11/23/2014, St. Simon's Island, GA
It's now the weekend before Thanksgiving and the fall sailing season is in the rear view mirror. The last few months have flown by at the speed of lightning as it's been a non-stop routine of working four or five days at my paying job and then hurrying down to the coast to prepare for a weekend race. Mix in a Georgia Tech Homecoming trip to ATL, a Baby Maggie Shower, a trip to Asheville, NC for a wedding reception, a tour of the Biltmore House, and the Captain and Admiral are spending the second weekend at home since July 4th!
I've had a couple weeks to reflect on our first sailing season aboard CaiLeigh Anna, and the experience has been a whirlwind of highs and lows. We were unable to conduct full sea trials after replacing the engine in August, so the Fall club races in actuality became our sea trials. We experienced electrical and fuel gremlins, which are not abnormal for a boat that has not been used in years. We just dealt with the problems one by one and forged ahead. Fortunately, the list of issues is now very short and I've developed a pretty good feel for the mechanical systems aboard the boat.
As early as the first race in September we realized that we could not be competitive with our small 125% Genoa Jib. This sail provides a lot of power in light air, which is typical during the Fall season along the Georgia coast. The 125% Genoa Jib is a great cruising and heavy air sail, but it is not a racing sail.
Through good luck and the misfortune of other boats we did manage to squeak out two third places finishes in the early races, and after four races CaiLeigh Anna was in a statistical tie for third place overall. In mid-October we competed in the FL/GA Ocean Challenge Race from St. Simon's Island to Fernandina Beach and realized just how much speed we were missing. Over the 25 mile coastal race we averaged between 1.5 and 2 miles per hour slower than the winning boat. This difference in speed is almost completely accountable to the small head sail since we know that the Catalina 34 has a relatively fast hull.
A good friend with a Catalina 355 gave me his original 135% "like new" Genoa, which was a little large for my Catalina 34, and I sent the sail to a sail loft in Jacksonville to be cut down for CaiLeigh Anna. Dimensionally this sail will be a 150% Genoa for my smaller boat, and should provide the extra speed we so desperately need to be competitive. Unfortunately it didn't arrive back in time to use during the last race of the season.
It's probably just as well that we were handicapped by the small headsail because it has given my crew and me time to learn the boat. I am so fortunate to have our good friends Joe and Pat as dedicated crew for our races. Last Fall, Pat and I won the under 30' cruising class on Roma, finished third in an offshore race, and Joe and I finished second in the Double Handed Race.
This was a new experience competing in the "big boat" class, and we will have to step up our game to be competitive, even with the new head sail. Sailboat racing is very much a mental game as well as a tactical exercise, and while we generally did very well at the start of the races we did make some blunders during a couple races.
The Catalina 34 enjoys a great reputation as a club racer so we are expecting many great racing seasons to come. I'm sure we will lose more races than we will win, but I just want to be competitive and mix it up with the race leaders as often as possible. We've owned CaiLeigh Anna for just a year and the first nine months were spent bringing her back to life. She may not be all the boat I dream of having, but she's all the boat I need and more.
Without a doubt the best part of owning CaiLeigh Anna is that Suze feels comfortable spending extended time aboard and she actually seems to enjoy the racing. This is something I could never say about her and Roma. Besides racing, we also expect to enjoy more cruising in the months and years ahead. We are already planning a spring trip to St. Augustine and a summer trip to Savannah and Hilton Head. For now, it's time to rest, enjoy the holidays, and get ready for a new little mate, Maggie Sue!
|CaiLeigh Anna News||
09/28/2014, St. Simon's Island, GA
FINALLY - SEA TRIALS & CLUB RACING!
After repowering CaiLeigh Anna in mid-August the plan was to conduct sea trials before Labor Day and get in a couple sailing trips before the fall racing season started. Two scheduled attempts to cast off the dock lines were cancelled due to fuel related issues.
First, my mechanic thought there that old fuel and/or a dirty fuel tank which caused the engine to shut down after a 45 minute test run at the dock. After cleaning the fuel and tank the motor ran fine during a 2 hours test run at the dock. However, during the second test run the engine ran for 10 seconds and shut off, and could not be restarted. The mechanic now suspected that the electric fuel pump was malfunctioning.
