Coastal Cruising With Hugh & Suze

s/v CaiLeigh Anna

31 March 2021
23 March 2021
04 March 2021 | St. Simon's Island, GA
13 August 2017 | Hilton Head Island, SC
01 June 2016 | Offshore Coastal Georgia
27 April 2016 | St. Simon's Island, GA
21 February 2016 | St. Simon's Island, GA
20 February 2016 | St. Simon's Island, GA
22 November 2015 | St. Simon's Island, GA
28 October 2015 | St. Simon's Island, GA
15 August 2015 | St. Simon's Island, GA
13 August 2015 | St. Simon's Island, GA
20 July 2015 | St. Simon's Island, GA
15 July 2015 | St. Simon's Island, GA
23 November 2014 | St. Simon's Island, GA
28 September 2014 | St. Simon's Island, GA
20 August 2014 | Saint Simon's Island, GA
25 July 2014 | St. Simon's Island, GA
17 May 2014 | St. Simon's Island, GA
19 April 2014 | Saint Simon's Island, GA

Boom Repaired

31 March 2021
James Newsome
The Catalina 34 boom has an internal outhaul system for tensioning the foot of the mainsail. This waas jammed on CaiLeigh Anna, so I removed the boom and brought home to repair.

After disassembling the boom I discovered a line had chaffed inside the boom, and a couple sheaves were worn out. New line and a replacement sheave was obtained quickly from Catalina Direct and the boom was repaired and reinstalled on CaiLeigh Anna.

I also relocated a bale away from the boom vang and was able to rig the mainsail block system back to its factory configuration. A previous owner had apparently made an incorrect rigging change when the boom vang was added.

Mainsail Repaired

23 March 2021
James Newsome
After sitting idle for a year and a half I'm now in a rush to put the boom and sails back on CaiLeigh Anna in preparation for the first race with Golden Isles Sailing Club.

Top of the agenda was repairing the batten end pockets in the mainsail by removing the old heavy vinyl/leather pouch and replacing with "Tape Shelter-Rite 18 oz. White 3"" from SailRite.

Return to CaiLeigh Anna

04 March 2021 | St. Simon's Island, GA
James Newsome
After an absence of over a year, I returned to CaiLeigh Anna. Health concerns over Covid-19 and Susan's declining health prevented me from leaving home from March 2020 until now.

Sadly, my sweet wife Susan passed away in February after suffering from a severe neurological disorder for many years. My time on CaiLeigh Anna will never be the same, but I will cherish the memories I have of our fun times aboard and at the Golden Isles.

Smart Plug

13 August 2017 | Hilton Head Island, SC
James H. Newsome
Much boat time is spent working on essential projects. When docked boats are connected to electrical service or shore power by use of a heavy power cable with special plugs found generally in the marine and RV camping worlds. The standard NEMA L5-30R Female and L5-30P Male Twist-Lock connections are decades old technology, which is subject to failure primarily due to physical stresses on the connections.

You can see from the photo of the old plug ends how the connectors were arcing and burning through the insulated material. A complete failure was in my near future.

Newer and considered by many people to be superior design is the Smart Plug. Time has come to replace these connectors on CaiLeigh Anna. The Smart Plug design features a stronger direct locking connection that resists the dangerous horizontal stresses that lead to failures in the older and more traditional plugs.

Bottom line is that we have a much safer electrical connection system on CaiLeigh Anna.

Coastal Cup Offshore Race

01 June 2016 | Offshore Coastal Georgia
James H. Newsome
Each spring, usually in May, Golden Isles Sailing Club and Amelia Island Sailing Club compete for individual honors in a 26 nautical mile race beginning in St. Mary's Channel and ending in St. Simon's Channel.

The 15 entries competed in either spinnaker or non-spinnaker classes with most of the faster boats competing in the spinnaker class. Generally, I compete in the spinnaker class, but the prevailing wind direction on race day practically eliminated the need for spinnakers.

Strategical error number one charged to s/v CaiLeigh Anna's skipper by not switching to the non-spinnaker class. We finished dead last in the spinnaker class, but would have easily won the non-spinnaker class on corrected as well as actual time. Nevertheless a great day of ocean sailing was enjoyed by all.

Click on the link below for a video of the Coastal Cup Race

Video of Coastal Cup Race

Since Joe and Pat were unavailable to crew as normal I was joined by Wilby W. Whitt from Amelia Island as Bob Miller from St. Simon's Island as crew. Wilby usually competes in in Baltic 35, but damage he incurred to his rigging during the recent St. Augustine Race Week prevented him from entering this race. A special thanks to both gentlemen for crewing on s/v CaiLeigh Anna.

The overall winner and winner of the spinnaker class was Tom Troesken with his Hunter Passage 42 s/v Harmony.

