It Drying time again

April 22nd, 2014

I took the opportunity of the sunny weather and light winds to take the cruising frames off Passion and spread out the sails to dry. The spinnaker was a bit too wet to leave on board so here it is in the drying room.

Passion's big spinnaker laid our to dry

Some reflections on the Port Stephens Regatta

April 20th, 2014

Passion just scraping over the finish (Ellis Photo)

Looking through the results for the different divisions it seems that the gun boats of our size were Toy Story, Kerinda, Amante and La Ultra Donna. Toy Story is a Farr 36 OD of which only about 10 were ever built. From comments on Sailing Anarchy it seems this was once owned by the Oatleys. It is a light weight stripped out flush deck racer and was faster than everything except USB. Kerinda is a Lidgarde 10.6 from 1998 which is still owned by the original owner who has fitted a full carbon rig, a fat head mainsail and stripped out all the cruising gear to make it a flat out racer. It has a lovely colour scheme on the hull and some very attractive spinnakers. It generally beat the Sydney 36 CR Amante. Amante weighs a tonne less than Passion and is narrower with a similar size rig. She has 27% more righting moment than Passion and so has more power for less weight in all conditions. La Ultra Donna is the Summit 35 that raced in the performance racing section. She is 250 kg lighter than Amante, has more sail area and a similar beam. Kerinda, Amante and La Ultra Donna can all cruise but without the same level of comfort as Passion but the stand out is Kerinda in looks and performance.
Passion looks good in the photos. The main and genoa and asymmetric looks a good size for the boat in the photo from Saltwater Images

Passion flying asymmetric spinnaker (Copyright Saltwater Images)

I could not find any close up shots of the big spinnaker on the media site but there were many fine shots of Kerinda with a huge runner which looked 10% bigger on a lighter yacht.
The final photo of the crew enjoying the event just about sums up the regatta.

Passion's crew enjoying the regatta despite the wet weather (Copyright Saltwater Images)

Just as well we enjoy sailing

April 19th, 2014

This heading for this blog is the dry comment from Geoff that just about sums up the week at Port Stephens. Apart from the first day when we did the three island course in fickle conditions the balance of the week was wet to different degrees. Normally Passion is very dry below because we do a lot of no extras sailing but for the Port Stephens Regatta we were dropping wet kites into the forepeak. After a few days of this we discovered the best idea was to stash the wet sails and sail bags into jumbo garbage bags so we soon had the interior back in order.
At the end of the regatta as a precaution we have stripped as much clothing and sailing gear as we can from Passion for a good wash and dry. Some wet carpet has been taken off for a wash and dry and the sails have been spread out in the warm cabin to air. With all these precautions she should be in good shape for the Winter Wednesdays starting in May.

Some of the damp gear from Passion ready for a wash and dry

In a few days the wet weather will be forgotten and all that will remain is the pleasure of sailing to the best of our ability against fellow sailors of similar disposition. In the Port Stephens Cup we finished in sixth place but only two point separated first and sixth with placings decided on count backs. For the Commodores Cup we finished fifth in a fleet of nineteen so we were consistent finishers.

Elaine and I enjoyed the trip up and back. Good Friday on the water from Newcastle to Sydney was ten hours of delightful weather suited to sunbathing, relaxing and tidying up the damp sails. With the sun shining through the windows warming up the cabin I spread the genoas out in the cabin to dry while Elaine kept watch. Wet gear spread out under the spray dodger was dry long before the sun set.
The final part of the sail home was to come through the heads at sunset and motor up the harbour in the time between sunset and full moon. Our journey to the mooring was interrupted be the Rhapsody of the Sea which was leaving the passenger terminal and blocking the way but we were on the mooring shortly after 1900 hours and ready for dinner and a good night sleep.
Easter Saturday was the best day for cleaning up. From dawn to 0900 hours there was no breeze and very little ferry traffic to interrupt our very thorough clean up on Passion so while the weather had been difficult early in the regatta it more than made up for it on the trip home.

