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."
06/08/2013, St. Simon's Island
During the winter I removed the mast from Roma in order to upgrade the rigging, electrical wiring, lights, and to add a wind instrument. Although not a required or essential item for sailing, accurate real time information about wind speed and direction is fairly common on most cruising and racing sailboats.
The latest and greatest wind instruments are wireless, which includes a sending unit or transducer with a solar rechargeable battery attached to the masthead, and a gauge or readout mounted at the boat's helm. Data is transferred and received without a cable connecting the transducer and gauge.
Wireless instruments are fairly expensive at this time, costing well over $1,100, and way over the skipper and Roma's budget. After a great deal of research and shopping I decided on the Clipper Wind Instrument CL-W, which is a British made "wired" electronic unit costing less than $350. The CL-W is very well made, and provides the same data as the far more expensive wireless option.
Since Roma's mast was already lowered and removed from the boat, this was the ideal time to add the wind instrument, which had to be mounted to the mast head with a cable running down the 1" conduit inside the mast. Installation of the "wired" system would be far more difficult if the mast were standing. This is why the wireless systems are so popular even considering the cost. It's far less expensive than having the boat pulled and mast lowered at a boat yard in order to complete the difficult installation process.
I received the Clipper Wind Instrument for my birthday in February and mounted it prior to stepping the mast and launching in May. I didn't have time to complete the wiring and installation of the gauge prior to the Coastal Cup Challenge Race a week after launch. Later in June I finished the project during a weekend trip to the coast. It was very neat seeing the wind speed and direction pop up on the screen for the first time.
The day after the installation was complete I took Roma out for her first sail using the new Clipper Wind Instrument, which required calibration while underway. The wind speed was around 14 MPH at the dock so I opted to leave the big 135% Genoa Jib mounted as the headsail. Normally, I don't fly this sail in wind over 18-20 MPH. Sail options for stronger winds are the 100% Genoa or the 75% storm jib.
As soon as I made it to open water in the sound we were seeing winds well over 20 MPH. I decided to partially unfurl the Genoa Jib since the winds were much stronger than the maximum range of this sail. Within a short period of time the Genoa developed a rip about 4 feet long on the Leech or long backside of the sail. Thanks to the Clipper Wind Instrument I now know that the Genoa blew out with 23 MPH winds. In the past I would have used "fish story logic" and claimed that the blow out occurred during a 35 MPH gale. The reality of technology has eliminated many tall fish tales.
Other than the damaged sail, I was thrilled with the first outing using the Clipper Wind Instrument. With the addition of the Lowrance HDS7 GPS Chartplotter installed last summer I now have detailed information on real time location overlaid on a nautical chart, speed over ground, depth, wind speed and wind direction. Additionally, the HDS7 Chartplotter allows for the addition of radar, engine instruments, and AIS or Automatic Identification System, which is a collision avoidance system that gives information on all the ships in your area, their speed and courses and how to contact them.
In the past sailors used a technique referred to as dead reckoning, which required a seat of the pants knowledge of navigation and skill for sailing. One basic piece of equipment for boats that goes back centuries is the compass, which used to be essential for even the most basic sailing.
Today, modern electronics provide a lot of convenient information for average sailors that was not available just 20 years ago, and the argument for having these instruments is that the degree of safety while boating is greatly increased. However, any good sailor today must still be able to dead reckoning using a compass in case of a failure of one of more of the electronic systems on board. Since I learned sailing "the old way" of dead reckoning, and I'm just adding the modern electronics for peace of mind and added safety I feel comfortable with or without instruments.
Click here for pictures of the wind instrument installation
05/18/2013, St. Simon's Island, GA
Competing in the Golden Isles Sailing Club's (GISC) annual Coastal Cup Race on May 18 was my goal since pulling Roma for some much needed mast repairs and bottom paint last December. It's amazing how time flies because I would have never thought it would take five months to get her back in the water. Less than a week before the race I stepped the mast, launched, and made the trip down the ICW back to Morningstar/Golden Isles Marina at St. Simon's Island.
The Coastal Cup Race starts in St. Mary's Channel near Fernandina Beach, Florida and finishes at St. Simon's Channel, therefore we had to leave St. Simon's Island on Friday and spend the night at Fernandina Harbor Marina for the race back on Saturday. Roma's crew was my son-in-law, Chris Phillips, and Pat Brasfield, from Sabrina. Pat's husband, Joe, was crewing on Delpine, another GISC member's boat.
