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2014-07-18

When friends go offshore


S/V Giulietta in Cascais marina a few days ago.
The first saltwater delivery I crewed on was on the then-new Giulietta off the course of Portugal in 2007, as related here. Giulietta is a custom-built Delmar Conde 1200 (in other words, a 40-footer), and she is not only a strong and well-conceived design, but is still impressively competitive, as her proud owner, who goes by Alex Gman on Facebook, will tell you.
A hot boat, and well-crewed.
He's right to do so. His well-crewed (mostly with youthful, fearless dinghy sailors) boat is very competitive in ORC class sailing in Portugal and in fact took first place in 2013, as in "best ORC boat in Portugal" and may do so again this season. This is pretty impressive given that 40 feet is not a huge race boat and that Giulietta's competitors are a bunch of larger Swans and other big ocean-rated vessels between 50-60 feet LOA. He's sponsored by a number of firms, including our mutual friends at Fortress Anchors, who I daresay are getting their money's worth out of the deal, given the steady improvement and persistant podium appearances of their logos.
Alex with old-man sailor beard and silverware, with his more appealing and charming wife Julieta beside him.
Alex and his crew have a new challenge at the moment: getting the light (12,000 lbs.) and generously canvased Giulietta to the Azores for some more racing. As far as I know, Giulietta has not been on an actual ocean crossing, although the Portuguese coastal waters can be brutal enough, as well as sporting a near-continuous line of cliffs and pointy, hard parts.
Alex doesn't believe in reefing...he says it just slows the boat down.
Giulietta is going to the Azores to participate in the Atlantis Cup Regatta in Horta, also known as "the Autonomy Regatta", perhaps because you have to sail across a quarter of the Atlantic to get there. Regardless, I thought it might be interesting to note that Alex, who was once self-described as "not a computer guy" (which is strange as he's a very successful engineer working worldwide) has gone over to the tech-savvy side of sailing, and is using a DeLorme InReach device (think "Spot Messenger" with Twitter-like text capabilities), and is also visible via AIS when within VHF range from the Marinetraffic.com site and also via Vesselfinder.com here.

A fairly typical outcome: Giulietta is in the lead.
Of course, a lot of this fine tracking technology will be turned off (and probably unplugged) during any actual racing, as Alex's hesitations about using AIS and these fairly recent tracking technologies was, as he said to me, "not wanting to give the competition any clues". Which, if sail racing is your sport, is very understandable.

As of July 18, 2014.
Now, Alex is currently reporting (it's around sunset on July 18th as I post this in the eastern Atlantic) strong winds on the bow, i.e. westerly winds. As he has a fine crew, a strong, well-equipped vessel, and is himself an excellent sailor, I have few worries for his five- to eight-day passage, but I do find it intriguing how easy it has become to actually see, more or less in real time, where a little boat on a great big ocean is...and to have them say something to the world from their deck.
Evidently, closehauled on starboard
Would that I could be there...I was graciously invited, but the timing is wrong for work and airplanes and boat fixing. But I find it encouraging that I can follow along, even from the pilothouse of my own docked boat.  Boa viagem e bons ventos, amigo!

UPDATE 14.07.21:  They've arrived in one piece.


2014-07-17

Accessibility issues

Whither your cocks, sailor?

My last, feeble muttering in public was about...sad to relate...keeping the boat clean. I suppose a corollary to keeping things clean is to keep them accessible. One of the upsides of owning a custom boat is having no compunctions about sawing or drilling through a non-structural part of the interior to make an access hatch or other “points of egress” to a particular potential trouble spot, like the lowest part of the head hoses, or to making the aft cockpit sole removable to get at the transmission or the stuffing box.
Handy if you'd thought of it. Photo (c) Regina Sailing.

Of course, this demands all sorts of planning and a deep knowledge...and a good record...of what is behind the trim. As fewer cars owners can do minor repairs in their driveways, I would suggest that fewer boat owners know where some of the wire runs, hoses and vent lines actually go in their boats.
This used to be standard practice, even on "cheaper" cruisers. It's easier to do your own.

My experience of proposing such modifications of access is that owners of production boats are quite resistant to cutting holes in their “highly designed” vessels, even though it is newer, often “modular” designs that the most egregious cases of “burying” critical gear occurs.

