Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 31, 2010 Impressions and A Light in the Distance

Leaving the dock in Hawaii with my family and friends was hard. To be heading out into the solitude of the ocean for 15 to 20 days.

I ate a sandwich on the way out the channel, but that didn't last long once we were in the seas with the sails up. The first 3 days were pretty bad with lack of initiative from the seasickness. Fortunately our sail combination of a reefed main and the 110% jib has been pretty robust.

Almost got run over one of those nights:
I noticed a small light off in the East. A while later it was getting bigger. I shined a light in their general direction, no response. A bit later, it was getting brighter. I shined my light in that direction, and on my sail to try to help make sure they could see us. It was a big light. I am thinking it might be a big container ship, or maybe a war ship. The next time I looked, the light had risen to the clouds to follow the lunar path. We almost got run over by the moon.

What do you think of from 2AM to 6 AM?
2000 miles divided 5 knots of VMG is 400 hours, divided by 24 hours is approximately 16 days.
2000 miles divided 6 knots of VMG is 333 hours, divided by 24 hours is approximately 13 days.
2000 miles divided 7 knots of VMG is 300 hours, divided by 24 hours is approximately 12 days.
2000 miles divided 4 knots of VMG is 500 hours, divided by 24 hours is approximately 21 days. (Ugh!)

We have been keeping VMG above 5, so hopefully we will get there in 16 to 18 days. VMG is starting to drop as we are headed more North these days. Occasionally we can't get any East direction, but not for long.

At today's check in, we are at:
28 00 x 157 36
1670 miles to go.
Wind is 14 knots out of 060 degrees.
Our heading is 010
Speed is about 6 knots. 4.5 VMG

Some of the other boats have reported returning to Hawaii because of fuel injectors leaking into the bilge.
Another boat is getting a battery delivered. That was attempted this AM, we will find out if it was successful during the radio net. They say they are reporting returning boats positions at the Pacific Cup web site.

On Spellbound we have had a few issues:
The battery had a low voltage cut out at -110 AH. Previous low voltage cut out was at -145 AH. I suspect there may be an issue with one of the MiniBMS modules, and have removed the suspected module. Hopefully that will help with the battery.
The valve we replaced as the waste selector is leaking. I have not had the resolve to work on that. I wonder if it needed grease installed before installation...

The GPS quit working. The connector to the antenna came apart. I was able to screw that back together, and that is working again.

And asks if he can drive. I say sure. The string drives straighter and faster than I do. Unfortunately, string doesn't do so well when the wind changes direction and velocity during a squall. And at the same time the apparent wind indicator fell off, and we lost the top batten (again).

Over all, we are moving the boat, and counting down the miles to SF. We are also figuring out how and what to eat. The Manderin oranges are a big hit, being refreshing and tasty.


July 28, 2010: The Voyage Home Begins

Spellbound set out to sea for her return voyage to San Francisco. Bob and David said good-byes at the dock and left Kaneohe YC at about 1:00pm July 28th. Here is Bob's first message, rec'd July 31st at 2:36 p.m....

We are having a number of challenges:

leaking head
battery diminished capacity.

We are moving well though. I will get gribs to see where we are in relation to the high.

Current position:
27 29 X 153 48

Barro is 1023

heading about 15. SF is 49.

Close hauled as we can go. about 6 knots and 4 for VMG.

More later as sea sickness diminishes.
Do not push the "reply" button to respond to this
message if that includes the text of this original
message in your response. Messages are sent over a
very low-speed radio link.

Sunday, July 18, 2010



7-19-10 Pacific time


Spellbound Finish
Spellbound Finish
Submitted by Walt on Sun, 2010-07-18 01:51 Boat:
07/18/2010 - 01:46
Report Type:
Report Time:
07/18/2010 - 01:46

July 18, 2010 Under 15 Miles

we just crossed the 15 mile to finish line.
0315 7-18-10

Saturday, July 17, 2010

July 17, 2010 Under 100 Miles

composed 7-17-10 2000 Pacific time

"We're well inside 100 miles to finish now. The wind has built a bit.

We haven't heard Riva's 25 mile checkin so we're hoping that their projections were too optimistic and that we still have a shot at them.

Next up are a few more checkins, the finish, transit to the yacht club, agricultural and safety inspections, and some rest.

Six people four bunks. The foredeck and lawn both sound appealing."

July 17, 2010 Sighting a mast on the horizon

composed 7-17-10 1235 PST

"This morning we're handling round two with the Scumacher 52 that popped up over the horizon yesterday afternoon and has been trying to pass us ever since. I hailed them on VHF this morning and we had a brief chat (Cinnabar, owner Tom Condy). They took the kite down in the squalls last night and reset a few hours after dawn this morning. They're presently growing slowly larger off to the right and behind.

Last night was a really hard push. We got a few comments this morning about the driving last night during the first set of squalls when we were sparring with Cinnabar from those trying to sleep: along the lines of "So, we could tell that you guys had something in your sights". I think the other watches were slightly more kind to the sleepers, but not much.