The fuel pump was replaced and all seemed to be fine. The mechanic conducted daily test runs of the engine for a week so we were confident that CaiLeigh Anna would finally cast off the dock lines that had bound her to the dock for over two years.
Saturday, September 20, was a wet and dreary day but we felt that a sea trial was essential considering that the first race of the fall season was the next day. After another successful test run at the dock we cast off for the fuel dock a short distance away. All was fine so far. This was all to change as we departed the fuel dock, raised the head sail, and headed down the Frederica River to St. Simon's Sound.
We noticed diesel fuel pumping out the bilge discharge and an inspection of the engine compartment revealed fuel pumping out of the injector bleeder valve. A small ¼" bolt apparently wasn't tightened sufficiently and had worked out from the engine vibration. Despite a lot of searching I could not locate the missing bolt. Since running the engine was out of the question, we sailed back to the marina as far as possible and dropped anchor. Then we called Sea Tow to tow us back to our slip.
I had already contacted my mechanic and he was onboard shortly after we docked with a replacement part. After another series of test runs at the dock we felt confident that we could compete in the first race on Sunday.
Sunday's weather was a complete reversal of the previous day and we were greeted with sunny blue skies and light winds from the Northeast. Prior to the skippers' prerace meeting we moved CaiLeigh Anna to the transient dock to avoid exiting over a shallow hump in the marina during low tide a couple hours away. It seems that we had finally exercised all the fuel gremlins that had haunted us for the past month. Joining our regular crew of Joe & Pat, and Suze was Bryanna, a high school member of the local sailing club. After a few tacks everyone had their jobs down great and we never had a bad tack during the race. It is a great crew and we were thrilled to have Bryanna on board.
Tally ho, the race was underway as CaiLeigh Anna joined the rest of the Golden Isles Sailing Club in St. Simon's Sound for the first race! My objective was to successfully compete and try to avoid any sailing mishap. We got a less than stellar start as I was overly cautious and determined to avoid the rest of the fleet in a close starting formation. CaiLeigh Anna responded well and sailed extremely well, albeit not as fast as needed to compete with the leaders.
Our head sail or genoa jib is cruising size, about a 125%, and not a racing sail which run from 135% to 170%. Still we sailed well and managed to successfully deploy our new asymmetrical spinnaker on the first downwind leg. The huge multicolored sail is a thing of beauty. Our crew performed flawlessly all day and we actually caught up with the lead pack, which were becalmed just short of the finish line. At one time CaiLeigh Anna was in the lead before we also lost out wind.
Three of the lead boats caught a puff and managed to cross the finish line. And a short time later we found a breeze along with Delphine and were also sprinting next to each other for the line. We had a couple boat lengths lead with CaiLeigh Anna and managed to block Delphine's course to the finish line barely squeaking out a four second fourth place finish ahead of her.
The return trip to the marina was joyful as we sailed side by side with our friends on Delphine. After a testy docking due to a cross wind we were safely tied up in our slip and rejoicing over a very successful day aboard CaiLeigh Anna. There are still many small things to do to bring this boat back, but she has returned to the sea where she belongs. This skipper could not be more pleased.
|CaiLeigh Anna News||
08/20/2014, Saint Simon's Island, GA
The long awaited day for installing the new engine in CaiLeigh Anna finally arrived on August 18. Although not completely hooked up and running at this time, the hard work of hoisting the old engine and lowering the new engine into the boat is complete. Sea trials are just a few days away as the crew of CaiLeigh Anna prepare for the Fall racing season at SSI!
|CaiLeigh Anna News||
07/25/2014, St. Simon's Island, GA
Pictured is the replacement Universal M25 engine before, after starblasting, and after painting.
Although there have been few posts about what's going on with s/v CaiLeigh Anna, I've been busy for the past couple months preparing to repower the boat. We knew when purchasing the boat that a new engine was needed, and this expense was factored into the selling price of the boat.
Through a contact in California who is a certified marine mechanic and former employee of Catalina I was able to locate and purchase a nearly identical engine from a Catalina being salvaged in New Jersey. It seems that one positive affect of Hurricane Sandy has been the supply of surplus parts from parted out boats.