Since I was unable to raise a sail on Roma on the trip down from Two-Way Boat Yard after launching, our 30 mile trip down to Fernandina would provide a good opportunity to check out Roma's new rigging and sails. Essentially, this was my only sea trial prior to the race. We departed from Morningstar Marina about 7:30AM Friday morning in order to leave with the outgoing tide.
The weather could not have been more perfect with cool southeasterly winds, a mostly sunny day, and very low humidity. The wind was primarily in our face as we motor sailed the entire distance making an average speed of about 7MPH.
After arriving in at Fernandina Harbor Marina about 3:00PM we topped of the fuel tanks and prepared for the skipper's meeting later in the evening. GISC and the Amelia Island Sailing Club (AISC) have a long standing tradition of holding two races each year, which allows for great competition and fellowship with other sailors. The spring race is held when the prevailing winds are from the south and the fall race is held when the prevailing winds are from the north.
After the skipper's meeting our group comprised of Roma and Delphine's crew enjoyed dinner at a Kelly's Courtyard Café. Delphine's skipper, Dave London, and I followed tradition of treating our crews to dinner. It was a great evening sharing sailing lore and planning strategy for the next day's race. Since Delphine and Roma were in different classes we would not be directly competing against each other, or at least that was the plan.
Fourteen boats from the two clubs started the race at 9:00AM in St. Mary's channel offshore between Cumberland and Amelia Islands. The Southeasterly winds were extremely light at the beginning of the race, barely providing enough speed to maintain steerage. We sailed Roma parallel along the starting line and made an easy turn north at the race's start. For a while we were at the head of the lead pack, but within an hour the winds started building enough for the big boats to break out their spinnakers.
Boats competed in two classes - spinnaker and non-spinnaker with Delphine in the spinnaker class and Roma in the latter. The spinnaker class boats easily separated themselves from the pack and left Roma miles behind by the race's midpoint. In the non-spinnaker class Roma was in the top three or four boats for all of the race.
We turned Roma into St. Simon's Channel and the final leg of the 26 miles race holding on to fourth place, and we felt that with the handicap adjustment we might squeeze out a third place. We finished the race in five hours and thirty-six minutes just over an hour behind the fastest boat. More important though Roma finished just thirty minutes behind the leader in the non-spinnaker class and with the handicap adjustment took third place by one minute. Interestingly, just over two minutes separated the second through fourth place boats.
We had sailed a near perfect race with Roma and could not have been more pleased with the third place cup. Roma is not a race horse, and there were certainly faster boats in our class. We managed to get a very good start and not make any time-wasting mistakes for the entire race.
The weather conditions were near perfect for a downwind run up the coast. Race Chairman David Heine commented afterwards, "What a great day out on the water, especially for the spinnakers." Winds from the Southeast were very mild early in the race but increased to 10-12 MPH by mid-afternoon. Low humidity and temperatures in the mid-80's made for a near perfect day on the water.
The awards program was held at Morningstar Marina at St. Simon's Island with Race Chairman David Heine stating, "The 2013 Coastal Cup overall winner is Richard White in Cocoon; his name will be added to the perpetual trophy which is displayed at Dunbar Sales."
Click here for photos of the race and awards ceremony.
05/10/2013, Two Way Boat Yard - Darien, GA
Rebuilding the mast systems required more hours of research and shopping than actual work, and the project dominated every free day of my life for over four months. Normally, a prudent boat owner would pick one project at a time, but masts don't easily come down and are even less likely to be transported to one's back yard allowing for easy access. I felt that I had no choice but to strip the mast and spreaders down to the bare aluminum shell and start over.
Standing Rigging - This is the high grade stainless steel wires and turnbuckles that hold the mast aloft. One failure of a single wire fitting, clevis pin, cotter pin, or turnbuckle will result in demasting of a sailboat, no exceptions. Roma's standing rigging was 39 years old and showing signs of corrosion and wear due to age and the past 12 years at the ocean. The existing rigging was removed and measured in order to shop for competitive pricing. This was the first part of the mast system to be removed and the new rigging would not be reinstalled until the mast was transported back to the coast and ready to be raised.
