Fokus3 blog across the USA to Newport

September 10, 2009

Hello Fokus3 Followers:

So far we've had two races and feel we are doing pretty well.  We were 8th in race 1 and 12th yesterday in race 2 and now sitting in 11th place overall out of 24 boats with 20 points.

Race 1 was Tuesday and the winds were light - maybe 5 knots.  There has been an ongoing debate among the race committee on where the course would be.  Some want the course to be on the outside meaning in the Atlantic Ocean about 2 to 5 miles offshore which is the old America's Cup course and then some want the races to be in Narragansett Bay which has lots of current but the water is flatter and no swell.  Our guesstimate is that the Race Committee wants us to sail outside more than not so for race 1, we went outside.

It was a long tow out to the course.  All the boats are hooking up with tenders that tow then because if there were no power boats, none of the boats would have made it to the course on time.  The modern boats (boats which have a rudder separated from the keel) have their own start and their own scoring.  There are 8 moderns and 24 classic boats.

The moderns started in very light air but the race was abandoned because of a wind shift and the wind went light again.  We bobbed around until about 3pm and finally there was enough wind to get the races off.

Our start was 2nd row but we went the right way and picked up probably 5 or 6 boats for an 8th place.  There were 2 distinct packs of boats and we were at the back of the first group and quite a ways ahead of the second group.

Yesterday, Wednesday, was quite a different story.  The winds were 20 to 25 knots and many were wondering if we were even going to go out but the race committee was determined to get a race off.  They decided to run the inside course in Narragansett Bay but they waited for the tide to change because the waves were too high.  We sailed back and forth in the harbor for about an hour until the tide changed and we went into the bay sailing some 4 miles to the start of the race.

We had a great start and won the boat peeling off the boats that were trying to barge in at the last minute.  Angus said jokingly, "Bryan, you are barging"  Bryan's response was simply, "yes."  The reality was that the tide was pushing us away from the line so we legitimately won the boat without any hint of barging but their commentary was pretty funny.

Shortly after the start our starboard winch locked up tight.  We are not sure why but Jim is replacing it this morning with one we brought along with us.  We'll do an autopsy on it tonight to see what's up.  That meant that we only had one winch for nearly the entire race so our tacks were a bit slow but Anika, Angus, and Bryan did a fantastic job of making up for the issues that the winch presented.

Angus and Anika spent a great deal of the race below decks pumping the bilge as we had so much water splashing over the bow into the boat that we had to pump as often as we could without affecting our tactics and sail trim.  Jim did an outstanding job on the helm as it was quite difficult to drive in the large waves.  

On the last downwind leg the wind was over 20 knots and the spinnaker we have is only rated for 13 apparent so we decided it was early in the regatta and we better save our chute so we flew the jib on a stick.  For the non-sailors, we put the spinnaker pole on the jib and flew it.  We might have lost a few boats by doing this but other boats were using the same technique but without the pole.  The Dix Auot boat was ahead of us and we passed her with Jim's great downwind driving and the sail configuration.  We were far enough ahead of Sprig that she couldn't catch us (she put up her spinnaker) but in another 50 yards she would have had us.  At the end of the race we nosed out Sprig and Dix Auot by mere inches.

The Race Committee called it quits for the day as the wind kept building to a steady 22 gusting to 26 so the fleet went back to the harbor on our 4 mile run.  During the sail back, Sprig had the vang on too tight and a big puff came on and broke her wooden boom right at the vang fitting.  I'm sure they had a long night fixing it.  They were going to attach a few splint-like pieces of wood and wrap with fiberglass and I'm sure they will be off and running today.

The winds are lighter today and our master tactician Bryan expects to see no more than 18 knots of breeze and is surmising that we will race inside due to the wind direction and chop.

For those interested in looking at the results, you can visit this page:
Then you can click on the "Classic" results and see the standings.

September 7, 2009

Good evening Fokus3 Race Fans:

Today was packed with crazy action starting with the boat.  The plan was for Jesperson's Boat Works to meet with Jim in the a.m. to look and assess the damage to Fokus3's deck.

Immediately Eric and Bent went below decks with Jim to look at the two questionable deck beams which were shattered.  The assessment revealed that Flapper, after penetrating the deck, actually hit and dented the clamp on the starboard side of the boat causing about a 4 foot crack on the starboard sheer strake and on the port side there was a blown seam about 2 planks down the side.  The forestay was kinked due to the high loads sustained during the impact (they ran into the sail) and 2 hanks were broken off which cause 2 kinks and the tack to be bent quite severely.  The general consensus was that the forestay needed to be replaced so we hauled Angus up the rig and disconnected the wire.