Farewell to Summer

April 2nd, 2014

The last race of the Autumn series was a short but slow event out around Goat Island and return. We started up the line on port tack and made a good start with speed and no one in front but in a few moments Agrovation was ahead of the fleet and leading into Humbug followed closely by French Connection. Michael Groves on Agrovation tells me that he now knows how to feather the prop and if this has been the cause of his up and down performance we might be in for a shock next season.
In Humbug the fleet kept reaching up to us and blanketing us from the puffs so we made poor progress. Izzi seemed to want to take the fleet up into the wind shadow of Greenwich Point but we managed to get clear ahead so we could hold our own line. Approaching Long Nose point we had Gwhizz above and pointing lower and Worlds Apart in front and holding a similar line until we eased the main halyard too much. Immediately we dropped below their line and had to retension the main halyard to get the leech to stand up. That took us into Long Nose from which we had to tack away. For a while the tack away seemed to work as Worlds Apart was pinching and slowing along the shore but the further into Snails Bay we went the further ahead she went. In light airs and with an incoming tide we made slow progress to Goat with Izzi and Rex sneaking past on a favourable lift. We did manage to pin Izzi onto starboard until we tacked to round Goat Island and that got us one back. Around Goat Island we hand held the genoa our to windward until it was time to round up for the tight reach back to Humbug.
The tight reach back was a tricky one with a large fleet of Blue yachts catching every time the wind picked up.

Blue and black fleet yachts reaching down on top of Passion in the last race of the 1013 2014 season

Eventually Gael Force reached past us despite Kevin’s best endeavours to take them back to the Harbour Bridge but as we hardened up for the beat up Humbug the breeze freshened and Passion took off pointing higher and going faster. In two tacks it was all over. We had passed Geal Force and Rex by a long margin and after we had finished they were left to struggle home in dying breeze.
We did manage a fifth fastest some seven minutes behind Agrovation but some four minutes in front of Gael Force.
On handicap the eighth place should become a drop and with 17 races finished three drops should count and we should win the overall handicap by a point. French Connection with a fine second fastest and first on handicap did everything she could to beat us but with our results year to date even a win was not enough.
We also managed equal second place in the Autumn series with Cipriani and three point behind French Connection. I was pretty happy with the Autumn series as it was a light affair and there were few days that really suited Passion.
Again thanks to all the crew for their loyal support through the season and their company on and off the water.

Ready for Port Stephens?

April 2nd, 2014

Yes it is a question, not a statement. On the sailing side we have the new spinnaker on board and have had a couple of occasions to set it and practice gybes. We have the new mainsheet traveller installed and have had a couple of races to get familiar with it. Apart from these changes we have settled in with sail settings for a twilight season so should be in good shape for the racing.
On the cruising side I have finished some refinements to the dinette conversion into a double bunk.

Beam under the dinette seats to support the outer edge of the double bunk

For the cruising to Port Stephens journey I have serviced the diesel motor, changed the water impellor, changed the oil, oil filter and fuel filter and changed the alternator belt.
All that is left to do is install the bimini and spray dodger, set up the jack stays and load the provisions and water.
The latest forecast is for the wind to swing from the south to the north east by Tuesday so there is the dilemma do we go early to take advantage of the southerly breeze or risk motor sailing for ten hours to Newcastle.

What will the wind do on Wednesday?

Sneak preview of Smoke on the Water

March 29th, 2014

A few shots of bits of the Perth based sports boat, Smoke on the Water, that I have bought with my Perth based brother.