Running Rigging - Primarily, these are the lines used to raise and control the sails. Halyards are lines used to raise and hold the sails in position while sailing. With the advent of hollow aluminum masts many boats, including Roma, utilize internal halyards which run inside the mast exiting at the top and near the bottom of the mast. Roma actually uses a combination wire/rope halyard and therefore cannot easily be replaced if the mast is rigged upright on the boat. In addition to replacing the two internal wire/rope halyards I have always wanted to add a third halyard for flying a spinnaker. I chose to do this by shackling a high quality air block to the masthead and using an all rope external halyard. Additionally, I've replaced the topping lift which is another external line used to hold the aft end of the boom in place when the mainsail is down.
Electrical - Roma's electrical wiring was simply "shot," meaning that none of her mast lights worked. Two navigation lights are required on any sailboat mast when using the boat at night. Midway up the mast or near the spreaders is the steaming light. Atop the masthead is the anchor light. Additional lights on Roma are the dock lights mounted on the spreaders. Dock lights are sometimes added as a combo light with the steaming light to provide illumination on the boat's forepeak or bow area. I decided to go with separate dock lights mounted on each spreader with one pointed slightly down to provide light on the bow area and one shinning straight ahead for lighting up the water ahead of the boat. One issue with night navigation is running over crab pots which are usually dropped in the channel - the very area a boat is trying to navigate.
I opted to replace all the lights with modern LED type fixtures and bulbs in order to minimize electrical output. Additionally, Roma's DC wiring consisted of a red or "hot" wire to all the lights which were then grounded directly to the mast. This might have been the standard in 1974, but it also provided a direct path to the boat's batteries and other electrical systems if there is a lightning strike. I added a separate black or ground wire for all lighting fixture and thus eliminated the mast as a DC electrical ground. The mast still provides service as a lightning grounding device, but at least the grounding methods are separated.
Electronics - Prior to my purchase of Roma, she was equipped with a wind instrument which one of the previous owners had removed. I've long wanted a wind instrument with a cockpit gauge to show wind speed and direction. My birthday present from Susan and Cail was a Clipper Model CL-W wind instrument. Needless to say, Roma and her skipper are quite pleased. Since the mast is removed from Roma this is the perfect time to install the masthead transducer needed to provide data for the wind instrument.
I also decided to add a digital television antenna to the mast during the renovation project. We've learned that most marinas do not have cable TV so boaters must rely on their own antenna to receive local television stations. Here I opted for a 10" Glomex Model GXV9123 with gain control.
My plan was to complete the mast renovation and launch Roma in time to participate in the Golden Isles Sailing Club's annual Coastal Cup Race on May 18. With all the projects complete I loaded the 32' mast on my 24' trailer and headed back to Two-Way Boatyard near Darien on May 8. Over the next two days I added the new standing rigging to the mast, and with the help of the crew at the boatyard raised the mast prior to "splashing" at high tide on Friday May 10. Shortly after loading Roma and installing the sails I headed off for the three hour trip to Morningstar Marina at Golden Isles located on the Frederica River at St. Simon's Island.
CLICK HERE FOR PICTURES OF THE BEFORE AND AFTER MAST REBUILDING
There was still a great deal of work to do, but Roma was once again in her element and it felt good to be back at the helm after five months of dry dock.
05/01/2013, Two Way Boat Yard - Darien, Georgia
ROMA was pulled at Two-Way Boatyard in early December 2012 in preparations for bottom paint and some much needed fiberglass work in the engine compartment and centerboard well. While ROMA is on the hard, I'm taking the opportunity to rebuild all systems on the mast. This will include: adding a wind instrument transducer with a readout gauge in the cockpit; standing rigging including adding a spinnaker halyard; topping lift; running rigging; new LED anchor, steaming, and dock lights, and a digital TV antenna.
Click here for photos of ROMA's new bottom paint and fiberglass work.
Masts are not things that you remove very often from a sailboat. When I purchased ROMA 13 years ago her rigging was marginally ok, but even then the internal wiring was not working properly. Fortunately, I did have a working steaming light. The wind instrument had been removed by the first owner and the rigging was 26 years old. Zoom forward to 2013 and the running rigging or stainless steel wiring, which supports the mast, is showing signs of rust in critical areas. Every piece of standing rigging, or ropes used to raise and control the sails is just worn out from nearly 40 years of use and exposure to the weather.
