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The Waiting is the Hardest Part

July 18th, 2006

...for family and loved ones ashore on Maui waiting for the crews to finish the race in these light conditions.

In order to ensure that more boats can finish, the race committee today has decided to extend the time limit and will allow the race to go into overtime. This morning at Vic-Maui Roll Call, Kinetic will broadcast the following amendment to the Sailing Instruction 9.3:

The Time Limit for Vic-Maui 2006 will be extended to July 21, 2006 at 2355 hrs.

Turicum, Night Runner and Tripp Tease are all expected to finish tomorrow, with the balance of Division 2 and Passepartout, the leader in Division 3, finishing on Thursday July 20th. Check the position chart for projected finishing times.

We have two reports today from the skipper of Kinetic David Sutcliffe. First yesterday’s report:

Day 15, July 17 0652 HST, true wind speed 12, boat speed 8, warm, mostly low clouds with squalls.

We had movie nights the last two nights in a row. The plan was that the off watch would view a DVD movie on the computer, and that both watches would enjoy hot buttered popcorn. The reality turned out that the off watch dove into their bunks right away, while the on watch ate the popcorn and never did watch the movie.

We have been keeping busy doing preventative and required maintenance. Our spinnaker halyards are holding up quite well because, in equal parts, we prepared them with an abrasion cover called “Ice”, we adjust them at least hourly and the winds have been light more often than not. We’ve jury-rigged a system on the boom where the boom vang is attached to take the load off a fitting that is near failure. We’re paying close attention to maintaining fair leads on the spinnaker guys, due to the enormous loads and potential for chafe. We periodically change the pucks on the spinnaker guys as they are deforming, even though we’ve switched to custom made, heavy-duty pucks. So far, we’ve had the necessary spare parts and supplies onboard for the jobs that have come up.

In the “olden days” on sailing ships, falling asleep on your watch was subject to severe punishment. Last night, on the 0200 - 0600 watch, there were five crew: one below brewing tea & coffee, one trimming the spinnaker, one grinding spin & trimming the main, one resting and one driving. It was dark, clouds had obscured the earlier starlit sky and very little moonlight was peeking through. The boat was bombing along, with the helm well balanced, at 8 to 8.4 knots, ten or fifteeen degrees above the rhumb line. Life was good, very good. Successively, each crew member was lulled to sleep, until at last the helmsman got the noddies. How many noddies we will never know ... but the last one caused him to wake with such a sudden movement that it woke everyone else up. Gales of rib-shaking laughter followed, boisterous enough to wake up the off watch crew, making 10 very alert people on board. Kinetic continued to sail along, paying no heed.

Speaking of watches, we have nicknames for both now: porto’s for the port watch and boardies for the starboard watch. Inter-watch rivalry has intensified to the point that judicial recounts may be necessary for the all-important “miles run” tally for each watch. Honour and rum are at stake, and not necessarily in that order.

We chart our daily progress on a paper chart which is taped to a bulkhead where everyone can see it. Less than 500 miles to go!

PS we have just lost our second and last coffee bodem, due to crew error (we hope the sergeant keeps a tighter grip on the tools of his regular trade). No coffee will certainly affect some crew more than others. To paraphrase Apollo 13: “here are the available materials; make me a coffee maker.”

And from early this morning:

A few people have mentioned our missing Day 13 report and the Day 14 and 15 reports arriving together. We thought everyone knew that there is no Day 13 in a sailboat race; it’s just like elevators and hotels. OK, maybe that’s not quite true; but sometimes in an ocean race you are too busy or too tired or both to write and send a report. Plus the navigators station with the computer can be a difficult place to sit for long in a seaway. We’re sorry to have missed that day’s report. Thankfully, people can check the transponder position reports which are updated every four hours around the clock.

Yesterday we sailed up to and among a “field” of dolphins, several dozens at least, if not a hundred or more, splashing all around us like whitecaps on a sunny day with a brisk Westerly blowing in English Bay. Of course, the videocamera battery failed to cooperate but the image will remain clear in our minds. They seemed to be organized and heading somewhere in particular as they did not dally to play in our bow wave as dolphins often do.

Dinner was “Indian”: naan bread, chicken tiaka masala, deli saag and rice. Followed by dessert. To say we are eating well would be an understatement of offensive proportions. Damien, Bernie, Clayton and Peter have done yeoman’s work.

We are seeing many more airplanes each day blazing the trail to Hawaii. Day and night, twenty four hours, just like us. They appear as silver darts with bright contrails during the day and as blinking lights, moving fast, at night. Without navigational instruments, we could now simply follow them the rest of the way to Hawaii.

Mail call is immensely anticipated and enjoyed - everyone crowds around to hear and read the mail - nothing is private, much laughter and ribbing is triggered, especially by the bachelors among us. We receive our email wirelessly, using a single sideband radio and a radio modem, attached to a laptop computer.