Spellbound is mid-eighties boat with a fairly rectangular rudder (more recent designs favoring elliptical sections). As you pull over, the flow has a tendency to separate and the rudder loses traction. When you need a moderate amount of course correction, there are two main options: a gentle, extended pull or a quick yank. The extended pull is usually slower because you're basically turning a big board sideways in the water flow around the boat: lots of friction. One or more quick yanks will start the correction more efficently in a lot of cases (such as when a puff hits and you want to catch a surf without waiting 5+ seconds for the boat to catch up on the desired sailing angle).

The side effect of a fast jerk on the helm is that the people in the quarterberths shift a couple of inches to the side in their bunks as you get onto the new course. I and others were guilty of causing that more than a few times last night. There were no complaints though- the Schumacher fell down and then behind, eventually dropping her kite. The wind was gusting about 38 kts for an extended period of time, giving us our first night of what amounts to full force squalls.

Trimming note: because we shortened the watches for drivers last night, we wound up with a few combinations of driver+trimmer we hadn't run through before. The trimmer keeps the sails powered up (primarily spinnaker sheet, main sheet, vang, and spinnaker pole position) such that the driver is just able to control the boat- otherwise you're leaving speed on the table. The trimmers were working really hard last night and this morning keeping up with the changing wind conditions (mainly increases/decreases in windspeed as the squalls blew past). Great job guys! (Dirk, Jeff, Tim)

Right now we've got 145 miles to go and a beautiful warm day. Projected arrival time is the middle of the night."


July 17, 2010 "Children's Hour"

7-17-10 1230 PST

"General Race Comment

The two big social events of the day are morning position check-in and the evening "Children's Hour". Both are done via SSB and are a chance to stay in touch with the rest of the fleet. A com boat, Valis this year, volunteers to coordinate the chatter.

The morning roll call is mostly formal, with a chance to report serious problems and then report positions as of 0800 PST each morning. The positions are used for safety and progress tracking (plus estimating finish standings).

The evening Children's Hour is more informal, being a chance to swap fishing stories as well as listen to the computed daily standings.

We pipe both into the stereo system so that even the folks on watch can hear."

July 17, 2010 237-mile day

[From Bob]

"We had a good run yesterday of 237 miles. Almost the 240 i was hoping for.

My watch says we will get there in 19:35 hours. (it is now Noon). The tracking spreadsheet says we will get there July 18 at 6 AM. So, sometime early morning it seems like.

The tracking for the race is 4 hours delayed, and I expect Spot to stop working sometime soon."

July 17, 2010 Somewhere, over a moonbow....

composed 7-17-10 0415 PST

"Bob and Dirk got to see one of the most sublime weather phenomena the ocean has to offer just before I got on watch (very dark hours of the night). When I came up, they inquired as to whether I'd ever seen a white rainbow. "Oh, a moonbow!" They're very pale, ghostly things but you can still see the colors. I assume that they may happen near/on land too but haven't run into anyone other than a few other sailors who've seen them.

We've been sparring with the "red+white kite" all night. When I came back on watch at 0200, she was getting close to pulling even with us slightly to leeward.

When the first squall hit (a big one), Jeff dropped the pole forward for me and we sprinted almost straight on course. He's
had a very busy watch; we've been making more sail adjustments in the last two hours than he probably wants to think about (pole, spinnaker sheet, vang, mainsheet).

All of a sudden, we saw the other boat's masthead go white (meaning that we were seeing more of his stern than his side). He must have run down with it. The problem for him is that we're pretty close to the edge of the course: falling straight down with the wind is basically lost distance unless a significant shift is coming.

The wind continued to intensify and shift, so we cranked the pole way back and rode it out with some really long sustained surfing.

I've just handed the helm over to Jens and it sounds like the fun is continuing. Hopefully we'll be able to identify that other boat come roll call in the morning."


Friday, July 16, 2010

July 16, 2010 Beautiful sunset

"We just had a spectacular Pacific sunset. Words fail.

In the late afternoon, a huge red and white kite appeared on the horizon almost exactly behind us. We're not quite sure who it is (not having caught up on data entry into the plotting software since the other laptop died). So far Spellbound has been able to hold them back but if it's something like a Santa Cruz 50 or the Schumacher 52 from one of the faster divisions which started a day or days after we did, that might be hard to continue.

For tonight as we near the final push to the finish line, we're shortening watches for the drivers (to two hours on then four off, with three primary night drivers).

Mixed clouds plus a moon and hopefully lots of stars should make this night memorable. As we've neared Hawaii, the normal weather patterns have reasserted themselves (temperature, wind levels, etc.)

I'm really pleased with the group: Bob has been a really positive, great host and the rest of the crew is also very eager to hop onto direct racing tasks (trim etc.) as well as boring or even unpleasant maintenance items."


July 16, 2010 - The Gardiner Method

Last night we decided to keep a pretty hot angle and work our way off the edge of the course. We were pleased with the daily run, but Riva had an even better one. More of the same for today (sail fast, keep track of the bearing to Kaneohe in case the shifts do something unpleasant to us).

The breeze is holding. We're finding some forgotten treasures in various stores lockers (such as the frozen london broil and some cauliflower). Propane is running very low but the weather is hot enough that we won't be that upset by a day or two of cold meals.

