I spent the afternoon taking Changabang’s boom off. There is a possibility that it may be repaired. Tomorrow I’ll drive to Watsonville to get an expert’s opinion. For now it’s sitting next to the house as I’ve been advised that large pieces of aluminum get stolen for recycling money.
Well, we’re on for tomorrow morning. I plan to leave from HMB around 6AM, and if the westerlies fill in, depart/start under the Golden Gate Bridge around 2 PM.
The Tropical Depression down South has been named: Marie. Lovely! Winds forecast to reach 100+ kts, and it’s supposed to come way up north. This means that I’ll be sailing West South West until I’ve safely passed it. I’ll be anxiously monitoring the forecasts over the next few days.
Long drone shots
Well, we’re in a wind hole again up here along the San Francisco coast. It may dissipate starting Wednesday. But then the South is sending us a parting gift: a tropical depression (TD) is forecast to form in the next two days. I’m “charging” ahead, gambling a few things:
- There will be enough wind Wednesday afternoon for me to sail out of coastal waters and into offshore winds;
- The TD will remain South enough that I will be able to skirt it without too much trouble, and it won’t materialize into a monster;
- The TD will not do too much damage to the trade winds (I expect 3 days of very very light wind after its passage).
If not Wednesday maybe Thursday or Friday. Beyond that I think that the alternative is to further delay the start, up to two weeks depending on what the TD does, as it’s not clear what will happen after it dissipates. Most models agree to say that there will be very little wind to get started.
We’re loaded! So much loaded in fact that we are a little slow. All the water is aboard now. The only things left are a couple suitcases with backup devices, and clothing. And me …
Speaking of me, I’m lucky to have friends who know how to fly drones and do some cool edits. Check the video below (a nice teaser), and I’ll post more drone shots in a little while. We went out last Sunday to take shots with the spinnaker up. The day turned out really perfect, with winds touching low twenties in the gusts, and boat speed hitting 10 and 11 kts, which is still quite short of the polars (boat speed potential).
If you want drone shots of top quality, hire Keaton. He’s 16 and has been flying drones since he was 10! @keatonharephotography
My phone updated to Android 11. Navionics is dead on that version, which means I’m now short of one chart plotter. I still have the two iPads (no GPS), the Android tablet, the backup primary phone, and two older Android phones (with a subset of the charts). Still, it’s a bummer to lose key SW before the start.
Time to get some sleep!
Some of the last items on the list are coming off after an afternoon sail yesterday! Together with Sylvain we went out to test the new spinnaker, which I bought using the OCC grant. Video follows.
We also tested the large spinnaker, which had not been flying well. Sylvain shorten the link between the sail head and the sock. And it now looks great! See video further below. In fact, while Sylvain was aboard, he kept making small adjustments to the mainsail controls. Good stuff!
I also plopped down the hydrogenerator to confirm that the new converter was working well. And it does! I only tested one of the two though.
Not so good
I still have trouble with the 2:1 code 0 halyard, which I’m afraid will never sort itself out. Maybe I need to replace the halyard all together, use the old one for the other headsails. It would make a big dent in my 200 meters spool as it is a very long halyard!
I was also surprised to see that the new bottom paint is not as “aggressive” as the previous one. There’s already moss on the rudder and a thin layer of slime everywhere.
I can tell CaB is heavily loaded because we had moved the waterline mark up a bit, and that mark is now below the actual waterline. I’m still due to load a few more cases, books, and all the water (about 150-200 liters). All that weight is taking its toll on boat performance, as we could tell yesterday. At best I’m targeting 70% of the boat’s speed potential.
One more bit of not so great news: Android 11 is plaguing Boating HD of Navionics when zooming in (it gets super super slow). They are aware of the problem, and I hope they fix it before I leave!
