Archive for March 2017

A lot has happened in these past few days including completing the water system, installing the last bits of the spinnaker handling gear, fitting the galley drawers and touching up the white primer of galley tops and engine compartment. There are still a few items held in place with tape ready for gluing or for catches to be fitted but in general most of the comfort items of the yacht are finished. Today more milestones were achieved with filling the water tanks for the first time, doing some serious windward sailing on the harbour in 17 knots of breeze, setting the symmetric spinnaker and finally scoring a handicap place at the Greenwich Flying Squadron last twilight of the year. Also the AIS transmission from Passion X has been picked up by the land station at South Head and our position recorded on Marine Traffic. While not as good as the tracks on the chart plotter it was amusing to see our windward tacking angles on Marine Traffic.
The windward working was just a means of getting upwind so that we could run back with the spinnaker but by good fortune many of our Winter Wednesday competitors were out on the harbour racing so we sailed on the same line to see how we performed. As we were intent of keeping clear is was not a good indication of relative performance but we did seem to be going faster and higher and it won’t be long before we join them in serious racing.
The masthead symmetric spinnaker off Passion is quite a good fractional kite on Passion X and could be even taller. A masthead spinnaker will have to be about 2 metres longer on the luff.
Back at Greenwich we put on the No 1 genoa in preparation for the last Twilight race of the season. Just as racing started the breeze faded making it very hard for yacht to get up to the start line. We hovered around the line and managed to start on time with Meridian below and Lisdillon in between. Meridian powered away to an early impressive lead while we struggled to keep in front of Lisdillon all the way to the west end of Cockatoo Island. The crew on Passion X ggave the usual warnings to the attacking yacht not to go inside on the continuous obstruction and we gave up some more ground on Meridian by going so high into the wind shadow to prevent Lisdillon passing us to windward. Once around the island we sailed faster and higher steadily drawing away.
Off Long Nose the breeze died and for a few moments we thought we might get close to Meridian but they got into the new breeze better than we did and drew further ahead. Lisdillon made a good attempt to cross us on port but we experienced a late lift and they tacked away. Luckily for us they tacked away from the approaching breeze and we regained our margin.

The balance of the black fleet seemed to be becalmed and the blue fleet that starts 5 minutes behind was just coming out of Humbug as we were working back from rounding Cockatoo Island. The tide was helping on the run home so the distance from the fleet that was still beating into the tide just got longer and longer so we managed a third place on handicap behind Meridian and Lisdillon.

For a change we were one of the first yachts home but the deck was already packed for our last BBQ of the season. The weather was perfect for the last night and we think that 340 sailors and supporters attended and made for a great finale to the twilight season. A big thank you to our Twilight organizers, Andrew Limmer, Glenda Cameron – Strange, the starter crew and the fantastic crew from Foodz. As a twilight race and BBQ it was “As good as it gets.”

The semi completed galley with drawers fitted

The semi completed galley with drawers fitted

The symmetric masthead spinnaker on Passion becomes a fractional kite on Passion X

The symmetric masthead spinnaker on Passion becomes a fractional kite on Passion X

We took the opportunity of a beautiful autumn day in Sydney to do some two handed sailing on Passion X and get some engine hours up before the trip to Port Stephens next week.
Elaine and I took Passion X up the Harbour in what I would call our safe cruising mode. We put a reef in the mainsail so that the square head clears the twin backstays and set the 105% No 3 genoa. We tried a few combinations including motor sailing with the No 3 genoa alone and motor sailing with the reefed main and genoa. The conditions were very mild and I cannot recall the breeze being over 12 knots but we made good time with the shortened rig. We are still running the motor in so much of the motoring was moving around the low revs mark and under 6 knots but in the occasional brief high rev range we did 8 knots. That is the maximum we ever got out of Passion with the bigger motor and a clean bottom so I estimate we are going faster in Passion X with three quarters of the power we had on Passion.
After a visit to our Laser friends at Middle Harbour Amateur Sailing Club we hoisted the reefed main and headed out to sea. The reefing system is identical to the very satisfactory system we had on Passion right down to the colour of the reef lines so putting in the reef is simple and with the first reef in we have more headroom under the boom.

Chart plotter tracks from Passion X's first taste of the open sea

Chart plotter tracks from Passion X’s first taste of the open sea

 
We gave the autopilot a good workout both beating and running and it works very well.
With the reefed main and small genoa tacking was very simple and Elaine could winch on the geona while the mainsail was left to fend for itself.
It was good to get some extended hours of motor running and for Elaine to see that Passion X is just as well handled with two on board as was Passion although we have not yet organised a spray dodger.

