The Final Days Finally
10 September 2009
Anyone that was faithfully following our blog may have noticed that we did not finish it with details of the finish of the race. We are now safely home and sitting around a table at the Corpus Christi Yacht Club with an ample supply of good rum so it is time to finish the blog:
We left off with a report of our fun on Friday night. A few more details are in order. You may recall that we were discussing a name for our green spinnaker since she had carried for thousands of Transpac miles. Some of the suggestions were Dolly Parton, Farrah (we are from her hometown), Jane Mansfield, Gina Lolabridgida, Eva (another Corpus Christi girl), Tiffany, Sofia, Penelope Cruz (we are racing a Santa Cruz) and a few others with similar attributes. As Billy and I are sitting on the foredeck at 6 am with the remains of our green spinnaker in our laps he looks and says "Obviously she was Jane Mansfield, she died a similar death." Sad but true.
No more green kite so we put up the smaller pink kite and take off. Our best hope of catching up with the boats in front of us is to hook into some good squalls with big wind. When you can do that the boat takes off like a sleigh ride. About noon on Saturday we caught a good one and Billy hit 18.3 knots surfing down a wave. We rode that squall line for about an hour surfing the waves and trying to keep the mast over the keel. We continued to hunt squalls all day long and had our best mileage day of the race. Roll call showed we covered 250 miles by Sunday morning, which was more than any other boat in our class. It proved to us that if we had been able to find wind we had the boat speed to do well in the race.
Well we talked about how to jibe for 8 days and have not got one right yet. Well today we pulled off our first successful jibe. Unlike most of the time when you jibe going fast in the Pacific you have to jibe when the chute is loaded up so the sheet will smoke out and get in front of the boat. The bad news is that with the carnage from the night before we now have a new foredeck and he is an old guy. Maybe that was the secret, getting him out of the cockpit. You figure out who was on the bow.
Suzie is still serving up wonderful meals. The 10th day at sea the meals were just as good as day one.
Just a day or so to go looks like we will have a daylight finish off Diamond head and we are all ready for the finish. We expect to see the lights of Hawaii sometime tonight and land when the sun comes up.
We jibe at 2 this morning, the new bow man figured out a way for us to jibe shorthanded and it is working. Just after we jibe onto starboard to miss the big island a really big squall rolls in around 3AM with the wind up to 25 plus and the boat surfing along at 16 to 18 knots we are having trouble staying off the coast of the big island. To add to the excitement we blow the hydraulic hose on the vang. The vang is a hydraulic cylinder that connects the boom to the base of the mast. It both pulls the boom down and keeps it from going out of control when the mainsail is lowered. It helps tension the back edge of the mainsail and is critical in controlling the power from the main sail. Steve and Gary go about rigging up a mechanical vang we can trim while we try to keep the boat under control. They pulled out several blocks and lines and rigged a series of mechanical advantages to make the purchase of 16:1 and then lead the end of the line to a winch to be able to pull in the line. Tense times passed in the middle of the night with lots of oil on the deck. As we pass the big island around 5AM we can see an eerie glow, turns out it is the Mt. Kilauea volcano glowing thru the low clouds, which is a pretty neat sight. As the sun comes up we realize that we will finish in few hours and everyone is up.
As the sun comes up we can see the islands of Hawaii, Maui and Molokai. Our course to the finish takes us down the coast of Molokai toward the Molokai Channel, which lies between Molokai and Oahu. A rain shower passes over us and we get a beautiful rainbow in front of us on our way to the finish line. The Molokai channel is an area that is famous for high winds and damaging boats. We are fortunate to enter it during daylight and 20 knot breeze. We see a boat inshore and jibe a couple of times to reel them in. It turns out to be Charisma, a 56 foot boat that started 4 days in front of us. With our new jibing skills we are able to pass them in the Molokai channel. About 15 miles from the finish we start the discussion about finishing with Marilynn up. It will be a difficult spinnaker change as we are not setup for pealing chutes. We go to work on the problem and figure out a way to make it happen. The wind goes aft as we approach the finishing buoy and we do our first peal of the race and out comes Marilynn. We have her up for the last 5 miles of the race and she does a great job for us. We finish the race at 2:08:13 local time, which means we took 11 days 6 hours 8 minutes and 13 seconds to travel 2500 NM for an average speed of 9.25 knots. This was .75 knots slower average speed than the last race and took us 5 hours longer than the race in 2007.
After we pass the Transpac finish buoy we douse the spinnaker and head for the Ali Wai Harbor in Honolulu where are met by our families, friends and Hawaiian host with Mai Tai's, food and smiles. After eleven days at sea there is not a better site to see than the wonderful people that have let us go off on this adventure.