First Race

The big night! The engine is repaired and running. The crew have had two practices, they must be experts, right? So, out we go to race. Due to the engine problems, we missed the first week of racing. But, everything is a green light for the second night.

As folks begin trickling on to the dock, we start rigging. During practice, we had swapped spin sheets and guys, to get the load on to the main winches. Rigging up, confusion ensued. Then, there was more discussion about the jibs. The first few weeks, I supervised the jib rigging. Tonight, our experienced guy on mast was supervising, and he thought we couldn’t rig because the larger, inner boltrope wouldn’t fit into the track. Eventually, my arguing won out. I looked at my watch…and we needed to leave the dock 15 minutes ago. We do agree to tuck a reef in, because the wind is gusting to 18kts, we have the #1 jib up, and we’re not even certain it’s rigged correctly and may blow the luff tape off.

Now, we’re rushing to get up the river to the start area. Luckily, the wind is on our beam, so we pause, haul up the main, and make tracks. We arrive about 10 minutes before the start of the sequence. As we pull up to the start area, the RC begins reading off the marks over the radio. I’m driving, and I have the radio. I can’t write. In the future, I’ll set the main VHF to RC’s channel 72, and let someone else transcribe.

After a quick swing by RC, we have the course and head off to kill time. Sailing away from RC, we end up missing the horn for the beginning of the 5 minute warning to the start of the 5 minute sequence. At this point, I ask who else has a watch. No one. I hand my watch to Lisa, on jib, and pray she starts it on time.

I sail out for 2 or so minutes, and tack about. As we run the line, and are passing RC, I watch them swap flags, and sound a horn. “Lisa, quick that was our 5 minute!” She’s fast and actually starts the watch directly on time.

I begin to execute the start plan I had imagined all winter long. We’ll head way out on a starboard reach, for half the sequence, come about, head in on port, and then find a gap, tack, and cross just as the gun goes off. It’ll be beautiful.

Two minutes away from RC, I look back, and they look MILES away. OK. Maybe using the full sequence for this maneuver was a bad idea. I come about, and head back. We pass RC 200 yards below them, and we’re halfway along the line, when I hear a horn and the radio crackle to life, “all clear!” But, we have 1 minute left…damn the race started. And we’re nowhere close to the line.

I immediately tack, which no one was prepped for. The boat ends up in irons. It takes us a minute to sort that. We start to accelerate on our starboard tack and now I have to cross B fleet. We make for the committee boat, and 2 lengths away, I realize I’m not going to clear them for a starboard tack start. We flop over to port, cross the line and finally start our race..almost 3 minutes after the gun.

Race 1 Incorrigible Start

After things settle, I replay the start i my mind, and realize I had told Lisa the horn we heard was 5 minutes, but it was actually the 4 minute warning. Damn.

The course ended up being two upwind/downwind legs, with a close reach finish. With the wind gusting to 18, a slow start and a green crew, as we tacked on to our last port tack on the upwind leg, we decided to round the mark before rigging the spin. Once rounded, we decided to skip the spin entirely. Halfway down the leg, the leaders of the B fleet come up on us…and pass us.

Race 1 John

We round the next mark with the B fleet leaders, tangle a bit with them on some of the headers, and hold our own against much slower boats until we round again. This downwind leg is shorter. We decide to rig the spin after the rounding. As we get the spin plugged in finally, I realize we’re at the turning mark. Oh well. We round and head to the line.

Race 1 Pancho John

We crossed. I looked around. I had all my crew aboard. Nothing broke. No protests were filed. All the marks were rounded. I’ll take that as a success.

Race 1 Incorrigible Finish

We ended up finishing in 5th place…out of 5 boats in A fleet. We were 18 minutes off the leader, and 14 minutes off the 4th place boat. We had an awful start, we had a reef in, and we didn’t use a spinnaker. Had we fixed all of those problems, we probably would have ended in 5th place. So, I’ll take a relaxed sail where we all survived.

Only one way to go and that’s up.

Highlights: https://youtu.be/AR2EPFJzOmE

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Second Practice

After the engine debacle, we were sidelined for a week. Finally, on Saturday, the afternoon before practice, the mechanic got to Incorrigible. I was luckily there, and got to learn the full process to prime an engine. That’s a different post.

Sunday, 4/17, we made it out for a second practice. We had 8 aboard. This left us with: foredeck, mast, pit, two jib/spin trimmers/grinders/tailers, main trim, helm, and one extra person. For most of the day, that extra person was me. I got to observe, bounce positions, and occasionally help.

Dan Tactician

Like the week before, the forecast of 2kts ended up being closer to 12kts. We got some practice in on jib trimming, as well as hoisting our spinnakers.

John D Foredeck

The crew is starting to settle into a routine. Even if they leave the owner to clean up some of the messes in the forecabin.

