Planning a training run this Sat. with my daughter and race partner Brooke “stingslikeabee”. Planning to leave Safety harbor in the AM and sail South through Tampa Bay, under the Skyway bridge, back up the West coast to Clearwater. Finishing on the ICW just inside and South of Clearwater. The trip is somewhere between 60 and 70 miles. That could be as little as 6 hours, or as long as 14……. Wind forecast is either 16 knots with gusts from the East ( perfect) or SW winds of 7 knots, ( not so perfect). In the last few days I tweaked the rudder to get rid of the vibration, added reflective tape, and added a Stern light. The stern light is good for boats going under 7 MPH, so I guess we need to add the red/green to the bow since we plan to go much faster :). Also added the bases for the GOpro video camera so should have some cool video next week. Reworking the drain system and adding some flotation to the cockpit to make it dryer. Hope it works. If everything worksm and nothing breaks this weekend, we start painting next week, Orange, yellow or Black.
I went out with Dennis, my sail-maker from Banks Sails. We had winds of 15-18 knots just to make it interesting…… Below is a video as we first got started. Needed to do some tuning to the rig, the forestay was loose and the mast was bouncing around a bit. We were also hauling around a extra 150 pounds of water from the crappy drain system. Just as I turned on the camera we took a gust that buried the leeward ama. Talk about hitting the brakes! It got better after that with more sailing flat and faster. Still have a lot of tweaking to do and doing a 60-70 mile test sail this weekend.
I was thinking the other day about my first trip down the West coast of Florida 22 years ago. I was on a 5 ton, 30′ sailboat with worn out Dacron sails and getting excited at doing 4 knots. We had a loran for telling us where we were, a RDF ( Radio Direction Finder) for homing in on radio towers and plotting them on a chart and practiced dead reckoning for the whole trip. By comparison the Everglades challenge will be done on a 18′, 400 pound trimaran with mylar sails and speeds of 12+ knots ( we hope). This years trip will have a set of tools/toys not ever thought about back then. A cell phone, a Droid with full access to the Internet, text, weather forecasts tide tables, Facebook and email; 2 handheld GPS’s ( one with a built in chart plotter) that tell us where we are, how fast we are moving, tides, average speeds, max speeds etc. A SPOT ( uses GPS ) for tracking us, telling anyone with a computer where we are and how fast ( or slow) we are going. Then throw in some of the other improvements like a hand held, waterproof, floating VHF. And Dry Suits, so the wetness of the boat does not matter. Our Tri uses LED lights that are twice as bright as the old Nav. lights and seem to last for ever. We use inflatable PDF’s instead of the bulky PDF of the past that no one ever wore. I bring along a Leatherman that replaces many of the tools that used to be in my tool box. Waterproof charts have replaced paper charts. It used to be cameras on boats were like rolling the dice because of moisture, now we have waterproof cameras like the GOPro’s to take pictures or video of all the fun we are having. We have all kinds of cool clothes like water wicking shirts that make life on a small boat easier. It really makes one wonder how we managed on boats back then. And maybe, just maybe it really was not the “Good Old Days”
Getting in to the home stretch for projects on the “Bird”. Still need to confirm the drain system, caulk the amas, add the bow sprit guides and put on the attachment pads for the new GO-pro camera. At least we’ll have cool video of this race :). Adding the dodger next week. Then plan to repaint the boat either yellow or black and add some reflective tape so we can be seen at night. The black sails don’t exactly show well in the dark. Started working on the food list and fine tuning the equipment list. Would still like to add a better paddling system than the current canoe paddles. Might try a oar(s) next time out. I know we can move 2 knots in flat calm, but still need more paddle power just in case…….The conditioning of the old body is coming along well, with running , walking, kayaking and the gym. Starting to see results, should have started a few more months back.
Picked up the new Mylar mainsail about 2 weeks ago. Also had them build me a new Mylar Jib and Reacher for the bird. All the sails were build for us by Banks Sails in Tampa. They did a great job and super easy to work with. Looks like we will have about 400 sq ft. of canvas when everything is flying. Have not tried the jib and reacher yet, but in very light wind, the new main and old jib was moving us at close to wind speed. 5 knots in 5-7 knots of wind. And we were hauling 200 lbs of water in the hull from a leaky drain hose. Really excited to try the whole package soon.
With the race approaching fast and the check list not dropping off as fast, its not panic time yet, but its close. The bowsprit is on, but not tested yet. I need at least 3 or 4 practice runs. My daughter/crew “stingslikeabee” and I still hope to do a12 hour practice run to test ourselves, equipment and boat. I think equipment is in good shape, new Garmin 76 GPS plotter, Spot is ready, new spot light and new VHF ( getting ready can be expensive). Getting myself ready has me hitting the gym, running and kayaking. Need to get the body back in shape for the movement of the boat, for paddling ( just in case) and dropping and lifting the mast at check point #1. Training is harder every year….ha. On the boat we still have a leaky starboard ama that needs to be addressed. I’m adding a second block for the reacher and emergency jib halyard. Side guides for the bowsprit have to be made and tested. Our cockpit drain is OK, but needs to be tested and maybe improved. And then there’s the new paint job………..Repaint it yellow, or paint it black to match the new sails. And if we paint it black, do we change the name from “the Bird” to “Death Star” and come dressed as Darth Vader? Hmmmmmmmmm……