We've had a little intermittent trouble with the diesel, but so far nothing that bleeding and repriming doesn't cure.

Speaking of bleeding, Dirk got to try out the Disney band-aids (the Little Mermaid as it turned out) for a minor toe injury.

Bob now holds our surfing record, 20.6 kts! (daytime, nice brisk afternoon, 1 1/2 oz kite) That news came right after his description of what he's calling a "washing machine" start: Heat the course way up, just short of a roundup. When the wave arrives, slam the stern around until you're DDW. Hang on and find out whether you surf or crash and burn. Incidentally, that procedure almost guarantees that something will achieve 20 kts, whether it's the boat as a whole or random crew members and kitchen items finding their new rest positions on the low side of the boat.

Evening July 15, 2010 The basic necessities

[From Nathan]

"We're off to the side of the course and zooming in for Kaneohe on port tack. Summer Moon and Sapphire have a commanding lead but today's project was to whittle away at Riva. We'll see how that turns out through the night.

The weather has been relatively clear today (clouds around but lots of blue) and we'll see if that persists into the night. It's also started to be very warm below deck during the day. In compensation, it's been very pleasant at night. We've each got different compromises on attire: as soon as possible, I ditched the foul weather gear, preferring a little damp (even rain) to sweating+cooking in plastic. Dirk opted for dry over temperature control (the first few days out having been quite wet). Jens seems to like being warm, Bob is variable, Tim seems to dress warmly at night but was the also first by a few days to show up on deck in shorts, and Jeff is probably the outlier (wearing denim the first few days!).

Foodwise, we're grazing on meatloaf and london broil (the latter in tortillas with some cabbage). Jeff has been earning a lot of karma points for food prep. The carbonara a few nights ago was great (multiple cooking dishes to prep a meal while racing!), but he even goes out of his way to make the simple stuff nice."


Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 15, 2010 - Keeping the pressure on

[From Bob - 8:25pm PST]

Today the days are blurring into each other. It is hard to remember what day it is. (It is Thurday, 8 days in.)

There are rumors that we will finish in 11 days. My GPS says we will finish in 70 to 50 hours. The end is in sight, but we will still need a few cycles of our shifts.

The official standings have us in 5th place. The unofficial standings have us in 3rd. So, this means we need to push, and try to keep the boat moving in the best speed.

We gibed yesterday (reportedly late). This means that we are reaching as high as we can with the spinnaker. There was even talk of putting up the jibtop. This has brought threats of mutiny. So, we are working hard to work up as much as we can. It appears we may make it, but it is still 537 miles to go.

The ratings system is a mystery, and I won't have any idea how I have finished till the results are posted. But it is interesting to consider the possibility of a trophy. I know my boys would be excited.

There are reports during Children's Hour of food that didn't get eaten on time. We are starting to have this issue as well. We have no ice left, and nothing is frozen any longer. The refrigerator is on, taking precious AMPs. One of the tanks ran out of fuel while charging the batteries this morning. I had to bleed to fuel system to get the engine started using the second tank.

There was an accident yesterday with Jens' computer and some apple juice. We no longer have the routing software, and are pressuring Jens to make strategic decisions. We are still trying to get the backup computer functioning with all software, and email addresses.

On into the night we go. Maybe we will see stars again tonight. I miss them from the one earlier night.

July 15, 2010 - 600 miles in a straight line to Kaneohe

"Thus far today there isn't anything to report but pleasant sunny weather and good sailing. It's clear and warm. Right now it's so nice that Jens and I are the only ones below trying to get some rest (and, in my case, relief from the sun).

Dirk and Tim took care of a mainsheet tangling issue at the end of the boom (video to follow).

We're airing some things out today; the trip has been fairly wet below. A few leaks went undetected before departure and things like cushions have gotten quite damp.

Last night we got the closest to clear skies I've seen on my watches so far (not a very large portion of the sky but very clear with no haze). The Milky Way and minor stars are really vivid out here.



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 14, 2010 Daring repairs rival those of International Space Station - seriously

"A few notes on staging a trip up the mast (don't worry Mom! :) )

Today, we had some business which required a trip up the mast (replacing a shattered halyard block) and some which could have been taken care of by lowering sails, at the expense of speed (protruding top batten in the main).

Bob has a good climbing harness (much safer than a bosun's chair you might buy at WestMarine for dockside use). To that we tied a tool bag.

For safety, we used two halyards for hoisting (jib and the spare spinnaker halyard). We added a line down to the base of the mast to keep me centered on the boat if I lost my grip on the mast, versus swinging out over the water or other places. For reference, the top of a 50 foot mast on a 40 foot boat in a nice Pacific swell is a very interesting place to be. Boat motions which seem relatively minor at deck level are amplified by the long lever arm, and major movements are, for lack of a better word, "exciting".

With all hands on deck, we started around noon PST (it being easier to run our clocks on PST until the finish than to try to keep up with time zones on the way).

With Jens driving a relatively safe spinnaker angle to avoid any unpleasant drama such as roundups or excessive motions, Bob+Dirk+Tim+Jeff hoisted me up to the broken batten. It takes a lot of hands to work the two halyards we were using to hoist plus the bottom line and someone to pass items up and down via tagline.

