Monday, October 26, 2009

Seattle Yacht Club Grand Prix Regatta Oct 23-25

Last weekend, the Great White Team competed in the Seattle Yacht Club Grand Prix Regatta at Shilshole Marina. This is a three day invitational regatta. Boats are invited based on good placings in selected races in the northwest.

The first race was at 1300 on Friday. The weather was forecast for 20-30 knots out of the SW with rain. We were not dissapointed. The committee set a medium distance course from Shilshole to Blakely Rocks, Pt Wells and then a short loop around bouys in Shilshole Bay. The wind was 30 knots at the start. We started with a No. 3 jib and a reefed main. It was a sloppy beat to race rocks. We were in company with some J109's and ahead of Zorra(C&C115) and Grace E(J35). Declaration of Independence(DOI, Express37) and Absolutly(40ft One Tonner) were way ahead. We set the heavy No.1 for going downwind and had a fast run, hitting 10 knots a number of times. While taking down the No.1, I touched the leeward mark and in rerounding, we lost a place to Shada(J109). The wind moderated to around 20knots and we had an easier beat and short spinaker run before the finish. We finished ahead of Grace E and Zorra was behind but dropped out after a sail problem. We were 7 out of 9 entries.

Saturday was a beautiful morning, but there was no wind. After a couple hour postponement, the RC started a race. The wind was about 5 knots, but shifty in direction. After the first lap, the RC abandoned the race because of a shift in the wind direction. The RC reset a new cours and started us on a shorter course with less wind. Near the leeward mark, the wind got lighter and the current threatened to sweep us past the mark. We ghosted to the finish ahead of Zorra. Even though there was another hour of time before the time limit expired and most of the boats were able to finish, the RC once again abandoned the race. No races scored for saturday.

Sunday was a bit grey and rainy. The RC again set up buoy races in Shilshole Bay. The wind was light at first, but eventually filled in to ten knots. And again it was shifting from SEto SW and back. The RC got off four races in rapid succesion. We had a couple good starts and some good legs and some not so good legs. It was a lot of fun and the courses short enought that there was lots of action. Our best race was the last one. We rounded the leewared mark ahead of Zorra, Grace E and close to J Tripper(J109). We ronded close to the mark and got inside J Tripper and rolled over them on the beat. We stayed right and could almost lay the buoy end of the finish line. Absolutly and Shada went left toward the Committee boat end of the line. We seemed to have more pressure and when we tacked and shot the line, we felt that we were ahead of Absolutly and maybe in third. But when I looked at the results, we were in a three way tied for 4th place with Absolutly and Shada! Absolutly rates the same as us and Shada owes us a little time and finished slightly ahead.

The crew did great and we had plenty of practice in sail handling.

One scary thing happened on the first night as we were coming into the slip after the race. I started turning into the slip and put the diesel in reverse. I was not slowing down fast enough so I increased the throttle. The boat went forward faster. I missed the end of the finger pier and the neighboring boat, but hit the end of the slip putting a good sized dent in the wood on the dock. I discovered that the control cable to the transmission broke and the engine was stuck in forward. I was really bummed and we fiqured out a way to get underway for the next morning. Early the next morning, I was waiting for a ride to breakfast and I noticed something laying on top of an electrical box at the head of the dock. I looked and it was a used control cable. Nobody was around to claim it and I assumed that it was left there for someone who could use it. I finally picked it up and it found that it was a exact match for the broken cable. I installed it Saturday night. I consider it my miracle cable!

Committee boat and mark boats waiting for the wind to fill in on Saturday.
Waiting for the wind to fill in on Saturday.

Boats trying to finish on Saturday. Just before the race committee abandoned the race. We were already finished.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

R.I.P. Buell Motorcycle Company

My Buell XB12X Ulysses Adventure Sport Bike

Some of you that follow my blog may remember that I bought a new Buell motorcycle in March as one of my retirement presents. So I was shocked to hear on Oct 15th that production of Buell motorcycles was being discontinued. Buell's parent company Harley Davidson was experiancing third quarter losses and made the decision to discontinue Buells and to sell off MV Augusta(an Italian motorcycle company owned by HD). More casualties of the slow economic climate.

Buell motorcycle company was formed by Erik Buell in 1983. Erik is an ex-Harley Davidson engineer who has a passion for motorcycle road racing. He developed mainly racing bikes untill the rules were changed that made his racing motorcycles obsolete. He launched into production sport bikes. He developed and patened many innovations. Some include fuel in frame, mass centralization, ZTL(zero torsional load) disc brake(caliper inside the rotor), underslung exhaust and muffler and multifunctional components like the swing arm oil tank. The result of much of this development resulted in light, stiff framed motorcycles that had very low center of gravity and low unsprung weight. This resulted in great handling and performance. Way beyond my capabilities!

Buell was involved in racing and this year a Buell 1125R motorcycle won the year long Daytona Sportbike Series with Danny Eslick riding. Buell became a wholly owned subsidiary of Harley Davidson in 1992. There were 135,000 Buell motorcycles built. Certainly the only American made sport bike.

