Archive for April 2019

The Masthead runner taking over the house like the plant from "The Little Shop of Horrors

The Masthead runner taking over the house like the plant from “The Little Shop of Horrors

A week after the last race of the Port Stephens Regatta we are still drying sails. We are not alone as on Friday we found a fellow club member at Greenwich with sails hoisted on every flag mast for washing and drying. We had already dried two spinnakers at home and returned these to Passion X. In windless but sunny conditions we hoisted the wet No 3 jib on the forestay and rolled out the damp Code Zero in the continuous line furler. Every time I hoist the Code Zero it seems easier to set up and bring down and Friday was no exception. That left two very soggy No 1 genoas, the heavy and light ones, which I wanted to wash thoroughly with fresh water so these came home for the Easter weekend. The wash and dry was an opportunity to lay out the genoas on top of each other and see the differences. For good measure I photographed the sails on the back lawn. The new No 1 heavy is marginally smaller than the No 1 light but quite a bit larger than the old No 1 heavy or 1.5 as I liked to call it. The extra area is low down on the deck and with more overlap low down so hopefully it will be good all purpose sail so we can keep the 44m2 No 1 light for lighter conditions. Obsessively I have been weighing the equipment as it comes off Passion X to see what weight we can save for the winter series. So far about 100 kgs is in the house including 5 kg from the front berth cushions which were getting very wet during the racing and will go back on only when cruising with another couple. I have yet to remove the No 4 jib which has not been used since the race management at RANSA has become very cautions and the storm jib which has not been out of the sail bag since purchase. These will save another 30 kg and bring the total up to only 130 kg so I do wonder if it is worth all the effort. We did end up victorious in the Greenwich Flying Squadron Twilight handicap series for the full season. A good Spring series and a late run at the results in the Autumn series sealed the result. Meticulous attention to the cleanliness of the hull was the secret as we have a fair amount of wetted surface for our weight and not a lot of righting moment to use to power up the rig.

The new No 1 heavy, underneath, is substantially larger low down than the old 1.5 off of the old Passion

The new No 1 heavy, underneath, is substantially larger low down than the old 1.5 off of the old Passion

The No 1 light, underneath, is only marginally larger than the No 1 heavy but is about 4kg lighter.

The No 1 light, underneath, is only marginally larger than the No 1 heavy but is about 4kg lighter.

Drying out one of the spinnakers in the sun room.

Drying out one of the spinnakers in the sun room.

The passing of Ron Beament on board Passion X on the Monday of the Port Stephens Regatta was a devastating event. Ron was such a nice guy and an integral part of the group of friends who sail Passion X that everything else pales in significance. The rest of the week was more about comforting ourselves in our grief and honouring his passing. As a group we attended Ron’s memorial service on the Saturday wearing our Passion X shirts and only then did we realise how significant we were in Ron’s life. I am so proud of the team of Passion X crew and supporters who handled the events with great dignity and composure. The support of the Race Committee, especially the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club support boat, the paramedics and the Water Police was greatly appreciated. The Water Police in particular were most empathetic and professional to the crew and to Ron’s family. The tribute to Ron’s life from the competitors, particularly the Greenwich Flying Squadron team was greatly appreciated and passed on to his family.
The rest of the sailing was conducted quietly and with mostly mid fleet performances on time and handicap.
The Newcastle to Port Stephens race was a good event. We started with the big no 1 genoa in very light conditions and did well early by staying in the breeze off shore. We were very well up when the leading yachts tacked back to the shore once the breeze had built. They tacked into a progressive header but got back in front of the fleet which was still in light airs inshore.
When we were passed offshore by a Sydney 38 we tacked back and were rewarded with a big lift. Then each opportunity the fleet tacked back inshore for a progressive lift and flatter water. The breeze built to around 17 knots which was too much for the big genoa. The leading Sydney 38 reefed the main and beat the rest of the 38′s by a large margin. Beating to windward is not the strong point of the Didi 40 Cr design which was created for mostly downwind ocean races but we performed very well until the breeze built to over 15 knots.
In the Port Stephens races we did well when we could deploy the Code Zero sail but mostly the breeze was free enough for competitors to fly asymmetric spinnakers or reaching symmetric ones. We carry a significant rating penalty for the beating Code Zero and it appears that the rating is meant to discourage the use, not give a fair handicap for this type of sail. The boats with slick spinnaker work did well in these conditions and while our spinnaker work improved through the regatta we did not sail enough races.

Reflecting on the good points from the trip up and back the new spray dodger was a great asset and made the long trips much more enjoyable that otherwise. We motored back into a 16 knot southerly on the Monday after the regatta sitting under the protection of the spray dodger. Elaine remarked on how much more comfortable the tiller steering and spray dodger was on Passion X compared to the wheel steering on Passion where the helms person was exposed to the spray. The combination of spray dodger, tiller and auto pilot made the trip much more comfortable.

We spent the nights during the regatta in the large quarter berth which left the V berth free for sails. I am now contemplating removing all the V berth cushions so that it is dedicated to sails and we are less concerned at all the water that comes in with wet sails. The timing of rains squalls at this regatta was particularly inconvenient for wet sails and we have a job ahead to dry five sails.

The fridge is too good. Anything placed in the open freezer section did freeze and if in glass then the glass broke. So frozen were the contents that no liquid escaped into the bottom of the compartment. Also the idea of having a separate cold storage bag inside the fridge for the food worked especially well at keeping the freezer clean and uncluttered.

