Single Handed Transpac (OT)

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Messages 321 - 336 of total 336 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Jun 29, 2014 - 07:48pm PT
Ouch-hope all is well, and not a major problem or injury?
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jun 29, 2014 - 08:00pm PT
At less than 3 knots and going home I'd assume one or the other. Hopefully not an injury.
The nearby boats are making 5 - 7 knots so there's plenty of breeze.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jun 29, 2014 - 08:13pm PT
As of 5:00 PM PDT he's making 7 knots. But still pointed homeward. At least he's not in serious mechanical trouble.
He could be powering. He'd have enough fuel to drive all the way home.
He'll have some stories to tell.
Safe sailing Michael.
SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, or In What Time Zone Am I?
Jun 29, 2014 - 08:44pm PT
I don't have all the details as I tried to take off for a few days myself before I got a sat call. He's under his own power with some sail (reefs blowing out) and auto pilot problems. It's unclear if he'll have to retire or if things are fixable. Evidently conditions are really bad so he's quite sick too, which hampers his ability to make major repairs. Continual blowing at high 30 knots and large rolling seas. Another boat, a strong contender, is under Coast Guard assist into Monterey after it's rudder blew apart and the sea state is so unsettled he can't get his emergency rudder on. He is evidently making drogues from his buckets!
So as things stand now, it's up in the air what will happen.
Susan
zip

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
Jun 29, 2014 - 08:56pm PT
Bummer.
Positive thoughts sent his way.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jun 30, 2014 - 08:56am PT
As of 5:45 this AM Michael was making nearly 7 knots about 45 nautical miles from the Golden Gate. With a little luck he should be in by late afternoon. His "official" reason for retirement is medical.
Tough break. Good try Michael.
Susan, give him my best when you see him.

The boat with the blown rudder has hardly moved since last night. He's drifting straight downwind (southeast) at 1 knot, about 120 miles SW of Monterey Bay.
Will he be able to self rescue by making for Morro Bay? Or take a tow back to SFBay?

Meanwhile Galaxsea, Michael's main competitor is screaming along at 8 knots with 1850 miles to go. He's with four other boats all in about 2d place. Too bad Michael isn't still in that group.

2 other boats dropped out with failures Saturday and yesterday and are back in The Bay. Two more didn't start.
zip

Trad climber
pacific beach, ca
Jun 30, 2014 - 10:26am PT
We have a boat out of San Diego in this race. A Catalina Capri 25, which most people would consider a bay day sailing boat.
Hats off to anyone who would commit to this race.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jun 30, 2014 - 11:10am PT
As of 8 AM PDT (the internet track is updated every 15 mins and delayed 3 hours) Michael was still making a little less than 5 knots and about a dozen miles SW of the Farallones still on a straight course home.
He should be in sight of the Golden Gate by now. All he has to worry about is shipping!

Your Capri 25 is running 3d from last. Very respectable considering the wind and sea state for the past couple of days. There's a Capri 30 behind him, dead last.
They should all be on a reach in the NW trades by now. Really fast sailing and not too uncomfortable.

The poor devil who's lost his rudder is still moving very slowly SE. At least he's going in a straight line now.

Only 6kts wind at the Farallons now.
http://www.iwindsurf.com/windandwhere.iws?regionID=163
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jun 30, 2014 - 11:29am PT
Hard luck, Michael, hope you heal up quickly.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jun 30, 2014 - 11:48am PT
Michael may already be healed. I believe his medical problem was seasickness. Which if prolonged is debilitating. In a matter of 12 -18 hours you become dehydrated. Eventually all you can do is lie in a bunk, or on the cabin floor and try to sleep. At least you stop vomiting because you're empty.
I've been lucky enough to only be seriously seasick once and I got over it quickly.
I've had very fit friends aboard who were sick for a whole day. Even "just" off the California coast. Some of the roughest conditions I've ever encountered were within 50 miles of this coast. Rougher than full gales in mid ocean.
When you're sailing alone seasickness is a Very Bad Thing.
SCSeagoat also mentioned he'd blown out his reefs. That means he couldn't effectively reduce his sail area. Another really tough situation in 30+ knots of wind.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jun 30, 2014 - 04:20pm PT
At 1:15 this afternoon, Michael was passing Treasure Island on his way to his home port of Alameda. I'm sure he's in dock safe and sound by now.

