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Race 2 Alaska Preps


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Looks like us.. What a skippers meeting, the Canadian Commander of this province for Coast Guard spoke very frankly to group. I'll share notes offline, you would never here this from US officials who have lawyers write PowerPoint presentations.

In a lot of places along this Island there are only lifeboats and they are usually two hours away at full speed.

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I spoke with Edward a short time ago.  He asked that I share the news of his safe return as he won't be online for awhile.  They caught a good weather window late this morning and made the crossing back to the USA (Port Angles) on what sounds like a beam reach with a west wind. 

I'm sure he will post more about his adventure.  Sure sounds like the had a fine time.

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I attached a photo of us coming into Victoria in light wind with Clover Hill Point Lighthouse in background. This was an hour or so before I turned and tacked out.


Let's start with I'm willing to take bets on what team will finish in the top three for the final race. There are some very professional racers in the group who do nothing but race in varies events around the US.


1) Water - Several boats where taking on significant amounts of water through homemade hatches similar to mine. The SeaRunners where pumping out most of the way over from what I understood. Another cat with soft plastic hatches had both hulls half filled with water. The CAT with stars and stripes started sinking on one side at the Victoria Dock. They pulled out the hull, and could not find the leak, as of leaving this morning that side was still filling up. Other boats that had homemade boxes on CAT decks, etc for electronics or storage had a lot of water in them. With CS17's hatch waterways I had no problem, especially with the two hatches that I never put weather stripping in.


2) Upgrades - 

  • Hatch bungees worked great, and the red color beads on STBD, and GREEN on port to put bungee's around helped me when I was tired remembering colors. On the aft STBD seat hatch, the SS shockcord C-clamp I used to crimp the bungee, I didn't crimp enough and one of the ends cut into the inner hatch waterway.
  • Reefing, I uninstalled the cheek blocks on the one boom, until I can get with Graham and Alyn to improve the solution.
  • Bunk boards, I wish I had done these SOONER!! The vertical grain FIR worked great for strength and standing upon.
  • Oars, they worked great though the PORT oar seemed like it had trouble always getting in the water far enough with out "skipping" over top. I need to improve the angle.
  • FWD oar station worked AMAZING, so did the Douglas Oar Locks.
  • Tiller Tamer, I can't stress enough how great this was, or the resistance occasionally to take the load off my arm. 

3) Sleeping - Sail tent over raised FWD boom worked GREAT!! It beat sleeping on the dock rolled up in a bivy bag like some of the smaller boats. I like the CS17/20 MKIII design of having enough sleeping for the entire crew. Those boats that had only enough bunks for off watch personnel had to find other accommodations for sleeping in port. IT would suck if you pulled into a remote place to anchor for the night.


4) Storage - FWD CMPT Sleeping bags, and one mustang suit, aft CMPT personal bags/extra water/foam pads/one sleeping bag, under forward bulkhead mustang suit/dry suit/throw cushion/staysail/water resistant phone, FWD of centerboard trunk bumpers/fuel, alongside trunk 5gallon bucket, paddles, seat storage:

  • PORT FWD Seat Tank; extra Lines and tool bag
  • PORT AFT Seat Tank; Empty
  • STBD FWD Seat Tank; Empty
  • STBD AFT Seat Tank; Food, water bottles, emergency box, battery and backup electronic box.

Basically the CS17 has GREAT storage capability, and we didn't even use all of it.


5) Electronics - Garmin handheld GPSMAP 76CSX (with no loaded charts, I didn't want to pay so I pre-load waypoints), Navionics US & Canada on my phone which worked great, Nexus 6 smartphone which is also water resistant (charge wasn't lasting until I figured out on airline mode, the chartplotter mode could work all day), $21 lithium battery cell phone charger w/solar panel in clear dry bag (worked great), handheld floating VHF radio (reception was spotty, and so was communicating, considering future external antenna on mast to boost range, or non-handheld VHF radio).