Stan and Sally Lindsay Honey stopped by a couple days ago to fill in the WSSRC paperwork. I think that’s all in order, although I’m still waiting for final confirmation on course and diesel/engine concerns. We also discussed timing the start. I know their very long list of accomplishments, and I just didn’t know how to behave. I felt a bit out of place, me with my grand plans, tiny experience, small budget, discussing with Stan and Sally Lindsay, very accomplished/successful sailors. Impostor syndrome all over. They wished me well, and were friendly and everything.
I’ve also submitted payments for a “weather advise fund” with Chris Tibbs.
That’s all for now then.
I’m confirming 100% with the WSSRC but it looks like we have agreed on a course that’s much more practical than what I had originally proposed. This new course gives us much more freedom to follow the best sailing route across the South Atlantic. I am now almost 100% committed, having had two interviews. I may show up in Latitude 38’s sightings section, and there may be a podcast at : outthegate.podbean.com/ My take is that until I’m a 1,000 miles offshore, I haven’t really left. Here’s to hoping that wind conditions will improve: it’s been very light out there.
I have activated my Iridium GO! using PredictWind’s unlimited data plan. It looks like it’s all working good, including GEOS, which I’m hoping to test tomorrow morning. In fact this blog post was sent using the GO!. There is a problem with the primary tracker (YB3I), which was also supposed to act as the backup plan in the event that the satellite SIM card would fail or get compromised. The YB3I supports messaging, but only through an app and a Bluetooth connection. Well, Bluetooth doesn’t seem to be working anymore. We tried a hard reset, multiple devices, clearing cache, resetting Bluetooth, etc. Nothing gives. So I’m going to activate another (secondary) tracker, which also supports messaging. Hopefully that’ll do it.
Testing the W&S converters, testing the new spinnaker, loading clothing, loading water, and I think that’s it.
Over the past few days a few critical items have been completed. I managed to confirm that the WSSRC GPS tracker is working, and I’ve installed it with a permanent connection to the batteries (kinda). I have received the two Watt & Sea converters. I have tested that they are coming online, so now they need to be tested at speed (>8 kts). The new spinnaker has arrived at UK Sailmakers; Sylvain is applying the finishing touches before we go for a test sail. I’ve filled up 3 jerry cans of diesel. With Jackie we also tested the Pelagic autopilot under motor: everything checks out. We just need to do a test under sail, and update the SW.
On the bad news side, I cannot connect to the YB3i anymore (my tracker). It was supposed to be my backup satellite messaging solution, in case the Iridium GO! SIM card fails for some reason. The tracking still works but Bluetooth seems to be dead. Either the manufacturer’s support team will help fix this, or I’ll need another backup plan (an InReach maybe). In fact, since this backup plan has failed me once, maybe I need to think about another one.
I really aspire to be ready a couple weeks before departure. This would allow me to take it all in, rest & relax, and be mentally ready to leave. I had originally thought I’d try to leave on a weekend but that may not hold up anymore. The most important is that I get good wind and current to get as far off the Coast as possible, to benefit from the steadier offshore winds.
With all the food on port Changabang is listing about 1 degree to port. Hopefully that’ll resolve itself once I load more stuff on stardboard. Here’s a slideshow of how things look inside:
My first burgee
And here’s a shot of the OCC’s burgee on CaB. I’m also wearing a T-shirt from APSU, provider of fine multivitamins. That’s all for now …
Changabang is back in Pillar Point Harbor. And skipper is happy! What a trip home it was too. There was such a heavy fog that, when night fell, I could not see the end of the bowsprit. And no wind too. I motored all the way, staying on deck at all time, except for 30 seconds trip down below. Entering the harbor at night, in heavy fog, was a little sketchy. At 2,400 rpm we were doing 6.25 kts, which seems like it’s about a full knot faster than before. That’s quite exciting! Now, it’s not like I’ve done a proper test as most often I’d be motoring in some amount of swell, and yesterday the sea was mostly flat. But it’s a good sign for sure!