The process of getting the engine ready for installation in CaiLeigh Anna includes completely servicing it as well as swapping out all water hoses, clamps, impeller, testing the alternator , starter, and having the engine soda blasted and repainted. These projects will be completed within the next week and the engine will be taken to the coast and bench tested by a marine mechanic prior to installation in CaiLeigh Anna.
The goal is to be sailing by mid to late August and to be ready for the fall racing season which begins in mid September.
|CaiLeigh Anna News||
05/17/2014, St. Simon's Island, GA
Family Visits CaiLeigh Anna
Time off for work on CaiLeigh Anna as the family visited the coast for belated Mother's Day mini-vacation. For the past few years the skipper has participated in the annual Coastal Cup Challenge sailboat race from Fernandina Beach to St. Simon's Island, but is taking this year off since CaiLeigh Anna is still waiting on the replacement engine.
A Universal M25, near identical, engine from a parted out boat in New Jersey has been purchased and received. The boat was totaled after Hurricane Sandy and the engine only has 200 hours on it. In engine use terms it is practically new being the equivalent to a car with 12,000 miles. As soon as the engine is soda blasted, repainted and serviced it will be ready for installation in CaiLeigh Anna.
For now, the family enjoyed a nice peaceful weekend at the beach, and for the first time came aboard for a "check her out" CaiLeigh Anna for a visit. Most impressed was the "Cabin Boy" Lee who checked out "Hugh's boat" from stem to stern, and made sure that ALL the doors opened and closed properly - several times!
All in all it was a great great weekend on the Golden Isles for the family! Next on schedule for the skipper is crewing on Delphine in early June for the inaugural St. Simons' Island to Savannah offshore and overnight race.
Click for pictures of the family's visit to CaiLeigh Anna.
Click for pictures of SuzeDay weekend at the Jekyll Island Beach.
|CaiLeigh Anna News||
04/19/2014, Saint Simon's Island, GA
The "girls" on Roma the first summer of 2000. After our first trip during the summer of 2001 I never asked or wanted the girls to come back, and the feeling was mutual.
s/v Roma, my Seafarer 29 of 14 years is doing better than her skipper as she is retiring and moving to Pensacola, FL. Sailboats have personalities, and s/v Roma has been like my fourth child. I've tried never to put her in harm's way, and she's kept her end of the bargain by never letting me down. Although, like most teenagers, she has taxed my patience a time or two.
As s/v Roma moves on to the next chapter in her life, Suze and I are already preparing our fifth child, s/v CaiLeigh Anna, for her future travels. She is the vessel formerly known by the names: s/v Luxury Tacks, s/v Night Flyer, and s/v Lady Roberta. I've never felt compelled to change the name of a boat until now!
s/v CaiLeigh Anna is a 1987 Catalina 34, which will provide the skipper and 1st mate far more comfortable living and cruising accommodations that s/v Roma. The Catalina 34 has a private aft and forward cabins, which will sleep two couples as well as a full galley with gas stove and refrigeration. Also included is a head with shower and hot water. And perhaps most important is central heat/air conditioning. We are looking forward to our travels along the SE coast on the CaiLeigh Anna. We figured that if the girls don't want to come along, we would at least take them in name.
Catalina 34 Specifications
Catalina 34 Layout & Profile
Photos of CaiLeigh Anna
01/18/2014, St. Simon's Island, GA
Golden Isles Sailing Club held its first annual Double-Handed Race on Saturday, January 18 with entry fees helping to raise money for the local Animal Relief Foundation.
Nine boats entered the race and competed for honors in three classes - Performance, Cruising A (over 30') and Cruising B (30' and under). Race organizer, Brett Grover, laid out a 7.2 mile course in St. Simon's Sound that showcased all points of sailing. The Cruising Class B boats raced a slightly shortened course of 5.6 miles.
The race started at 1300 with 18-20 mph NW winds forcing the fleet immediately into a tacking duel on the 1 mile upwind leg. The strong ebb tide and 44° temperature made this the most challenging leg of the race, but conditions overall were excellent for a very fast race over the 7.2 mile course.