Fortunately I own a trailer large enough to transport the mast back home for the rebuilding project. Otherwise I would have to make dozens of trips to the coast to complete the rebuild project. I have rigged two new sailboats over my years of sailing, but have never completely re-rigged and upgraded the wiring, lights, & electronics at the same time. After making it safely home transporting a 32' mast on a 24' trailer, I began the task of removing, measuring, and documenting every system on the mast. By early January 2013 I was ready to start the research and educational process necessary to bring ROMA's mast up to current codes and standards.
12/03/2012, Darien, Georgia
Monday would prove to be a very long day as ROMA had to be prepared to be pulled at high tide just about 11:00AM. This meant removing the Bimini, Sails, Boom, and everything we did not want to leave on the boat for the next few months.
As planned, ROMA was successfully pulled, and after a short trip across the boatyard was blocked on stands. She was immediately pressure washed to remove as much slime, barnacles, and loose paint as possible before drying out.
After the pressure washing, it was very clear why the diver had advised us that the paint was in bad condition when he cleaned the bottom in early November. The salt water environment is very harsh with organisms constantly trying to attach themselves to the boat's bottom. Historically, boats have used copper as a natural repellant to marine growth. In olden days ships would actually be covered below the water line with thin sheets of copper. Modern vessels are painted with a marine grade paint containing up to 65% solid copper. The key to longevity is multiple coats of paint, but at $200-$300 per gallon most boats get only 2-3 coats at a time. A good bottom paint job will last 2-3 years.
In addition to repainting the bottom and having some fiberglass work done, I also planned to completely rebuild all the mast systems. This would include replacing the running rigging (halyards & topping lift), standing rigging (steel cables that hold the mast up - forestay, backstays, upper and lower shrouds), electronics (wind instrument), and lights (steaming, dock, and anchor lights) with LED type, as well as all the internal electrical wiring in the mast. This meant that the mast would be dropped and strapped onto a trailer and taken back home to Warrenton, GA where I would complete the work.
By 3:00PM we were ready to hit the road with the mast in tow. We had to travel back to Delegal Creek Marina on Skidaway Island in Savannah to pick up our second vehicle. It was an unusually long and slow trip because of the side trip through Savannah at rush hour, and pulling a trailer. The usual 4 hour trip home turned into an over 6 hour trip as we arrived back home around 9:30PM.
Early Friday to late Monday night was four long days, which I will never do again! We accomplished everything planned, but it was just too much on this seasoned skipper and his first mate. But, the long trip down the ICW from Savannah to Darien was a wonderful experience. I've now traveled the entire coastline of Georgia on the inside (ICW) and outside in the open ocean. ROMA is safely blocked and ready for much needed repairs below the waterline, and the mast is at home where I can more conveniently work on it during the winter months. Come Spring, we will once again be ready to enjoy sailing and exploring the Southeast coastal area on the decks on ROMA.
12/02/2012, Darien, GA
In order to make the 55 miles/10 hour trip from Sunbury Crab Company Marina on the Medway River to Two-Way Boat Yard on the Altamaha River we had to depart an hour before sunrise. Normally we do not sail at night, but choices were to sail an hour before sunrise or possibly an hour after sunset. We also had to travel through the infamously shallow Little Mud River before low tide.
Our early rise was rewarded by a magnificent sunrise as we approached St. Catherine's Sound. By 7:00AM we were back in the ICW headed south. The first 10 miles had us navigating behind St. Catherine's Island before reaching Sapelo Sound.
I've long been fascinated with the names of the rivers, creeks, islands, and hammocks along our unique coastline. On this day we will sail through or pass Walburg Island, Cattle Pen Creek, Wahoo River, Blackbeard's Island, Dog Hammock Spit, Old Teakettle Creek, Doboy Sound, Rockdedundy Island, and Buttermilk Sound just to mention a few.
Shortly before 1:00PM and with a mid-high tide falling we entered the north end of Little Mud River. Within 30 minutes we were pass the shallow area and entering Altamaha Sound. The lowest water level noted was 11.2'. We were now within two hours of Two Way Marina & Boat Yard on the South Altamaha River.
Click here for photos of our trip down the ICW from Sunbury to Darien.
By 3:30PM we were safely tied up at the docks and ready a relaxing evening in a local hotel room. On Monday I would come back to the boatyard to assist with pulling ROMA and dropping her mast.