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Thread: First Race and Possible First Passage

  1. #1
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    First Race and Possible First Passage

    At the end of this month I will be participating in the Swiftsure as crew for the first time, and it's an overnight race as well. This is part of prep for potentially participating in a return from Hawaii back to Seattle after the Vic Maui in August.

    Any tips and advice? I'm extremely comfortable sailing my 30+, but I don't have any "real" big boat experience. There will be other crew, as well as the owner who know what they are doing. What sort of typical mistakes might someone make on a larger boat or am I worrying too much about this first overnight race? I like to be prepared.

    For the offshore passage there's much more to worry about and to prepare for, and any advice there is appreciated as well.


    Cheers!
    ~-~-~-~-~-~-~
    1981 Ericson 30+, rocking the Juan de Fuca

  2. #2
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    No sweat. Test your seasick pills*, pack light (not much storage on any boat), and whatever your assigned "locker" area is, keep your stuff there and not scattered around. Bring harness or PFD and foul weather gear, or inquire whether skipper will supply.

    You will have a watch captain, informal or not, who assigns tasks so there is nothing much to plan or study for.

    As a sailor, nothing will surprise you. They have their systems and will explain their way of doing things.

    Every skipper hopes for a crew who isn't needy and maintains good cheer in disappointment.

    That's you already. For a model, pick any kid on the dock from New Zealand.

    Oh yeah--and be the one who is always first to coil or stuff the sheet tails and halyards.

    *There are several brands of pills and patch, and no matter the label says, a bad potential side effect is sleepiness verging on catatonia. The same pill affects people entirely differently. Therefore I ask overnight guests, in the weeks before departure, to try brands out by swallowing them them on a work day. Once the right pill is confirmed, it's yours forever. And you can double the dose. Bonine for me (Meclazine, a common ingredient). The brand name may matter, if only for psychology.
    Last edited by Christian Williams; 05-19-2018 at 09:46 AM.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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  3. #3
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    My son took part in a race around the Farallons a couple of years ago. Waiting for the start they spotted a dead body floating in the water (coastguard responded very quickly). On the way out he slipped on the foredeck after catching a wave and sprained an ankle. One of the other crews in the race was not so lucky and a couple of them were drowned after misjudging the depth around the Farallon island.

    In short, don't give up common sense and using caution just because it's a "race"
    Last edited by mfield; 05-16-2018 at 04:02 PM. Reason: sp.
    Mike Field
    "Jenny" E35-3 #251
    San Francisco

  4. #4
    Principal Partner Rick R.'s Avatar
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    Enjoy every minute of the experience.

    Always wear a PFD and be clipped in when on deck or or in the cockpit at night. Stay hydrated and bring snacks you can eat on watch like nuts, trail mix, etc.

    Bring a small LED flashlight ( bonus for having a red light for night vision).

    Dont worry about sleep. It won’t happen till you’re ready.

    Fair winds!
    RR
    1989 32-200
    S/V "Easy"
    (hull #844)
    Pensacola, Florida

    The difference between a sailboat and a power boat? On a powerboat you rush to get somewhere. On a sailboat, you're already there.

  5. #5
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Little to add to the excellent stuff already said, but will say that my inside layer of light polypro tops and bottoms has keep the shivers away at 0300 on many a delivery. Polypro gloves with leather palms are nice, and when you can get by without line handling for a bit some "fisherman" style fleece-lined rubber coated gloves with the longer gauntlets are wonderful during the night.

    For an equally ugly yet useful head covering, get a fleece hat with ear flaps and a chin strap. These are found at outdoor stores like REI and are sometimes referred to as a "goat roper" hat..... because of their, um, major lack of fashion.

    The flip-up fleece lined collar on most foul weather coats is great for preventing stiffness and aches.

    Sorry to natter on so much about the cold, but night watches off the Washington coast and thru the Straits can be darned damp and chilly.

    One more thing: Have your own all-purpose cup and a spoon. Keep it with your duffle, and as clean as suits you. No skipper wants any dirty dishes piling up in a sink. No one. No way no how.

    OTOH, you will be regularly sheeting in and out and maybe even changing sails rather often, which will warm you up for a while!


    No sailing content but you will be standing watch with several others and dependent on them. I hope you have time for some good conversations while studying the course and the apparent wind readout. Maybe the stars will be out, or not.....


