The training has started!

Kokopeddle and myself spent 5 hrs out on the new Big Red, a 1990 21′ Sea Pearl last Saturday. Each time we learn a bit more on the handling and pointing ability of it. Each sailboat is different so there is a bit of a learning curve. We practiced about 1 hr of rowing. About 1.5 knots with no sail assist. In super light winds with sails was closer to 2.6. At least we were moving. Kokopeddle now has the boat on his float so has been rowing daily for training. We have purchased a new stay-sail and will be having the mizzen sail and mizzen mast set up for it. Training with the stay-sail in a few weeks. Added a tiller extension “Battle Stick”. Much better than the teak one that was with the boat.

The boat has been repainted bright red and all the teak refinished. Win or lose, at least the boat will look good! Still deciding on the type and placement of bilge pump. We have discussed a electric one run off a battery ( but adds weight and expense) or a permanent manual pump. And if manual, where do we set up the pump and handle, the helmsman in the aft cockpit or forward for the trimmer to pump….. We also need to do some minor smoothing of the lee board bottoms, they are a bit rough. And stop the center line teak floor boards from sliding backwards. Changing out the Bruce to a lighter anchor. Marking the booms for reef points. New velcro for the out-haul lines….  oh yeah, rig lights and add reflector tape…..add GPS attachment to the mizzen mast…..and to we leave the fenders on each side….lol. I guess we have some projects to finish!

New Boat!

The Hobie TI has been sold. I had been actively searching for a 21′ Sea Pearl and found one a few days ago. 1990, new sails, upgraded rudder, 2 HP Honda ( for non-Watertribe events) and oars. Bimini for both cockpits and the “dodger” for the forward one to sleep under and keep water out. Will not have time for NC, but sure am excited about hitting the beach next March for the Everglades challenge. 9 months to learn the boat and be ready to go! Pictures, comments and thoughts to follow. Excited to get back in the game after missing 2016 race.

2017 Boat

I missed the 2016 race. Business commitments just did not allow me to train and get away for the race. I was there at start, and it was killing me not being in my dry suit and on a boat! I am not missing next years race. So the over riding question for next year is to do a 4th race on the Hobie TI or something different? I have been watching the usual assortment of boats, just not sure which was the right one. Some are to slow, some flip, some are even wetter and some i just don’t like. With that being said, I think maybe a 21′ Sea Pearl might be the next boat. A bit heavy getting off the beach @ 600 pounds, but the Sailbird was at least that or more. The rowing might not be my strongest suit with my shoulders, but at least I am not sitting in water for days. While the Hobie TI has a ton of good things about it such as always being able to make it move, and some times being able to peddle for 24 hrs + in light winds. The top end speed is decent, but not really fast. I just think it might be the time to switch. More of a real boat, bigger sail plan to play with, fiberglass, being able to stretch out and sleep and most importantly…. a boat my wife will go out on when I am not racing. I guess its time to get the Hobie sold and a Sea Pearl bought. And then we can start the learning of a new boat, always fun!

2015 Post race

The year of the short race. Short version is the Coast Guard terminated the race 4 hrs after it started as they had already saved 12 people who were in trouble. Since I have limited details I’ll stay away from comments. But what about my race? A few of the high lights. Great start with a tail wind crossing Tampa Bay. About half way across I realized I had made a mistake of sitting in the front seat. With the following 4′ seas I was burying the bow from time to time. The boat would go from 7+ knots to 4 knots with a foot of water over the top of the bow. A few times I think I lost control of the rudder as I was rounding up to catch the waves on the beam. 100% my fault for not factoring in the weight difference between the 2 seats. I had tested my boat against Kokopeddle AI sitting in the two seats. It was easily faster in the front. But that was with calmer seas and wind. After rounding Anna Marina I was still burying the bow. I tried reefing but that just slowed me down. So I finally rolled in the sail stopping the boat. I grabbed the gear out of the back seat and moved it forward and moved me to the back. Easier said than done with a back seat dodger in the way. As I was doing this Peddleon came by to see if I was OK. I went from close to the front of the Hobies to 5th place after my stop. UGH. Sailing down the coast was wonderful. Waves were low because of the lee of the land. Winds were decent. I was cruising at 5-7 knots and hit 11.8 at one point. Just a blast. After I found out the race was canceled it really took the edge off the race. Still fun sailing but just changed the thought process. Overall, maybe the best day of sailing in many years. I followed a home made tri across the North side breakers at Stump pass. As I came through those shallows I saw breakers on each side and felt the boat rise up as I started to ride a wave in. I can only imagine that the feeling is similar to what the surfers experience. 30 seconds later and hitting 17 knots, I was into the calm water in the channel. From there it took almost a hour to get into #1 as the tide was ripping out against me. I was 16th over all, 5th in Hobie’s. Took 2 hrs off last years time so that was great. Most of the racers dropped out there as I did also. I know the ones who pushed had to fight some decent headwinds a few days later.

