Sunday night, why it’s called “The Thrash to the Patch”

I’m writing this a week late. But right now the memory is still very strong. The operative word to describe Sunday night was miserable. As the wind picked up to steady a steady 20 kts, the boat started to really heel. We debated putting in a reef, because for whatever reason, everyone always thinks that heeled over with a full main is faster than not heeled with a reef. Hint: it’s slower than not heeled. Seeing dark clouds ahead ended the debate, as it was clearly a rainsquall, so we reefed. We had switched from the A0 to the Jibtop earlier, (both from Quantum, both new, and both fabulous sails) we we were flying along at 9 kts. Then we hit the rainsquall. Or rather the first rainsquall. The windspeed jumped up, and we had driving rain. we could have refilled our water tanks in the first 10 minutes. Unfortunately, it lasted longer than 10 minutes. We were back to heeling as much as we were before we reefed. Our speed was about the same, but we were much more uncomfortable. The waves also picked up, and we started burying the sprit into the waves. Which led us to discover that when we had extendeded the sprit out those last few inches to fully tighten the bobstay, we had forgotten to retape the sprit entrance into the bow, so we were again getting water into the forepeak. All our bags were there, which is why having waterproof bags is such a good idea.

The first big wave that made it all the way back to the cockpt also found the open hatch in the  cockpit for the quaterberth. Which woke Ted up in a hurry.

I’m not sure how many squalls we actually went through, because I wasn’t counting. Everyone was sort of hoping that the current one was the last one. But it wasn’t. The only good thing we can say about the night was that the boat stormtrooped through the night and we made up a lot of the lost ground on all the competition. And that Monday morning actually appeared.

Pictures and movies may follow

Before the start of the race I had bought a GoPro 3+ csmera. I brought the manual and hope to be able to take a few movies and pictures and upload them. We are heeled over 25-30 degrees, which makes everthiny so much harder than you would imagine if you’ve never been on a boat at sea.

Sunday morning 28 miles from our Gulf stream entry point

Our boat is definitely showing speed. We have moved up in the fleet so much that we are no longer in danger of winning the Cook’s trophy. Still having teething problems. When we went to the Jibtop sail, it kept pulling out of the foil groove at the top when we tensioned it. Looking at it closely, we can see the the turning sheaves for the jib are too far below the forestay attachment point on the mast. Net result is that we pull it out. The previous owner used hanked on sails and so never had the issue. The permanent fix is to move the sheave box, which means taking the mast down, drilling a new opening, and putting in a new one. Not happy.

For now what we are doing is lashing the snap shackle of the halyrad to the foil.Right now we are flying the code zero, so haven’t tried out the fix.

The boat is doing 9.6 knts and flying. we are heeled over quite a bit. We are approaching the wind range limit for this sail.

108 miles to our entry into the Gulfstream

12.5 hours to go to the Gulfstream. It looks like all the other boats in our class are ahead of us. The issues we had last night in sorting ourselves out definitely hurt us. The weather is fairly calm, breeze is filling in, and we are heeling more. speed is 8.8 over the ground, still getting a small push from the warm eddy.

We are well on our way.

Friday morning was spent picking up the dinners that I had Laurie Eliot make, sandwiches from Fatulies, and then the massive job of packing the boat. Seeing everything on the dock, no one believed that we could fit it all in. And we have people still helping set up the Kaarver furler for the A0 and A3. We left the dock at noon. Before we left,, we did a renaming ceremony, to appease Neptune, asking him to remove the name Surprise from his rolls of ships, and replace it with Seconhand Lions. So as not to insult him, we used Veuve Cliquot Champagne. To further appease him we poured some on the  four corners of the boat: bow, stern, and amid-ships port and starbord, saving only a few sips for the crew. Fortunately (thanks Francine) we didn’t have to stop for fuel. As  we motored out, we had our safety briefing, our man-overboard drill, harness check, and safety equipment stowage check. In the rush to get things onto the boat, a few lines that would have been useful were left off of the boat. Motoring to the start was the first time I have been on the helm of the boat, (same for the crew).

We had a decent start, with the A3 flying just as we started. For the daylight hours anyway, it seemed like we had decent speed. That didn’t last however. When the wind lightened, our unfamiliarity with the boat showed. We couldn’t seem to make the boat go well at all, plus unfamiliarity with the strings and controls showed as well.

We are getting GPS data which is driving the Expedition software, so we can still plot where our likely best path is. The Newport-Bermuda race is a hard way to shake down the boat though. If it weren’t for the capabilities of the crew, it would be a bad idea to do the race.

Fortunately, our V3 is working flawlessly. I can just pick up the phone and make a call, and our navigator has beeen downloading weather GRIB files from the public sites, and looking at the different weather forecast models available for free. And I’m able to check emails for note from the race committee, and post on this blog.The water temo is 78, and we are in the first warm eddy we were aiming for, east of the rhumbline. We have shifted to a more southerly course, to cross the rhumbline again to pick up our Gulfstream entry point west of Rhumb. That should happen tomorrow, and we are likely to be in the stream for about 90 miles.

It’s still coolish outside, even with the sun out. But every day it should get warmer. Current model for us shows arrival in Bermuda Tuesday eveing.

Panic Time for the Bermuda Race.

It’s June 15th, and the Checkin for the race opens at noon. I have all the documentation done, and I’m ready to check in. The boat, however, is still in Stonington, frantically being worked on. Dave Maguire, his co-worker Scottie, and two amazing guys from Dodson Boatyard, James & Casey, have been working the boat for 2 weeks in a mad dash to get things done. Because of the the size of the boat (40 ft), 4 people is the max number of people you can get on the boat working on it. More than that and they keep getting in each others way, and the amount of things done actually goes down.

The list of things we have done to this boat is so long that I’ll detail it in another post. suffice it to say that we now have the strongest and safest J/120 in existence. Which is a good thing because the ocean is an unforgiving place.

The crew (and Dave is part of the crew), have also been working on the boat since I purchased it in January. Most weekends and nights have been dedicated to working on the boat since then. But the scale of the amount of repairs required dwarfs the amount of time we had (since we all have day jobs).

Lesson number 1: Never buy a boat in the same year as the Bermuda race you plan to sail it in. I should have learned that when my dad bought the Swan 48 “de Halve Maen”. That didn’t need any work done to it except shipping it from Majorca, plus commissioning and the extra safety gear that is required for the race and I still ended up standing on the boat with Sheila McCurdy our Safety Inspector as the boat was in the slings being lowered into the water.

Lesson number 2: Since I clearly am a slow learner, see lesson number 1.


The Story Starts

This blog is about the  “Secondhand Lions” the J/120 owned by Rob & Deb Kits van Heyningen. But it’s also, and maybe moreso about the crew: we were the crew for my father’s boats, starting with his first boat, a van de Staat 28, named “Summersong”, then a J/35 also named “Summersong”, then a Sceptre 43 “Dragonsbane” that we both owned, then a Swan 48 “de Halve Maen”, and finally an IMX-45 “Temptress”.