The Yanmar 30Hp engine performed well. We averaged 6 knots for the trip from Port Stephens to Pittwater against wind and tide. Cruising revs was around 2800 RPM for the return trip against 2400 RPM for the trip up when we had wind behind. I had been concerned at the amount of white smoke coming from the exhaust but after a refill at Nelson Bay and with some mixing of the tank contents with the wave motion the smoke stopped so I am putting that down to a diesel fuel issue. We used about half a tank for the trip home despite the headwinds and current. That was 18 hours of motoring so I estimate with the 20 litres back up in the fuel locker we could motor for over 40 hours.

Nothing broke! No fittings, no ropes, no sails etc so it was on inexpensive regatta from that perspective. Everything worked as it should so there is no follow  up needed other than drying sails.

Our last stage of the motor home was from the comfort of a very peaceful Refuge Bay to our mooring in Greenwich. With the help of an outgoing tide in Pittwater we made the trip in record time and spend a couple of hours unloading Passion X alongside the pontoon at GFS. All the Category 4 heavy items were  unloaded, some for washing and storage and some just to put the boat back into light ship mode. The salt spray was washed from the deck and the deck stored sail bags and the tanks emptied again and refilled up to a quarter full.  It took forever to empty from the empty level on the level indicator to really empty so there is a good safety margin from the water empty level to really dry.

The two day trip home was a good opportunity for Elaine and I to reflect on the events of the past week and how grateful we are for the support of a wonderful crew.

Leading the Newcastle to Port Stephens fleet out of the harbour. (Under motor)

Leading the Newcastle to Port Stephens fleet out of the harbour. (Under motor)

Passion X at Port Stephens flying a black ribbon to remember Ron

Passion X at Port Stephens flying a black ribbon to remember Ron

Ron on the mainsheet of one of the Passions

Ron on the mainsheet of one of Passion X

Our friend and crewmate of many years, Ron Beament, passed away on board Passion X on Monday afternoon during the Commodores Cup regatta at Port Stephens.

Ron had a lovely temperament and was a great supporter on and off the water. He was extremely knowledgeable and all the crew enjoyed his company and his conversation. Ron helped with the modifications on our old Passion and with the building, turning and launching of Passion X. His handiwork will live on in Passion X.

Ron passed quickly among friends he had sailed with over many years and despite the best efforts of the crew, committee boat, paramedics and water police could not be revived. The regatta held a minutes silence for Ron on Tuesday and many of the fleet flew black ribbons for him on Wednesday.

The Greenwich Flying Squadron members at Port Stephens will toast Ron with his signature drink, a lemon lime and bitters, tonight.

Ron’s memorial service will be held this Saturday 13th April, at 11:30 am at the East Chapel of the Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium, 199 Delhi Road, North Ryde. Family and friends are warmly invited to attend. Sadly missed.

Ron working away at our home on Passion X

Ron working away at our home on Passion Xl

We had an ordinary Autumn series until we upped the cleaning schedule on the bottom. After that results returned to normal but not spectacular. An OCS one week cost us four and a half minutes and a wayward Blue fleet last week cost both Passion X and Utopia a good eight minutes. Despite these setbacks we were still in the lead for the combined Spring and Autumn series due to a very good Spring result.

By my calculations we were clear of Avalon but wary of their recent stellar performances. With that in mind there was just one strategy to adopt and that was to sit on Avalon. We did manage to time the start well and as the most leeward yacht had a good angle to Onions Point which we reached first by a short half foredeck from one of the J112′s. In Humbug both the J112′s went in close to Greenwich leaving us clear air below. Normally we would have gone wider but Avalon was holding out their genoa to windward and making fast progress up to our stern so we closed the gap but still kept wider of the hill than Joli and Meridian. Being wider helped a lot as we had first use of the breeze and managed to work up under Meridian. We did not mind that Much Ado V went the preferred course even wider and much faster to establish a good lead because we had Avalon tucked back in the dirty air of Passion X and Meridian.

As we approached Goat Island both Passion X and Avalon had pulled clear of Meridian. Avalon with only the dirty air of Passion X to contend with was right on out stern approaching the Goat Island shore. We called for water to tack and they called back sooner than I expected with a “you tack” which we were obliged to do. Avalon carried on that extra boat length into the shore and tacked above us with clear air and Starboard rights all the way to the mark.

That was the end of sitting on Avalon and the objective now was to stay as close as possible for the second half of the race. We managed that all the way to Long Nose only to come to a halt with no breeze. Dump Truck powered up from behind and went right past and Meridian and Joli followed close behind. Meridian had a nice twist in the leech of the mainsail that seemed to work well in the ultra light and flukey conditions while Joli went in too close to the hill to be a threat. We eased the main halyard to get some twist into the main and as the breeze freshened we picked up speed. The breeze was fresher through Humbug which helped us keep clear of the following fleet including Joli, Jackpot and Lisdillon and further back Ausreo.

The good start and sitting on Avalon paid off in the results as Much Ado V picked up the daily double of first and fastest, Lisdillon the second on handicap and Passion X third on handicap.

I have not seen the cumulative results yet but the third will improve our Autumn series results and should give us the overall lead for the season. We will just have to wait for the scorer to get the results up. I believe Avalon will be second which is an excellent performance since like all new participants in the club they carried a high handicap for the first three races of the series. Their undoing was to win too many races by too large a margin while the handicap system rewards the plodders who finish around fourth place every week.

It was good that Meridian gave us a refresher course in sailing in almost no wind as we are off to Port Stephens next week and the long range forecast is for a very light Monday and Tuesday.

Dump Truck goes over the top

Dump Truck goes over the top

Meridian with twisted main goes over the top while Dump Truck and Avalon are close to leeward

Meridian with twisted main goes over the top while Dump Truck and Avalon are close to leeward