Then it was time to start the repair.  Jim and Adam went to the boat yard where their "chipper" (we learned that this is a local fun name for boatwright/carpenter) who is also named Jim, was super helpful and offered up his tools and his shop for our use. Jim proceeded to cut the smashed deck out along the deck beams in an effort to straighten them so the splintered remains could be glued up. Then, with relatively sound deck beams, he was going to screw down plywood to cover the hole.  Simple enough.  

By 1:30pm the hole was cut, the beams were glued, and the plywood replacement deck piece was made but not installed.  Now we had to wait for the epoxy to set up so we went to lunch and met up with Janet and Leigh who were shopping around town.

Earlier in the day Angus and Bryan took the sails to be measured and discovered that we owed $700 for buttons.  For the non-sailors, this is a normal thing - the class has to figure a way of getting money for things like the newsletter and the way they do this is to charge for buttons.  The buttons are then attached to your sails proving that you paid the class fee for the sail.  If your sails do not have buttons, you cannot use them in a race.  In our case, all our sails were relatively new so we had to purchase 5 buttons at $140 each!  Ouch.  But, the six metre newsletter/magazine is pretty cool so I shouldn't complain.

After lunch we went back to the boat to see if the glue was setting.  The warm sun was doing a good job of curing the epoxy but it wasn't hard enough to continue working so we waited another hour.  Then, by 5pm, I'm telling Jim we've got to get going because there is a Skipper's meeting at the New York Yacht Club at 6pm so we better get a move on.  We started mixing epoxy to set the plywood deck piece in.  

While the epoxy is being mixed we get a call from the Race Committee telling us we haven't finished our registration!  Holy Cow!  Not another fire drill!  But sure enough, it was, so Jim calls his insurance agent who he happens to reach and she tells us that Andy has our paperwork.  So we call Andy.  Andy drives down to the boat yard at about 5:15pm and the registration for Worlds ends at 6pm.  Crap!  I've got to get moving!  But Jim has just mixed this huge batch of epoxy that we need to apply and there were still a few screws that had to get fastened.

So, Adam starts cleaning up tools like mad, I'm on the phone with Janet and Leigh telling them to bring our nice clothes (Skipper's meeting at 6pm is at the NYYC so we need our khaki pants, etc.) and we'll pick them up while we hurry over to the race registration desk (which is NOT at the yacht club but at Fort Adams) so we can finish the registration before it closes at 6.  

Jim screws in the last of the screws and smooths on the last of the epoxy and we race to get the girls and the rest of the crew.  Along the way we see Eric and the crew of Gallant sitting in traffic and we roar by them in the left lane cutting in front of everyone just like real New Englanders!  We arrive at Fort Adams at 5:50pm and hand in our proof of insurance and other docs and then receive our race packets.  Then we rush back to the NYYC to join in the skipper's meeting where we arrive at roughly 6:10pm.  Phew!  We made it!

The boat is ready to go with the exception of a forestay.  We should be receiving it tomorrow at around 8am and we'll install it prior to racing and then we're off to Worlds.

Wish us luck!

September 6, 2009 - carnage on the second day of the NA's

Fokus3 fans and Followers:

Today was day 2 of the North Americans and with 15 knots of breeze we were very excited to get out on the race course to see what the long waterline of the Bjarne Aas boat could do.

The morning was typical:  some went to get sandwiches, others did a few last minute projects like getting the wind instruments working, we removed all unnecessary items from the boat and set out.  The wind was coming from the East and blew directly into the little marina at Fort Adams where all the 6's are.  There were sufficient tow boats around that helped the fleet get out of the harbor.  Dana, in the RIB that he was using for picture taking, helped us and we soon were sailing on a tight reach to the start line some 5 miles away.

Before race one, the right looked better to us but we wanted to win the pin so we went left again but were planning on tacking early to get to the side we wanted.  Our start was pretty good but not stellar.  We had decent speed but there was a foul with the running backstay so Angus cleared that and we settled in on starboard tack for a few short minutes then tacked onto port.

Port tack was good but the entire fleet was coming back at us on starboard.  We weren't crossing a few boats so we decided to lead them back left.  A normal tack was performed and we were sailing on starboard.

We were on starboard tack for probably one minute minimum - probably 2 when it happened:  There was a HUGE bang up forward.  Initially I thought a halyard broke or something but this bang was much larger and it felt like a giant earthquake.  We were rammed at full speed (both boats) by Flapper who was on port and she penetrated the deck probably 3 feet from the mast through the deck!