I selected my Buell motorcycle for the engineering and innovations that I could see that were built into it. I really could not find any foreign or domestic motorcycles that offered the features and the design that I liked. So it saddens me to see the company be discontinued. My investment in this bike is in jeopardy and parts may be hard to obtain in the future. Also 180 people at the company are out looking for new jobs. I can only hope that somehow it can be resurrected.

Here is the announcment from Erik Buell:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Foulweather Bluff Race 10-3-09

On Saturday, we raced the Foulweather Bluff Race. This race starts at Edmonds, goes to the Foulweather Bluff Buoy, Scatchet Head Buoy and returns to Edmonds. The total distance for the long course is 26 NM.

I went to Edmonds at 1000 on Friday and got a prime spot on the guest moorage. I played tourist and walked to the downtown area of Edmonds. Toward evening the boats started arriving and the harbor soon became packed with boats. I heard that there were 73 entries.

Saturday we had a 1030 start. The sun was out and the wind was about 10 knots. We selected the heavy No. 1 and had a great beat out to Foulweather Bluff. The winds rose around Point No Point to about 20 knots. We had to make a tack in the shipping lanes to clear a large container ship in the inbound lane. We could have changed to the No.3 jib, but the wind would drop to 14 knots for a while and then increase again to 20. The heavy No.1 was doing the job and I could keep the boat moving in the stronger winds. Most boats seemed to carry their larger jibs.

We rounded the mark, but did not set the spinaker as the wind was forward. After about a mile, we set the 3/4 oz spinaker and had a great reach to the Schatchet Head Buoy. We hit 10 knots a few times and with the flood current, we hit 11.2 knots over the bottom. I got a little low of the Schatchet Head buoy. The current was setting us right and the wind came forward a little, but I managed to head up enough to clear the buoy. We jibed shortly after rounding the mark and had a almost dead downwind run to the finish. Again, the current was setting us right.

We had a great time and the crew work was good. We placed 5th out of 8 boats in our class. The heavier boats did the best. A C&C115 was first and two old 40 ft One Tonners placed second and third. We did place ahead of the other two J35's and a Schock 35.

I stayed around untill after the awards and got underway at 1730. The wind was still blowing 20 knots plus and the sound was large waves with whitecaps. I had a good motor home and arrived at Brownsville by 2000.

Results here:

Photos by Jan(many of them):

This is our track for the day. The start area was north of the marina so this chart shows the short tracks to/from the marina to the starting area.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What was Raymarine thinking?

A few years ago, I bought a Raymarine S100 wireless remote controller for my Raymarine autopilot system. The S100 is a great addition to the autopilot. It handles normal pilot, track mode(using GPS output to the autopilot to navigate to waypoints), wind mode(using apparent wind data from the B&G wind instruments) and tack mode. It allows me to handle autopilot functions without being at the autopilot control station that is at the back of the cockpit.

But with all the good comes three items that has me wondering "What was Raymarine thinking?".

1. The S100 is powered with two AAA batteries. In normal warm sunny conditions, these batteries operate for quiet a few hours. But during a winter delivery with some manuvering, the batteries only last 4-5 hours. Of course the batteries die while you are punching buttons in the middle of a maneuver. And there may be a low battery indicator, but who wants to change batteries more often? Larger batteries would have been nice. More on this later.

2. The S100 comes with a neck lanyard and also a holster to wear on your belt. I like the lanyard, partially because I am usually in rain gear and do not have a belt. The lanyard attached to a very tiny plastic bar(about 1/32" dia) on the bottom of the unit. After about a year, the plastic bar broke when the unit got tangled up in my harness. I carefully drilled a hole in the case and screwed in a p-clamp. Why was a stronger lanyard attachement not built into the case?

3. This is the item I really don't understand. Remember I complained in Item No.1 that the battery life during cold days was short? Well changing batteries is a nuisance. The battery pocket cover is held in with two very small screws. The scenerio goes like this: It is a cold winter evening. Your hands are cold. The water choppy. The batteries die. You go below, find the case of jewellers screw drivers and carefully remove the screws laying them on the chart table. You pry out the case cover and change the batteries. Then you try to pick up the small screws(remember your hands are cold) and reinstall them in the back of the case. The screws are easy to drop and fortunatly I have been able to find them on the cabin sole. But doing all this under the dim red light from the chart light with the boat bouncing around can be an ordeal. I have numerous small electronic devices(handheld GPS, altimeter, cyclometers) and with out exception their battery compartment covers are held on with twist lock, cam lock or very large coin operated slotted head screws that are held captive. Very easy and quick to change batteries and still water resitant. No tools required. Why didn't Raymarine think of this?

I will continue to use the S100 a lot and will continue changing bateries and hopefully I can find new screws when I loose the old ones on some cold, dark, windy, winter night........

The Raymarine S100 wireless autopilot remote controller. In the picture the autopilot is running in track mode to a waypoint, recieving data from the Garmin GPS. Cross track error(XTE) appears to be 0.00 NM. This was while crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca, right on course even with current running across my course.

The back of the S100 wireless controller with the battery compartment removed. Notice the tiny phillips head screws. Also the p-clamp screwed into the back of the case where the lanyard attachment broke.