Be careful what you wish for. Years ago, I learned from Annapolis locals that those who had a passion for sailing and tried to make a career of it quickly figured out that making a job out out of a hobby could kill the fantasy. As my sailmaker in the late 1990s put it to me about why he wasn’t psyched to go on test sails with me after work: “If you were a porn star, would you really want to go home and F— after work?” I saw his point! Consider this level of stress for the legendary Ken Read leading the gazillion dollar mega yacht Comanche at the start of the 2014 Sydney Hobart race (even though she’s leading – just listen for a few minutes after the start of this clip, and also note the stress in Mark Richard’s voice aboard Wild Oats):
So with that background, guess what it took to reignite passion outside of “work” for sailing for that same Ken Read? Short handed sailing! Given my recent experiences, I totally get it, but don’t take my word for it:
I am becoming legitimately obsessed with double handed racing. This past Saturday may have been the best and most enjoyable experience of my racing career, which dates back to 1996. And this was only my second double-handed race! In fact, I think I’m growing to love this version of sailing almost as much as single handed passage making. Both push the crew to find a whole additional gear in sailing – intellectually and (especially in Saturday’s weather) physically.
Much of the 25 mile race was covered flying the symmetrical spinnaker down the Bay, followed by a douse, a beam reach, and finally a (slightly overpowered) true beat to the finish. Tim’s excellent writeup is here – be sure to read to the end for the adventure delivering home after the race!
Wednesday night was really, really windy! Breeze in 20s, gusts to 30. As usual for the first Wednesday night series, 3/4 of Team Rover was aboard: Brian, Lisa and me. We learned a lot. Our shoal draft (~6′) Beneteau 36.7 is a very nice boat to sail, but this race really showed the value of a deep draft keel in big breeze. We were very much in this race at the leeward mark, but oh dear, when we turned back upwind the race boats showed us “there is no substitute for draft.” Tim’s excellent writeup is here.
I had a new owner reach out to me with the following question regarding inspection of the centerboard pendant sheave boxes on his Sabre 42:
Is it possible to check condition of sheave box pendants with the boat in the water?
I thought it might be helpful to post my answer here, and also to post a link to my prior article on the vulnerability these sheave boxes pose and why they should be carefully inspected. Here is my answer to the new Sabre 42 owner in case it might be helpful to others:
All of the sheave boxes can be examined while you are in the water. You’re looking for corrosion at the welds in these boxes and any signs that pin hole leaks have developed. But far more vital will be the very short lengths of coupler hoses that connect each box to the metal conduit through which the cable travels – look for signs of cracking or delamination (which you can usually see at the edge of the hose). Be sure the hose clamps are secure and not corroded. My hoses and clamps were in very poor condition. The first sheave box is under the engine – be careful to degrease it so you get a good look. There’s another one under the cabin sole in the aft head, and of course the one in the lazarette under the winch itself. Unless you have documentation that the coupler hoses and clamps have been replaced, on your next haul out I would recommend you replace them all as a precaution.
Here is my ride for double-handed racing this season: a Benetau 36.7! I had a blast this past Saturday racing the Double Handed NOOD with Tim Zimmerman, the boat’s co-owner. As a professional journalist, he does a much better job describing out adventure than I ever could, so I am going to be lazy and link to his content here.
Activity in the boat yards is starting to pick up, and 2021 looks like it’s going to be an exciting season for both Rover and various of her crew racing on other boats! Currently the plan is for Rover to be on the Chesapeake until the Annapolis Yacht Club summer cruise in New England, and very likely she will head south to Fort Lauderdale in the late fall and probably toward the Caribbean for the winter months. In the meantime, various members of the Rover crew plan to race:
Thursday nights on a J/22 (Rich [driving] and Lisa [foredeck], first half of the series)
Wednesday nights on a mystery boat (see below) (at least Rich, Lisa and Brian, first half of the series)
In addition I am flattered to have been invited to be the second half of a double-handed race team for a number of weekend races this season on the Chesapeake. I’ll wait to get the owner’s permission before making a reveal on these pages, but the reader is invited to use the comments below to pay “Guess That Boat!” using these snapshots of her keel. Hints: her draft is just under 6 feet and her designer is a marquee name in the industry.
I just stumbled across a terrific blog article in a Facebook thread explaining how and why buyers should carefully inspect the mast steps of the Roger Hewson generation of Sabres. This is article serves as a great companion to the Sabre Sailboat Buyer’s Guide I published some time ago. Check it out here.
As we have been adjusting to life back on land, I wanted to share some photos, funny moments and provide a general wrap-up of Rover’s first year of adventures. Let’s start at the beginning of 2020 with Rover in Fort Lauderdale. Rich lived abroad and did lots of work in getting our sailing home ready for our future trips. In January and February of 2020, Brian, Lisa, and I enjoyed several trips to Florida sailing from Fort Lauderdale to Miami and Key Biscayne. However, like everyone, Covid19 had some other plans for us. Fearing Rover and Rich may get stuck in Florida, which was very real as marinas were closed and we were hearing bridges would be shut to pleasure traffic, our “extraction” mission started with B, Lisa, and I driving nonstop in the night to Fort Lauderdale in a rental SUV with a cooler filled with food and supplies. Fearing that diesel would be cut off as well, Rover’s tanks were filled the day before the gas docks closed! Whew, luck was with us! We set sail from Florida nonstop back to Annapolis, what better way to start our quarantine than on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean? The creepiest part was all the dozens of ‘ghost’ cruise ships off the coast of Florida moving around in circles to power their systems, with no passengers aboard. Maybe foreshadowing of an impending viral pandemic, eh? We safely arrived in the Chesapeake Bay the day the Governor of Maryland shut everything down, after a fast 100-hour passage and sporty conditions off Cape Hatteras, gusting over 40 knots and big 10-12 foot seas. We made it to AYC, and Rover sat for the next couple months as we weren’t allowed aboard. Team Rover then quarantined at our respective homes. Once stores were opened and boating was allowed again in the late spring, Rover was prepped for the next part of our adventure, detailed in previous blog entries, and began in June 2020.
YouTube channels can be credited with generating excitement about sailing and bringing people into the sport, but those of us who have lived aboard cruising boats for extended spells know that they also paint an unrealistically rosy picture of what the cruising lifestyle is really about. We also know that in many cases YouTubers set bad examples – for example by choosing to cross the Atlantic in a cruising catamaran dangerously late in the season as a publicity stunt, or filming themselves offshore prancing around on deck on the ocean with no jacklines, let along tethers or PFDs. Continue reading Lessons From a YouTube Casualty→