highs and lows
Robb Walker takes you onboard the Cal 40 Nozomi on his doublehanded race to Hawaii…
When we last left you it was the evening of July 7th (our second night on the course) and we were spinnaker reaching west in a light southeasterly hoping that it would last all night and take us to the offshore winds…it didn’t. The wind died again after midnight and we spent the rest of the night and most of the next day (July 8th) slatting in 0-4 knots of wind. Seeing 0.00 on the knotmeter was a regular occurrence! Finally on the evening of the 8th we started feeling for the first time some very light puffs of wind that seemed to be from the north instead of the south. After a few hours we were able to change from the windseeker to a light #1 genoa (jibtop would have been nice) and continue to reach west at 4-6 km knots.
This continued until about noon on July 9th, when we were able to hoist a 3S spinnaker and sail a course of 230 degrees in about 12-14 knots of breeze. By 1800 hours the winds had increased to 15-16 knots and we changed to our 1.5oz spinnaker on a fairly tight reach. Our 1.5oz is a bit small and flat and the boat really sails well with the autopilot steering. This seemed really good so we sailed on into the night as the wind slowly began to increase. By midnight it was blowing about 18-20 and although the boat was still steering well under autopilot it took a lot of trimming and work by the watch person to keep the boat on it’s feet (mostly due to the close angle we needed to sail to maintain our desired course), so we decided that we’d better get it down. Sailhandling has to be carefully planned and takes a lot of time doublehanded, so by the time we got the spinnaker down (in a sock), folded and bagged the #1 genoa that was still rigged on deck, and rigged and hoisted our blast reacher it took about 2 hours, finishing just after midnight.
We beam reached the rest of the night and morning of the 10th 18-22 knots of wind under blast reacher and full main and getting while getting some rest in easy sailing conditions. Around midday on the 10th the wind moderated to about 15 and we could no longer sail course, so we got the 1.5oz up again, but only kept it up for about 4 hours as the wind increased to about 20-21 which we have determined is our upper limit for reaching with a spinnaker, so back up with blast reacher. Reached for about the next 24 hours sailing a course of 230-240 degrees.
The wind continued to lift slowly and between 6-8pm on the evening of July 11th we were lifted very quickly and could no longer make course with the reacher. As it was blowing 22-25 knots we decided that it was too windy for a spinnaker at night and we poled out the reacher and took off at a nice fast, low course. We have been in this mode for about 24 hours and have been enjoying a good fast ride down the course. The autopilot (Alpha Marine Spectra with software by Stan Honey) sails the boat beautifully with this combination…low and fast and catching a lot of waves.
It appears to us that if the wind drops below 20-21 we may be suffering a bit in terms of speed vs. flying a spinnaker, but that if the wind is 22+ we are probably holding our own. It is a very conservative approach for certain, however any mistake, breakdown (or just getting too tired) that might cause us to sail with mainsail only for several hours would most likely cost us more miles than this approach. One benchmark is the Cal 40 Green Buffalo racing in the crewed division. They sailed 11 miles farther than NOZOMI in the last 24 hours, an average of .5 knots faster, which I would guess is primarily due to having a full crew with multiple helmsmen and sailing their boat well and aggressively.
Other highlights and lowlights:
High: some unbelievable food from our friend Romeo Villareal at Baja Sessions. An unbelievable seafood paella last night and great breakfast burritos this morning!
Lows: cloudy, gray and wet. We have been sailing through low damp clouds for 24 hours, some with drizzle, and everything on deck and below is damp and wet. Luckily the temperature is not too cold, but we are sick and tired of feeling wet and damp!
Well, that brings you up to about 2100 hours PDT on 12 July 2010. Approximate position 32 57N, 140 29W. Heading into another night under poled out jib, looking at about 2 more days before we finally gybe for Hawaii.
Robb & Rowena