Forethought 2004 log
Miscellaneous stuff I cleared out from the
boat before the Round the Island Race
100 metres of 25mm nylon rope.
20 kilos of tinned food
Spare outboard brackets
17 metre mains extension lead
All this on a quarter tonner. It obviously refers to how much
junk one can remove from the boat.
Round The Island Race 2004
Just before the race I upgraded the spinnaker arrangements with new
ball bearing cheek blocks. Hoped to check out all systems including the
crew on the Wednesday evening before the race but there was a gale.
Saturday 0600 Port Hamble: Start time 0730 as part of the last ISC
The crew was
Everybody arrived on time and we set off, having a cup of tea and I
made some bacon rolls despite the boat pitching badly. I sat down on
the custom cookie-seat next to the cooker so I didnt need to feel
Nick Thorne: helm/foredeck.
Hangover from England Euro2004 match two days before.
Nigel Nicholson: general cockpit and in front on the rail,
making sure things went well
cockpit and rail
general cockpit and lookout.
Detailed Tide Atlas
Went AWOL last year and was
responsible for a lot of wasted time.
Cowes to Needles
We gradually worked our way down to the start line and were about 300m
off the Squadron as our gun went. At least this time we were facing the
right way and only about a minute off the line.
We methodically hoisted the spinnaker and then set off to
windward of most of the boats in the same start. We kept just offshore
and stayed in the wind and tide. The spinnaker was dropped near Newtown
river and hoisted the number 1 as the apparent wind went too far ahead.
We decided to change up to the heavier spinnaker sheets in future as
the 8mm ones have too much stretch in these conditions.
We luffed up to avoid being rolled by Suhaili at this point. We took
the Island side line down to past Warden and then changed down to the
number 2 genoa, as the wind had built up and we could see the boats
ahead in the wind heeling even more. We kept up a good speed over
the ground helped by the tide.
Needles to St Catherines
Around the Needles the wind came in gusts, and we found ourselves
hardening up and crossing the Bridge inside the Varvassi like usual
even though commonsense says go outside. The melee of stalled boats
make it look more threatening to go outside. Coming through we
meet the waves but seem to be maintaining a good speed compared to the
other boats around us. Perhaps having about 400kg of lard on the
windward side was working.
The colour of the racing flags around us went from purple to white
about half way to St Cats. We were overtaking boats that had started 10
We then stayed close to the Island being sheperded off by one of the
local Lifeboats. Once we got on the track we had a good long tack to
south of Brook Ledges before heading more southerly.
The rain started and we began getting damp. A few waves came on deck
but generally Nick and myself took the boat round the worst of the
Incident 1: Sailing over a fishing pot buoy
Another tack to the east and then we had our first Incident, sailing
over a well-marked lobster pot. I was helming and predicted the rope
would be trailing the opposite way to reality. We were very lucky, it
ran down the front of the keel and then just hooked the bottom of the
rudder before a wave bounced us off. We lost about 30 seconds max here
as I didnt even change course and we didnt stop.
As we got nearer St Cats we headed offshore to get into the conveyor
belt of tide going east. We saw the track on Port tack end up being
down to 170 degrees as the tide pushed east. Hope to go and commune
with the GPS and get the track log.
A final tack and we rounded St Cats about 1215 ish. It had been a
long hard flog and we were tired. Just about half way.
At this point the blue flagged boats from the 0710 start began to
appear, and we went past one GK24 "Gulf Kilo" who had only 2 crew on
deck and a
reef in the main. Andy the new owner tells me it was his first RTI in
Gulf Kilo and there was a third crew member calling for Huey.
St Catherines to Bembridge
More boats were passed but some of the larger boats from our
class passed us again on the fetch to Bembridge. We had lunch and
Erfaan took the helm for a while as we closed on Bembridge.
The rounding of the mark was fairly wide as we had 3 boats inside us.
As the leg was a run it really did not matter. We hoisted the spinnaker
and then had to fight off a couple of 33 footers without spinnakers who
sandwiched us and then took us off to the island side to the
point where we would be running by the lee to lay the forts. We
outran the boat on our right, sailed through its lee and then had to
gybe to get out of trouble.
Then we had the problem that we were only rigged with single spinnaker
sheets. Nick had quite a fight with the spinnaker , having to overcome
not only its tendency to leap around but also random rope releasing
from misinterpreted commands from the cockpit. A second gybe and then
we lined up with No Mans Land fort. All the way down we were treated to
the sight and sound of people losing it with spinnakers. Death rolling
a Laser 1 has much the same feeling as that leg.
Music thumping away from the Fort we dropped the spinnaker as it looked
like too much wind for the sail. At this point we resumed using
the Number 2.