The batten proved to be not just broken but split up the middle with a few sharp points. After attempts to fit it back into its plastic housing failed, we simply removed it: downwind it's a lot less necessary than it would be in an upwind race and we don't want it punching holes in the sail.

Up at the top of the mast, we had a block (pulley) to replace. It runs our extra halyard, for use if the ones inside the mast fail (such as via chafe) or are unusable for some other reason (such as the spinnaker wrapping around the forestay and trapping a few of them).

Even a relatively simple operation (cut the securing wire off a shackle, remove the block, replace with a new block, secure shackle pin) becomes more complicated when both legs and sometimes an arm are needed to keep in position and the basic task is one that would normally occupy two hands, one for the shackle and one for the block plus pin.

The operation was a success, with a correction from Bob as a second set of eyes for a reality check (being raher focused on not bouncing too hard against the mast or losing a grip on it, I'd initially passed the halyard down fouled on one of the shrouds and had to fix it).

Everyone did a great job (and a big thanks to Jens for keeping the boat steady for the 45 minutes all told that the operation took). Jens still needed to have a little fun, though, and apparently found the time for a 15 kt surf or two while I was up there: it is a race after all :)

We have a great video and some stills for posting later when bandwidth isn't measured in the hundreds of baud."


July 14, 2010 No major damage, but....

"It was an eventful evening (7/13) and day (7/14). It turns out that laptops don't like to share in celebratory drinks, even non-alcoholic ones (sparkling cider).

This morning, we took care of a few important items of boat business:

rig for a gybe (hadn't been done since we popped one of the guys)

Replace the masthead external halyard block just in case we need it

extract a broken batten from the main

Those last two required a trip up the mast. When we get to Kaneohe and have bandwidth, there are some good pictures and a video to post.

Having gybed over at lunchtime, we're pretty much on the port layline for Kaneohe and homing in.

This is a great crew- noone has found anything to complain about and we've gotten the tune on the boat very refined."

July 14, 2010

[From Jens to Sue....]
"It has been a while since you last heard from me. Thank you for checking with Moritz [about drug dosage....Moritz is a doctor in Switzerland]. Voltaren works well for me but is a powerful drug that makes me a bit drowsy. I am quite able to drive the boat, sitting down and moving the tiller does not hurt much. The hard part is getting out of my bunk. Other than that, we had a great day sailing today with beautiful sunshine, something we have not seen much with all the squalls coming through that pushed us along. I have a first idea when we might arrive. My guess is sometime Sunday afternoon, July 18. That is 4 days from this evening and time can still change that, depending on wind strength and direction. Can't wait to see you! Thank you to Moritz please. By the way we used one package of sutures to fix the light air spinnaker. It worked! [Moritz will be happy to know this! He taught Jens how to suture a wound, practicing on a sponge, during our recent trip to Germany.]
I leave it Nathan and Bob to write more for the blog. I want to get some more rest before the night sailing starts again.

Love you, four more days! -Jens

P.S. our gas supplies are getting low. No more cooked food for after tomorrow."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 13, 2010 Celebration dinner, ribs and fish

7-13-10 1605 PST

Today we've gotten good views of flying fish, and also had a couple of squid board the boat.

The night was a series of squalls with mostly good speed down the course, though a few lifted us way high of our desired course (rapid gybes in front of the squalls not being an option with our current setup, short a guy and only running one sheet). We had a few relatively minor roundups but otherwise a smooth night.

One small squid jumped up high enough to smack Dirk in the arm and land in the cockpit. It was probably about 5 or 6 inches long, with short tentacles it used to grab a line when he tried to pick it up. Later this morning, a small flying fish also jumped onto the boat but was returned to the water still flapping.

Jens has a bruised rib but is still taking care of everything.

This morning, we crossed the halfway mark (distance-wise, as timewise we hope we're well past halfway there). Tonight we'll try to put something nice together for dinner.

Some other competitors have had serious equipment issues (rudder, rudder post leading to leak, boom connection to mast, backstay, forestay). We've been relatively lucky. Even chafe checks such as on the spinnaker halyard after a few days of flying it have looked great.

[Written by Nathan...]
We crossed the halfway point this morning.

We just finished some simple appetizers (trout, sardines, crackers, cheese). Dinner will be some kind of carbonara (smells great but Jeff is trying manage expectations). I'm not sure where he found some of the stuff I see going into preparations but it should be memorable. You certainly can't beat the setting.

One additional wildlife note: albatross this morning.

The sun came out in the late afternoon and it's been a great day!


[Written by Bob....]
We are still looking for a 240 mile day. The wind is lighter in the morning, and then picks up around 3 in the afternoon, and is good till 4 AM. It is picking up good now at 8:30 PM.

We just finished a nice dinner to s celebrate half way. Jeff made pasta with prochuto and peas. I had some sparkling cider, and others had champagne.

During the children's hour, we heard we are behind 3rd by 2 hours, and 5th is another hour behind us. I didn't realize the 13th overall. With it so close, it is pressure. We already have a broken spin guy and lost spin sheet.

We forgot our fishing gear, so the biggest fish we will get is whatever flies on the boat. We have seen a few flying fish and squid on deck, and lots of flying fish as we speed by. You should see how excited Dirk gets when he sees the wild life.