The skipper has offered a bottle of rum as a reward to the first crew member to spot an enemy sail. Eyes scan the horizon relentlessly, and with renewed interest.

We are sailing downwind in the dark, as a dark squall line chases us, envelops us, blocks out the stars, and dumps huge warm globules of rain on us. The squall passes over us and moves on, the stars reappear overhead and the moon rises out of the sea behind us, casting a bright silverly grey moonbow from horizon to horizon across the dark clouds now racing ahead. A moment frozen in time.

Tripp Tease relayed their first message to us today through Kinetic. It was short and sweet:

Please add this info to the Vic Maui website as colour for Tripp Tease: Big happy birthday to Brody at home in Comox, love Jared and crew.

Two reports from Kahuna. From yesterday:

today again is clear and hot...in the 90’s. thankfully we have had a decent breeze almost all day and have been reaching with the pole on the headstay at 6-7knots. This is great as we need to make up time an the 1-3rd place boats and keep ahead of the approaching low as long as possible.

We were once again visited by flying fish last evening...one flying up the Wolf’s shorts. Fortunately the Wolf kept his composure (no screaming like a little girl as others in the past) and the fish was released unharmed...neither the Wolf nor the fish smelled any better after the incident. The wolf also announced today that he would no longer be taking his ration of the ice cream as it has been giving him a touch of the wind....only funny because there is nothing on the boat that remotely resembles being frozen.

Rum supply still holding out...thank goodness we started with 10 liters!

Distance to go now 350mi... the equivalent of traveling from Tacoma to Cour d’Alene...riding a trike...pulling a trailer...uphillwithout stopping.

Last night we had a jibe in the dark. I mean really dark...all hands on deck, blowing 17+ sloppy waves and the big metal offshore pole. Scary as hell to stand behind the wheel and watch, and a bit of a rush on the bow I’m sure, but all went perfectly and team green were back in their bunks within 10 minutes.

We peeled this AM from Yellow fever (.6) to Blue Max (Big .7) as the wind built and have been flying him all day.

Spirits are high on board Kahuna but clearly the crew is itchin’ to be in Maui...at least today’s progress helps.

And from today:

Lets see....nice breeze until 2am and then we drifted 9 miles in 4hrs. Now at 6am we are beating into 4 knots..(going upwind!) This was not in the tour brochure.

Team green was visited by a whale in the dark...swimming alongside and blowing just astern.

Going to sleep till’ noon or it gets too hot.

267mi to Maui.

From Turicum today:

Just over 300 miles to go as at 19:00 (GMT). We continue to languish in light hot air but are making decent progress (174 NM in the past 24 hours) given the wind conditions. Our current position is N23.59; W152.15. We are flying a light air reaching kite on a port pole and are making about 7NM/HR.

Night Runner has crossed over to our starboard and is now on the horizon about 7 miles west of us. Since the second day of the race, we have seen only two commercial vessels and two sailboats, one of which is Night Runner - it seems they will be our constant companion until we arrive in Maui.

One of the interesting features of sailing in warm light air is the constant promise/threat of rain squalls. These squalls generally travel in the direction of the prevailing wind, and present themselves as compact weather systems which drop varying amounts of rain. They also generate varying amounts of wind depending upon the amount or rain they produce - as more rain falls, more air is displaced, more wind is generated.

Rain squalls generally develop during the night and we usually look forward to them as they bring higher winds. They can also however, bring an element of surprise. They appear out on nowhere as a large looming mass of blackness sneaking up on you from behind. When they pass, they hit with surging winds (perhaps 10 to 15 knots above the prevailing wind) in scattered directions, and with waves of warm pelting rain. It keeps the helmsman on his toes.

Sailing in these conditions also means that we are at sea longer than anticipated. One of the results of this is that we have now exhausted all of our “planned” meals and are now working with “contingent” stores of food. Certain members of this crew have already shown themselves to be astonishingly innovative and adept at this task. Gregg, for example, in a particularly notable display of culinary wizardry, last evening treated us to an exquisite Chinese/Bavarian Fusion dinner consisting of (among other delights) thinly sliced garlic sausage in a bed of “el dente” Mr Noodle noodles, served up in green and white melamine bowls finished with a light ketchup drizzle. This was paired with a nice bottle of BC Merlot which Gregg had somehow managed to smuggle aboard.

We also managed to affect some repairs at the top of the mast today. Andrew awoke from his morning nap today (he seems to do his best work in that state), with a vision as to how to replace the spinnaker halyard which we had lost the other day when the bale sheered off. It was a very simple and effective solution quickly out into place by Steve and his bag of tools. It is a relief to have that in place again.

p.s from Nic & Jamie.. Happy Birthday DAD! Hope you have a lovely day.

Next report July 19, 2100 PST

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