Both days started off looking like wake boarding was the more favorable option to racing boats but in the end good ol’ Mother Nature came through for us and a solid race management team gave the fleet of twelve boats solid #2 weather to play with for five races over the two days. For our team Saturday morning started out much like the Thursday before Labor Day (Nationals weekend)…in other words, no liquids or food. After an initial weigh in of 828, followed by a quick team meeting in the lovely St. Francis restroom, our next step on the scale cemented a solid 825 on the nose. Obviously the carb loading with breakfast sandos and the obligatory MGD was a given immediately after the skippers meeting. Crews found relief from the hot sun in the Men’s Grille and front patio while the “cat in the hat” swung from the race deck mast and some (including our bowman) people partaking in the adult beverages served by the staff. When the breeze filled in around two, we put the rags up and turned the corner to great conditions for a three race Saturday.
Great time in Monterey with 13 boats battling it out over three days. Typical lump and #2 weather (we don’t have a #2!). Lots of kelp and lots of panicked swerving around to avoid it but, the story doesn’t begin there…
215 minus 170 is 45 and those are the number of pounds of pure fat that we had to shed to even get to the line. Ten days prior and the starvation began, some of us lost 20 lbs! Ahh yes, it was brutal but it was the only way. Covered in black wheel bearing grease, I arrived MPYC at 9pm Thurs with the scale over my shoulder, walked past the closed kitchen and ordered a huge plate any leftovers they had and two Lagunita’s IPAs. I grabbed the club manager and dragged him into the Men’s and I stripped to skivvies and was overjoyed to see the scale balance at 210! Wooohoo we're in and the best two beers of my life instantly added 3lbs
Just a few hours earlier I was on 880 on the shoulder with a blown trailer bearing and billowing clouds of grey smoke pouring off the cherry-red hub that threatened to burn Gruntled (Druntled!) to the ground. Luckily, I mixed and matched enough of a plan to limp to Monterey.
As luck would have it… enrollment for the week-long basic reading skills class was open in Cascade Locks. It was hard to sit in class all last week while looking out the window at the swaying trees and foamy white waves but we all did graduate… eventually. Gruntled now has four Certified Course Readers and we won’t go wrong again, we promise. In addition to school, we have a new policy of not hoisting the jib before we ALL agree on the course, ALL of it!
What a blast this last week was, my fingers are fat and my eyes blurry but that Columbia Gorge is such a special place.
Thirteen boats assemble in the warm building breeze, lots of smiles and thumbs-up as PNW and Bay boats (No SC boats!) greet and tease; old friends getting out on the water for a little dose of Moore competition. Get down to the racing area two miles from the Cascade Locks, a huge course is set and we have 18 perfect knots of warm wind over fresh water and under two volcanos, then … we are off on the pin end heading for Oregon as we would do every race.
A distressing trend has emerged from my immediate post-passage entries. Instead of reporting how great the sail, I report how hard. I regret to do so again; but in some ways the sail from Apia was the hardest.
Much of this is due to my decision to sail first to Hawaii. Had I not done so I wouldn’t have met a couple of good guys named Dave, been called ‘a beast’ and ‘the hard core guy’, and enjoyed the hospitality of the Waikiki Yacht Club. But it did have an unfortunate subsequent effect on wind angles. Had I been sailing from Bora-Bora to Tonga in the same conditions I experienced from Apia to Tonga, the wind would have been well aft and GANNET sailing splendidly and stresslessly fast.
So the last few days were challenging with satphone communications, so I accumulated three entries, including our last one upon arrival. Thanks to all of you for your words of encouragement.
Well, we jibed too late off of our northerly route. We checked for a weather update a little too late and found we had already blown past the ideal jibing angle. We tried to carry the reaching kite, but were not going to be able to aim at the island. So we shifted down to the Jib Top sail. It can point closer to the wind, but it's not nearly as fast as a kite. We carried that all night, and it cost us. We lost 15 miles to the competition in one fell swoop.
300 miles to go, and 150 until we converge with Green Buffalo and Blade Runner. From there it will be a drag race to the finish. We'll surely come in behind those guys, but BR has to beat us by 7 hours, and GB has to beat us by over 16.
ETA is now 4:15am PST on Monday morning, and we'll have the remnants of tropical storm coming into Oahu from the southeast on Sunday: lots of rain - maybe we can use the goggles we brought!
Hey look, the Moore's made the cover of Latitude 38! Get your paper copy or read it here: http://www.latitude38.com/ebooks.html#.U7xGv41dVD4
Photo by Leslie Richter http://www.rockskipper.com
Dan Nitake is perhaps familiar with people’s reactions, at this point. When he tells others he’ll be racing from San Francisco to Hawaii in a Moore 24 keelboat, he often gets the response one might expect.
Sometimes, even, from the other competitors in the race – the ones whose boats are nearly three to four times larger.
“Well, they think we’re nuts,” Nitake, 58, said with a laugh. “And, to some degree, they’re right.”
The sailing inexperienced – and the seasick and the impatient and the claustrophobic, even – need not apply. The Santa Cruz (CA) skipper Nitake and his navigator Tony English will be one of 55 sailing teams competing for the Pacific Cup beginning Monday – but just one of two in a Moore 24, a 24-footer that is so small it’s not, at least on Nitake’s vessel Absinthe, equipped with a proper toilet.
Gilles Combrisson and Karl Robrock of Northern California will compete aboard Snafu, the other Moore 24 entered in the event’s two-sailor Iwi Doublehanded Division, which includes several Santa Cruz 27s.
Morjito’s Ditch Run
Well, that was unexpected!
After coming off a lackluster performance at Whiskeytown (which was a blast nonetheless) we were ready for a little Ditch Run Redemption. Actually, I should explain that the desire for Ditch Run Redemption started in 2010 when we brought Morjito down for what turned out to be a largely upwind Ditch. At about 11:00 PM on that race, frustrated by the prospect of a post midnight finish, stressed out by our one-year-old daughter waiting with her grandparents at SSC, we pulled out a paddle in a moment of near zero breeze. DSQing ourselves, we managed to get in a few strokes before the breeze filled again and we proceeded to sail to the now irrelevant finish line. Earlier in that race we had been somewhere in the middle of the pack when we skipped mark 19 (never bring a charting GPS) and only realized the error when we crossed tacks (yes, still going upwind) with another boat who informed us of the error about ¼ mile up the course. Well, at least we got to do SOME downwind sailing that year while untying the string…
The coolers are clean, the mast is back up and we are getting set for the ditch... yeeehhaa!
The report from Whiskeytown is that we had a great time. 12 boats and sunny with chilled-out camping. What could be better?