Friday, March 29, 2013

Morosaurus Rex!

You may have noticed that we update this blog approximately once every six months. True, and thank you for your persistence in still even bothering to look. A much more timely place to get Moore 24 news is on the facebook page here:

Want to know more about us? Well, we were recently interviewed for a local sailing website:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pac Cup, Neanderthal Style

Starting about day 7 anything that was at all optional onboard Lightspeed pretty much ground to a halt, which is why there were no more blog posts. There's a lot to say from that part of the race, so I'll try to capture some of it in this post so the account isn't left too incomplete.

First a bit of background. We chose to do the race onboard Lightspeed with only 4 people, as opposed to the 5-7 people that might more frequently be found on a boat this size. This decision was made in part because Lightspeed is limited in the number of feasible sea-berths it has, and in part because Paul (our very experienced navigator) estimates each additional crew member adds about 800lbs to the boat with their gear, water, and food. This weight adds up quickly, so we decided to try the lean and mean approach.

Unfortunately, the boat and crew preparation leading up to the race was ridiculously behind schedule for a variety of reasons, and as early as a week before the start significant fiberglass work was still underway on the boat. This lack of preparation and shakedown led to some of the aforementioned surprises (water and holding tanks leaking, and other misc. plumbing issues), as well as other problems such as the autopilot not working. With a crew of only 4, having a functioning autopilot was a pretty critical piece of the strategy, and without it we were forced to hand steer the entire trip.

Hand steering was not too taxing for the first part of the race, where conditions were mild and one person could handle the boat easily on their own. However two critical things changed for the second half of the race. First is that we needed two people on deck at all times to help manage the spinnaker, cutting into our off watch time, and second (and more importantly) we discovered that one member of the crew couldn't safely drive the boat at night in the squally conditions. Being down to 3 night drivers drastically threw off our watch schedule, and we never really recovered from it.

We managed OK with three drivers for a couple days after the half way point until one of our night drivers had a breakdown from lack of sleep, and was so exhausted he couldn't even safely be up on deck. At that point the two of us who remained capable of night driving essentially made the decision that in order to finish the race we would need to be the primary watchstanders all night for the remaining nights of the trip. This meant spending all night switching off every hour on the helm, with the 'off-driver' sitting or trying to sleep in the cockpit next to the spinnaker sheet. I can't count the number of times I woke up mid-round up already fumbling to release the spinnaker sheet. It doesn't make for restful sleep.

There are some other disjointed memories from this time frame. Sitting by the mast, getting firehosed by the spray for hours at a time, all hands on deck, ready to douse at a moments notice as we reeled off some enormous boat speed numbers. Driving the boat on a full plane, when the main electrical breaker was kicked off, turned back on, and then having the (non-functional) autopilot turn itself on forcing us straight into a middle of the night round down. Countless spinnaker douses, sail changes, repacks, resets, and mostly hours and hours of high speed driving through and around squalls. I remember Paul asking me if everything was ok as I drove through a particularly mean squall with boatspeeds sitting in the 16+ kt range. "Everything's fine, but it's only a matter of time until this house of cards falls apart," was my response. Probably a good way of describing the entire last half of the race.

By the end of the trip, after close to 72 hours with only brief snatches of sleep (in full foulies), I was so sleep deprived I lay in my bunk puzzling over our 5th crew member. 'Where is that guy? Where on the boat is he sleeping, and what watches is he taking?". I thought seriously about these questions for a good long while, but wasn't able to come up with any satisfactory answers. Later that night I had an extended conversation with Noah, someone who I've known for years, while trying to figure out the whole time, 'who is this guy?! I know him from somewhere.'

In the end, we arrived in Kaneohe in 12d 01:04:30, with a longest single day run of 211 nm, and a boat speed record of over 20 kts. Not bad, especially considering that we only made about 30 miles in the entire first day of very light winds. It was also enough to make us the first to finish, and first place, boat in our division.

It's worth acknowledging, and remaining humble about, the fact that Lightspeed had a generous rating that certainly helped contribute to our win. We sailed for about 5 days in sight of Kotuku, a very well sailed Farr 1220, that rated 27 seconds a mile faster than for us to have friends and competitors nearby, but frustrating for them as their rating would suggest they should pass right by us.  The rating game is a necessary evil in the sport, and it always makes for a lively discussion, usually based on the impossible premise that everyone except one particular boat's ratings are correct. Despite all the above caveats, I know we sailed as hard a race as we could. We kept the crew and boat weight down to a minimum, we ate only freeze dried food, used a bucket as a head, and we never once took our foot off the gas pedal, despite what common sense and exhaustion might have suggested. We half-joked that we had devolved to some primitive state of existence, and when we got to Kaneohe we had nothing left to give.

Arriving was quite overwhelming. After close to two weeks at sea, you are suddenly faced with a good sized crowd of cheering family, friends, and strangers. Immediately upon mooring you have to do a safety inspection as well as complete customs paperwork. All the while a bunch of people are staring at you, and you can't even get off the boat to give your loved ones a hug. Finally, they hand you a Mai Tai and some fresh pineapple (absolutely mind blowing after 12 days of freeze dried food), line you up at the transom for an arrival photo, and finally you are really done and can get off the boat. I know I was totally shellshocked at this point, and Julia had to pretty much lead me around the rest of the day until finally I was pointed at a bed where I fell immediately asleep.

