Finish Tonight?

East End is 20 miles ahead. We should get there if the wind holds. Rubicon finished, Grace will finish shortly, and Felicia just went by to the West. I am engrossed reading of.Saladin.

It’s been a lovely trip.

Bliss

Slow progress northward as the breeze died off after midnight. Not to return until thus afternoon. Still, a blissful day with light winds and smooth water to charm me. That, and no pressure to race puts me in cruise mode.. Get up every 20 minutes? Yeah, right. Haul out the big genny? Pu-leeze. I’m too busy reading my book.

Speaking of which, just finished up with William the Conqueror. Already working on the folly of the Crusades.

Loving being out here. 100 short miles to Catalina

Pointa del Norte

Way overpowered with only the small jib up, I considered my options. Keep going, break things, get wet, maybe worse. Heave to.and wait for conditions to improve, head for shelter just a few miles away, just.south of the dramatic northern point of Guadalupe Island.

I chose option C.

The Cove was very sheltered from the waves, not so the wind. The experience was akin to Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel. The winds at either location have to be experienced to be believed. My Danforth type Fortress anchor wouldn’t hold on the rocky bottom. I dragged multiple times but took care to never anchor near a lee shore.

After a restless night with the anchor alarm, Slacker departed around 8th for Catalina. Rubicon and Grace gutted out the conditions and are well ahead, but I am in cruising mode getting lost in Mark More’s The Norman Conquest.

190 miles to Catalina.

Guadalupe Island

Here’s how to round Guadalupe Island:
– Make sure to run out of wind as you approach. For best results, keep your spinnaker up to ensure you get a wrap. In the event you have a spinnaker net, get it tangled and take 47 minutes to cut it loose.
– Take your spinnaker down 10 miles early you don’t want to miss the sights while you drift downwind with your jib as you pretend to race.
– When rounding the Southern end, drift aimlessly for 6 hours in no wind to let everyone catch up.
– When the wind fills in, make sure it’s at least 35 knots. No one wants to go upwind with more than a storm jib.

Slacker sought shelter today at the North end of the island to wait for the weather to improve. All OK aboard Slacker, just more than I and my boat wanted to deal with today. Actually really nice here. Will post photos soon.

2012 Guadalupe Island Race

I Remember:
  • Eric, Brian, and Tracee aboard Thriller acting as Committee Boat. And enjoying themselves.
  • Seas of glass, yet able to ghost at 3 knots.
  • Ed commenting on how high Slacker was pointing.
  • Being unable to shake Team Open Sailing the first afternoon and evening.
  • Raising the spinnaker shortly after West End.
  • Stars and planets like precious jewels.
  • Sunlight dancing across turbulent seas as Slacker rolled downwind at 7-9 knots.
  • Seeing 15 knots on the GPS.
  • Chatting with the ship Dallas Express, who graciously altered course for Slacker.
  • Sadness and concern upon learning of Slowpoke’s withdrawal.
  • Enjoying the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had: Starbucks Cafe Verona.
  • Elation upon seeing TOS’s masthead light as we approached Guadalupe Island
  • Thinking “knife or flare?” as I awoke at 3am to see a vicious spinnaker wrap
  • Giving Jerome a “Whaahoooo!!!” at 4 am as TOS flew by 20 yards away in the moonlight, launching down a wave and kicking her tail at Slacker.
  • Agreeing with Jerome to spot him 30 miles for the climb back up.
  • Giving my only rum to 3 Mexican fishermen who pulled up next to a becalmed Slacker.
  • Slacker grabbing a 3 mile lead from under the Island by catching wind for 30 minutes beforeTOS, despite being only 200 yards apart. Totally unfair.
  • Disbelief that wind could fluctuate so wildly for so long. Painful for the singlehander.
  • Being watched via SPOT as I tacked.
  • Being watched via SPOT as I ran out of wind.
  • Being watched via SPOT as I peed. (ok, not really)
  • Weirdness as non-competitors knew where competitors were real time and competitors didn’t
  • Fixing the autopilot. Multiple times. In the dark.
  • Repairing a diesel fuel leak.
  • Smooth comfortable sailing on a lovely long period 6-8 foot swell
  • Seeing multiple whale spouts, hundreds of dolphin & porpoise, a sea turtle, and albatross.
  • Attempting to drop the genoa into its bag with 14 knots of wind at dusk. Total fail.
  • Chatting with Chuck at 6 am every day. Oddly intimate.
It was a wonderful, memorable, life-affirming trip. By my wits and work I have safely traversed a challenging sea,
tested my mettle and am the better for it. A wise use of time, despite being away from family and business. I’m
grateful to my competitors who gave it depth, and grateful to the PSSA Team who did so much to organize and
run the race, I’ll be doing the race again, and hope to see the same competitors out there. Mojo found.
Whitall
Slacker