Clearly labelled and next to a light source. (c) M/V Sea Spirit

A friend of mine thinking of buying a boat a while back had a 2011 Hanse 355 surveyed. The very good surveyor, Wallace Gouk, acting on my friend's tip, found a flexing part of the hull that was unsupported by an untabbed bulkhead. Not a failed tab...a spot never tabbed. A big freaking void I could have put my clown shoe through. Helpfully, it was adjacent about three holes cut for wire and hose runs, further compromising the strength of the bulkhead at that point. And with the Hanse's typically modern production cruiser-style of modular design, it would have been nearly impossible to rectify this issue without cutting out half the cockpit. This boat was lovely to look at and has the clean lines of a good sailer....even as I said at the time (grumpily, because I dislike the majority of production boats I've seen since about 2000) "it annoys me less than most". I got annoyed afresh after seeing some of the pictures from the survey...eek.

Expectedly, this issue of "tabbing absence" was a deal-breaker for my friend, who moved on to a much better-built 2002 Dufour 36 Classic. Of course, the guy selling the otherwise reputable Hanse had no clue what a piece of compromised junk the boat he was flogging was,  I would have wagered. My friend, on the other hand, worked for CS in the '80s and is the sort of guy who goes out in 30 knots on Lake Ontario because it used to be common knowledge that wind makes the boat go, and more wind is better, until stuff breaks, and that's probably the skipper's fault for an incomplete knowledge of physics. The baseline assumption is "I am sailing a well-found boat". Or was, once. Our materials science, when it comes to boat construction, seems to be far ahead in certain respects of the actual execution on the factory floor.

I am, with allowances made for crew and conditions, similar in spirit, and not out of some antediluvian machismo, but because it's exhilarating to sail in a stiff breeze and to feel the spray and to play the waves and run through one's hypotheticals should something go wrong.
Condofied to the max. I am unwilling to board such a boat to see what the access situation is.

My friend who probed the Hanse hadn't sailed for about 25 years when I first took him out  in my Viking 33 a few years ago, and when he saw the high boom of a modern Hunter and asked "should we help them? They've broken the gooseneck and jerry-rigged one higher!", I realized that such is the impression modern boat design can make with a sailor who's been out of the game for some years.

Funny, sad or true? All three, I think. (c) Bill Bishop/The Marine Installer's Rant

Modern boats can appear to be crippled. They can also seem underdocumented, largely inaccessible (who has seen the rudder post?), and products of committees of introverts. Clearly, this is not universal, but it's common enough to make me happy that with a wide-open (in terms of access) custom boat, I can make my own fixes...and even my own mistakes...without too much in the way of hidden and potentially nasty surprises.

2014-07-15

Not dead, just washing

What can I say? Paying work slacketh not during my summer, nor do boat part suppliers move faster. I've made some progress on Alchemy, but nothing I consider blogworthy at this point. Valiente has supplied some actual sailing, on the other hand, and I decided to clean her up a bit...also an excuse to buy a new, on-sale power washer.
The stowed Portabote may be a source of windage.
The missing bits needed on Alchemy are part of the raw water supply circuit; I need to work in part to pay for the AWAB-brand hose clamps I insist on using below the waterline. What can I say? See a few boats sink at dock because of poor hose clamp choices, and it affect a man. So your garden-variety Tridon and whatnot are kept high and visible. The new, mandated "wet exhaust grade" hose is pretty spendy, as well, when compared to Ye Olde Radiator Hose, found on most boats.
Almost beautiful in their way, but they are frighteningly expensive...and I get a discount.
I will shortly be moving onto other hook-ups in the Drive to Drive, but I'm still sourcing a decent house bank price. I've decided that the L16 format discussed here is probably the way to go, but that I need not go with Trojans, which I have come to believe command an unjustified premium. But I can get motoring with just a start battery. On the near horizon is getting a skin fitting and punching a hole for it through the hull for the bilgewater hose; the current set up is using the port side of the dual exhaust setup noted here...I actually have all the requisite parts in place and aboard, but if I set it up in the fashion I want, there's no outlet for the bilge pump. Which is, of course, a touch problematic.
 
A reasonably clean old girl
Well, at least my decks are, if not shiny, less grubby. Dockmate Jeff's sparkly Dufour 36 is, frankly, of unusual gleam for a 12-year-old vessel, and while no one would accuse me of nautical fastidiousness, I like to be in the top half of the Grubby Barge range, even if it doesn't help the speed as much as a hull scrub.

The guy on the other side of Valiente got a dock just for his jetski. Go figure.
It has been pointed out that I have been spending more time on Facebook than on this blog, and while technically true, this is arguably because Facebook is far more hit-n-run for a quick blather than an essay about whatever's occupying my boaty mind, featuring 20 links and 15 non-blurry photos. But I can see a bit of time opening up shortly, and hope to get back to the work my work subsidizes...and even to blog about it...soon.