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Forethought 2007 log

This is now the story of year 11 of owning a GK24. This years problems include finally tracing down the leak that has always been there. It turns out that the P bracket on the propellor shaft is corroded , de-zinced and has a crack around it through to the interior of the lamination around the p-bracket inside the hull.
Water seeps out all the time.

For the first time ever we got stormbound in East Cowes Marina, on a night when the Cowes Yacht Haven had loose boats and pontoons, and a yacht broke free off Yarmouth  and went on to the breakwater. We took the ferry home, went to see the Sound of Music at the Palladium, came back two days later and took Forethought home.

Round The Island Race 2007 : A New Hope

This is the story of a better Round the Island  than last year. The decision was made to go with one fewer crew than last time, but intending to stay over in Cowes afterwards . As it turned out only three of us stayed in Cowes over the Saturday night.

    Mike James : me  on helm and mainsheet 
    Steve Sims : weight and enthusiasm, cockpit
    Duncan Hobbs : prior knowledge, cockpit
    Les Starkie : foredeck and cockpit.

Our preparation  included sending Duncan off on the Industry Sailing Challenge where they went the wrong way  so did not do so well. This information was used to define the right way as  being somewhere else.
We used a gliding website to provide three hourly wind forecasts which turned out to be accurate 24 hours ahead. 
I had also taken my copy of the tidal stream atlas and photocopied it so the pages were in order which made it much easier to find than folding out the real book. Then a chance conversation with some members of Hamble River about a good way to go 'on the beat take the Island side or the Mainland side but not in the middle with the chopped up wind from other boats'.  As for Malcolm Donald we just said we would follow him ....
We know that being a slow boat, we needed to make extra sure our wind was clear while racing. This was to be important.

The pre start  0500-0630

I slept on the boat so as to be ready. At 0400  I was woken by 'Woah , woah , woah , BANG !'. Somebody else, somewhere else  fortunately.
At 0430 I officially woke up and began to prepare.  
I took the boat in to the public pontoon at Hamble, where Malcolm Donald was also picking up a crew member. We said good morning and then with crew on board we set off for the line.

Start to Needles (planning)

Skally on the beat
On the way out we had traditional bacon rolls and  cups of tea. We discovered a pleasant breeze that was as usual a couple of forces lower than reality because of the boats already upwind of us. Looking at the West Brambles ODM we could see large bunches of boats fighting for what looked like the best line at the windward end of the line. Based on experience of avoiding the best end of the line if it is crowded, we simply set ourselves up to start half way down the line also on starboard, because the wind was clear and the tide tends more directly west rather than southwest at the W.  Bramble buoy.
The gun went and we were behind one or two boats but with clear air. We kept watching the Speed Over Ground  on the GPS and the feel of the wind on the boat. Every time the SOG dropped on the southwest bound tack we would go onto port and head northwest usually until the wind started dropping as we came into the shadow of the rest of the fleet. Then back onto starboard and so on. At this point we crossed tacks with the GK24 Skallywag who were doing much the same. It was useful benchmarking against them.  All the way down, the tide was with us and fairly strong.
At one stage we passed the Tide 28 sailing on its side with a reef in their main making amazing leeway as they shot from windward to leeward as we approached from astern on the same tack. I commented that someone had crossed the Atlantic in it. There was nobody on the rail on the Tide 28. Then we started crossing tacks with boats that had started ten minutes earlier. We also started seeing boats that had started 10 minutes later.
At Hurst Narrows we stood out into the fastest tide in the deepest water. We were doing 9.2 knots SOG in 126 feet of water through Hurst Narrows. It turned out that we had judged the layline for the Needles correctly . Without tacking once and only occasionally pinching up to push bigger faster boats through our lee, we laid the Needles. A long line of boats following the safety instructions were going wide outside.
As we got there, Malcolm Donald on Love in A Mist was just cutting inside the wreck all by himself. We went the same way (I think I have been through the gap about 12 times or so) keeping close to the lighthouse (about a lighthouse height)  on a track towards St Catherines Point, 13  miles away. Looking back another 20 or so boats decided we knew where we were going and followed suit. Some went quite wide ... Looking back, Skallywag was amongst those coming through in the next 5 minutes.

Needles to St Cats (consistency and planning) 

Then round the edge of the bay missing the big rock in the middle and not quite under the cliffs towards Freshwater Bay. We knew from experience (Duncan reminding us to go in as go out did not pay), Malcolm's track,  and the tide chart  that there was less tide inshore and further round by the ledges there would be a fair tide eddy . Malcolms big white spinnaker was clearly visible as he went away from us. Our spinnaker just is not that big relative to the size of boat.
Having the Folkboat fleet come through on the same track was additional confirmation of our choice. The Skallies came the same way and gradually overhauled us. We fiddled with our spinnaker , flying it a bit higher, and then they stopped pulling away from us and held level.  Out to sea there was a big black cloud but it did not provide any wind to those offshore . We could see how we were moving up the inside of the fleet.
Steve provided  pot noodles and a cup of tea. I was spinnaker trimming as I had the darkest shades on and the sun was actually shining in my eyes at this point. We got hotter and hotter. By St Cats we were on a very close reach. Skallywag had their spinnaker flapping a bit more often than we seemed to.

St Cats to Dunnose Head (who are these idiots ? )

The skallies
We sailed off Ventnor where we were able to be seen by Les's girlfriend Anna who had come over to watch the racing.
We caught up with and sailed alongside Skallywag for a while , discussing if they could come over and use our toilet as this appeared to be a problem over there. All the time we could see how we were pushing closer to the shore where we couldnt overtake them. So we "broke cover", crash gybed and wrapped the spinnaker round the forestay and the genoa hanks making a fairly large split.  The sail was slightly clammy and I could not manage to stick repair tape to it while it was up.

