Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Return Day 3 - Night

Good evening race fans.

I'm on the night watch with Scrappy Cappy. we have approximately 150nm to the entrance to Narragansett bay. It is a calm and peaceful night on the bay. There are a couple of race fleet vessels on the AIS, likely heading to similar ports of call as us in New England. s/v Fearless is off to our starboard and s/v Momentum is off of our stern.

Given Mahina Kai means moon over sea, i suppose it is fitting that we enjoy a ull moon behind us as we motor sail towards our destination. It is hard for me to imagine this is the same day, when I was sailing through a cold front earlier today. The Atlantic ocean clearly has many different personalities.

If all things continue as planned, I would expect us to reach Newport sometime Thursday evening.

Fair winds,
The Crew of s/v Mahina Kai

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Return - Day 3

Greetings race fans.

Mahina Kai is well on her way home to Newport, RI. The complete and e the brief visit to Bermuda is almost a distant memory. We have had a great time.
The last 3 days have provided plenty of wind and a few waves to make good progress on our return.

We are now north of the gulf stream with 413nm miles under our keel, a little over 200 mile reamin in our journey.Tthe wind is actually starting to get light with just 10-12 knots of winds at the moment. we are still making good time to our next waypoint.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Return - End of Day 1

The end of Day 1 home at sunset we have a 3/4 moon and two planets in conjunction, seas are 3-4 ft, wind is W at 16 kts, the crew is fed, meatloaf and mashed and we are settling in for the night watches. All is well abord Mahina Kai.
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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Day 5 - June 23

Day 5 – 23

After the prior two days in the gulfstream with her heavy weather, Mahina Kai now is enjoying a nice Bermudan high, with steady winds to bring us into the finish.  In 2013 race, at this point, wind dies and boats struggled for wind.  This year, good wind brought us all the way to the start line.  The Navigator called "Land Ho" around 10:00.

The approach to Bermuda requires careful navigation as the Bermuda island is completely surrounded by shoals that have claimed many shipwrecks over the centuries.   The finish line for the race is at the East end of Bermuda, so we tack closer to the island to line up for the finish line.  One of our competitors Oronoco was ahead of us by a minute or so, which surprisingly after four days, gave the appearance of a photo-finish at the line for on-line spectators. 

Mahina Kai crossed the finish line at 14:00:14 local time.  We had to kill some time to allow a car carrier to enter port ahead of us.  The channel to Hamilton is 17 miles long, horseshoe-shaped, very narrow, and has a variety of navigational markers that need careful interpretation.  Vessels that arrive at night anchor near the finish line in St. Georges, and come around to Hamilton in daylight.  We were thankful for a daytime arrival, and leisurely ride to Hamilton. 

Our elapsed time was 95h:45m:14s.  Our final handicap-adjusted time was 91h:55m:25s.  We were eleventh over the line overall, and within our class finished fourth.  The three boats ahead of us in our class were Swift, Defiance, and Integrity, from the US Naval Academy.  We can live with company like that. Miles at finish 659.

Meal plan included yogurt & granola for breakfast, sandwiches, and dinner ashore.  Cookie of the day: Sunny skies!

#SVMahinaKai #MBR2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

Greetings race fans Monday Day 4

After a lively sail yesterday through the gulf stream Mahina Kai is on the last major leg to Bermuda. We should be at the outer reef in less than 20 hours. Can't wait to see everyone in Bermuda.

we are experience a nice SW breeze and a small following sea. Just want every sailor dreams of!

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Day 4 - June 22

Day 4 – June 22

Our third night at sea, and second day in the gulfstream.  We passed through a thunderstorm overnight, and discovered afterwards that our main VHF radio had failed, apparently from a power surge.  Handheld VHF radio was pressed into service for the remainder of the race.  We also lost a Man-overboard Buoy & strobe that was lifted off it's bracket by a passing wave.  All hands accounted for, and missing buoy reported to Race Committee.

Seas continued to be heavy with winds in the 20's.  With a good wind, Mahina Kai can sail about 10 knots, so yesterday and today we covered 150+ miles each day.  This put us ahead of the worst weather according to sailors behind us that we talked to after the race, who saw 50-60 knot winds in a gale that was the remnants of TS Bill.

Meal plan was modest in the AM with yogurt and granola for breakfast, sandwiches and snacks.  After we emerged from the gulfstream, and the seas settled, dinner of Chicken Cordon Bleu with Potatoes & Green beans was served.  Cookie of the day were "First Place".  This was optimistic, but we did end up finishing "first in our class with taxpayer-sponsored boats (Naval Academy) removed", if that is a thing :)

We closed the day at 547 trip miles after a lively day at sea.

#SVMahinaKai #MBR2015

Day 4 - Update Tuesday morning

Good morning Race Fans

At sunrise sailing along in 15-17 knots of wind. Most of the crew is a sleep and off watch. We have travelled over 600 nm and have another 60 = before we reach the northeastern edge of the outer reef of Bermuda.