 

Passion X back on the mooring after a very pleasant afternoon sailing out to sea

Passion X back on the mooring after a very pleasant afternoon sailing out to sea

There is less than a week to go before we leave the shelter of Sydney Harbour and head north to Port Stephens via Newcastle. I am excited about the trip and the chance to catch up with friendly competitors and hopefully show off the sailing capabilities of our new Passion X. We have had Passion X out on the water in 20 knots of breeze with the big genoa and the full mainsail and she has been so well behaved that we should be able to handle most conditions with the No 3 genoa and two reefs in the main. We have a storm jib and a third reef in the main but as we found with Passion it has to be a real storm to reef down that far.
Our efforts to get an IRC certificate were stymied by the lack of weighting facilities for the hull at this time of the year. We are booked in for the first group weigh for the next season and that will both get us a certificate and improve our ORCi Club rating. Sailing Australia were very helpful in getting all the IRC measurements over to my ORCi Club application from July last year but my declared weight is probably 200 kg underweight based on the crane weight when we lifted the hull out of the back yard. The extra 200 kg will reduce the 1.11 rating a little and based on the ratings of other yachts we race against we will need all the help we can get. I say this a bit tongue in cheek as I am delighted with the VPP projections and hope we can sail to the rating. We rate higher than the prototype Didi 38, Black Cat, because we are 600 mm longer, have a 200 mm deeper keel, a 150 mm taller mast and genoa position, a 150 mm longer boom and have a fat head main. We also have a spinnaker pole that is 600 mm longer than our 4.100 J measurement. All these changes were made to improve the light and heavy air performance of Passion X so it is no surprise that we rate faster than Black Cat but I am surprised by the increase in the VPP. On a 135 degree broad reach in 20 knots our predicted speed is a knot and a quarter faster than Black Cat and the same as the VPP for the Pogo 12.50 series of extreme cruisers. The Pogo rates 1.13 but for non spinnaker we rate 1.0299 which is higher than some Pogo 12.5s. As we do a lot of non spinnaker sailing I am pleased with that rating.

The Club rating will soon be on the International web site but for now here is a picture.

Our ORCi Club rating

Our ORCi Club rating

I am working away at the services and interior of Passion X and have installed the water system up to the hot and cold shower on the transom where I need a couple of hose tails to complete the connections. On Friday I replaced the hot water lines with ones with a 90 degree C rating. The hot water hose I had already installed was not branded and I could not confirm the temperature rating. As the water is heated from the engine via a heat exchanger it can get quite hot so I replaced the hose with one rated for the duty. Up under the V berth I have installed protection for the 240 Volt cables that run to the water heater and three pin outlets which let us enjoy creature comforts while attached to the Marina shore power. Because we will also be storing heavy headsails and spinnakers under the V berth it was important to have very strong protection for the 240 Volt wiring runs. Now that it is finished four sails are stored under the bunk and the front end looks much tidier. The gas bottle is now secured to the base with a strapping system. I have built in a 12 mm high section in the locker to keep the base of the bottle up out of any water that might get into the locker. The locker needed a 12 mm gas drain hole at the base and the Nylon ring around the hole stops the last traces of water draining out so I will drill a 12 mm water drain hole as well and make sure there is no lip to retain the water.

The Category 4 safety equipment is finished but I had a perplexing problem installing the catch for the sliding hatch. It needs to lock the sliding hatch into position and be accessible from below and above. I did the first half one day and made it lockable from below and did not think how I might get into the boat the next day. I needed to find a narrow blade to fit between the top of the sliding hatch and the vertical one and lever the barrel bolt out. The only readily available solution was to fold and old steel measuring tape into half and insert the folded end into the slot. The very first job after that was to connect the external pull line so that I don’t get caught a second time.

On the cabin top I have installed jack lines which double as hand holds and it is a shame racing was cancelled on Wednesday night before we had a chance to try them out. Our spinnaker sheets are ready to go except for locating the pole downhaul position. A 35 mm deep deck stringer runs down the centre of the foredeck so I might put the pad eye a little off centre rather than drilling a big 8 mm hole through the stringer. The other option is to attach the pad eye with screws secured in the very big laminated beam at the back edge of the anchor locker.

I am also pondering how to attach the tack of the asymmetric spinnaker to the bow. Over winter I will make a nice 600 mm long removable carbon fiber prodder but in the meantime we will fly the asymmetric spinnaker off the tack for the tight reaches and pulled back on the pole for the broader angles.  Depending on the conditions we might stick with the symmetric spinnaker.