Dunnose Head to Bembridge (the idiots fix the sail)

We took the holed spinnaker down as the hole began to grow and put up the 28 year old Arun Sails/Westerly original stripy stocking material which is totally stretchy and misshapen. It was also very small and the boat rolled around like crazy. This wasnt helped by a minor argument breaking out as frustration set in on deck. So I got out the damaged spinnaker, turned on the Webasto heater and dried the part of the sail with the damage. I could then stick repair tape to the sail and we were able to re-hoist the sail. We had  lost a lot of ground and found ourselves surrounded by other GK24's . In the distance we could see the Skallies spinnaker and so we followed them.  We began to be determined to catch them. We realised that the race can be lost from the forts to Cowes. Its usually where we come unstuck.
We saw the first of the tail end of the  Sunsail fleet by this stage. The spinnaker logos indicated we were approaching a danger zone.

Bembridge to Ryde Sands

The wind had increased by Bembridge Ledge and as we dropped the spinnaker we were on an extremely exciting white sail reach. Again we could see the Skallies were not so far ahead . We could see they were being overpowered in the gusts and slowing down.  It needed coordination between the helm and the mainsheet trimmer . As I was doing both the coordination was quite good. We generally managed to keep going fast up to the first of the red piles off Ryde Sands.  The adrenaline cut back in. We were hunting them down.

Ryde Sands to Cowes

The Skallies went slightly too far over the edge of the sand, bore away and then sailed off into the melee. We kept on going back to the edge of the sands using grounded boats as markers and keeping in clear wind . Suddenly we saw the Skallies way off to leeward. We tried to avoid tacking for starboard tack boats but ducked them instead.
We followed round Ryde sands but then decided to go for Cowes. We could see Needle Work anothe HRSC boat down to leeward. At some point they must have realised that they had gone too far out into the tide, tacked back intowards the Island from the middle of the channel and just crossed our bows. We held on the same course, apparently laying Castle Point  for a few more minutes then I noticed the SOG had gone from 4.5 knots (about 0.5 knots of foul tide) down to 3.8 knots as we sailed into the deep water. We tacked inshore but then we were way behind Needle Work. Chocolate chip muffins came out and were eaten and large bits of muffin dropped. More than once I slipped on a bit of chocolate.  One tack and again we could lay Castle Point.  
The wind built to the limit for full sail in nasty gusts as Beken came over and took some shots of us. Quite a few in fact, and some nice shots too.
Somewhere before the line we heard Chuckles Too (masthead rigged GK24) report a dismasting. 
As we approached the point the wind went more Northerly  and we had to tack once more.  We ended up too close to the point and we ran out of wind and slowed down.  We were then passed by several boats. One large boat put us about and we went back in towards the shore at the point . We tacked back onto a lay line for the finishing barge, on port tack. As starboard tackers threatened to cross our track, I pinched up to slow slightly and gain more ground to windward , then the duck astern was fairly small. So we held our track through the chaos. Up to windward of us we saw a port and starboard collision incident, and there was an increasing pile up of larger boats just behind us. But none of them was going fast enough to roll over us , but it made dropping sails after the finish line fairly exciting as we had to hold our course with the engine on full while they spread out.

We then went into the harbour at Cowes. Chuckles Too, the only IRC GK24 entered the harbour with half a mast and somebody holding it up.

We went past the chain ferry vaguely heading for East Cowes when we saw a gap about the size of a GK24 where we were able to  tie up alongside Googleeye on E pontoon.  
A long wait for the water taxi then ensued. We gave up, had a snack and then queued for an hour again for the water taxi. We went ashore eventually. As we arrived it started to rain very hard. We sheltered under the arches by the ferry terminal , eating fish and chips from the chipshop across the street. We then met Nigel , a motor boat owner work colleague, his young Labrador dog and his friend. On finding all the 'yottie' pubs full we went into the Vectis Tavern where we managed to get seats by the door. People were making the most of only having a few days left to fill the pub with smoke. The dog was definitely a way of breaking the ice, though when it threw up its dinner in neat little piles on the floor, it was a bit less popular.

The pub served Ventnor Bitter, a real ale I remembered from student days as Burt's Bitter. I had about 5 pints as it was so tasty.

Five Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)

Going back was  an exhibition of several facts and observations

    CE markings provide realistic estimates of the carrying capacity of a boat.
    Alcohol intake is a bad way of re-adjusting estimates of the carrying capacity of a boat.
    Prescription sunglasses are not a good idea at 2330.
    Mobile phones make feeble all round white lights.
    Inflatable tenders look bigger in the sunshine on the back of a motor boat.
    Labrador retrievers make heavy lap dogs.

We now also know why they hand out nice tankards for finishing the RTI. They make excellent bailers.
We had to stop by the chain ferry to empty out the water. Nigel lost his prescription shades somewhere here. We crawled onto the nearest bit of E pontoon, soaking wet from all the water slopping around. The dog tried to join us but stayed in the dinghy. He was the only one with dry feet as he sat on Steve's lap all of the time we were in the dinghy.

I think I thanked Nigel for an enjoyable near-death experience.

After we returned the river taxis started belting up and down the river. We probably would have been unable to complete the voyage up the Medina with all of the chop.

P Bracket Replacement

The story will go here

Page Mike James 2 Nov  2007

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