It is hard to keep the boat clean. We all celebrated our half way day by taking a salt water shower, but now all our foulies remind us of how we used to smell. But it sure feels good to be clean again.

Jens fell and hurt a rib. He is taking pain killers and electing not to drive at night. He drives very well during the day and is managing the weather fax and gribs. He was expecting we would be jibing in the next 24 hours, but it looks like the light air that was projected in filling in, and the wind is clocking left for our favorable starboard tack. Our heading has been 240, and it has been hard to sail so low with the spinnaker. We have to heat it up a little to keep boat speed during the earlier part of the day. Our current need os to keep dropping in latitude. Hopefully our symmetrical spinnaker will help us sail a shorter course than the 3 asym boats ahead of us. This is a possibility as the race has become less reaching during this section.

- Bob

July 13, 2010 "What a ride last night was"

[After an epic night of serious wave riding, Spellbound reaches the halfway point....]

"What a ride last night was.

I started my shift at around 8 PM which was good as I could still seet he see state at that time. I was practicing looking for holes to drive down into, but would still occasionally end up trying to drive up the highest mountain of a wave.

Here are some of the components to trying to sail in these conditions:
1. Keep the boat under the spinnaker
2. Keep the wind between 150 and 120 degrees apparent
3. Keep the boat as high or as low as you can depending on where we want to go based on Hawaii and the barometric pressure.
4. Look for the back of a wave you can get close to and catch the one behind it to get your surf on. Once you get going and the speed is up, look for additional little holes to dip the bow into (actually look for the backs of waves to follow. I have found that little waves provide more sustainable surfing. The big ones are big and fast, but are usually too fast.
5. At the end of the surf, work to get the apparent wind back to 150, or you will be by the lee, and the following wave will round you up.
Thanks to Kame for the Pac Cup presentation on surfing.

So there I was doing well, surfing along as the night grew darker. We were trying to stay low to avoid a potential wind hole closer to Hawaii. As the darkness descended, I was working on the end of the cycle, keeping the apparent wind at 150, by the feel of the boat. If I didn't recognize the ending approaching, we would end up with a crash jibe, or the stern would get picked up and swung to the leward. This would put the apparent wind at 90, and a round up would occur, or at least an epic battle with the tiller pushed as high as I could hold it, hoping to be able to bring the bow down.

Sometimes it would all go good, and the boat would just drop down the wave and pick up speed. If the wind was up over 13 apparent, the surf would keep going. And if it was up over 15, there was no stopping. I was not able to see the apparent wind speed in the darkness, so it was hard to know how long the surfs would last.

Sometimes it would feel like a really big one as the bow of the boat dipped down more than usual. It is like being on a roller coaster going down into a dark tunnel. No idea how steep it is, or how long the ride will last. Once the speed builds to 15, water spray is coming off both sides of the boat. As the speed continues to increase the spray moves aft, and the roar of the stern wave gets louder and louder. As the speed increase even more, I wonder how do I get off this ride, and how will it end.

I had many sufs over 15 knots of boat speed, and the biggest, scariest one went all the way to 19.2.

Now I am still looking for 20 plus knots, BUT in the daylight.

By midnight, all the instruments where starting to look like they were on gimbals like the compasses are. I was not able to concentrate and kept rounding up. We got an hourglass wrap even with a spinnaker net up. Fortunately Nathan came on watch to help sort it all out and drive on into the night.

At 8 AM we are at N 31 41" W 142 11". 1035 to go (Yay half way there), and we covered 221 miles in the last 24 hours (still looking for a 240 mille day).

There was talk about what to do for our half way celebration, and the concensus was to take a shower and get spiffed up in clean clothes. Hopefully the sun will come out and we will all follow through on the shower thing."


July 12, 2010 Broken guy and other (t)issues

[from Bob...]

After that last email, I got seasick. We took the spinnaker down to reach up to a higher pressure isobar. It was a rough night with winds on the beam. We did get higher and set the chute the next morning. It is great fun flying the chute down wind. When the waves line up just right, the boat starts to surf. Normal speed is 8 knots. With a light surf we can get to 10 knots. If I am able to string a few waves together and there is good breeze, we can get to 17 knots. I am still working on 20.

I was a little apprehensive flying the spinnaker at night, but it wasn't too bad. I was just finishing my shift at 10 PM, and Nathan was on deck to take over the helm, when the guy broke. What a mess. In the resulting mayhem the lazy spin sheet flogged off. After getting it all back together, we tried launching again, and the spin sheet wasn't attached, or came off. With the reduced control, I rounded up, and then rounded down. So, finally about an hour later we were going again, and I was able to go to sleep. Nathan did an excellent job driving through the night. We have been trying to get a 240 mile day, but not yet. Maybe today.

We also had a miss function with the head. (Yuck). We thought it was fixed, but it was just filling the holding tank (now that is full). We have had a few creative solutions to this issue. One guy stuck his butt through the lifelines. One guy used a bucket. This morning I stood off the stern and leaned back. There are some "foot steps" in the transom like they were meant for this. It was a little difficult to concentrate on the business at hand, but it could work with a little more practice. And as a benefit, the stern wave gives a little salt water bidet action. The head is now fixed for now, so we will see...