This week I would like to find time to touch up the screw holes in the galley area. They are all filled but need a decorative coat of white paint to disappear.  If I don’t find time a bit of grey insulating tape will make a nice finishing trim for the week.

Last night I was feeling pretty contented with my effort for the week and paused as I rowed ashore to photograph the fastest, shiniest yacht in the bay.

Passion X is the fastest shiniest yacht in the bay. It is only a little bay.

Passion X is the fastest shiniest yacht in the bay. It is only a little bay.

 

Peter Walsh has submitted our IRC measurements and forwarded some photos from the day. The photos show how calm the conditions were for the measuring so we were very lucky with the weather.

A calm day for hull measurements.

A calm day for hull measurements.

It was so calm we swung the boom over onto the pontoon to take the mainsail off for measuring

It was so calm we swung the boom over onto the pontoon to take the mainsail off for measuring

Sydney has had wave after wave of rain squalls passing through this last few days leaving very unpredictable weather conditions and some nasty bullets out on the course. Yesterday we chanced the weather and had Passion X measured for IRC to establish a benchmark for us to sail to. In the rain periods we measured sails and by mid afternoon the rain cleared and wind disappeared so we had perfect conditions for measuring the hull.
Today there was less rain in the intermittent showers but more wind in between. We set the No 1 genoa in anticipation of the breeze lightening and had plenty to contend with at the start. The first leg was square running which seems to be our least competitive angle but we were fast enough to overhaul Soundtrack and a Sydney 36 R visiting for the evening. Our success was short lived as they both passed us on the work to Goat Island. I realised that we did not have enough mainsail luff tension to hold the gaff batten on the square head in position. In this mode Soundtrack pointed out from under us where in previous races where the tension had been enough we had outpointed her for most of the racing.
The tacking angles on the chartplotter from that point show very good angles but we had lost too much ground against the very well sailed J35 to make it up. The big Beneteau 44.7 also revelled in the stronger winds and the return reaches were in too light winds to make up the difference.
By the end of the race the sails were setting well and we soon steamed past our old rivals in the Blue fleet as we sailed up Humbug chasing the Black fleet leaders.
The fresher conditions showed we need more time on the water doing the things we used to do on Passion. Things like moving the genoa cars forward for the reaches and adjusting the main luff tension for the different conditions up wind and down wind.
We have not yet perfected the tacking and gybing with the running backstays and again we need some time on the water in non race conditions to hone our skills.
Tonight there were three retirements. Two due to sailing accidents and one who went to the aid of a dismasted competitor. It was not our best race but then we stayed out of trouble.

After the excitement of the launch, first sail and first race on our Didi 40 Cr Passion X it was back to work preparing her for the Sail Port Stephens Regatta and the lead in Newcastle to Port Stephens race. There is a long list of wants to have finished including the galley drawers. There are four draws, top three being 150 mm deep and the bottom one 300 mm deep for cooking utensils. I assembled one of the 150 mm deep drawers in the garage and rowed it out to Passion X for a trial fit before gluing it together. The rest are all made now except for site fitting the faces. When I say made I mean they are glued up and have the first coat of paint on them. The extra galley storage will be welcome as most of the utensils are currently stored in sealed plastic containers tightly crammed into the shelf behind the fridge and stove.
I have also made up a base for the gas bottle. The base is a set of concentric rings to be glued into the gas locker so that the bottle cannot slide around. The bottle will be strapped to the base so it cannot move. Another task on the list was rail supports for the hanging locker they are now made and primed.

