Saturday 9 Feb, Mt.Maarten day 12: 2nd race day … or was it just a morning?
Up at 7am to get to Ineffiable for the planned 8am departure. But when I arrive only half the crew are dressed and others just having breakfast. Hmmm OK, I get the timing now. I won’t plan to get up early tomorrow!
The course today takes us around some islands to upwind, half way towards St.Barts. The wind is a bit fresher today and around the start time a huge thunder cell passes just to the south of us. I get soaked but Ross kindly loans me a sailing jacket. Don’t know why I didn’t think about bringing water proofs. Probably because it’s so rare that I ever wear any on Cloudy Bay while we’ve been in the Caribbean.
Our start is better today, probably only 30 seconds late for the line this time. But unfortunately we are at the leeward end of the line and struggle in dirty wind all the way up the first leg and a few minutes into the second leg until we finally ease ahead of the a large Polish catamaran called R-Six.
Then it’s an upwind leg all the way to Grouper rocks. The trimaran points higher than the cats (just) and we are soon doing 10-12 knots upwind with the lee hull often burying itself right back to the cross beam then popping out in a shroud of spray. Now, this is fast upwind sailing! But I’m not sure how long I could tolerate the main hull slamming over every wave, shuddering the rig and entire boat as it does so. And to see the leeward shroud totally loose then yanking very tight again every few seconds would worry me. I think for long distances I much prefer the way Cloudy ploughs through the waves rather than slamming over them, even if she is half the speed.
After rounding the island it’s a series of broad reaches back to the finish line. We should have had the spinnaker up but to do that we have to take the reacher down, and that swap takes ages. They really need to work out how to do that sail change quickly, or how to get the spinnaker up without taking down the Reacher. All the other competitor have big spinnakers up, except us. On the other hand, when we accelerate, the apparent wind comes well forward of the beam, so we have to be significantly downwind for the spinnaker to work.
As we pass Philipsburg bay we are in big offshore gusts and at one point we surge to 22knots. Sure, that’s fast, but somehow it just doesn’t feel fast on this stable platform. You really need to focus on the water rushing passed to really feel the speed.
By 11:50 we have finished. A 30 mile race in just 2 hours. That’s motoring! Someone calls the race committee on the VHF and asks why we are not doing a 2nd race today. The answer is that the sponsors have organized a beach party that starts at 4pm, so no time for a 2nd race. Needless to say there are some rumblings about whether we are here to race or here to appease the sponsors! If it was my boat I’d want 4 races a day, but on this boat, one race per day is enough for me, thank you!
Back at Cloudy Bay, I dinghy ashore to buy some large heat shrink tube. I’m going to service the hydraulic quick-connect fittings by the mast. These wonderfully expensive stainless steel hydraulic connectors have small locking balls inside made of steel… that rust! How stupid. It requires that I have to service and de-rust them every 6 months. Once I’ve done it this time I will seal them with heat-shrink to stop any salt spray getting in, hopefully.
Once I set to the task on board I tackle the 4 connectors on the bow (2 fittings per Furlex). I serviced these in USA so they are still good. The 1” heat shrinks fits perfectly and does a great job to seal them up.
Then to the 4 fitting at the mast (1 set for furling the mainsail and the other for the outhaul ram). I haven’t touched these for over a year now. 3 are only slightly corroded but the 4th is completely jammed with rust. Eventually, with the help from my friends WD40, CorrosionX and a hammer (!) I get it off. Sure enough the small balls are so rusted that they are not even round anymore 🙁 I will have to see if the riggers can supply some new balls tomorrow.
While I’m up to my eyes in rust removers and hydraulic oil, I can hear the beach party starting. Or more to the point I can hear the MC conducting beach games. Sounds more like a children’s party than a regatta party, or maybe I’m just a grumpy old man these days! Anyway, I decide to stay on task while I’m on the roll. I really want to get as much done on the boat while here. In theory this will be the last place we will get good yacht services this side of New Zealand.
By 10pm I head ashore to get some internet and see if anyone is still at the beach party. But no one I know there and it’s clearly quieted down for the evening. So it’s back to Cloudy Bay to check up on my ball bearings soaking in CorrosionX. And then to bed. An exciting Saturday evening eh? 🙂