44 days to go

The count down continues. 44 days and the drums are getting louder. I thought I had crew but that changed so back to solo. I’ve had a couple great practice days. One was sailing solo with great winds, hit 10.4 knots with spray all over the place! What a blast. :).  My food list has been narrowed after tasting and testing some new items. Love the Buffalo/cranberry I found at a health food store. And the Kind + bars, good flavors. Since I have 2 Bivy bags I think I will keep pone deck side for sleeping on deck while drifting/anchoring out. Saving the “normal” bivy and sleeping bag with camp clothes for beaches and inside the tent. Still hitting the gym 3-4 days a week. The legs are feeling great and should be ready for some peddling if needed ( and we always do!)

I have to say, this has been the easiest race to get ready for out of the 5 I have entered. Experience being a big part of it. Gear has been tested over the years. No project boat to be working on so all the time is devoted to getting gear and me ready. What a breeze!

2015 EC

The push has started for the 2015 EC. I’ll be racing on the Hobie TI again. This year I will be going alone unless Kokopeddle changes his mind. My son-in-law, Wind Watcher is going to be a dad again in April, so best for him to stay home in 2015 This year I am working on doing better via 4 avenues. I know there’s more ideas, but can’t give away all my secrets………..ha

1. Better conditioning. I have always done well on the peddeling in these races, but started earlier and working harder to have even stronger legs than past races.

2. Less weight. Yup, that’s me. Boats are faster when they are lighter. I dropped 12 pounds and shooting for another 20 before 3/7/2015. Also doing what ever I can to lighten the boat and gear. Hoping to be about 40 pounds lighter than last year.

3. Better gear. Making a effort to have better/lighter gear than past years. Added a Jet Boil and a solar recharger for my phone. Getting rid of the old tent and adding either a one man or a trap. Already have the bivy bag that worked great last year. Getting rid of the heavy stern light ( and extra batteries) and going with light weight “kayak” lights that are LED and last forever.  Switching from a inflatable life jacket to a real Life jacket.

4. Racing smarter. I have studied routes and schedules of other racers from past years. This is my 5th EC and have my own thoughts on it all. I think there are times when I could be smarter on when to sleep, when to push, course etc. in past races I have not been as efficient  as I could have been by planning better and using more gray matter and not so much physical effort.

I counted a few days ago and it shows 21 Hobie TI’s will be sitting on the beach. This is going to be fun!!!!!!!!!

The 2014 EC Airlift

Just a summary of the events myself and Windwatcher  ( my son-in-law) had last Monday during the race. We had left #2 about 3 PM on Monday. On the Hobie TI we worked our way our of the pass against the tide and heaed back into the gulf. As early evening approached Windwatcher started getting sick. Vomitting and then severe dry heaves. He kept getting sicker as we moved South. There was a discussion about turning around against the following seas and peddleing/sailing North.We had broke off one of the Mirage drive peddles leaving #2 so even if Alex could peddle, ( he could not) we only had one set. We discussed heading to one of the campsites on Cape Sabel, but the closest was at least 10 hours. Neither cell phone could pick up anything. We tried calling any vessels in the area on the VHF, no luck. I did a Pan/Pan call to the Coast Guard. Key West picked right up and asked us questions for 20 minutes until the VHF went dead. Our second VHF had gone dead due to water intrusion ( waterproof…right..ha). At that point, about 11:00 PM we decided to head east to land. Alex had started getting chilled a few hours before and was now in early stages of hyperthermia. He was in his dry suit, with a cap on, with emergency solar sleeping bag wrapped around him. We also carried hand warmers to put close to arterys to warm the blood.  My thoughts were to get to land, set up the tent, get him dry and in a sleeping bag, start a fire and rethink our choices. As I watched him continue to get worse, when he asked again to push the 911 button on the SPOT,  I did.  15 minutes later a chopper flew over 4 or 5 times. We hit the strobe lights on our vests and lite up the boat with flashlights. A few minutes and a rescue swimmer was at the boat asking questions. They had Alex go in to the water in his dry suit and the rescue swimmer floated him away from the Hobie. They were afarid the chopper would flip the boat. Up in a basket and he was away.