Drawers, draw fronts and other items with a first coat of primer

Drawers, draw fronts and other items with a first coat of primer

The long spinnaker pole off Passion has been trimmed to 4.7 metres for a lower rating penalty and once the spinnaker lines are finished we will have to get in some spinnaker practice.
Last night was our second race at Greenwich Flying Squadron on the Black fleet. The forecast was for fifteen knots on the Harbour which means quite light on the west side of the bridge. We set the No 1 genoa and prepared for the start. We were windward boat on the line when a knock put the leeward ones ahead so we had to tack through the fleet on the way out of Humbug. Meridian was one of the leeward boats and she cleared off making a fast passage through Humbug to be five minutes ahead after fifteen minutes of racing. We had a good battle with the rest of the fleet to get through Humbug behind Lisdillon and then all of a sudden the breeze freshened to around 20 knots.
Now this was the first time Passion X has seen any breeze and we had the big genoa up too. We flattened the main and let it flog while sailing on the genoa and survived our first test. Within minutes we had trimmed the sails for heavy air survival and survived very well. Only the big Beneteau 44.7 passed us in the breeze and soon we were reaching away along the Cockatoo island shore in moderating conditions.
We now had a large group of yachts just behind including the Young 40 Flashback who gave us a very tight race all evening.
As we moved back into beating mode after rounding Cockatoo Island we managed to sail over Calliban and Lisdillon while just holding out Flashback.
The next challenge was to sail around Goat Island where we picked the breeze remarkable well and were able to reach around the Island with a good lead on the fleet minus Meridain. The rest of the fleet experienced some very light shifty conditions which took them some time to negotiate.
Ignoring Meridian, we now had a larger lead on the fleet that in our first race but in a repeat performance we were becalmed on the run home. At the finish we just held out Flashback not noticing the large group of yachts just a minute behind who had come home with good breeze.
I was surprised that we managed the 20 knot conditions so comfortably. All the mainsail flogging was not fast due to the drag but we did not round up so I am looking forward to some steady 20 knot conditions with the No 3 genoa set.

We still have some issues to resolve with the sailing gear. The sheeting angle on the No 1 is fine in light airs but at 20 knots the pressure needed to keep the leach (leech if you prefer) near the spreaders pulls the foot in against the shrouds. I will try moving the sheeting angle forward to let the foot curve around the stay base but the angle will be very much down the leach. We have yet to put shock cord on the runner to pull them forward of the boom in a tack or gybe. It should be on the must do list for next Tuesday’s measurement slash busy bee jobs. The No 3 sets forward of the stays and inside them so that is good to go for a blow. The No 2 has not been hoisted but I fear we will have trouble finding a sheeting position where the foot does not clash with the stays. It might have to go between the D1′s and V1′s. On a lighter side I started referring to the No 1 last night as our No 2. The crew new that I was mentally preparing for a bigger No 1.

I must not rush this one as we seem to go well in the light beating conditions with very good height compared to the fleet. I already feel the 200 mm deeper keel, fat head main and longer foot on the main are working a treat with superb balance and a bigger genoa would impact our rating. On the other hand we have almost 2 metres of track behind the No 1 position which seems an awful waste and we do a lot of light air sailing in the RANSA Winter Wednesday series.

Gusts to 20 knots but very light patches too.

Gusts to 20 knots but very light patches too.

This week I will be trying to finish the galley as well as measuring Passion X for an IRC rating.

After the rush to get Passion X ready for the first twilight race last night I thought I would be ready for a rest today. I was wrong. I was up early registering my EPIRB with AMSA and following up suppliers who have been tardy with their bills. A stop at the local shopping centre for the Financial Review and a sit down coffee did not keep me quiet for long and I was soon home packing tools for a visit to Passion X on the mooring near Bay Street Greenwich. I rafted up at the club alongside friends who were also preparing for the Port Stephens Regatta and we were both having spinnaker gear fitted. Even with all the social activity and with people coming aboard for a look I managed a long list of small jobs.
It was a perfect day for on water work with little breeze which made rowing to and from the mooring a pleasant task. It was hot enough for the slow epoxy to set in four hours and many small supports were finally glued in place having been temporarily held on just the screws for the first race.
The final positioning of plumbing was completed in the head vanity unit with the end result much more pleasing that the first attempt. I did waste a lot of hose at almost $50 a metre in the process but it is finished to my satisfaction. I will upgrade the bilge pump hosing in time when I can find a product that is more robust than the local suppliers stock.
After some discussion with club members I realised that I have not said a lot about the sailing performance.

The mast, boom, vang and rigging were supplied as a package by Allyacht Spars from Queensland. They supplied the new rig for Passion in 2010 and I could not have been happier with that one. For the longer Passion X with more righting moment and a narrower base we had to have a stiffer lower section and that was achieved with a spectacularly well fitted sleeve for the bottom 5 metres. Right from the first sail the mast bend looked well suited to the yacht. The crane effect at the head is a little more pronounced than on Passion as we have an extra 550 mm between the top of the forestay and the mast head. With the extra leverage we do not need as much backstay to bend the head so we can have a bit of forestay sag in the light airs to induce camber in the genoa. The No 1 Carbon genoa off Passion looks superb on Passion X with a bit more forestay sag. Even with the bigger Passion X  we have the same boom section because the attachment for the boom blocks are much further aft than on Passion.