Here are the details as best I can remember.  Flapper has a sturdy bronze fitting at her stem that make her quite formidable.  This sharp piece of hardware struck one of Fokus3's deck beams pretty squarely but the beam did not break in 2 pieces although it and another frame are broken.  The boat slid sideways a few inches aft where it actually punctured a hole in the deck.  At this point we were still sailing at 6 knots so Flapper's bow, still stuck on Fokus3's deck, stayed in the hole while the rest of Flapper started sliding sideways down the boat and hitting Fokus3's port cap shroud galling the rigging pretty well.    

As we stood up from heeling (racing) Flapper's stem piece was levered up and actually popped through the deck lifting pretty big sections of yellow cedar and deck plywood substrate.  The deck has a hole nearly large enough to step through.  It is amazing given the forces involved, that the boat did not sink.

There is damage to quite a few areas of the boat (rig, etc) but before I make any comments I'll wait to see what Jim and the Jesperson's have to say about the boat.  There is a meeting scheduled for 8am there tomorrow.

The boat is sitting in the Newport Shipyard waiting for us to give her some loving.  We fully anticipate racing next week for the Worlds.  We will be  no beauty contest winner but hopefully we'll have good luck with the repairs.


September 5, 2009

Hello Fokus3 race fans:

Yea!  We are finally sailing!  The last few days have been nothing but hard work and boat prep. From removing tons of road grime to removing sticky tape goo from the hull, to sanding the bottom smooth, to launching the boat, to stepping the mast, to tweaking the rig, to reconnecting the electronics, we've been very very busy.  But today it all came together and we sailed!

The North American 6mr Championship Regatta was supposed to start at noon but the race course is over 5 miles away from the harbor and with light winds and heavy tides, we were late for the start along with most of the boats so there was a postponement until all the boats were on the scene.  Dana commandeered a RIB and was out taking pictures but he soon became known as the "tow boat" and was busy all morning towing the boats to the race course against the tide.  For those that don't know too much about 6mr boats, none of them have engines.

A steady 5-7 knot breeze finally filled in around 2pm and the course was set - a 4 leg windward/leeward course with a downwind finish.  There was an offset mark just off the weather mark to keep the boats apart a bit.  No collisions with these old beasts was the mantra for the day.

In the first starting sequence we were on the line with speed and were very excited to be punched out with the leaders but alas it was a general recall so we had to try it again.  In sequence #2 we got into a tangle with Mena ( another 6 mr) who would not come up when we hailed her.  It was a classic case of windward/leeward and we were controlling her but she would not move probably because the "I" flag was flying.  For those that are not familiar with the "I" flag, basically what it means is this:  normally before the start you can be over the starting line (On Course Side or OCS) before the start as long as you get back on the pre-start side before the gun goes off.  Then you start with everyone else.  Since the first start was a General Recall (too many boats over the line early so the Race Committee can't figure out who was over) and they threw out the start.  The "I" flag means that if you are over the line within one minute of the start (with less than a minute to go) you have to go around the ends of the starting line before you can start to clear yourself.

At roughly 45 seconds to go before the start Mena actually sagged down on us and her boom hit our shrouds as we went past.  We hailed "protest" but since we ended up beating her we didn't do anything about it.  Mena had a Cherokee to weather of her and Cherokee really was the problem child as she would not or could not come up for Mena.  That was the root of the problem.

2 boats were over early in the race - Sprig and Finnegan.  Unfortunately both Puget Sound Fleet boats.

The right side of the course was favored because they had more breeze.  We went left after deciding in the pre-race that the right looked better.  We have been shaking our collective heads on that because we did the opposite of what we planned so at the end of the first weather leg we were probably 23rd out of 28 boats.  

Undaunted, we raced hard and made a lot of good calls and fought our way back to 14th for the race.  Pretty good considering we were on the wrong side of the course for 25% of the race.  We are pretty excited that we finished where we did and chased down at least 4 boats on the last leeward leg alone.

Arunga was 2nd and Gallant was 3rd although that is a bit controversial because they did not sail past the offset mark but the race committee apparently didn't seem to care and gave them the 3rd place trophy for the day.  Finnegan found herself missing the offset mark as well and had a rough go of it.  She still showed her usual speed but unfortunately she couldn't pull it all together today.

The winds went light so racing was called off for the day.  One race is all that we could muster.  More racing tomorrow and I'll report what I can!

September 3, 2009

Hello, Fokus3 Fans!

I must first apologize for my lack of communication. Since I last wrote, there has been a lot of driving and no connectivity to speak of.  This blog thing has really taken me by surprise! There are over 100 people getting these posts and as a result I've received over 20 e-mails from various people who want to hear about the next installment of the Fokus3 blog.  It cracks me up.  So, without further adieu.....