6) Spot Tracker - Boy do I wish we didn't have to use someone else's, I mean the waterproof bags where great and all, but there was no backup that was programmed into the system. If we had personal spots I could have had two with one ready to go as backup. Several teams complained of spot issues on provided, outages etc, and wished they could have had a backup. Royal Victorian Yacht Club said they have a 99% uptime on there fleet of 200 spots for races.


7) Clothing - I wore nylon long underwear, boy scout nylon hiking shorts, heavy wool hiking socks, two fleece jackets, nylon rain pants, individual hip waders, wool hat, Columbia waterproof jacket w/hood, lifejacket, floating safety sunglasses and non West Marine sailing fingerless sailing gloves. Even with the warm socks, my feet got cold against bottom of boat, on the way back across I used 10hr foot warmers. At some point from waves breaking over, I got water in arms of jacket, the double fleece kept me warm even when wet. On the way back I wore the drysuit Randy loaned me, and learned I should have worn both fleeces in it, not just one. There where times crossing I really wished that I was in a drysuit or survival suit.


My teammates clothes stayed pretty dry except for arms on raingear, and West Marine Insulated "DRY" sailing gloves. Monday I will be taking them back, and throwing them at the store manager as they failed in under an hour. As for other teams what they wore seemed to be all over the place for brands. Several teams went to stores and said please help us, and got significant discounts on Columbia and similar fowl weather gear.


8) Reefing / Sails- Initially we where unreefed and dingy sailing the boat, before passing the Point Wilson Point I noticed most boats where not reefed, we made the decision before getting into rougher water to reef. Unfotently reefing took 15 minutes, partly because we where getting wind from west, and NW because of the hill by Fort Wilson doing weird things, and the sails kept filling as wind changed, it took both of us holding/fighting mizzen sail for hour to get it on boom, mainsail was easy. Additional downhaul lines for forward sail running aft really helped!!


We unreefed after Hine Bank, and then put the staysail up after the wind died. I need to find a better way to control the staysail as we used a pin from the oarlock like a winch to take some force off my hand. One team had there sail blow in half, because the guy who made it forgot to stitch one of the panels, they got it fixed in Victoria.


9) Repairs - Several of my older aluminum rivets sheared lower on the mainmast sail track, this was due to a downhaul being installed incorrectly and I didn't catch it until later. Basically the down-haul wasn't tied down on other side of sail, and instead looped under, this created stress pulling away from mast. The marina in Victoria on Friday looked like a shipyard with all the repairs done on almost all boats which included welding. I walked over to an amazing shop called "Capital Iron" and picked up SS 1/8" wide rivets and some 1/4" aluminum rivets for a cat which had loaned me a drill and rivet gun. 


Several boats had to replace fuses and other parts of electrical systems, due to damage, or things breaking. I won't go into the plethora of repairs other to say that multi hulls take a lot of spare parts for a reason, and the more complicated you make it, well you know. I am a personal fan of the F-27's.


Some of the macgyver repairs being done where interesting...


10) Overall - After listening to the Canadian Coast Guard presentation and taking a look at other small very open boats, I'm not sure the Core Sound 17 is the right boat for the entire R2AK. The MKIII would VERY appropriate, or the CS20MKIII, there needs to be a good DRY way to get out of the weather (or for other crewmate) which my open cockpit boat does not provide. The guys that spent most of the 36 hour crossing in small boats with really no shelter looked utterly miserable upon getting into port. Vessel Traffic Control was easy to work with, for when I departed, and I notified upon my arrival that I was clear of the crossing back, also called Race Boss (not req) to let them know I left and returned. On the radio I actually heard VTC seattle telling a freighter passing Port Angeles that a 17' green sailboat was in there area. The cruise ship arriving in Victoria as I was leaving was very polite/professional when I called on 16 to verify they where pulling in, and let them know I was going to pass aft.


I would also point out that the waterballesting compartments on a long trip could make some great coolers to store things like beer, steak (dry ice), etc. The rafts going down the Colorado and through Grand Canyon for two weeks use foam coolers with dry ice and sealed up with duck tape. On average they keep the food frozen for two weeks, because they only open each cooler as they need the food in it.






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I have been following your prep and race. Thank you for everything, it's been great stuff. In the mundane hours of building a CS20.3, I needed this.


