a year round average temperature of 40 some degrees (Lake Superior). The common wisdom up here is that life jackets are merely to help retrieve the bodies. It gives a person a somewhat fatalistic perspective when it comes to lifevests. Karen and I had chanced upon a video on one of the TV channels that was talking about the Cold Water Boot Camp ( http://www.coldwaterbootcamp.com/pages/home.html ) which put people in cold water and examined what happened. It was powerful and the good people there sent me a DVD for me to use in our training. At first the crew watching it were talking over it a bit, but when we got to people's reactions there was no idle chatter, everyone was focussed on what we were watching. The video really gave away this basic take-away - the 1-10-1 principle. If you are the one in the water; take a minute to get your breath under control, you have 10 minutes of meaningful movement in the water and you have one hour before loosing consciousness due to hypothermia. That last part is important - you have one hour before loosing consciousness due to hypothermia. That means that your lifevest will save your life.

A most successful training day.

05/23/09

Permalink 10:34:05 pm, Categories: Race Preparation, 448 words   English (US)

First Cruise

I’ve always loved the word cruise. It denotes action with purpose though not necessarily result. In days of yore a cruise could result in a rich harvest of prizes if a war or pyrate cruise. Currently it has more recreational connotations. Conversely I’ve never liked the word training. It suggests a certain monkey-ness. I’ve since learned that it’s not a bad thing and it is not a bad thing. I guess I would like a different descriptive word. At any rate, we had our first cruise as a crew. I’ll go with the word first rather than training.

We departed for our cruise about 6:30. We had quite the send-off, so many people, it reminded me of the last race’s sendoff and we’re just going for an over-night cruise. Thanks to everyone for the sendoff, I know I felt warm and fuzzy! We had a North breeze about 10 knots or a bit less. We were able to steer about 90 to 110 degrees compass at 6 ½ knots. The breeze backed north probably 20 degrees that made us figure we’d clear Bark Point. Unfortunately the breeze didn’t stay there or keep backing so we were obliged to tack when we were about 5 ½ nautical miles from shore.

About 01:00 the wind deserted us, if not a bit before. I’ve always said that the 0:00 to 04:00 watch is the worst. It’s the longest part of the night. We had no wind, and were obliged to drift for the most part. We had a couple of puffs that pushed us a bit more in the direction we were headed but we ended up sailing with bare steerage come 04:00.

Shortly after 04:00 we had a strong Southwesterly breeze that had us firming up on a course west, figuring we would beat home the way we beat out to where we were. Unfortunately that breeze too deserted us. About 04:30 we fired up the diesel and headed back for home. There were a couple of spots of breeze but certainly not enough to attract interest.

We arrived back at 09:30 with most if not all the crew in need of a good, long nap. It was bitter cold out the entire cruise. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that this is the worst case scenario when it comes to cold temperatures. Having done the race, I was frankly surprised at how warm it was in the early part of August. None-the-less, I have every confidence in a 30 degree night out on that lake.

I hope the rest of the crew is as jazzed as I am at how this cruise went. I just hope the next cruises get some wind involved!

05/13/09

Permalink 10:34:29 pm, Categories: Race Preparation, 376 words   English (US)

Splash Down

Today, Wednesday, May 13, 2009, I was able to get up to the marina to work on the final parts of the WhimSea bottom prep. Matt was going to take care of the rudder himself, but I thought it would make sense to be up there too and do some sanding and stuff. Because we were planning on having Matt working on this stuff he took the paint and some extension cords. As I was prepping, I plugged in one cord, that was way short, like a 75 footer, then I put in a 25 footer and ended up about 2 1/2 feet short. I had a splitter that I had to hunt around for on the boat and after getting that plugged in ended up with about 10 extra feet. Just as I was about to plug the whole shebang in, Matt showed up. I didn't know whether to curse or what.

Matt shaped up the leading edge while I worked a bit more on getting some of the old paint smoothed out. While this was going on Jerry finished waxing the hull and it looked spectacular! I'm definitely groovin' on this new wax recommended by Scott.