Welcome home Michael. Tough luck.

The guy who lost his rudder is making 6 knots towards Monterey. I presume in Coast Guard tow.

The rest are rolling along at 6 - 7 knots and getting out of the tough northwesterlies into the smoother and steadier NE trades. Time for the sleds to fly.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Jun 30, 2014 - 08:01pm PT
Welcome back Michael, that has to be a daunting and exhausting 60 plus hours in the washing machine.

Argon

climber
North Bay, CA
Jun 30, 2014 - 09:39pm PT
Glad that Michael is back safely. I have tremendous respect for all who would venture out into the Pacific alone.

I have friends doing the Pacific Cup in just a few days. Hope they have better conditions.

AIS shows USCG Hawksbill about 80 miles from Monterey doing about 5.8 knots - assume they are pulling in Domino.
SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, or In What Time Zone Am I?
Jul 2, 2014 - 05:19pm PT
Some of you may have received this; those on Michael's "blast" email. A number of STers have emailed us inquiring about Mike and hoping he was "ok". He is very ok.
While I'm disappointed I won't get my ocean passage ride home this summer, I am SO HAPPY that now we have time to sail on down to Monterey and out to the Channel Islands for some diving and sea kayaking! It's all good to me!
And in true Michael style, he's usually got a lot to say!
Hello all,
it with some sadness and a little embarassment that I have to inform you that there will be no tall tales of derrig-do and nautical adventures this time. I have retired from the race and Mouton Noir is back in her slip in Alameda. The reasons for the retirement are primarily that in the months of intense preparation for the race, I had allowed my physical conditioning and stress levels to degenerate to the point that, although the boat was well prepared, I was not. I tried to pretend that I was OK, but after we got out into the ocean, the horrible sailing conditions quickly wore me down to a point where I was faced to confront my ability and desire to keep going. Over-ruling one's enthusiasm and committment to a project, whether in sailing, climbing, or life is very hard, as determined people live in a constant state of self denial about their abilities. This is a necessary and valuable state of mind sometimes, as it lets you "grunt up" and keep going when times get tough, but it can also allow you to get over-extended, with sometimes serious results. This was the case here, so I pulled the plug. I have completed 4 of these races, and I hope to have a go at it next time. This time, however, I will see Hanaleii Bay via an airplane ride, as I plan to fly over to greet my fellow competitors as they arrive and to help them get turned around and back to California. I will describe the start and my two days at sea, as the race certainly got off to a spicy start!!

I delivered the boat to Corinthian Yacht Club with my friends Carlianne and Craig in the best shape I have ever had a boat before one of these races. THis is of course, due to huge amounts of blood and treasure (and tons of elbow grease and stressful fretting by yours truly, the original stress bunny, along with a great deal of help from poor long suffering Susan). Things at the Corinthian were the usual exciting/chaotic hodgepoge before a race, with everyone running around doing final jobs, shaking hands, dealing wwith the race committee, going to briefings and group lunches, and time flew by. Suddenly it was Race Day, and they were pulling us out of the slips and off to the starting area.

I got the boat out into the windy Raccoon Straits and got the mainsail up and started pre-race manuevers. THe Corinthian is a tough start. Usually there is little wind and bizarre currents. This time we had a ripping flood tide pushing us away from the Golden Gate at several knots, and about 20 knots of wind- workable but stressful. I motored up current about 1/2 mile and started to do big circles, as there was an hour to go before my start. I soon found out that mu autopilot, in spite of being a top notch NKE system, was acting in an unpredictable way. As my start time got closer, I unrolled the 94% jib and started sailing, with the engine in neutral. I soon found that the autopilot was very cranky, sometimes not obeying commands to tack, and then refusing to go out of control mode and release the helm. I had a wireless pendant controller also, and it seemed to obey this command input, but not the interface mounted next to the helm. I was soon doing an imitation of a one armed paper hanger, dodging other boats, steering with my foot while I ground the jib in with my third and fourth arms. Mouton Noir is a BIG boat, and even the smaller jib takes a lot of effort to tack!! To say I was flustered is an understatement...

