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Everglades Challenge 2021 is ON

Alan Stewart

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No new location data for SpongeBob or PinkDog.  Chokoloskee is a possible place to drop out,  but I wouldn't think they would both be pulling out. Maybe just waiting for the wind to ease a little, or the Spot tracker not working? 


NowWeTryItMyWay and Chessie must be thinking about Mrs. Mac's. They were in and out of Flamingo and starting on the long route around Florida Bay.  Lately they have not seemed to make much progress into the wind. Windy.com is saying NE 22kts. I am sure there are higher gusts so it could be pretty wild. It will be interesting to watch what they do. The forecast is for continued strong winds from E and NE

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This looks like it could be Dawn Patrol. Everyone’s ok and that’s the good news. I have not heard anything else about what happened or plans to recover the boat. 

they did have masthead floats which they were working on at CP1 but it did not appear they were enough. 

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On 3/8/2021 at 4:51 PM, Mike Vacanti said:

Spawn is a class 4 boat that finished 6 hours behind Randy Smyth's Nacra catamaran. It is a seriously fast boat and the guys who sail it really know what they are doing. 

Spawn is a custom 22’ design by OH Rodgers.  Built by Jeff Linton in plywood, featuring a carbon rig from a Melges 20, fitted with hiking racks, trapezes, and in the last few years Jeff has added water ballast tanks under the hiking racks. It’s a seriously powerful and fast boat. Not for tyros to be sure. 

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Definitely Dawn Patrol.  Check out the hull and rudder shape on this larger photo.  Rats.  Here's hoping someone with a power boat can go out and retrieve the boat.



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That is tough news about Whitebeard and NoWhitebeard. Good to hear that they are safe.


Chessie is in Key Largo but it looks a lot like they took US 1 from Conch Key and not the ICW.


The tracker does not have any update on location for PinkDog or SpongeBob.


Wind is E 20kts

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Pinkdog and Changbizi (that’s us) dropped out at Chokoloskee as did Sponge Bob in the cool and capable kayak tri.  The wind was getting to be a bit over our pay grade and forecast showed no relenting for 2-3 days. 

We did, however have 3 glorious, adventure filled days of sailing. 

A few highlights:

- Tampa bay was all sport as the wind and waves built just minutes after the start

- Made the mistake (again) of going inside at Venice and drifting thru the ditch instead waiting for Stump Pass

- Thrilling down wind run on Gasparilla, Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound with tons of surfing. Realizing that being “inside” along here is probably rougher and no safer than being outside with NE winds. Nearing inlet at Boca Grand was especially gnarly!

- Chill sunset sail past Naples heading to Big Marco Pass

- Wind picked up fast behind Marco Island with zero visibility, sailing for shelter by feel (GPS) with only double reefed mizzen and no main and tied up for a few hours to some mangroves. Waking up realizing the boat is no longer rocking gently because we were stuck hard in the mud (again). 
- Approaching Indian Key Pass with 7 other tribers of 4 different classes all within view. 
- Tacking up Indian Key pass with the wind only coming in strong gusts, swinging wildly

- Finally seeing Chokoloskee in daylight and enjoying an amazing Cuban sandwich at the garden oasis of Havana Cafe



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1 hour ago, Designer said:

It is definitely Dawn Patrol. I have heard that they were doing fine when suddenly they were hit by a rogue wave. They have rescued the boat and are in good spirits

Hate hearing this but glad everyone is ok. We were hearing coast guard reports on the vhf of a capsized 20 foot sailboat off Naples and feared it was one of the racers.  I hope it’s recovered intact.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi All-


We were the guys sailing Chessie, just saw this thread and wanted to post a little update, and ask a question or two.  We had 4 tough moments in the race, attributable to varying degrees of weather conditions and human errors.


1 - Attempting to get into Pine Island Sound through Boca Grande Pass at night, we were unable to sail up into the wind + current into the pass.  I made a little screenshot below of our tracking map, the bit where it shows us going WSW, we were actually pointed ENE and getting carried backward. At night this was very disorienting.  After a few more attempted tacks, we just gave up and went in at Captiva pass further south.  Either there was no current at that time, or something else was different, because it was no problem.