There is much talk on the boat of a shower, but no one has had a real one yet. I leaned over the boat and splashed salt water on my face and hair. It felt good, and the weather is not too cold. (Everyone comes on watch with too much clothes.)

It seems the ice is starting to run out. We will need to eat in the next few days. Tonight we will have lasagna for dinner.

A few nights ago, there was a clear sky for my watch. The stars were incredible. They are so clear, and there are so many of them. The Milkyway galaxy spreads all across the sky from South to North. And there are so many shooting stars, that all your wishes will come true. THey must pay more for the sky out here... I should take my boys to the desert to see a real night sky.

We are 5 days out and have 1184 miles to go to Hawaii. We should be half way tomorrow, and are still trying for more than 240 miles a day. There may be some developing light air ahead, but hopefully we will get through it quickly.


Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12, 2010 He's going the distance...

[from Nathan]

"You already saw Jens' note about all of the fun we've been having at night when everything is going smoothly.


The part he left out was our little firedrill last night. Fortunately, it happened right at watch change (so, with me having just come up and Bob+Tim already used to the conditions, we had three people on deck). We were zooming along nicely under spinnaker in the dark (just after 10 PM PST) when the guy suddenly parted right at the tip of the spinnaker pole. It was probably a material fatigue issue because the line gets pulled against the metal and around a corner there. We didn't do anything to trigger it: smooth sailing and then "pop".

We lost the associated sheet (the shackle probably popped open while the kite was flogging away to leeward). The crew immediately popped up from their bunks and was ready to repack the undamaged kite after we recovered it.

We needed to rerun some lines because we're now down a guy (no other lines with a "donut" on the end to sit nicely against the spinnaker pole). The boat is now set up with a single line on each side instead of doubles, but it was the best we could do quickly to get the kite back up quickly.

Putting the spinnaker up again resulted in yet another problem: the shackle for the sheet immediately popped loose and we had to do another takedown, complicated by the lack of a second line to the other clew.

Everyone worked quickly and the kite was down, repacked, and reset within minutes. Practice makes perfect, I guess.

The Pacific Cup is a real proving ground for equipment: 2000 miles of hard racing puts more wear on things than a good season or more of regular racing.

Anyway, once things were cleaned up we had a great and mostly uneventful downwind (one wrap in the light stuff which we undid by a quick gybe and tug on the leech)."


Stew Recipe to celebrate Spellbound at the halfway point

I wouldn't say several, but I've had some requests for the stew recipe, so in honor of Spellbound reaching the HALFWAY POINT sometime tomorrow (1,035 miles!!), here it is...though I don't use a recipe per se. Vegetarian version? I don't know, but certainly sweet potatoes, green bell peppers, black beans and more onion would be tasty.

First, chop your stew meat into pieces. Marinate about 1.5lb stew meat in third cup olive oil, 1 c. red wine, garlic. Cook 2-3 slices bacon (cut into small pieces). Remove bacon. Toss stew meat in flour (salt, pepper added). Brown meat in bacon drippings and some olive oil, in your stew pot - best to do half at a time. Add some garlic, 1/4 c. minced onion to all of the meat, stir. Add some paprika, thyme, oregano, 1/2 c. red wine, two 15-oz cans of V-8 juice, 1.5 c. water as needed, a few shakes of tobasco pepper sauce, and some chopped celery (1-2 stalks - if you don't like to eat celery, put in halved stalks and take out later). A tablespoon of brown sugar and pepper. Meanwhile, everything should have been kept at a simmer. Cover and simmer about 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally, adding water if needed. 20-30 minutes before done (meat tender), add carrots (2-3, chopped), potatoes (golden yukon or red hold up well, peeled), sliced mushrooms - chop them into hearty slices), frozen peas. Add salt as needed. To thicken more, add a few Tbs flour - put it into a small strainer and tap the side so that the fine flour falls into the pot, stir in. Continue to cook 30 minutes. Put the bacon back in. All of the herbs/spices can be adjusted to your taste.

July 12, 2010 Nearing halfway point!

"Good Morning! I just stepped down from my watch this morning, driving with full Spinnaker in complete darkness, average speed 11 knots! Coming down the big waves I once hit 16.9 knots! Will see what Nathan did in top speed when see each other. He did most of the driving during the night. He's got the night driving down to perfection.It is now 8:00 am and I am standing by in case needed on deck.
In a few hours we will have concluded day 5 with 1255 Miles to go. Tomorrow sometime we should reach the halfway mark.
My neck is a little stiff from always looking in one direction with both hands on the tiller. So I resorted to some Ibuprofin for breakfast.
tired but happy, looking forward to another day blue water sailing."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July 11, 2010 In which a halyard block blows apart

"Having taken it down yesterday evening, we set the kite again toward the end of the morning. Shortly afterward, the external halyard block we'd fitted for the race blew apart (dropping the kite). The recovery was swift and we were proceeding under spinnaker with one of the stock halyards by lunchtime. I think it took us less time to recover the kite, repack, rerun the lines, and reset it then our first set took.