I managed to hit my start well, blasting in frum up current and rounding the pin nearly on time, and headed towards the Gate. Sort of... The huge flood current meant that in spite of having reasonable wind, we had to short tack along the north shore of the Bay to get some current relief. Short tacking a heavy, big boat with a cranky autopilot is a bit of a chore! Eventually, I squeaked by the North tower of the Golden Gate Bridge and started tacking up the north side towards Point Bonita. Eventually, I headed out into the middle of the flood, got on starboard tack (the one towards Hawaii) and let the boat speed overcome the current. In a few miles, the current diminished and we started to move faster over the ground, right along the track to the finish. The wind continued to increase, and the sea got lumpy and the swell started to get bigger. I reefed down once, and then again, and settled down for the first night at sea. After a small nap, I found that the wind had dropped, so being an optimist, I took out the reefs and went to a full sail plan. THis was a mistake, as most detached observers would have predicted, as within half an hour the sea state becam very, very nasty and the wind was up to over 30 knots. I now had to deal with reefing in fairly difficult conditions, with bad boat motion, water flying all over, and the boat bitterly complaining about being vastly over canvassed, and heeled over about 45 degrees. I got the second reef in after a struggle, and came back to the cockpit and rolled up part of the jib. The boat liked it, but I was totally exhauseted, and feeling very seasick- an unusual state for me. While I was sitting in the cockpit, gasping for air, drenched in sweat and on the edge of barfing, I realized that I had forgotten to properly clutch off the ends of the reefing lines, which come from the sail leech (aft part of the mainsail) through turning blocks into the boom and then exit through clutches at the front of the boom to a winch. As soon as this insight occurred to me, it also occurred to the auto pilot, which inexplicably went brain dead and immediately turned the boat from a reach, with the wind at 70 degrees off the bow, dead downwind, thus gybing the boat all standing in 35 knots of wind and big seas. The motion and chaos were indescribable, really. Huge banging noises as the mainsail tried to tear itself off the boat (along with the associated hardware), sails flogging, lines whipping about, and in the midst of it all, like a huge blinking neon sign, the sight of all my reef lines being whipped out of the boom!! I "dashed" as fast as ppossible (after clipping in to the safety line with my harness) to the mast and started a tug of war with the ocean over the last few inches of the reef lines being pulled out of the boom. I won the battle with the first, second, and fourth reef lines, but to my horror, the third reef line vanished into the boom, to re-emerge a few seconds later as a 50 foot bullwhip, snapping around trying to destroy anything it touched. After securing the other lines, I eventually managed to corral the nasty thing and tie it off. Due to the nature of the boom, repair at sea was impossible, so I just had to hope I never needed the third reef.