Nice reconditioned trailer

350 Kg bulb

Long masthead backstay flicker

Spacious cockpit


March 26th, 2014

After last week’s poor handicap result I left nothing to chance. The divers were called in to give Passion a bottom scrub and the big black genoa was set with the clew one hole further forward for as much depth of sail as we could carry.
As we lined up for the start a bit of fresh wind carried us closer to the line than I wished so I threw in a quick circle only to have the wind disappear. We were to leeward of the fleet and in light and disturbed air so we could not accelerate to the line as planned. Izzi, Velocity, French Connection and Gael Force were four that managed to pick up wind ahead of the fleet and lead into Humbug while the usual smart starters, Agrovation, Worlds Apart, Gwhizz and ourselves were in the second row and going slow. The leeward position was fine for the beat to Onion Point but we could not pull ahead of Worlds Apart. We did however manage to follow them through Humbug and once around Greenwich Point we managed to point above them and soon engaged in a long windward tussle to Goat Island. Gwhizz shaved Greenwich and by rights should have fallen into a deep hole but she did not and hung in there to windward of us all the way to Goat Island.
Up past Snails Bay we were mid stream at the peak of the tide and with no tidal influence the stronger wind helped us lift above all the fleet. With Kevin on the helm I sat a the bow watching our nose move in front of Worlds Apart below and then behind and then back in front. It was as if we were attached by a rubber band that would not let us get too far apart.
We had good wind along the Goat Island shore and should have cleared all the fleet by a long way as we tacked onto Starboard to clear the rounding mark but for a massive header when we tacked. This header took us all the way back to Gwhizz who Kevin forced back onto Starboard so we could tack onto Port ahead of the fleet. But the port tack had the lifting wind and Worlds Apart steamed in with speed to be alongside us around the south side of Goat Island. Gwhizz tried the inside run but ran out of luck. We were outside Worlds Apart but with a switch of the breeze to astern we were able to head up and run down on her and then concentrate on keeping her in our dirty air.
We reached back from Goat Island keeping a watchful eye on Worlds Apart. At Long Nose she came right up to our stern with freshening breeze that promptly died but enough got around her tall rig to give us a little push ahead and into the freshening breeze up Humbug.
We were lucky with the shifts through Humbug and opened up a minute or so on Worlds Apart only to have make up some of the ground on the reach to the finish line.
We did get the gun for fastest time and managed a third on handicap as the fleet made slow progress back through Humbug. Izzi hung on for third fastest and first on handicap by a large margin. Gwhizz finished just behind Izzi and beat us into second place by a mere 7 seconds. I was delighted with our third place as it seemed like a redemption from our poor start and from our poor handicap place the previous week.
Our third place and a poor showing by French Connection means that we should win the overall series by a point even if we have a disaster next week. If we do well we still have a chance with the Autumn series too.
A big thanks to all the crew for their efforts through the series and with just one more race to go it will be sad to say good bye to the twilight series.
Before the race we used Passion to visit the city and catch up with our daughter who was down from Ballina for the day. We tied up at the Fish Markets jetty for two hours and had the whole jetty to ourselves. Much more civilized than driving into the city and trying to find a place to park.

Passion at the Fish Markets

Roll of the dice

March 19th, 2014

Passion to small a jib and wind

Passion nice with No2 genoa a bit more breeze

Based on the forecast and the stiff breeze out in the river we set the No 2 genoa and were lucky to escape with a fourth fastest time as the breeze dropped right on starting time.
We started on starboard at the windward end of the line cautiously let Agrovation cross our bow to be below us on the line and let Worlds Apart have room on the start line. These acts of conservatism cost us dearly as we were sandwiched between the two all the way to Onion Point and could not tack until Worlds Apart did. Unfortunately as we both tacked the breeze headed leaving us both pointing back to the rocks on Onion Point while Agrovation had different breeze and skipped out through Humbug well ahead. Rex and French Connection managed to pinch up to Onion Port and tack onto Starboard with right of way so we took Rex’s stern but it took several tacks to clear Humbug and pick up speed.
At the Cockatoo Island rounding we had made good ground on the fleet but did not have enough sail power to punch through the light airs in the wind shadow of the island and so the leaders skipped away again.
I sailed too close to the Long Nose shore allowing Tartan and Avanti to power away below us. Tartan we caught before Goat but Avanti stayed ahead until the passage back through Humbug.
On the run and reach through Humbug we were lucky to have wind aft and carry the poled out genoa all the way. By sailing along the Woolwich shore we had better breeze than Avanti mid stream and overtook her. On the square run to the finish we had breeze from behind that carried us up to the stern of Rex and gave us in inside overlap on French Connection so we squeezed between these two on fastest time.
With hindsight a more aggressive start forcing Agrovation over the line and Worlds Apart into the starting buoy would have been more successful. Out on the course leaving Long Nose wider would have saved a few minutes so with the combination of these two activities we might have fared better. On the plus side we managed a fourth fastest even with the No 2 genoa.
We were not the only ones to suffer from poor sail selection. Gwhizz with a No 2 genoa was even further back. Tana in the Green fleet changed genoa as we caught them by Cockatoo Island.
There are two more rolls of the dice before this series ends so hopefully we can learn from tonight.

Traveller tales

March 17th, 2014

Passion has had many modifications to the mainsheet system originally to try to improve the yachts performance and more lately to improve the safety in the cockpit.
The original Amiot traveller was robust and well engineered but the traveller was too short for good gust control and the control lines had too much friction for rapid response.
When we installed the bigger rig with more load on the mainsheet I added a cockpit saddle and passed the last falls of the mainsheet through a block on the cockpit floor. While this was effective for controlling the leech of the main the rope in the cockpit proved very dangerous for the crew. I am surprised how many skippers confirm the dangers of cockpit based mainsheet systems and how many skippers complain at the ineffectiveness of coach roof mounted travellers.
Inspired by the Hints and Tips pages of the Jeanneau owners forum I have at last upgraded the coach roof traveller.

