With Rover still ashore getting the final touches put on our winter projects, we have been doing quite a bit of local racing! In addition to Wednesday nights on the Beneteau 36.7 and a few weekend double handed races, Lisa and I have teamed up with our friends Lynda and Craig to race a rented yacht club J/22 on Thursday evenings. I am driving the boat while Lynda does tactics, Lisa does foredeck and Craig trims.
We are beginning to shake off our winter slumber and get Rover ready for the 2021 cruising season! Brian has been working very hard cleaning & polishing the boat and managing a variety of contractors who have painted the bottom, made repairs to the plumbing in the forward holding tank, and repaired a variety of leaky hoses and other related items on the generator. Below is the dodgy repair I had to make last summer to keep a cracked cooling hose from failing; hoses like these have all been replaced along with a badly corroded heat exchanger. The contractor raised the generator off of its mounts to do the work – something I could not do while were still cruising and living aboard.
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.