Speaking of lunch, we found a variety of uses for the avocados we brought, including plain with lime juice and in sandwiches.

Boatspeed is good and we're able to hold course pretty well straight towards Hawaii."


Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 10, 2010 Daytime foulies coming off?

New sail mail just in (3:42pm PST)

(from Nathan)

"We set the spinnaker (new black 1 1/2) this morning at about 0730. The breeze is swinging around behind us but it's still a tight reach to rhumbline and we're tending to fall off a bit to hold the kite. That's not really a problem because the weather routing suggests we might be better off just a touch to the south.

We're watching two big guys presently (1135 PST) running us down (the 50 footers? California Condor?). From the results of the fleets in front (DH particularly) we're wondering if the folks up north will be running out of steam today or tomorrow, particularly Sapphire and Summer Moon.

The weather is much warmer and day shifts from here on in should be able to dispense with foulies, though at night light stuff would still be good to cut the wind.

There was a lot of phosporescence the second night; that has tapered off to almost none."


Photo of Spellbound and Jamani

Friday, July 9, 2010

Evening July 9, 2010

How amazing....I can't think of anything more incredible right now...I imagine what it must be like as I read these stories and I sip my glass of Petit Reserve to them! -Suzan


What an adventure we are on. Sailing across an ocean.

As we first started, the count down to Hawaii was at 2070. As we got closer the count down looked like a year, and we were playing trivial about what happened during that year. We went through political events, and then as we got younger, we went through our school years. And then birth years. The last personal date for me was 1914, my grandmother's birth year. We are currently at 1806 miles to go. Jens says that was the end of the Holy Roman Empire. 30 miles and we can celebrate independence day again!

We had an issue with the charging system. For the trip I got a fancy battery. So I thought to get a higher output alternator to charge the battery faster. It was making a funny smell before we left, and I called support for the alternator. They said, "You can't charge that battery with no resistance." But then didn't give any recommendations on what to use. So we tried charging, but it was hardly putting out any amps. Underway I changed back to the stock alternator and we got a good charge with 2.5 hours engine time. The battery holds 200 amp hours, and we are using about 66 amp hours per day.

Sea life has been fun. We saw whales and dolphins. When I was driving in really light air, struggling to keep the boat moving, I could feel the dolphins slowing the boat down as they would jump our bow wave. It is really fun to yell dolphin, or whale, and watch Dirk run up on deck to see the visitors. Unfortunately, since we passed the continental shelf, there has not been much sea life. Sometimes at night I was seeing large balls of light in the water. Maybe they were phosphorescent jelly fish.

Today for dinner, we had Sue's stew. We didn't take it out of the cooler till 11 AM, and by 5 PM, it was apparent it would not be thawed by dinner time. Fortunately Jeff was able to figure something out, and i got hot stew after my watch. I think Sue should post the recipe, so all our fans can share our experience. THere are recommendations from the crew for the fans to tilt all furniture to port 10 to 15 degrees. And Jeff says not to forget to tilt the stove as well. After all that effort, it will be the best stew ever.

Half way through the day, we evaluated the sail plan, and decided to reef the main sail, and leave the genoa up. Fortunately we gained half a knot of boat speed to 7. At the end of my watch driving, I was feeling overpowered as the apparent wind was getting to 15. So we took down the genoa and put up a 110% jib. Guess what? We gained another half knot and are now doing 8+ knots. We are waiting for the wind to shift to 90 apparent to put up a jibtop sail, and a staysail. Probably in the morning. There are reports of some of the earlier boats have started flying spinnakers.

Oh, yeah, what is the blog address? I am sure my Dad would like to see what is there."

[From Jens, I believe] "Little note from the navigation desk. I downloaded new weather gribs this afternoon. Connected with the sailmail server in Palo Alto. Made me think all my friends there. The new forecast is consistent with yesterday's version. Winds of 10-15kts out of NW. They will veer right in the next 12-24 hours to N or even a little Easterly. That is the wind we need to put up the kite and keep building boat speed. Temperatures are slowly increasing and air pressure is now up to 1016mb from 1012mb at the start. Closing in on the Pacific High!

Greetings from the crew, Nathan is driving, boat is steady, waves are smooth with occasional bucket full of water over deck."

Bob, Jens

[Please comment, if you like, as later the crew might enjoy your observations!-sj]

"Live" results

Here is the link to see the race unfolding, though not in real time...4 hours later so that the boats never know what is going on with their competition - many of you know that, but for those who winced when you read that they tore the foot and stitched it up, explanations help.

See Division C.

Afternoon, July 9, 2010

"It's mid-afternoon of our third day and we're charging along under genoa and reefed main. You can see our results vs the J's yesterday (120 and 46). Fairly close to them, were just unable to keep up as the wind built. Hopefully that will change once we get to set a kite.

Fortunately, no one has had any seasickness issues that can't be handled by an occasional Dramamine.

We have a large stash of excellent homebaked cookies, and we're defrosting beef stew for dinner tonight!"


July 9, 2010 boat speed progress!

Home for lunch and picked up this email from Jens!