In the last episode our heroes had fixed their truck after choking on the $2800 repair bill and were speeding across the plains in their new go-fast rig.

We were still hanging on to this notion that barbecuing along the way to keep costs down and have healthier meals was a good idea.  So, on our way out of town, we stopped at the nearest grocery store in Rapid City to purchase hot dogs and burgers.  I was bound and determined to cook some dogs on the grill!  Jim was agreeable and so we set out.

Meanwhile, we were so busy putting miles behind us, almost exactly 1000 of them before stopping at a truck stop at 3am off of I-80 in Illinois, that there simply wasn't time to do any grilling.  That night, Tuesday (well, really Wednesday morning), we all crashed in the truck and slept until 6:30am Central time and then Jim fired up the rig and we were off.
When Jim fired up the truck, it was clear that there was going to be no barbecue and Adam and I knew that we were in for a long day of beef jerky and trail mix.  

Surprisingly we learned that Jim is not human.  

Humans need food.  They need water,  Sleep.  None of these luxuries were part of our road diet.  Instead, Jim would drive and drive driven by adrenaline and caffeine.  He was on a mission and we had to keep moving.

Thursday was more of the same.  We traveled over 1000 miles through 8 states: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, then finally Rhode Island.  We were wondering if we were going to make it all the way to Newport so we called Dana to ask the lay of the land.  To our surprise the Newport Shipyard is open 24 hours/day so we decided to push.  We expected to arrive at midnight in Newport and we figured pushing through New York at this hour would be better because there would be less traffic.

We had our route.  Continue west on I-80 until we reach 287 North and then skirt New York then connect to I-95.  Simple. But then for some reason nothing is simple at 11pm after driving 18 hours at 70 mph with a 12,000 trailer in tow.  
We learned our trip would now include parts of greater New York City, when Adam said "OK - we're getting ready to go over the George Washington Bridge."  At that moment, it was clear that we had wildly missed 287 and were heading right into the very system of roads and bridges we were trying to avoid.  Jim (Remember, Jim is not human.) was remarkably cool and calm and just smiled and said, "we're on an adventure boys!"  

It became clear that we needed a new plan of attack and quick.  Adam became map-guy because he was the only one who could see the small print and I became sign-guy while Jim kept us in between the lines on the pavement.  It was a pretty good system.  The real trouble was the fact that we had a road atlas with a scale of "one state per page" and New York has more Interstate highways that Seattle has roads.

As we approached the toll booth, we saw a a sign that said "Trucks $8".  We had our $20 bill ready and handed it to her.  At which point, she looked at our trailer and said, "$40" and we all gasped.  Well, what do you do?  You pay, then bitch about it all the way to Newport, and then you blog about it later.  Adam started calling it the $40 Bridge to Nowhere.

We were also wrong about the traffic at that hour.  The construction we encountered made for very slow going.  Our initial estimate was that we'd arrive by midnight but it was clear that it was going to be much later.  Once we got to I-95 we made great time and peeled off toward University of Rhode Island and Newport Bridge.  This was certainly the back door way to get to Newport and our driving directions had us going through a lot of 25 mph zones and actually a fair bit of dirt road.  We were within 15 miles of Newport and nothing was on our minds except dropping that boat off our trailer and getting some sleep,

That was until this deer jumped right out in front of Jim's truck!  It was a full-on, direct hit that smashed the truck bumper and ripped the license plate clean off the truck.  We didn't have time to react, swerve, brake, or do anything but keep on rolling.  Needless to say we were all quite awake for the last few miles into the harbor. If you see a deer with Washington plates, can you get it's insurance policy number?  That poor truck has seen some action on this trip.

We arrived at 2am, dropped the boat and trailer at Newport Shipyard, then crashed at our rental house.  What a day!

Dateline August 31 Rapid City South Dakota:

Land of the Sioux.  And, after finding out Jim's fancy truck is not under warrantee, we feel like it should be land of the suit, as in class action.

Sunday we walked and walked and walked trying to see who and what was open for business.  Car dealer closed, Rental shops closed. Used car dealers closed. Nothing was open. Not even the Western Wear shop which had some wicked cool snakeskin cowboy boots. But I digress.  

Apparently it is illegal to venture outside your home on Sundays here.

We sat around the swimming pool at the Foothills Inn like a bunch of losers trying to salvage what was left of our summer vacation.  The pool was about 6 feet deep and 8 feet long and I think I would overflow the thing if I actually got into it. Thankfully the USA television network was having a James Bond fest so we started drinking cold beers in our hotel room laughing at how bad the License to Kill movie was compared to the new Bond movie Casino Royale which we've now watched 3 times.  None of us made it through Timothy Dalton's flick so we started our own snore-fest at around 11pm.