Incident 2 : spinnaker pole stowed in kicking strap
And then somebody created Incident number 2 by threading the spinnaker
pole through the kicking strap and the pulpit (NB the pole about 20cm
longer than J , shortened a bit after a collision, bodged up with epoxy
bandages, so it won't go quietly) so I couldnt release the
main as we hurtled south round the back of the Fort and back
towards Ryde sands. Once that was resolved by releasing the kicker and
sheeting the main after the gust had gone we were off. The wind
gradually dropped after Ryde and we went up to the Number 1. A bit
later I realised we could use the spinnaker again.
Incident 3: keelhauling the spinnaker
The command "pole up" had an equivalent in Franglais "=Pull Up" and so
spinnaker was pulled out of the bag instead of the pole going up. I
shouted "stop" and then somebody else correctly shouted "pull it up!"
but too late. It went over the starboard bow and we sailed over it. I
am sure I turned to starboard for some reason at the same time.
Because it didnt fill it just went as a sausage under the boat. I
rounded up to drop the boat speed and we managed to get it back on deck
after dragging it up on the port hand guy.
While we were tidying up the mess we went back on course, the wind was
building in the gusts but the lulls were too quiet for white sail
So we re-packed the spinnaker after the clear up and with no disaster
in sight, Beken's photographers came along. After they left I realised
we were 3 miles from the finish and going too slowly.
I decided to have another go at hoisting the spinnaker, and then we saw
the split, neatly aligned with a radial panel near the middle of the
sail. It didnt look too bad and wasnt trying to open up too much. Then
a mild squall from the next front came through and it started pouring
with rain as well as the wind increasing. We had not taken the genoa
down and I decided to ban foredeck activity. The GPS was indicating
over 8 knots and this was against the tide. The mainsail was lying in
dead air, the genoa and the spinnaker were pulling hard. Nick says the
stern was lifting and the bow was sinking. The rudder felt neutral but
less responsive than usual with the whole crew apart from Nick back in
or by the cockpit. Sadly this didnt last and again the wind came
ahead of the beam. We dropped the spinnaker and then sailed into the
edge of the hole in the wind at Castle Point. Mindful of being in
the wrong place last year we reached off shore and then picked up the
new wind when lined up with the northern end of the southern line. We
sailed around about 20 boats here .
Our finish was after 8 hours 30 minutes which was quite respectable. We
nearly spoilt it all when we whacked Blade Runner 2 (the declaration
barge) after somebody pushed inside us and stopped despite frantic
shouts and waving from the barge.
They were just in front of us leaving us stopped and weathercocking up
into the wind. A few vigorous bursts with the engine to complete
90 degrees turn in a short gap - I wasnt going around anything
we nearly made it , with a fender in the gap between the ship and
ourselves. Unfortunately Blade Runner has ship-sized fixed hard
rubber fenders that were able to give one of the stanchions a good
twang. Fortunately this is the one I reinforced since the last time
somebody ripped it out .
Then back to Hamble (as we were tired) only to realise that we really
had wanted to go to Cowes as we passed Hamble Point , once we had
relaxed with a cup of tea and some more food. Back in the marina by
One week later... 3rd July
Somebody must have been tuning the weather as we set off for Cowes for
a promised stopover at the Lifeboat at East Cowes Marina
A week before it was raining and a bit windy. Nothing serious.
But what if the RTI had been a week later ..
According to the Bramble Met weather station http://www.bramblemet.co.uk or http://www.bramblemet.co.uk/wap
for those with mobile phones that can swallow that URL , the wind
was 27 knots gusting to 32 knots, and we passed it an hour in the
future (clock double compensated for BST ??). I used my mobile when we
got into Cowes to check on the history. Actually only the WAP link
seems to work (5th July 2004) which is the opposite of "normal"
websites. The main URL just indicates 'testing'.
We passed about 500m downwind of the home of the weather station. We
had the number 3 or 100% of foretriangle genoa up, no mainsail at all,
and the tide going west made up for leeway to the east.
As a result with a southwesterly wind we were still making to windward
in some fashion.
The Cowes Lifeboat came over to us from the northeast and then went
off, probably because they could see a lot of our deck facing east with
waves breaking over it near the Brambles. At closer approach they
could see we were actually going south at about 6 knots.
When we got back we found that there had been a Sunsail boat sunk after
a collision a couple of hours before near the Brambles. Maybe their
concern was that we might be near the wreck. One of the two
Sunsail boats involved in the collision had managed to return to Port
Solent, probably with that lifeboat in attendance.
Down below, water from the tap in the sink was missing the sink and
lying in a pool at the back of the work surface. It was almost easier
to stand on the sides of lockers than on the floor..
At about this point we decided to carry on as things had reached a
steady state of wetness and heeling and the Island beckoned. We knew it
would get quiter once we tucked in against the shore and it did.
We made it to the Island at Castle Point, covered in spray and
with the leeward stanchions cutting through the waves. About the bottom
third of the sail was working the rest was flogging.
Of course Cowes was full of sailors who hadnt gone anywhere and so the
marinas were crowded. Only sailing school boats were out.
Because of our high speed (for us) we managed about 90 minutes from
Hamble to Cowes.
Page © Mike James 4 July 2004
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