"I took over watch this morning at 8:00a. Our 24 hr distance sailed was 134 miles.
We are gradually increasing our speed. Another day of close hauled sailing and we should see the winds starting to clock right. That provides us with opportunity to build speed further. I know it is early days to say anything about day of arrival. My best guess right now would be July 20. Your stew is scheduled for dinner tonight!

Winds are light to medium but a little too westerly still. Five foot swells."

[Shoreside: taking bets on whether they'll like the stew....]

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Late evening post...July 8, 2010

This email just came to me, forwarded by Anya....

"Hi from the seas...This morning at 8 AM we were 4th in our class. It was a painfully slow day during my shift. Sometimes sailing less than 2 knots. But at least we were abble to keep moving. We put up a spinnaker for a while to catch as much wind as we could.

The wind filled in from the North around 2 PM. We took the spin down and put the genoa back up. We have been sailing at 6 to 7 knots since then (it is now almost 8 PM). The seas have been very flat fortunately. IT looks like our fleet is spread out from South to North with us in the middle. I think the southern boats may be in trouble with westerly wind, instead of from the North.

We are currently cracked of slightly, and need to determine if we want to switch to the jibtop before dark. My watch tonight is from midnight to 4 AM." [Bob]

July 8, 2010

In light of receiving such a short sailmail message from Jens last night, I was concerned for all of you, that you might grow weary of learning how I spend my totally free time :D, as Sven is in Davis, Liv in Berkeley, and Jens at sea for two weeks. When, to my wonder, I looked and found not one tiny, but THREE highlight-crammed messages! Like Christmas!! The first is from Nathan, then a bit from Tim.

"(for the blog, author and typo/accuracy blame to Nathan)

After the start, we headed for the center of the channel to try to catch some ebb on the way out. We were in the wind shadow of the 60' Swan and occasionally one other boat but took the short term hit. In retrospect, some of the small sport boats did pretty well for themselves taking a shot over to the left about 1/2 way to the gate.

From passing the Golden Gate to Pt. Bonita, we stayed a bit north but in the channel. This seemed to work out pretty well for us.

Right after clearing Bonita, we continued heading out in the channel. Other boats took an immediate shot north (particularly Sapphire, one of the Synergy's, hugging the shore right around the corner and continuing for several miles).

We did tack north after a while and the initial play seemed to be to our benefit. Right after Bonita, the wind dropped off sharply. We split tacks back and forth with our division in light air and low swell. Making a play to the left turned out to help us a lot as the predicted southerly (unusual) offshore breeze swung the wind direction hard left.

In the evening and first part of the night, a pod of whales accompanied us and the Swan, sometimes surfacing quite close. Sometimes they're disorienting because if they're not close, sometimes they've already submerged by the time you look over. It was very impressive, but I'm not sure if we have any pictures.

We did try setting the 1/2 oz kite, but the wind angle forced us to give up. Unfortunately, we put a small tear in the foot (now sewn up).

Through the night, we fought intermittent wind holes. Boatspeed was mostly between 2 and 5 kts. The light air persisted through the early morning, but by around lunch were at least rolling steadily along.

As I write this (evening 8 Jul) we've downloaded some fresh weather data and are optimistic about the coming day."

Over to Tim for the morale:
"The crew is settling in their respective routines and watch schedule. Despite the initial slow sailing spirits are good. It seems we are waiting for a bit of warmer weather to get the shower up and going...can't wait for that..."

[from Jens...]
"We had a great day sailing so far in 5-10kts of breeze. We are now 100 miles from SF, 1900 to go! My next watch is at 8pm. It looks we are in fourth place after the first day. All crew is doing well. We have good radio connection with the communication boat in the fleet. I am happy with that. I will download new emails when this goes out. Maybe there is one from you.
More later."

[Shoreside note] I'm guessing that the crew is extremely happy, thanking the gods, even, about going more than 5 KTS...up to 10!! They had initially thought to sail north out of the GG yesterday to catch more wind, so I was surprised to see them in the channel all afternoon and evening. With that, I will turn to the events here in Palo worries about bike speed could be faster...was accompanied by a pod of squirrels for awhile...spirits are good...AND it's really peaceful at the moment. over-and-out.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July 7, 2010 Race begins!

Wed. July 7, 2010. This morning began at the dock in Alameda with the moderately chaotic stowing of gear and provisions. the crew was hastily finding places for the countless cans, billions of boxes of ginger snaps, bagels, tortillas, and 10-minute rice (etc., etc), as well as frozen home-made dinners and perishables in large coolers with dry ice.
Just before pushing off at 10:30am, there was that moment of taking a group photo of the crew aboard Spellbound and saying last fair-wells, that seemed to hold time still. And then they were out of there! The boat was beautiful. I took a few pictures with Anya's camera, which is still in my possession, but unfortunately, I can't download any photos for you. So imagine a sleek Olson 40 gliding out of the marina, with Bob, Tim, Jeff, Dirk, Nathan and Jens ...heading into new adventure.
Starting line was at St Francis Yacht Club - they were the 3rd boat to cross at the gun, at 12:45pm. The wind was enough to lift them out under the Golden Gate Bridge, but not more. At 6:01pm this evening, Jens wrote, "We are all doing well, very light winds. 10 miles frm the faralones." I'll leave you with that.