Later that night as I tried to sleep I also had hypathermia setting in. My dry suit holds the mosture inside and when you stop moving its easy to get chilled.  I changed out on my dry suit into gortex dry pants and a warm jacket. Adding a extra solar blanket over the top of me as I was in the solar sleeping bag and then 3 sets of hand warmers, under arm pits, groin area, and hands. It worked!

Alex spend 2 days in the Marathon hospital. He had Rhabdomylysis. It can be caused from extreme muscle strain that causes muscle fibers to release their contents and puts protein into your blood that can cause kidney complications. He has made a full recovery.

So what did we learn?

1. Thank God for the SPOT. And knowing that if the SPOT did not work we had 2 PLB’s to use. I hated to use any of them, but was down to no choices.

2.  2 “waterproof”VHF’s are fine, but dry bagging at least one is smarter

3. Solar bags/blankets are good. Hand warmers are a real plus near the right body parts.

4. Extra dry clothes double bagged close to you are required from now on.

5. Cell phones are fine excempt in the Everglades and off shore.

Hope that helps. And a big thanks to Chief for requiring the gear he does. Its a case like this that makes it all so important and worthwhile. See you on the beach.


Getting Close

We are down to days and the list is getting smaller! We had the 2 dodgers added last Friday at Tackle Shack. Sat, Alex and I peddled for about 4 hours working on the legs. I’ve been in the gym doing nothing but leg and back work the last few weeks. Its getting better. We have all the gear sitting in piles. Sleeping pile, tent/cooking pile, cockpit pile, personal gear ( PDF, flashlights, dry suit etc). Still need to buy, sort and organize food and drinks. If space allows I’m bringing a few empty mile cartons for extra floatation and possibly to fill with water if it looks like we will have a slow peddle to windward. Added the Gopro attachment to the boat hook for videos outside of the boat :). Over all feeling really good about this year. The boat is new and the gear is tested. Forecast is all over the place. I have three forecasts that say North winds, East winds and no wind. Would be great to ride a front South like we started off with a year ago.

2 week count down

2 weeks from today we will all be on the beach. Windwatcher and I along with Kokopeddel on his AI had a good sail last weekend. Topped out at 6.8 knots. Last night we set up the two tents and narrowed it down to which one. Went through all the gear list and agreed on our food list. Might make some changes as we get closer, but basically know the food. May take more water/Gatorade if there is no wind and we are peddling for the whole race. Having the dodgers put on today and the steering adjusted. Then another day on the water tomorrow. Expecting 66 for a high and 10-15 knots of wind. So much for working the legs. Looks like a sailing day. After that will get out at least once for a night practice and then just keeping up the gym and leg training and the wait. Latest forecast for the start is cool and 10-20 from the North. That would be great!

New boat

After much thought of balancing the old with the new. The pure sailor vs the hybrid. Trying to finish fast vs just finishing. The time seemed right to make the switch from Big Red to a Hobie tandem. I had raced on one in the 2010 NCC and again in the 2011 ECC. While not as fast from a sailing standpoint, it is a better balance for me knowing that there are no more fiberglassing days. That I can launch in 15 minutes from my dock and do not have to rent storage space any more. Training with my son-in-law, wind watcher, Alex starts this weekend. We have a sharp learning curve to catch up. But , we will be ready. The boat will be ready. And with 11 tandems on the beach on March 1st, we have a class of our own. So the playing field levels. No more trying to match the tricked out race machines. Just finishing is winning.