I’ll probably have a separate blog post about my experience in the yard, which all in all was a good one. I’m happy to recommend Berkeley Marine Center.
On the trip back I have not been able to confirm that the WSSRC GPS will get a fix when it’s sitting on top of the navigation table display: more research needed. I wasn’t able to test the Pelagic autopilot as, with no visibility, I wanted no unknowns to deal with. I have full confidence that it’ll work just fine as usual, but things were stressful enough like that.
Yeah, we’ve got a dinghy now. Why you ask since you’re going non stop? Well, first, I may not be able to go non stop, so there’s that. Then if I want to do a “walk-around” of the hull, this would be safer than swimming (which I would likely do if I need to clean the hull); it would also be a good platform to affect repairs, which would be otherwise not possible from inside the boat; it could come handy to handle an anchor line or a mooring ball. Now, it’s fairly sturdy but I’m not sure how it would handle in swell. And speaking of “handle”, the oars are not too sturdy nor large. Anyways, better than nothing for sure. And as my friend Skip suggested, it would make a nice tub for a well needed cleaning!
Should we name it? If Changabang is a mountain, then would this be a funicular (you know to go to the top of the mountain). Maybe “Funi” seems fitting then. “Funi” it is!
What else is happening? When I wrote my grant request for the OCC, I mentioned in my submission that I pictured myself in the trade winds with my spinnaker out front, proudly flying the OCC logo, a stylized flying fish. And so it’s time to make that vision happen! With Joëlle, we tried to make a template for the OCC logo, to paint it on the spinnaker that I’m getting thanks to their grant. I’m not sure how well that will work out. I’ve also received the ATN sock.
Of course I continue to buy stuff as I think about them, as exemplified in the picture below. Also, a second small USB fan, water filtering pills, spare charging cables, a second floodlight, batteries for the first one, a cigarette lighter plug with 4 USB charging ports, etc.
I also tested my second manual water-maker, a generous donation of Randall Reeves. Oh, and the Watt & Sea converters are finally under way.
As we enter the final stretch I’m starting to load CaB. I’m starting with food, solar panels, and a 600 feet spool of line. It’ll be interesting to see how all this will find a place inside. I believe it is imperative that I keep everything out of the way, such that I can access all part of the boat fairly quickly. It’s already a problem as the ditch bag doesn’t fit anywhere yet. More to come.
Changabang is still at Berkeley Marine Center. Two fittings were ordered for the V1; one of them was not the right part. So that’s back to ordering, shipping status. We may have an update tomorrow morning. The paint had not been left to cure enough before the boat was moved, so some parts need to be repainted; add more waiting time for proper curing. In other words, one more week is spent at BMC. I’m getting nervous.
I really want to leave sooner rather than later; I don’t like the idea of being in the Indian Ocean during hurricane season. Although October 4th is attractive, it doesn’t work well tide wise. If there’ll be enough wind in the early morning to cross the line and carry on, this could work. Slack before flood will be somewhere around 9:30 AM. After that we’ll start fighting a pretty strong flood current. October 11th does look more practical, with a light ebb current starting around 10 AM. Choices, choices.
I had been told that my two Watt & Sea converters would be here by now; instead they have been gathering French dust for the past 3 weeks. Maybe this will improve now. Knowing that we started setting this up many moons ago, this process has been painfully slow.
Good stuff too
I installed a second epirb as the old one just expired. I now have a total of 3 aboard, one being a friendly PLB donation by Ants.
Together with Jackie we went through the pharmacy kit, and I packaged it all this evening.
Cree (of BMC) put together a fiberglass repair kit, all neatly packaged in a bucket. There should also be a bit of tongue and groove wood boards. This would be to help repair a hull breach, and more.
I ran a routing yesterday, from San Francisco to somewhere about 1,000 miles East of Torres Strait. Of course, I understand how this is foolish: forecasts are only good for a few days. But it does give an idea of the possibilities.