2 - Same night, sailing sough through the middle of Pine Island Sound, the winds and waves were pretty high and we were single reefed on both main and mizzen, sailing on a beam / broad reach.  There was a lot of weather helm and the boat was really rocking hard, so we tied up another reef and the boat settled down and we sailed fine for a while.  Later that night, we needed to tack up a little bit to make a bridge approach, and we again just couldn't get the boat as close to the wind as was needed to make progress.  We slept for an hour or so and that morning, when the wind lightened up, we were able to point upwind a lot better.


3 - Coming around East Cape (again in the dark, again double reefed), some combination of currents, wind, and waves conspired to prevent us from tacking up in towards Flamingo.  Additionally, we were very confused by the unlighted markers vs lighted markers vs distant radio towers in our charts  In the morning when winds were a little lighter, we shook a reef out and could proceed.


4 - Transiting south around the outside of Florida Bay (again double reefed) high winds, waves (and possibly current?) made it really difficult to make progress upwind.  Small screenshot below showing an example attempted tack.  During this time, the sun was up, but we were out of sight of land.  When we were on the southerly tack, our compass heading was at least 15' further east than our actual GPS heading; and the same for the northerly tack.  There was a tiny bit of lee helm.  But, we were just not able to make the upwind progress in the direction of the ICW, so we bailed out and stopped on Conch Key; and got a tow to the public boat ramp on Marathon.


My brother made a little video of our view of the race (and his fan boat tour) here: 

Boca Grande Attempt.png

York Island.jpg

East Cape.png

Florida Bay.png

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Additional thoughts:


1 - We attached the inflatable tube bag "crew saver"  style mast floats to the starboard side of the luff of our our sails, and tied them on both top and bottom so they wouldn't flop around. Instead of the permanently installed top-of-the-mast rigid Hobie style masthead floats.  When we were sailing on a port tack, this worked great.  When we were sailing on a starboard tack, we think that this contributed to our poor pointing-upwind-on-a-starboard-tack performance.


2 - With both sails double reefed, the mizzen didn't seem strong enough to balance the main, we were getting some lee helm. When we felt comfortable doing so, we had better luck with two reefs in the main and one in the mizzen.  But when things got rough we just reefed everything we could.


3 - Sitting around and watching it for days on end, we wondered if the baggy reefed sails were somehow hurting our performance, and were wondering if maybe an entirely different sail, cut smaller, would improve performance for long periods where we would otherwise be reefed.  WE know that the race rules require reefs in the sails anyways, and so this would be in addition to the regular sails w/ 2 reef points, not instead of.

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3 hours ago, NowWeTryItMyWay said:

we wondered if the baggy reefed sails were somehow hurting our performance,

No doubt baggy sails wouldn't have helped. Why were they baggy? Not enough luff tension/outhaul tension?

I skimmed through the video and saw at one point the clew  not pulled very tight and the rolled up reefs tied around the end of the spritboom- I usually ease the snotter until the reefed clew is right to the end of the boom and then pull the snotter on hard in heavy conditions.

Heaps of luff and outhaul tension resulting in a flat sail  is essential. Maybe you need more purchases?

Having said that there comes a point when drive from the reduced sail area can't overcome drag from non reduced windage.

My 2c worth


Peter HK

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I agree with Peter. I think that that the worst offender was sailing with the topping lift on probably preventing proper snotter tension. If you stop the video at 32' 39" you can see that the reefed clew is not drawn tight to the cheek block and there is a big bubble in the sail around the sprit mast area and a tight topping lift.


In your defense, you are sailing a mark 3.1 which does suffer from lee helm in those conditions. On the 3.2 versions the centerboard was moved forward. You can see the video Carlita across FB being driven hard in those conditions with 2 reefs in the main and 1 reef in the mizzen. It would have been more comfortable with a second reef in the mizzen but I would not have been able to point as high. I think that my track was posted on the forum but it was close to 90 degrees between tacks. It was the testing on Carlita that made us move the board forward. We offer technical assistance to anyone with a 3.1 if they want to update.                       