The fleet turned back to the start line for the second and only downwind leg of the race. With winds approaching 20mph and the boats now running over 8 mph SOG with the strong current, none of the skippers saw the need to fly spinnakers for this short fast leg. The third and fourth legs were 2-1/4 mile beam reach runs from "G1" to "R20" near the center of the sound, and back to the finish.
Roma, with Co-skippers Hugh & Joe aboard took second place in Cruising Class B. Entertainment during the race was provided by a local pelican who was conducting fly-bys of the boats and tried to land on the stern pulpit of Roma. Apparently, he didn't understand that his little web feet were made for paddling and not for gripping a metal rod. One other boat reported that the pelican landed on their cabin top and hitched a ride for a mile or so until the race chairman threatened to disqualify the boat for having more than two crew members.
Awards and prizes donated by local merchants were presented afterwards at the newly renovated Captain's Lounge at Brunswick Landing Marina. While some of the two-man crews admitted that the conditions were physically challenging for larger boats with such small crews, everyone had a great time and agreed to participate in next year's race.
11/25/2013, St. Simon's Island, GA
It is now official. Even without racing yesterday, Roma has won the overall GISC 2013 FALL SERIES (CLASS C). With winds forecast from 21-35 mph yesterday I opted not race and risk blowing out a sail or damaging the boat. We already had the overall series won whether we raced or not.
Here's a link to the GISC 2013 FALL SERIES results.
It is a bitter sweet moment as I will now put Roma on the market since we have purchased a Catalina 34. "Captain Hugh don't need to be no fleet owner."
Here's a link to photos taken during the 2013 Fall Race Season
And click her for a video made of the November 02 race.
11/05/2013, St. Simon's Island, GA
On Saturday, November 2, the Golden Isles Sailing Club held two races as part of the Fall Series. In Class C, boats under 30', Roma won both races!
Regardless of the race results, Roma is no race horse. Quite the contrary, she is actually a very slow boat, or what is classified as a heavy cruiser. Sailboat racing utilizes a rating or handicap system referred to as PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing Fleet), which allows boats of all classes to race against each other and compete on somewhat equal footing.
Assuming the PHRF of a particular fleet is correct then a sailing race measures the crew's ability against each other more so than a boat's performance. The system isn't perfect so each sailing club is allowed to make small tweaks to the PHRF in order to equalize their fleet of sailboats. The bottom line for casual sailors is that it gives everyone a fighting chance to win their race on a given day.
Roma's crew throughout the Fall Series has been Captain Hugh and Pat Brasfield. As it turns out, this will most likely be my last campaign with Roma since I've recently purchased a Catalina 34. After the final race on November 23, I'll put Roma up for sale. With the two wins this past Saturday, Roma has essentially locked in the win for the overall series for Class C regardless of how we finish in the final race. It's a nice send off for a boat that's been part of my life for over 13 years.
Click here for photos from the GISC Fall 2013 racing.
Click her for an excellent video shot from Cocoon, another boat in the GISC fleet.
11/04/2013, Savannah, GA
Pictures above is Roma at the Hyatt Regency Savannah Docks on River Street in early November 2012.
2012 was a monumental year for our coastal cruising life as we moved Roma from St. Simon's Island to Savannah and started our exploration of Georgia first city by water. Although we never intended to make Savannah our new water home, we also never expected our stay to last only three months. The thing about boats is that they often dictate what you are going to do. A less than friendly marina and issues with Roma's bottom paint forced us to head back to St. Simon's Island for what turned into a five month haul out.
During our stay in Savannah we did manage to make one trip on Roma to River Street along with Joe and Pat Brasfield, our good friends on Sabrina. The main reason we moved to Savannah was to conduct research on the sailing community and cruising destinations for an article. After a marathon writing session and what seemed like an eternity part one of my article was published in the October 2013 issue of Southwinds Magazine. Part two was published in November. Links are provided below for online reading.
Come travel with the Captain and Suze as we "Visit Savannah's River Street by Sailboat - A Long and Winding Road." Part one.
Come travel with the Captain and Suze as we "Visit Savannah's River Street by Sailboat - A Long and Winding Road" Part Two.
CLICK HERE FOR PICTURES FROM "A LONG & WINDING ROAD."