After lunch the marina folks were able to pick her up in the lift and gave us a bit of time to do some sanding and finish the painting. We got 9 of the 10 pad spots painted before running out of paint. I did have another can but am figuring on returning it to Marine General. The effort is such a huge improvement that I didn't see the need for that last $60.00.

I must confess, in the seven seasons that we've had WhimSea, I've never seen her splashed nor taken out. The guys at the marina did such an awesome job, Thank you Joey!! We got the engine commissioned and fired her right off. Matt and I went out into the lake a bit since everything was going so well, we got to be at her first curtsey to Neptune of the season.

Karen and I are heading up probably Saturday morning to put her insides to rights, they are all ahoo for her long winter's nap yet. I'm thinking we'll go out and do a bit of sailing on Saturday and Sunday.

Fair winds!!!

Troy

05/10/09

Permalink 02:34:59 pm, Categories: Race Preparation, 515 words   English (US)

WhimSea Commissioning

Friday and Saturday saw the race crew members up to Knife River getting WhimSea ready for splash. The goals were to; fair out the bottom paint, repair the leading edge of the rudder and wax the hull, with bonus points for getting the sails bent on. On Friday I got a bit of a late start arriving at the marina about 10:30. Matt was waiting for me and we got pretty much right down to work spending the day working on taping, sanding the old paint with Matt grinding the rudder and applying some glass to the leading edge. It was such a gorgeous day out that both he and I got sun burned.

Dave arrived about 4:30 and started doing the hard under hull sanding with Michael showing up shortly after Dave and working on the same thing. I worked primarily on the rudder yet, that bottom paint was stubborn. But we got the sanding all done and gave her an acetone rubdown before calling it a day. It was Dave's birthday, though I didn't find that out until Saturday. Happy Birthday Dave!!

Saturday morning opened cloudy, cold and rainy. Dave had stayed in the marina too and was up pretty early. It was disappointing to hear the rain on the cabin trunk but what can a person do? Dave and I gave the above the waterline hull a bath, getting rid of some of the dust that had accumulated on her sides. 10:00 saw more of the crew arrive to help out but it being rainy and cold it left us with not much to do. Seemed like a good idea to get the sails bent on and the crew took to those tasks with gusto. It's kinda nice to get to put get those tasks done since the sails really stay on the boat without having to be taken off ever during the season. After that, we all broke for lunch.

After lunch it was pretty apparent it was going to stay cloudy and cold though the drizzle stopped. We were able to do a quick wipe down of the bottom, and got that painted. We had some issues with the rudder getting cured yet, it was in the upper 30's out and cold still. With the bottom painting finished, we put up a tarp and used a portable heater to try and help things along with the curing. I only had one buffer but it seemed like a good idea to have folks trade off so that one person doesn't get too tired. We got most of the hull waxed except for where the tarp was, a good 85% of the hull. It was getting on in the day so we figured we'll hafta take care of the rudder later in the week, Matt volunteering to take care of it on Wednesday.

With the calling of the day we all went out for pizza to DoNorth Pizza as a thank you to the entire crew for all the hard work and effort and giving up a Saturday to get things squared away.

Posted by; Troy

05/09/09

Permalink 05:25:44 pm, Categories: Race Preparation, 143 words   English (US)

Preparing WhimSea for the Race

Posted by Karen A. Brown

This weekend Troy and much of the 2009 Trans Superior crew are working away on WhimSea preparing her for splash down and for the 2009 Race. They are fairing out and painting the bottom as well as looking to some issues with the rudder. The hope is to get the work done this weekend and have the marina splash her down during the week.

Troy has also worked out a tentative schedule for training events out to the Apostle Islands. The plan is to leave the marina on Friday evenings and take WhimSea on a trip around Devils Island. The idea is to get everyone used to overnight sailing through these multiple trips.

I have created a special page on information on the Trans Superior to help support providing information to the crew. Click on the title for a link.

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