Spin dowsed

Finding crew and first practice

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Once April rolled around, Incorrigible went back in the water, and we could get out to race. We had 2 weeks to get practice in before the first race.

The crew is shaping up well. We started with a base crew of the two owners, plus 2 friends from the Downtown Sailing Center (www.downtownsailing.org). To that we added, a father-daughter set of friends, and a couple of interested but not terrifically committed friends. That didn’t leave us particularly strong. Two weeks before racing started, an acquaintance on Race Committee reached out to see if we had a slot still for a friend of his. We said, “sure”. We also grabbed an unassigned sailor from the crew board. Finally, at the race rules night, two guys walked in, both looking a little lost. I introduced myself and lo and behold, they were looking for a boat. So, they got added to the list.

All told, this ended up meaning the full mailing list is 20. Depending on weather, we can’t leave the dock with less than 6, though 8 is better. And more than 10 starts becoming crowded.

The first day of scheduled practice, we hadn’t swapped the forestay out. They also predicted 65kts gusts. We opted out.

Before the second practice, on 4/10, we had a chance to swap the forestay. The wind prediction was a most less hectic 2kts, so out we went. The new crew showed up, and we spent 2 hours walking through the boat, laying out lines, practicing rigging the spinnaker. Eventually, we got underway.

The  wind was pretty light out on the Patapsco. We motored around, and finally got the main up. It was a bit of a struggle, but we were shaking rust out. The wind was still light.

Eventually, we got the jib up to, and the wind started picking up. Because it was still flukey, and there was commercial traffic, we left the engine running. Over the course of the next hour, the wind built.

As we were coming to a mark to practice a mark rounding, all of the sudden, there was a shudder, and then silence. My eyes immediately went to the depth sounder, but it showed 55′ of water under the keel. As my brain processed that, the buzzer on the engine when it is in ‘on’ but the engine is off came on. Ah ha! The engine died.

Handing the tiller over to Pat, I disappeared below, followed closely by the mechanical engineer, and the naval engineer who happen to be part of the crew. We pull the cover off, and begin discussing options: engine will crank, therefore not battery related. Tank was topped off in November, so we have gas. Oil level is fine. Cooling is fine. I settle on water in the fuel.

I grab a cup, and set about draining water from the fuel separator. Eventually, I get liquid, and it’s 3 TBSB of water. Problem found. I follow the youtube videos for bleeding an engine, and try cranking the engine. Nothing. We try bleeding the second filter and priming. Nothing. We start again. Nothing.

An hour into it, we give up. We call Boat US. We tack across the river for another hour until they arrive. They hook up to us, and start dragging us unceremoniously back to home.

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But, first, we get a nice police escort. We ended up timing our return with a cruise ship departure. The police didn’t want us getting too close, so they escorted us to our slip. Nice of them…

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Setting up the boat to race

3 weeks ago, the boat finally went in the water. Once it was in the water, we were able to climb the rig, take care of a couple issues, and get out on the water.

The first challenge was swapping out the roller furler for a Schaeffer Tuff Luff foil. Incorrigible came with the foil, we just had to install it.

When we finally had a clear weather window, two of the crew plus me, headed to the boat to sort out the forestay. I belted on my climbing harness, tied in to the main halyard (since I also climb, I prefer to use climbing knots. Contrary to what most sailors would use, I relied on a double figure 8), climbed onto the boom, and proceeded to get hauled up.

Prior to climbing, the starboard jib halyard was run to the bow stemplate, and cinched hard to make a temporary forestay.

During the survey, the steaming light was noted to be burned out. I stopped to check it out, and learned I would need to dissassemble it to fix it. Hindsight being 20/20, I need to pull it off entirely.

Up I went. At the mast head, what I discovered was that the J/35 has two sheaves integrated into the mast. These are for jib halyards. There are also two aluminum arms, or wings, jutting outboard and forward about a foot, with a block suspended from each. These blocks are for the spinnaker halyards. All of the 1980s guides to rigging your J/35 recommend doing away with the starboard halyard.

I suppose the logic is that 85% of the time, you set after a port-side rounding. So, you set the spin on your port side. Assuming you use the port jib halyard, the port spin halyard is outboard of it. But, should you need to do a gybe set, you still have the starboard jib halyard, so clear the clutter and remove the starboard spin halyard.

Anyway, the block is still there. The block on the port spin halyard is trash. 30 years of UV and vinyl for the sheave don’t play nicely. A project for another day.

Swapping the forestay was easy. The cotter was missing from the pin holding the roller forestay in. Oops. Pulling the pin, the forestay was ready to be lowered. I dropped that on the other jib halyard, and had the tuff luff stay raised. I set the pin, bent on a new cotter, and watching the clouds for the next front approaching, I opted to skip taping up the cotter, since I had left it below.

I’ll tape the cotter when I go up to sort the spin halyard.