GISC Race 2

27 April 2016 | St. Simon's Island, GA
James H. Newsome
I had decided not to race this season because of my "iffy" schedule, but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to have local club racer Brett Grover on board CaiLeigh Anna for the first time. Brett is an accomplished racer, and happens to own a Catalina 34 almost identical to mine. Brett and I have been trying to get together for months so he could sail on CaiLeigh Anna and help me determine why we aren't able to sail up to expectations.

After two races today, it appears that CaiLeigh Anna managed to squeeze out a first and second place on corrected time in our class. We were far from the fastest boat, but we pulled off two great starts, sailed smart races by avoiding the strongest currents, and eliminated mistakes.

Brett agreed with Joe Brasfield and me that the sails on CaiLeigh Anna are ok for cruising, but too heavy and out of shape for competitive racing. However, Brett got more out of CaiLeigh Anna today because he's a better sailer/racer than me. We also think the Brunton AutoProp isn't feathering properly and is creating some drag while under sail. We did determine that the prop/shaft is rotating while the boat is under sail. However, information from the manufacturer says the transmission should be left in forward gear to prevent rotation.

I learned a lot about trimming and sailing for optimum results today. Brett was intense, relentless, and focused from the start to the finish. And I will be better because of today's experience. This is why I believe that racing sailboats makes better sailors of us. We are forced into maximizing performance while racing, but with cruising this isn't a concern. Also, while racing there are other boats to judge speed and performance against, which isn't the case with cruising.

Pictured here is Brett at the helm for the first race. I took the helm for the second race, but Brett continued as tactician and "task master."

CaiLeigh Anna Under Sail

21 February 2016 | St. Simon's Island, GA
James H. Newsome
Thanks to Jack Brodhag and his brother Dean for this great photo of CaiLeigh Anna during the Double Handed Race last weekend. Joe Brasfield is at the wheel and I'm the trimmer.

GISC Double Handed Race

20 February 2016 | St. Simon's Island, GA
James Newsome
The Double-Hand Race this past weekend was blessed with perfect weather in the low 70s, clear skies, and brisk SE breezes. Nine local boats split into spinnaker and non-spinnaker classes and challenged each other for trophies and bragging rights. At sunset the sky was ablaze, making this skipper forget that he had not claimed one of the coveted race prizes. Much thanks to my good sailing friend Joe Brasfield who crewed with me aboard CaiLeigh Anna.

Fall Racing

22 November 2015 | St. Simon's Island, GA
James Newsome
After hauling CaiLeigh Anna for a bottom paint job and refurbishing of the feathering propeller in late July, I felt that the boat was almost ready for the Fall race season. The last service item to address was an engine overheating issue that occurred on our trip to and from Two-Way Boat Yard. After eliminating all other potential causes, I determined that I had a clogged heat exchanger. The heat exchanger works essentially as the “radiator” on inboard diesel marine engines.

Flushing the heat exchanger to remove mineral deposits is a fairly simple service item, but in the process of removing the hoses I broke off one of the copper fittings on the heat exchanger. This required me to remove the heat exchanger and bring it home to have repaired at a local radiator shop in Augusta. The result of this was that we missed the first race of the season on September 20.

The Golden Isles Sailing Club’s Fall 2015 racing season includes five club races and one offshore race from St. Simon’s Island to Amelia Island, Florida. Boats are separated into three competing classes depending on their size and design. CaiLeigh Anna, a Catalina 34, competes against other cruising boats in the mid-30’ size in Cruising Class B. Skippers are allowed to drop one race results for the club races for the series, and the winner is determined by the low point total. The offshore race against Amelia Island Sailing Club is a stand-alone race between the Golden Isles Sailing Club and Amelia Island Sailing Club.

For the second race of the season on October 27, I was joined by Mike Harris, and high school racing team members Stefan and Griffin as crew. Mike is an excellent sailor, past commodore of the Golden Isles Sailing Club, and advisor to the high school sailing team. This is the second season I’ve used high school racers as crew members on CaiLeigh Anna, and I can’t say enough about how positive an experience it is for everyone involved. I was thrilled to have Stefan and Griffin on board for the first time. We realized very early into the race that despite a recent bottom paint job, CaiLeigh Anna couldn’t keep up with the faster boats in our class. While our finish was disappointing, it was a great day of sailing with a wonderful crew.

The third race took place on October 18 with Joe back onboard along with Stefan and Julian from the high school racing team. The forecast was for 25 mph winds with 35 mph gusts, so we put in one reef on the mainsail as soon as we left the dock. We also reefed the furling genoa headsail to about 75%, but at times we still had to spill the wind in an effort to control the weather helm and keep the heeling down. This was the strongest wind I’ve sailed or raced CaiLeigh Anna in since purchasing her. It’s good to know that the boat will handle this kind of wind, but I wouldn’t call it fun sailing or racing. Frankly, it was a relief to get back to the dock without damaging the sails or boat. My days of enjoying sailing in gale force winds have passed, especially on my boat! I could just see the dollar signs flashing before my eyes with every gust. One blown out sail could mean thousands of dollars to replace.