I wish the Watertribe had tracking this good. The tracking map and replay option even works great on my phone.

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The tracking is actually provided by swiftsure.org and a dedicated team of volunteers who put the program together.


The other three things I would do different after hearing the coast guard talk is:

1) Put a Radio antenna on my mast, and seriously consider a fixed base unit. Single Side-band might be overkill, but not a more effective VHF.

2) I would also for a very low cost rent a satellite phone with pelican case for a month. I noticed the texts from there program are free to me, and the weather package is $5 a month to get updates for location.

3) Think seriously about a jackline system with harness, or a point for a jackline in the boat, especially for at night when team member is sleeping.


Was very glad I had two mustang suits on board, and a SOS marine/hiking survival bivy in abandonboat kit, as this could help increase survival time.


Background on Canadian Coast Guard

The Canadian Coast Guard Western Sector fleet includes 7 ships, 7 cutters, 6 helicopters, 1 airplane and 10 Coast Guard station boats working various locations along the West Coast of British Columbia.


Rescue Brief my Cliff-notes @ Captions meeting in Victoria

CMDR Joanne McNish (if I have name wrong, sorry) Director of Fleet Western Sector

  • Dept National Defense has one helicopter for entire coast.
  • No helicopter rescue likely on race route
  • Ten 47' lifeboats with a top speed of 48knots spaced 4-8 hours apart (in US they are 2 hours). The message was THIN coverage, and you might have some time to enjoy the icy water.
    • Ganges, BC
    • French Creek
    • Campbell RIver
    • Telegraph Cove (78 miles to next)
    • Port Hardie
    • Bella Bella
    • Prince Rubert
  • Johnson Straight - Wind against tide, and 9ft waves
  • For anyone that is questioning issues, or having ANY second thoughts, turn around at Campbell River, after that assistance, services, and humanity is scarce.
  • Van Eyle 360 Race going on at same time (they stop as group every night), 52 sailboats
  • Search Procedures (10 degree C which is 50 degree F water)
    • With the RIGHT gear on you have 6 hours. Recommend getting out of water, and or planning on helping yourself until rescue shows.
    • Realistically with heavy gear 3.1 hours survival time
    • 3.1 - 9.8 with life jacket
    • Search time takes these numbers and doubles before being called off. If they know you where prepared it lengthens search.
    • Call Early - even if it's a small leak that you can fix, CG prefers to help then rescue. Or will be on way when situation gets more serious. 
    • CG wants report of ANY ISSUE no matter how small, so if you fail to check in they can expedite rescue party.
    • CH 16 VHF repeaters are good up coast
    • BUY a PLB, they work everywhere the SPOTS don't.
    • Risk level assigned for searching for you based on info like having PLB.
    • USE Vessel Tracking Services (VTS), they are helpful, and could save your life.
  • Now for the biggest shocker: Unlike what BoatUS claims for the free MMSI registration (and my 100ton captains class), the Canadian Coast Guard does recognize ANY MMSI number and uses US Database for ones they don't know. If you have a foreign made DCS radio, or free MMSI number on the Canadia coast guard site where you register your boat for being in country in Comments put the number and what type of radio. Don't worry, they'll make sure it's entered right on their end.
  • If you don't know what area WHISKEY-GULF is in the Straight of Georgia you need to Google it or read your chart notes.
  • The Coast Guard likes this group because of the level of emergency info provided for each boater, and safety network provided by tracking and local people checking on boats along the way. They would have preferred rescue be sent after 9 hours of no contact not 48 as the race does, but are ok with 48.
  • Had walked docks already, and was thankful for the high level of professional, and high quality boats (yes she said she had experience sailing on a sailboat to Tahiti).
  • Last but not least thanked group for no "box boats".
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Thanks Rick,


Team Seawolf in an amazing 17' Rave Hydrofoiling trimaran, abandoned ship this morning. 15' breaking seas washing the boat with every wave, and 40+knots of wind. Unable to get enough speed for the rudder to be effective, or change course and a rocky lee shore coming up, they called the Canadian Coast Guard for rescue.

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