I do not think that the mast float helped and I am not sure whether it would actually prevent the boat from inverting. The masthead would have to be a fair way under water before the float is fully immersed and contributing its total lift. That is very close to or maybe past the point of vanishing stability. As comfortable as the dodger is, it adds a lot of windage.


The boat looked good and you looked and you were doing well.

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Thanks for the great video I especially like the drone shots and it serves as a great trip report. You guys did an awesome job in some tough conditions. It sounds like getting into flamingo this year for many was a real challenge. I agree with Graham and Peter here on the topping lift regarding main reefing and I think also the dodger was a big contributor to slowing the boat down especially sailing into the stronger winds. That thing is just a sail pushing you backward all the time and the problem goes up be the square of the wind speed! Sailing in the dark also makes it a lot harder to see what the sails are doing which makes it a lot harder to feel the boat and react to shifts and I find that I pinch and even get into irons more often in the dark for sure. It seems like you were also a victim of the current we have observed once you round the east cape headed to flamingo as Graham alluded to. Sailing into current in the dark through a channel with unlit markers is very very VERY difficult and requires a skipper to have perfect reactions to all inputs from the boat and a really good crew communicating to them or a really good gps setup so they can monitor their progress. When the channel is 3-5 boat lengths wide it's actually a bit easier I think and the spotlight is the weapon of choice. Anyway, great job guys. 


From what I can see of the reef in the main the snotter just need to be let our more extending the sprit forward so that that the mainsheet attachment is closer to the leech and the clew is held down to the sprit, this also relieves the pressure on the foot of the sail in the reefed portion. Just another comment, I've never sailed with 1 reef in the main and 2 in the mizzen. Always reef main first and un-reef it last. Just like I always raise the mizzen sail first and the main second. and strike the main first. Otherwise the boat can get away from you pretty easily if the mainsheet hangs up on something in the cockpit and comes tight which is pretty easy to happen when first hoisting the sail and it's flogging in the wind. Having a quick disconnect on the mainsheet helps this so you can leave the sails free (with no sheet attached) until you're ready to pull away. I've got it set that way on my CS17 since the sails furl around the masts and the sheets need to come off easily for reefing.  


Another comment on having difficulty sailing upwind in strong winds. I have personally found over my many trips on the course that my rudder (and I assume centerboard) foul with floating debris mostly sea grass constantly especially in heavy wind years. After clearing it I'm always amazed what a difference it makes. I'm talking like going 4.5konts on one tack then clear the weeds and now easily making 6 knots. Not saying this happened to you but it's possible. It's just something I've gotten used to and I've found it to be the most prevalent in Florida bay. When we've sailed the southern route of Florida bay I got into the habit of just kicking my rudder up and then back down (a quick pull-pull on the up, downhaul to flip it out of the water) on EVERY TACK to clear the seagrass. When timed right there is no pressure on the rudder and it's a half second maneuver.  Usually I look back to see a big old pile of sea grass floating behind the boat after this maneuver. Every 30 min or so I would also raise the board and let it back down fully to clear anything that may be on the board during the tack. 

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I've watched this video many times. I hope to do the EC next year if all goes well this summer and there is a lot to ponder in what you provided. I've found my CS20.3 quite weatherly, but it's light weight can be a liability in a steep chop. I also think she already presents a big profile with the raised deck, so others beat me to it with the suggestion the dodger isn't your friend going to weather.


I do have question.....did you ever row the boat and if so, how did that go?


Take Care,




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As an observer and Chessie's builder, I am certainly proud of the performance of both crew and boat.  For sure, future events will be challenging and exciting.


May I offer another observation as part of the post event "critique"?  Upon launch, and later views of the sails, I noticed that (with no reefing) the heads of both mains'l and mizzen' were not snug up against the halyard pully at the mast heads.  They were about 6" to 8" short of maximum height.  The downhauls should be trimmed and cleated after sails are at maximum height.  In my humble opinion.  That would create more clearance of the foot over the dodger and a slight improvement of performance.

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