Our next race was the always popular Florida- Georgia Ocean Challenge race between Golden Isles and Amelia Island Sailing Clubs on October 24 with Joe and Pat back on board as our regular crew. The race is contested on a 26 miles course between St. Simon’s Island and Amelia Island. Despite a very good start, I was slow deploying our spinnaker and we fell behind from the early part of the race. After finally getting our spinnaker up and trimmed properly we actually closed on the leaders until passing marker StA, approximately midway, at the entrance to St. Andrews Sound.

As the final leg of the race became an almost dead downwind run, we fell behind the leaders and finished last in our class. Our spinnaker is cut for running downwind, but off the wind and not dead downwind. We had a choice between following the shorter rhumb line to St. Mary’s Channel at a reduced speed or sailing off the wind and out to sea but with greater boat speed and distance. I gambled for the shorter course but it didn’t pay off as most of the boats sailing the longer course finished well ahead of us. After the race we did learn a new technique of how to maximize the asymmetrical spinnaker when running downwind by moving the tack of the spinnaker past the bow and into the wind using the whisker pole. We will certainly try this on the next race.

We had already decided to miss the fourth race in early November since I had family obligations as did Joe and Pat. Joe and I planned to race the final event on November 11, but the race was cancelled early Sunday because of a building weather system across the coastal area that was predicted to turn into a Nor’easter. At this point the Fall racing season was essentially over.

Click here for video of the Fall Races.

Even though our race results were disappointing, the fact that there were only three boats in our class and because we had actually participated in more races than another boat, we earned second place in our class for the Fall Series. Joe and I are convinced that my sails are “tired” or stretched out and thus preventing us from developing enough speed to be competitive with the faster boats. I do have another mainsail that appears to be in better condition that the one on the boat, so we will switch over to this sail next Spring.

Older sails designed primarily for cruising just aren’t good enough to use for competitive racing. But new sails for CaiLeigh Anna are out of the question at this point. We know that we’re competitive on spinnaker runs, so we are hopeful that the other mainsail will help us find some upwind speed. I also have a lightweight headsail that needs to be converted over from a hank-on to a furled sail. It’s possible that this sail will help us on light air racing days.

It was a fun season of sailing and racing even though the results weren’t as good as desired. In the big picture, it was just 14 months ago that we took CaiLiegh Anna off the dock for the first time, so there has actually been a lot of progress since then. We are having fun, but we’d have a lot more fun with another ¼ knot of speed!

Fall Racing Update

28 October 2015 | St. Simon's Island, GA
James H. Newsome
CaiLeigh Anna and crew are past the midway point of the 2015 race season and results have been less than anticipated. We felt that the new bottom job would give us some speed we've sorely missed in close competition, but this hasn't proven to be the case.

We missed the first race because the feathering propeller wouldn't "feather." This was extremely disappointing considering that I had the propeller removed and professionally serviced when the boat was pulled in July.

A local diver was able to get the propeller working so we were able to compete in the next two club races as well as the annual FL-GA Coastal Cup Challenge Race between Golden Isles Sailing Club and Amelia Island Sailing Club. The picture above is CaiLeigh Anna headed out to the start of the offshore race on October 24.

Click here for a video of CaiLeigh Anna flying the spinnaker.

We are now convinced that our sails are "tired" or stretched out and will not power the boat to its hull speed. We are competitive with our spinnaker, which is our only new sail, but on a close and beam reach we give up speed to boats with similar handicaps. This doesn't mean that we don't make mistakes with sail setting and tactics from time to time, but the general pattern of comparative speeds is impossible to ignore.

The easy solution is expensive - to replace both the mainsail and head sail with newer sails made for racing. The reality is that this isn't going to happen because it's cost prohibitive. I do have a spare mainsail that came from a Catalina 34 Tall Rig, and it looks much better than the mainsail on CaiLeigh Anna. So, I will cut it down to fit and hopefully we can gain some speed with the newer and less "tired" sail.

The good news is that sailboat racing is fun whether winning or not. It would be more fun if we could lead a pack of boats across the finish line! We are down to the two final races of which we will only compete in the last one. Since there are only three boats in our class, and we are statistically in second place because of our starts. With some luck we may actually pull out a second place overall finish in our class for the Fall 2105 racing season.

Vessel Name: CaiLeigh Anna
Vessel Make/Model: 1987 Catalina 34
Hailing Port: St. Simons Island, Georgia
Crew: James & Susan Newsome
Known by our family and close friends as “Hugh & Suze” we live in Warrenton, Georgia, which is a four hour drive from St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. [...]
I have sailed extensively with my first boat being a Sunfish I built from a Popular Mechanic plan at the age of 14 for a shop project in high school. Next I joined the Georgia Tech Sail Club and raced wooden Y-Flyers on Lake Lanier, Georgia. While stationed near Washington D.C. three army [...]

s/v CaiLeigh Anna

Who: James & Susan Newsome
Port: St. Simons Island, Georgia
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