We have shamelessly copied the Jeanneau 349 mainsheet bridle for Passion X. I have tried so many traveller combinations on Passion that I joke that I have a doctorate in travellerology. The bridle is attached to the cabin top through 36 mm of plywood. In anticipation of the bridle I extended the plywood doubler under the cabin top forward to the second laminated beam. That means the whole of the head area and the quarter berth ante room roof is 24 mm laminated plywood and there is an extra 12 mm plywood backer for the bridle bringing it up to 36 mm. So far with just two practice sails and one race it has worked very well but I will upgrade the blocks on the bridle so I can fit a larger shackle.

The carbon No 1 genoa fitted on the new yacht very well. As the J measurement is 200 mm longer there is less overlap and tacking was easier. I am not sure that our converted No 2 will sheet outside the stays as the No 1 only just clears the turnbuckles. It might sheet between the V1 and D1 but we will give it a trial as soon as there is enough breeze. The No 2 started life as a multiaxial aramid laminate but within a few months I added a lot of carbon tapes to it to convert it to a string sail. As such it is very well behaved with the draft not moving aft. As my sister in law says, it would not dare.

Our No 3 off Passion is a very fast sail for the 20 knot wind range but I wanted a woven sail for the heavy air durability so we purchased a Dimension Polyant Hydranet Radial to complement the other sails from the same loft. I will be keen to get it up in 15 knots plus. I am curious to see how much use we get from our No 2. And we will see how long I can resist buying a big No 1 to us up that spare 2 metres of track behind the No 1 sheeting position.

Our first race was in very light conditions and we were lucky to get our nose into the breeze around the Greenwich point corner ahead of the fleet. On the long beat from Cockatoo Island to Goat Island we had plenty of time to assess the fleet behind and from our perspective we were slowly pulling away from the J 35. We lost a little to the Dehler 44 with a too early tack onto a header but otherwise seemed to be holding them as Black Cat’ polar plots would indicate. The did catch us on the long square run home both due to the breeze gradient across the course and the fact that their polar plot shows the square run to be their best performing angle compared to Black Cat. So all seems to be going according to the polar plots. Our tacking angles were quite remarkable and better than I expected. No doubt the 200 mm deeper keel helps a little both with area and keeping the boat more upright. It will be good to show the plots when there is not such a big outrunning tide.

I have Laser racing this weekend and it seems a waste as there are some pretty windy conditions forecast for Sunday. I would love to be out in Passion X in that with the No 3 and two reefs in the main.

Note the bridle arrangement for the mainsheet. This was before the solid vang was fitted and that comes further back than the soft vang in this photo.

Note the bridle arrangement for the mainsheet. This was before the solid vang was fitted and that comes further back than the soft vang in this photo.

Another angle on the fat head main. It is really quite modest at just 1.0 metres wide.

Another angle on the fat head main. It is really quite modest at just 1.0 metres wide.

Nice slot between the No3 and the main

Nice slot between the No3 and the main

 

It has been busy days since my last post. Saturday was Club Championships in the Lasers at Gosford Sailing club. Sunday Elaine and I rafted up Passion alongside Passion X and transferred a lot of personal gear across. Monday the riggers finished the lifelines and the electrician connected up the masthead gear. We finished that on Tuesday, commissioned the autopilot and then welcomed on board the auditor for our Category 7 safety check. After the audit I finished the plumbing in the head and gave it a trial test. Wednesday was finishing some hose clips and tidying up some piping runs before a last test sail at 1:00 pm. The test sail went well and we made a note of a few minor adjustments to make before the race proper at 6:05 pm.
We made a good start but there was no wind in Humbug so the fleet drifted trough. At the exit to Humbug we managed to get first use of the breeze and took off with the J35 Soundtrack close behind. It was like that all the way to Goat Island where we opened up a lead on Soundtrack but surrendered some distance to the Dehler 44, Meridian. On the run back to Humbug we were running away from a dying breeze which meant the whole fleet was catching. By the entrance to Humbug Meridian drifted past and we were becalmed waiting for wind which never arrived. What wind there was brought Soundtrack up to our stern and it was all we could do to hold them out for second fastest.
Soundtrack sailed very well in the conditions. Her big overlapping genoa worked well in the light air running while our No 1 carbon sail is more of a bullet proof job.

All the crew seemed happy with the way the boat performed and it was extremely well behaved.

Crew with new crew shirts posing on the back of Passion X

Crew with new crew shirts posing on the back of Passion X