I dragged my sorry ass back to the cockpit. got the boat straightened out on course and the autopilot working again, and collapsed in a heap, feeling worse, if possible. I went below and lay down in my bunk, leaving the boat to blast along through the steadily worsening sea conditions at 8 knots. I had not touched any water (or FOOD, hahahaha) in over 14 ours, and the prospect of doing so is only something someone who has been seriously seasick can understand. In any case, I made myself take a few sips from the bottled water Susan had had the foresight to stash in various places, and waited for things to get better. As time went by, I began to take stock of my condition. The seasickness I knew would fade away in a day or so, but undelying it was a deep exhaustion that really worried me. My joy in a strugggle seemed to be missing, and I felt that my reserves were very low. A singlehander has to be able to "grunt up" and deal with whatever happens, no matter at what time, and how much effort it takes. This urgency and "being in the moment" is one of the attractions of singlehanding, as is the satisfaction of dealing with problems. Exhaustion (temporary, at least), is part of the game, as well as a certain amount of fear (or worry or apprehension, anyway). Although I knew the boat was tough enough and that I had the resources to get through the current conditions (very, very ugly and uncomfortable, but not actually life threatening), I had to consider whether the most important resource, ME, was up to the job if things continued for a protracted period of time. I decided, after some soul searching, that prudence dictated retreat. So I checked the possibility of a return, and found that the wind direction headed back would be reasonable. The prospect of going back through the conditions I had just been in for 24 hours was unappealing, but it appeared that the conditions going forward would be the same foe at least as long as a return, so I went on deck and tacked the boat manually in 35 knots and big seas, as the auto pilot was just not up to the job. I got the boat settled on the reciprocal course, another close reach, and went below to wait out events. The seaa state seemed better on the return course, but the wind got up to 40 knots. I would sure liked to have the third reef, but fortunately, my Hood sails are VERY strong and did well.

After about 14 hours, the winds dropped a bit, down to the mid 20 knot region, which felt like a pleasant summer zephyr, relatively speaking. After speaking with several big ships, which I found with AIS (Automatic Identification System) and radar, the Farallon Islands appeared off the port bow. The winds continued to drop and the seas smoothed out so much that I motored from about 20 miles outside the Gate to my slip, which I entered around 2:30 pm Monday afternoon.

It was about 300 nautical miles of very hard sailing over around 48 hours. The boat generally held up well, although a fuel vent line discharged some diesel fuel into a locker, and added a certain "fragrance" to the proceedings. There is a small number of items on the fix-it list, with the autopilots, reef system and diesel spill being urgent. I think the autopilot problem is due to a poorly set of configuration parameters, which I had not the luxury or ability to deal with out there. The diesel leak will involve major surgery to woodwork to excavate the offending line from where it has been imbedded in foam and covered by lovely cabinetry. That job will be a horrorshow. Ah well, all in a days work on a boat. The thing which will take time is to get myself fit again, after months of neglect. But this is also just doing the work- no damage done.

So that is it for this TransPac for me. I have no regret about retiring, other than that I will not sail the course with my friends and fellow competitors. I hope to see them all in Hanaleii by air. I feel that I made the right choice, given all the options, and would do it again. Perhaps 2016 will see me on the starting line again, with a better balance of effort spent to get there. I hope you will continue to follow the race, at www.sfbaysss.org. Go to the TransPac link, and look for the blogs. it is very dramatic out there, with the General, an 85 year old sailing legend vying for first place, and a regular cliff hanger over damage to various boats. This one is exciting!!

Thanks for being interested, and I hope that you all have wonderful and satisfying adventures of your own.

All the best, Michael

Susan
telemon01

Trad climber
Montana
Jul 3, 2014 - 05:19am PT

A harrowing tale- thanks for posting!
SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, or In What Time Zone Am I?
Jul 11, 2014 - 03:09pm PT
Whoo Hooo...there are four races headed to Hawaii....The Single Handed Transpac (finishers will start to arrive this weekend). The Pacific Cup from San Francisco, the Vic Maui (from Victoria) and the Great Pacific Race (rowers!)
The positions:
Four races to Hawaii!
Four races to Hawaii!
Credit: SC seagoat

To me its always so fascinating to be out there with so many other boats, yet you rarely see them during daylight (although one year on the return a Santa Cruz 52 screamed up along side of us and did the "Grey Poupon per chance?"; they were having a blast...hunky young sailors and girls in bikinis all over the foredeck) You do get a lot of radio chatter and there are regular checkins, but other than that you feel you are alone out there. At night sometimes you can the mast lights of fellow sailors, even though they may be a mile or more away.
Mike and I leave for Hawaii to greet the finishers and celebrate...even though we'll be flying home this time.

Susan
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