2010 Guadalupe Island Race

The Nerve to Stay High

After a horrific start, Slacker tacked to port to avoid the island light air & get offshore as fast as possible to stay in the wind. My nerve was tested as all the other boats except Runaway cracked off and passed Slacker to leeward, but took comfort in seeing Runaway up with Slacker & stubbornly stuck to my strategy. Stressed and exhausted from business responsibilities and race preparations, depressed as I was sure the fleet had left Slacker behind, I hit the bunk early & often the first night. Then in the morning the position reports came in & I was sure there was a mistake. How could Slacker be 13-30 miles ahead of the other smaller boats? It turns out my strategy had been right, and Slacker had good winds all that first night while the other smaller boats had fallen into light air off West End. That’s right boys, just try to catch the Slacker…

Light Air Down

I set my old Hood symmetrical that first morning and kept it up until a severe broach off Guadalupe Island about 50 hours later. Saturday I continued to do well in the slightly stronger winds farther offshore, then Sunday the winds died off, and Slacker was seeing 1-2 knots most of the day while the other boats gained much ground. Towards the end of Sunday Runaway caught up to Slacker, making for a fun Sunday evening with a little company as we approached Guadalupe Island in the light conditions. Sunday evening was as lovely as it gets with a great sunset, moonrise, and lovely, peaceful sailing conditions.

Spinnaker Fun!

The light conditions persisted until Slacker was off the West Coast of Guadalupe Island when the wind piped up very quickly. The spinnaker became severely wrapped not once, but twice! The second time after the spinnaker unwound, Slacker promptly rounded up out of control and lay on her side, probably 70 degress over, and not moving. The pole downhaul cables snapped so there was no way to reach the tack. “Now what?” I asked myself in an oddly calm manner. “Oh, the autopilot must not know what it’s doing, I’ll just take the tiller and bear off.” There was no effect whatsoever as there was so little rudder in the water and so little forward movement. “Now what?” I asked myself again. Finally, I figured to let the guy run out, and Slacker promptly righted herself. Then I was able to douse the spinnaker, grateful I was not on a larger boat.

Restart!

With stronger winds behind them, Rubicon & Thriller ran up behind Runaway & Slacker & caught us in the lee of the island. A restart! We literally were all lined up awaiting wind in the turbulent water.  I decided to round wide, thinking I could shorten the amount of time I would be in the lee. It didn’t work. While in no wind and standing at the mast, I gazed at the short, breaking waves, amazed that it looked like there was 25 knots of wind when there was none. Then I looked over at Rubicon & noticed he was putting in a reef. “How odd.” I thought. “Why is Rubicon putting in a reef?” 30 seconds later I had the answer. 25 knots of wind hit Slacker and we were off on the long climb back.

Breakdowns

In the wee hours of the next morning, I heard a bang from my bunk, then Slacker slowed down. On deck I found the jib down on deck, with a shredded 1 foot piece of halyard attached. No problem, I have a spare – but would the same thing happen to the other halyard? I raised the sail but didn’t tension it as much as I’d like, nervous about the longevity of the halyard. 3 hours later, I hear a thud at the stern, & Slacker promptly started doing donuts. The two 1/4-20 bolts holding the tiller bracket on sheared off. Pipe clamps to the rescue! 20 minutes later we were off again, until they snapped 2 more times on the beat back. 1 hour later, I heard another bang and Slacker started drifting. This time the tack fitting had snapped & was gone. I jury rigged a Dyneema line around the bow to attach the tack to, which held to rest of the way back.

Meanwhile, with spray regularly coming over the boat, Slacker’s deck leaks made the tough conditions considerably worse. Nothing down below was dry. Nothing. I was soon unable to light the stove and therefore unable to have warm food & drink. This became the most difficult aspect of the trip. The only way to try to get warm was to crawl in the bunk fully dressed in foulies & cover myself with a wet sleeping bag. Now this is a vacation! And to think they only charge $100 entry fee for the race!

Final Hurdles

The third day the wind moderated enough to raise a double reefed main for a while as I approach San Clemente Island. My strategy was to go inside San Clemente as it appeared the W – NW winds would hold up through the last night. Alas, it was not to be. Slacker fell into a large wind hole off San Clemente and banged around for hours. Exhausted & cold, I hove to for a few hours to sleep. 2 knots of wind returned, but they air oscillated through at least 60 degress, making it impossible for the autopilot. I was forced to stay up and drive and tack through the last 10 hours to the finish at Cat harbor.

Lessons

Stay warm & dry.  This really saps energy.

Carry spares. Everything you can think of.

Perseverance pays in the end.  It’s a great feeling of accomplishment just to finish.

Whitall