Friday, July 25, 2008

Cirrus on Day 10

No complains about mellow weather today, and Klabautermann took more shots at us, but failed thanks to our effective counter measures.

Once again, our standings haven't changed much, but we lost a little against the ones ahead of us, and gained a little against the ones behind us. Given the events of today, we are happy to still being in the race ...

The wind picked up today, the squall activity increased, and the waves got higher up to the point where you couldn't see the horizon over the wave ahead or behind. Worst of all, the waves came from an angle from behind. The wave lifts the boat, say, from stern port side, rolls the boat to starboard and raises the stern. The boat goes downhill, the wave moves ahead under the boat, lifts the bow, while letting the stern sink, letting the port bow sink before the starboard bow, thereby rolling the boat to port. The next wave repeats that. And occasionally, a wave comes from the other side. At the helm you need to anticipate the boat movement, and counter steer; but be careful not to overdue it, otherwise you may amplify the boat movement and then you run into very significant problems and major damages when the boat dips the spinnaker pole into the water. This is manageable on a normal day. But then there was today:

It was 6 am PDT this morning. Since we are keeping PDT time on the boat, and Hawaii is 3h behind and we being 2/3 there, the local time was about 4am. The moon, now a half moon, was up, shining through a thin cloud layer. So we could actually see the major features of the boat but not details. Howard was just coming up for his watch, and George was going down, with me having the helm. The wind was good at some 10-12 kn and we moved well. Suddenly the wind increased, possibly due to a squall, although no rain was coming down. A furious ride began with boat speeds exceeding 9 kn, sometimes pushing the rail in the water in the attempts to correct the swinging of the boat. The Klabautermann acted, ripping the guy (a line of the spinnaker) out of the clew of the spinnaker pole. The spinnaker, now without pole support, flew wildly.

We later looked at the clew, which has a steel pin about the thickness of a big thumb, which locks the lines in place. This lock was closed when we inspected it. Nothing was damaged. So how could the guy have come out? If that doesn't convince any doubters about the existence of Klabautermann, I really don't know what might do.

Now what to do with the flying, flapping, banging spinnaker? In the meantime we were 5 people in the cockpit, the wind had increased to well beyond 20 kn, howling even higher in gusts. Bill decided to go forward to put the guy back into the clew of the pole. He needed to go forward to the bow, and from the cockpit we had to bring the pole forward handling several lines. Cirrus was moving! She parted the water ahead of her, and the water gushed along her sides with the roar of a freight train. The bow was almost level with the water. Had the bow dipped deeper, the water might have gushed over the deck and swept Bill from his feet. But it went well. We now needed to bring the pole back and tighten the guy. During the whole process the boat was swinging with sometimes the port rail, sometimes the starboard rail being in the water. To recover, the sheet (the other line used to hold the spinnaker) was released to unpower the sail, resulting in ever wilder flapping. Somehow in the process an accidental jibe occurred, sure enough in the moment when Bill was coming back to the cockpit. He was hit by the blocks mounted under the boom and knocked down to the deck. Thank goodness we had the boom break on! Without it, there might have been one skipper less on this boat! If anyone wants to know what exactly a boom break is, just ask, I'll sing accolades for this device. (We had Bill lay down for the next few hours - just in case - but he is ok.) I got the boat back under control, the spinnaker was flying again, and miraculously, nothing was damaged. Obviously our counter measures proved effective. Soon after the wind subsided to the normal 10 kn or so. I had a good workout, but I was not really keen on another one.
But I got one. This one came in my afternoon watch, and came in a very similar situation. Good wind but very manageable, sudden jump in wind speed, and guy being ripped out of the intact and undamaged clew of the pole. This time I handed over to George to drive, and we socked the spinnaker and went on with white sails. We are in this moment still sailing with white sails, and wind is on and off from as low as 6 kn to as high as 25 kn. Speed is matching. I guess on average it will be a slow night.
Two attacks on one day and none successful - isn't that something? What if we had not put the mask at the mast? You can see it in the picture in some previous post. But looking at it again, I wonder which face is whose? What if ....

In the morning hours, before we switched to white sails, we realized that it is not a good idea to have the lightweight spinnaker, the 3/4 ounce, up during such strong wind, and so we decided to hoist the heavy 1.5 ounce one, which he had used in the beginning, and took the opportunity to inspect all lines for chafing. Bill, Larry and George went forward and did lower and reset the spinnakers fast and smoothly. Back in the cockpit we noticed that we had a combined 210 years of life experience working on the foredeck! We hereby challenge all boats to outdo us! Sure enough, in the later discussion in the cockpit this limerick came up:

We are the Cirrus geriatric crew
Went to the foredeck and forgot what to do
Went down for a nap,
let the spinnaker rap,
But finally we did reattach the clew.

Speaking about limericks, why should _we_ do the work and not our readers? Please send us your limericks, and we'll shamelessly present them as ours :-)
Here is a good example from the Vogel family about Klabautermann, which you find under the Halfway Party video post:

There once was a ship out at sea
Afraid of Klabautermann's glee
But the crew made a charm
Letting nobody harm
'Cept a small fish with too much esprit.

What a day!

Aloha, Ulli

Position: July 25, 2008, 2254PDT, lat 24n16, lon 151w42, cog240M, sog 6.8kn


Valerie said...

Beautifully written, Ulli. And there you have it....why I do not ever want to sail across the ocean even with such an able crew.
Thank you for taking care of Bill!
See you soon! (Haven't seen Rositha yet though.)

Anonymous said...

I was white knuckled just reading about your latest adventure. So proud of how you all handled things. Bill, please take good care of yourself, you are precious. Is it too much of a "girl" thing to remind you that it's just a race? Tina

Anonymous said...

Ulli - The spinnaker problem sounds a lot like the problem we had in 1998. The jaw would work its way open when under load and release the guy (usually at the worst possible time). The jaw also chewed up the plastic doughnuts that were on the guy, leading George Neill to make the famous remake "the spinnaker pole must have been a policeman in a previous life - it just loves to eat doughnuts".
Dave Littlejohn

Anonymous said...

Hello Ulli,

hm... I think my last comment wasn't published. So, again: grandma and granpa say "hello", Petra received your birthday wishes and celebrated yesterday. Mom has been to the KYC, still has a jet lag and wakes up at 2 a.m. Hawaiian time.

Have a great day!

Katja, Andi, Jun and Melanie

~Melissa~ said...

I'm with Valerie and Tina! The SF Bay is exciting enough for me.

Stay safe, mom is on her way to meet you all!

Melissa (George's kid)

Anonymous said...

Hallo Ulli,
vielen Dank für die Geburtstagsgrüße. wir haben bis mitternacht draußen gefeiert.Heute gab Liza Minelli ein Konzert in der Autostadt, war ganz toll.
Wie ich aus deinem Bericht gelesen habe, hattet ihr einen turbulenten 1o. tag. Ich hoffe ihr kommt heil und erfolgreich auf Hawai an. grüße von Petra und Wolfgang,Trudi und Karl