Perhaps we will arrive in time to go to the Ladies tea with the Governors' wife.

#SVMahinaKai #MBR2015
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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Day 3 - June 21

Day 3 –June 21

Second night at sea, and entered the gulfstream in the early morning.
I was off-watch, and in the forward berth as we entered the gulf stream.  Squalls picked up the seas and it was a bumpy ride as we crashed into the waves.  Laying in my bunk trying to sleep I thought back to earlier seafarers and drawings I have seen of dark seas shrouded in mist, raging storms, and snake-like seamonsters lurking near square-rigged ships. 
 I emerged from my bunk to a cockpit of wet sailors and squalls.  We entered the core of the gulfstream current at 11:00, which helped boost our speed to 10.2 knots.

One of the complexities of crossing the Atlantic ocean is remediating the impacts of the gulfstream current.  Most of us know about the basic current flow from the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida, to northern Europe, which then sinks as a cold current and returns South.  In reality though, there are arm-like offshoots from the main current, and large areas of spinning eddies that can stay active for years.  These create beneficial or opposing currents that can help or hinder progress.

A second complexity is the prevailing weather.  On this trip, remnants of TS Bill, moving through New England and easterly off shore created strong winds in opposition to the gulfstream current.  This combination increases the seas, wave heights, and compresses the wave frequency.  

As we progress through the gulfstream area, we recorded steady winds of 28-32 knots, and top winds of around 36 knots.  The crew remained mainly on deck, and meals were reduced in proportion to the crew's appetite, and the challenges of cooking while heeled over.   Cookie of the day "You are Here" (in the ocean)!

As the weather built we settled on the third-reef in the mainsail, and second reef in the genoa, which contributed to a lively, but manageable, sail.  With an extended period of strong winds, we made good progress and closed the day with 265 nm behind us.

#SVMahinaKai #MBR2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 2 –June 20

Day 2 –June 20

First night at sea, and the crew slept fairly well with calm seas and steady winds.
A yellow jacket stowaway, or some other unwelcome visitor, stung the captain's hand on night watch.  Normally retribution would be swift and severe in order to set an example for the crew, but in a karmic moment, it was spared and later buzzed away. 

The meal plan included breakfast of ham & cheese croissants, sandwiches and chicken noodle soup for lunch, and chicken parmesan casserole.  Cookie of the day revealed to be Sunbursts.
Most of the pack is dispersed now, with each vessel executing on their tactical plan.  We still are within sight of a few vessels and have about a dozen around us within a few miles.  Another whale sighting today, which always cheers the crew.

We left the continental shelf around 10:00, with the last recorded depth of nearly 600 feet.  100 miles of blue behind us now, and 500 ahead.  We overheard on the radio today the Coast Guard working coastal cases of a vessel taking on water, and another capsized.  We are reassured by our careful preparations.

Water temperature is rising from the 60' in Buzzards Bay, and we will be entering the gulf stream this evening.  There will be micro weather patterns, and as previously mentioned the prevailing winds and currents will be opposing, which will create roughening seas.  Looking forward to seeing Nemo and his friends.

Finished the day with about 200nm behind us.

#SVMahinaKai #MBR2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

Day 1 - June 19

Day 1 - June 19
Up early for final enjoyment of shore facilities, on to Kate’s for breakfast sandwiches, and a final provisioning of ginger ale before the rush for launch shuttles to return us to the vessel.

We passed a lady on the return who exclaimed: “Never let a man provision a boat: nothing for breakfast!”.  She had two large boxes of cereal, and the last four yogurts from the general store.  With a strong shore support crew, Mahina Kai rarely has issues with lack of provisions.  Back to the boat, everything stowed, and cast off for 11:00 check-in, and 13:00 start for the B class. 

In this race, there is a starting box behind the start-line, and only the boats in a specific class can be within the box immediately prior to their start.  With four classes, this makes for an orderly progression, although there is much maneuvering for position in the box.  The Race Committee uses a canon to signal various intervals before the start, and a horn to signal the start of each class.  In our class one vessel was over the start-line early, and this involves (I’m not making this up) the Race Committee firing a shotgun signal.  This caused me a little concern, since our vessel was closest to, and downrange of, the Committee vessel.  Hopefully they were using only birdshot to lightly pepper the offending vessel.  Clearly this is a Race Committee that takes rules infractions seriously!

The wind for good for the first few hours, but faded in the afternoon, and our smaller heavy-weather jib did not give us the needed speed to satisfy this eager crew, so we decided to swap that sail back to our full jib.  Speeds were much improved in the lighter winds, and we were able to advance in the pack.

Dinner of Shepard’s Pie, and the fitting Cookie of the Day: Sailboats.
The first sunset was accompanied by a passing whale spout, and later a small rain shower passed over, causing variable winds which failed for a while before returning.

#SVMahinaKai #MBR2015