I've got some additional thoughts from the experience, about how I would do things differently if I get the opportunity again, strategies to make the boat more manageable, etc. But, this post is already incredibly long, so I'll just leave you with this, a short video captured during the trip:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Feet first

Last night was the type of night you sleep feet forward in the bunk. Because one minute you are going 15+kts, and the next second you are going close to 0.

We put up the 1.5 oz (heavier, stronger spinnaker) in the evening, and went on a wild ride I won't soon forget. No one slept. Drivers could drive for about 30 minutes tops. We had too many roundups to count, and a couple of near round downs. Waves were big and steep, there were no stars, and it was windy windy windy.

Inside the boat it sounded like you were inside a giant piece of machinery. Too loud to have a conversation without shouting. First you would hear the breaking wave sound starting near the bow and traveling aft as the boat took off surfing, then you would start to hear a roar and a humming sound, like someone revving up an engine. And all this taking place at exactly half way between SF and Hawaii, 1000+ miles from land.

It's still windy as hell right now, so I need to take any opportunity I can to lay down in my bunk. Fully clothed in foulies and boots, ready to run up on deck if things continue to pickup. We are doing well though, 202 mile run yesterday, despite dropping down to a poled out #3 at 5AM...we were still doing 10+ kts with that rig.

We passed halfway, did I mention that? Pretty awesome, although if the wind doesn't drop soon we won't be opening any halfway boxes today.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 7, Halfway?

We've certainly arrived in the advertised downwind run. For the last 24 plus hours we've been running downwind with the spinnaker up, in about 15kts true and 2 meter seas. In these conditions Lightspeed is just on the edge of breaking loose and surfing, and with focused driving we've been seeing a lot of 10s, 11s, 12s, and higher. Night driving is still difficult, but we have started switching to the 1.5 oz spin at night. This heavier sail is a bit more forgiving, as well as mentally it's much easier to drive to, as Paul has assured us that we will not be competitive if we manage to destroy the new .75 oz this early in the race.

We are adjusting our watch schedule at night so as to put the more experienced drivers on at night. Much easier in the day.

In other exciting news, Kotuku is on the horizon behind us, having made some gains throughout the night. They are leading their class (as are we as far as I know right now), and it's really cool to see a familiar boat, and hear familiar voices on the VHF out here, about a 1000 miles from land.

They are following our line almost exactly, so hopefully we will get some great pics as they sail by later today or this evening.

One problem with Lightspeed's design is that there is practically no bilge at all, so when water gets in the boat, it is above the floorboards, making life unpleasant. Found a leak today coming from one of the aft bilge pump exits through the hull. Spending some quality time in a stern locker tightening hose clamps while surfing down waves is not a good time. Spent some more quality time sponging the bilge, and it appears to be an improvement.

Now is the time of the day where we wait for the 10am roll call and position report, which will let us know how the last 24 hours played out for us against our fleet. Hard waiting, as we feel like we pushed hard all night, had a great days run of 195nm, and hope we continue to hold on to our small lead.

Today is day 7 of the trip, and while we are still a few hundred miles short of the mileage halfway point, we are optimistic that we are at least half way in terms of days sailing.

N 31 06, W 137 44

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Space Mountain

Two nights ago we put the spinnaker up, and it's been up more or less nonstop since then. For the first 24 hours we were sailing tight reaching angles, with a few roundups...someone onboard who will remain nameless took to squealing in a high pitch voice 'blow the vang blow the vang!!'. We spent the day in sight of some of the doublehanded fleet, passing Valis and then Temerity. Every once in a while we could see a boat that we believe is Bequia from our fleet giving chase, reminding us to keep pushing.

Last night was like a 12 hour ride on space mountain. Blasting into the dark with the steaming light on to see the spinnaker, squalls, wipeouts, crash gybes. Not a whole lot of sleep going on aboard Lightspeed, but this is certainly why we are here.

Days run of 179 miles. We are looking forward to this morning's position reports to see how we fared against our fleet.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hello from onboard Lightspeed.

We are making good time onboard Lightspeed, and were pleased at this morning's check in to see that we were out in front of our division. Some tough tactical decisions still to be made in the next several hours and days of this unusual weather pattern.

Thankfully though we are out in the synoptic wind, after a painful night and morning of day 2 slatting with very little breeze next to the Farallon Islands. Since the start we've had the #3, the #2, the shy kite, the #2, the drifter, the #2, the new kite, and now the #2 up.

We've had some onboard issues that come along with sailing a boat that hasn't been well shaken down.

Within the first several hours of the race our water tank had leaked and poured about half of it's supply into the bilge. Luckily Paul has had 'bad experiences' with a lack of water onboard other boats he's raced, so he has a careful plan of bottled water that means the tank failure is not critical.

More critical to living conditions is the failure of the holding tank. One might reasonably ask 'what the hell is a holding tank doing on an offshore boat?' Believe me that we argued this point quite emphatically before the race, but to no avail. Any bit of vindication is overcome by the fact that the holding tank contents ended up in the bilge. Noah and now Rick have put forth valiant efforts to remove the waste from the boat, and to cover the smell with cleaning products. The best thing that could be said about the inside of Lightspeed at the moment is that it smells like a well trafficked restroom.

But, the sailing is fantastic, it's getting a bit warmer already, and everyone is in good spirits. Last night on Noah and my watch there was bioluminescence in the water, and dolphins playing around the boat.

Hi to everyone out there on terra firma.