And to close I’ll say that I’ve submitted my lease cancelation notice to the Pillar Point Harbor administration team. It’s happening!
Well, I’m sure glad this didn’t stay stuck somewhere in transit/customs: the WSSRC black box is here!
Now, this thing must be connected to power at all times, which is done through a USB plug, and it must have a somewhat clear view of the sky. CaB only has 2 USB outlets so that’s a bit of a problem now. I’ll need those USB outlets to charge my other devices (1 phone, 2 tablets, 1 music box, etc.). This means then another boat project to add a few USB outlets. Good thing I already did this! And I also bought a small power inverter; this is to charge power tools (oscillating tool, drill), possibly laptops (hopefully I won’t need them), and USB devices. I’ll just have to figure out how to wire this thing such that there is no risk of it being disconnected, which is more difficult than it seems as, on a boat, everything is up for grabs (literally). Since I may not cut the wire, I won’t be able to route it properly, and it will be hanging lose one way or another.
Changabang is still in the yard. I think (hope) the paint job is finished now. We’re waiting for the fittings for the port V1 shroud (we have the wire).
My daughter Luna and her friend Sierra arranged my food in bags of 16 days. Now it’s a matter of figuring out where to put them.
I scavenged an old Kevlar genoa to retrieve things that may be useful to repair other sails.
I went for a 12k run yesterday. Ok, I think that’s all I have to share for today. Well, if time permits, I’m thinking of maybe leaving Sunday 10/4, instead of 10/11.
I’m not where I wish I’d be by now. There are many things that are incomplete, each generating their own level uncertainty:
- Boatyard update 1: the keel work was completed; the bottom paint is still in the works;
- Boatyard update 2: it’s unclear when the port V1 shroud will be installed (cable has been identified, yeah!) as the fittings are still missing (no ETA); it is likely that CaB will stay next week at BMC too. Hence two weeks, turned into 4.
- The Watt & Sea converters are still somewhere en route (no ETA), which leaves me with an untested setup;
- The Pelagic auto-pilot is installed but untested; testing should happen during my trip back to Half Moon Bay;
- The WSSRC black box was shipped through postal mail (despite my recommendation to use a carrier); hence it may not even arrive (no ETA);
- The pharmacy kit is in the process of being delivered, a generous donation of Jackie;
- The small spinnaker and sock are in the process of being manufactured;
- I need to terminate my berthing agreement 30 days before I depart; that date is up in the air, what with all the “No ETA”s above;
- I need to activate a satellite plan/SIM card;
- I need to establish a fund for the meteorologist who will support me during my attempt;
- Of course, I need to clean the boat, and then load up water, food, tools, spares, all the while keeping the interior somewhat livable, which is going to be a formidable task;
- I need to get the second mainsail back inside CaB (see above);
- I had a long talk with Bill Hatfield; Bill recently set the record for the westward solo non stop unassisted circumnavigation, in the less then 40 feet category. He was very helpful with information about the difficult passages I’ll have to go through. And as a result of our conversation, I’m also likely going to modify the course slightly (pending sanctioning by the WSSRC).
News on other fronts
Nick Maloney, of APSU.life and Vendee Globe fame, has offered to furbish me with multivitamins. I have used his products to good success, so I can recommend them for offshore sailors, who would most certainly resonate with their vision for the ocean!
The weather up here doesn’t feel like your usual San Francisco Bay. There have been a lot of southerly winds. I’m hopeful that will turn around as we get into October. The doldrums appear fairly wide at about 10°N, and the Pacific North trade winds light in the 10-15 kts range. On the other side of the doldrums the trade winds appear a little stronger. If this situation remains then it is possible that I’ll sail fairly close to Hawaii. There have been 2 Category 2 hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific (one of which would have crossed my path), and one Category 2. There has been no hurricane yet in the South West Indian Ocean (as is expected) but 3 in the North Indian Ocean. All is good then?