New Harken 1.8 metre traveller with dual high load car and 4:1 controls

I had thought this would be a very big job but with a little preparation and planning it turned out to be a quite easy one man task. The hardest part was making the decision to hand over a couple of grand for the Rolls Royce parts. The double high load car alone cost over a thousand dollars but it had the load capacity and factor of safety that I required. Once the parts were ordered I started on the spacers to fit between the extended traveller ends and the deck. First I cut out a rough template from 25mm foam. Next I shaped it, covered it in fibreglass and gelcoat and sanded and polished it to make a plug. I made a mould using left over tooling resin from the keel wing job and then moulded up the spacers. The first one had a gelcoat defect so I made a third and used the defective one as a template. Finally to finish the spacers I filled the void with a mixture of tooling resin, carbosil filler and short strands of chopped glass similar to the fill we used for the keel wings.

Foam template

Finished plug polished ready to make the mould

The task of removing the traveller had me worried. The visible bolts on the traveller ends were frozen into the body and all attempt to move them over the years had failed so it was a pleasant surprise that the six 10 mm bolts holding the traveller were all in pristine condition and the nuts little more than finger tight. I moved the six nuts to the ends of the bolt threads and tapped them in turn and the old traveller was off. Now I had the hole centre information I needed to complete the preparation for the new traveller installation. I re used the six holes by trimming the Harken oblong washers to the existing hole centres and added two bolts through each end spacer, a 8mm one for the track and 10 mm one for the track and end control fitting so while the Harken bolts detail is only 8mm there are more bolts so the same effective cross section holding the traveller track in place.
A good dose of Sikaflex under all the joining surfaces and behind all the washers finished the task and for good measure I put a lock nut on every bolt.
So the job is done and ready for the first sail on Wednesday

Light night

March 13th, 2014

A week ago the racing was cancelled due to a violent thunderstorm. In the aftermath of the storm there was no wind for racing so it was an excellent decision by the race committee.
This week the committee made another good decision in sending the fleet out on a short course around Goat Island and home and even then there was a few retirements. The starters recorded 64 yachts on the course which is a testament to the popularity of the Greenwich Flying Squadron twilight races.
A subset of the crew of Passion had a pleasant afternoon practicing spinnaker sets and letter box drops so we were well prepared for the evening.
We went for a windward start on port well above the fleet with the idea to run down the line and take a stern or two at speed if needed. It was not needed as the port tack headed and we made Onion Point with little to spare. Cipriani did a starboard tack start and flip to Port but well up the line so he was just below us at Onion Point and half a metre ahead through Humbug while we were well clear of the rest of the fleet. Dennis was not going to let us go above him and as the course was around Greenwich Point the safe option was to stay behind until we could get into the breeze.
It is amazing what a difference it makes being the first boat around Greenwich into the breeze. Behind Cipriani we received a healthy dose of disturbed air and had to watch the gap widen to half a dozen boat lengths. At the first knock I tacked away while Cipriani kept on to the Balmain shore and lighter air. Further out in the tide we had wind and at the next tack had made up ten boat lengths. From there we were never headed.
Kevin took the helm after acting as boom strut to keep the boom on the centre line and I took over the role of boom strut and general sail tweaker. In this mode we rounded Goat Island to port maintaining good boat speed.
The run home from Goat Island was an anxious affair. We were running into dying breeze and could see the rest of the blue fleet coming down with breeze. Fortunately they ran into the same light air before catching us. As we hardened up for the beat home through Humbug we dropped the main halyard so that the weight of the boom was taken on the vang strut in the fully compressed position. This allowed the leech of the main to open up and even with the loose luff the sail shape looked superb as we worked along the Woolwich shore to Onion Point. A knock at the point meant we needed a short tack away but no yacht was close enough to threaten our fastest time and we reached away for a two minute win and second on handicap.
Second across the line and handicap winner was Gwhiz with Agrovation third across the line and third on handicap.
The light weather result was very pleasing as we are carrying a bit more wetted surface with the keel winglets and more weight with the 300 kg of lead as permanent internal ballast. On the plus side for light airs the tri radial GPL genoa sets well and the flush skin fittings minimise the drag in all conditions.
I do not have tracks to show as I left the plotter on over night and the tracks were overwritten as the memory was filled but I can assure you that the angles were very good considering the light air and incoming tide.