    Ben E. King said it well:

    "When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    No I won't be afraid
    Oh, I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand, stand by me... "
    Last edited by Loren Beach; 05-19-2018 at 08:14 AM. Reason: more words
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  6. #6
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    Great tips, thanks!
    ~-~-~-~-~-~-~
    1981 Ericson 30+, rocking the Juan de Fuca

  7. #7
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    Have a great race! Cinderella raced the lightship classic last year and we won the lantern rogue.

    My crew ended up at a fisherman store and bought large orange lined fisherman rubber gloves, they made the nights easier for them. Proper foulies will make life better for you, but that is almosy a given sailing the PNW this time of year.

    What boat will you be on?

    -p

  8. #8
    Contributing Partner Teranodon's Avatar
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    Since you may be doing a blue water passage, you may want to invest in one of those personal AIS beacons (be sure to tell the skipper if you do). Another idea (although I don't do this myself) is to carry a waterproof handheld VHF. Some of them are quite small.

    Get a real tether, with three clips.

    A head-mounted flashlight gives you two free hands at night.

    For many people, seasickness pills make all the difference on the ocean. I use transderm scop.

    Attitude is crucial. "Never complain, never explain". If you don't like the skipper - don't sail with him again.

    Have fun.
    Stefan Michalowski
    Friday Harbor, WA
    1988 Ericson 34 "Talpa"

  9. #9
    Advanced Beginner bgary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bolbmw View Post
    Any tips and advice?
    -- Have your own gear. Don't assume the boat will have harnesses, tethers, flashlights, cups, spoons, a PFD that fits you, etc.

    -- bring the stuff you need to stay warm and dry. It is hard (especially in the PNW) to get warm once you've gotten cold and wet, so ... don't let yourself get cold and wet.

    -- stay fueled and hydrated. You'll be burning calories just sitting on the rail, don't let your energy-tank go to empty.

    -- don't eat anything exotic, either before or during the race. Eat stuff you know your system will like.

    -- keep your eyes and ears open. Your sailing experience should help you see when things are about to happen, and you can contribute rather than just reacting.

    -- Even though the Swiftsure is a "sprint", get some rest when you're off-watch. Maybe you can sleep, maybe not, but at least take advantage of any downtime you can get.

    -- Mind your light(s) at night. A few seconds with an unfiltered white light can ruin the crew's night vision for a significant time. If in doubt, ask before using a light.

    -- if you have a job on the boat, be aware of other jobs but *focus* on yours. Others in the crew will be depending on things happening in the right sequence, so don't wait, just do.

    -- mind your own limits. Don't do things you don't know how to do. Ask for guidance and/or help.

    -- mind your own safety. Don't sit in the "bight" of a line. Don't let hands or feet get caught in loops.

    -- mind what you project. Everyone, at moments, will feel like complaining or second-guessing. The best will turn that into an opportunity to double-down on teamwork. That's a good thing to do.

    Oh, and stay on the boat.

    $.02
    Bruce
    "Makana" (ex-Thelonious)
    1985 Ericson 32-III #604
    Makana blog: here

  10. #10
    Contributing Partner Teranodon's Avatar
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    And another thing. Victoria gets pretty boozy the night before the race. Don't do it. A hangover is the last thing you want when you are sitting on the wet, cold, windy rail. Look at the boats, have yourself a good meal (OLO is Victoria's best, IMHO), and turn in early.
    Stefan Michalowski
    Friday Harbor, WA
    1988 Ericson 34 "Talpa"

  11. #11
    Contributing Member I
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    Talking

    And don't forget to find out what the skipper likes to drink, there will most likely be post race celebrations.
    Diversion
    E32-2, atomic 4
    Hull#111
    Vancouver B.C.

  12. #12
    Contributing Member I
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    Talking

    And don't forget to find out what the skipper likes to drink, there will most likely be post race celebrations.
    Oh right, one hand for the boat and one hand for yourself.
    Diversion
    E32-2, atomic 4
    Hull#111
    Vancouver B.C.

  13. #13
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    Had a great time! We were not competitive, but we finished and had a good time. Good food and a great crew. Fairly casual (more cruising than racing), and we were overpowered for most of the day. The furled genoa had terrible shape in 25kn winds and we should have done a headsail change, but again more cruise than racing.

    Waking up for my night watch and putting up the spinnaker in the dark was great fun, as was going back to sleep at 3AM with a belly full of freshly baked banana bread.

    Already thinking about putting my 30+ in for next year!
    ~-~-~-~-~-~-~
    1981 Ericson 30+, rocking the Juan de Fuca

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