In other news today, in an apparent fit of exhaustion we learned that Gallant  accidentally filled her diesel fuel tanks with gasoline.  No word from Eric on exactly how that happened but evidently they ran over to WalMart and purchased a bunch of jerry-cans and siphoned the bad gas out of his truck and refuelled with diesel and are back on the road.  Finnegan  reported in just south of Chicago so they aren't really that far behind Gallant.

Jim just called and the word from the Ford dealer is good!  I don't have all the details, however, the problem had something to do with the oil cooler and wasn't that big of a deal.  John, the service manager, said we could actually have the rig back tonight, however, he knows what we are doing with the truck so he wants to keep the patient overnight for observation.

So, with any luck we'll be on the road in the a.m. getting our groove back on.

More news as it unfolds!

Sunday, 8/30/2009

Hello Fans of Fokus:

Our road trip to the 6 meter World Cup in Newport Rhode Island was going along swimmingly until that last rest stop where we were planning on staying the night.  

Since this is my first blow I'll start from the beginning.  Jim, Dana, Adam, and myself left the Seattle area Friday morning for the regatta all packed up and excited to compete against the rest of the world's 6m sailors in Newport.  The plan was to get all four 6 meter boats from the West Coast in a caravan heading East thinking how fun it would be trekking at high speed across the plains.  Eric Jesperson's boat Gallant, Andy Parker's boat Finnegan, Fokus3 of course and Buzzy III  now owned by Erik Larsen, who is not on the trip and who's boat is being towed by Eric's neighbor.

Our first night we stayed out under the stars at a rest stop just outside of Missoula Montana - affectionally now referred to as Rest Stop #169.  Jim and Adam slept under the boat on the trailer - one on each side of the keel on hard plywood panels.  Jim's pillow was Eric's spinnaker.  I slept in the bed of the truck which we now are calling the "ridgematic adjustable bed" due to the bed liner ridges, and Dana slept sideways in the cab in the back seat of the truck.  We laughed at the fact that we brought a barbecue, utensils, beer, but no food to grill.  Jim told me several times, "No, Dave-o - I've got it!" after being asked if he needed help with groceries. Then he tells me his wife, Leigh, purchased about 1000 pounds of cheap hot dogs at Costco to feed to the dog but Jim failed to bring any of them for the trip.  I was crying I was laughing so hard.

Copyright Dana Olsen

In the morning we left Rest Stop #169 and stumbled into Deer Lodge in search of coffee.  The 4B's was the meal ticket and we waited for the other boats to show.  We had a leisurely breakfast and by 9:45am all 4 boats were strategically arranged for a photo op at the Conoco gas station with the Sinclair Gas / Happy Endings Casino (no, I'm not kidding) and the fake steel palm trees painted in bright primary colors across the street.

Photo Copyright Dana OlsenPhoto Copyright - Dana Olsen - Left to Right Gallant, Finnegan, Great Dane, Fokus3

We needed to push on the second leg because we wasted quite a bit of time at the Conoco photo op but Dana I'm sure will have great pics.  Off we went headed for Rapid City SD, some 650 miles away.  Fokus  lead the pack setting the pace across the Continental Divide.  During the first leg, Finnegan was trying to pass us in the left lane on I-90 and we would have none of it!  The crew of Fokus yelled "coming up" and the Finnegan rolled us to weather but we were clearly fouled!

We stopped for fuel in Billings Montana  and thought it odd that there was no sign of Finnegan.  BuzzyIII, Fokus3, and Gallant were leading the race, and we suspected that Finnegan was on a flyer since she was so far back.  We phoned Finnegan and sure enough - she was without charts and when phoned admitted that it might be prudent to get some.  Obviously they did not confirm the course with the race committee and now were on I-94 some 300 miles north of the pack and 2 states away.  Finnegan's comment was, "We'll see you in a few days."  We have no way of knowing if she is experiencing better winds up north but we do know he is taking the great circle route!

At the end of the day, Saturday, we pulled into a rest stop 20 miles west of Rapid City and as we coasted to a stop the Ford F350 starting hacking and spitting and spewing steam from the exhaust.  Lots of steam.  Right up until that point, everything was fine.  Fokus3 had to call Vessel Assist (AAA) while the rest of the fleet went in search of a hotel.  After they secured lodging, Gallant/Eric came back to pick up Fokus3 and get her back to the hotel. Vessel Assist towed the rig to the Ford dealer in Rapid City and we are sitting in the Foothills Inn making calls and trying to figure out where to go next.

It should be noted that while we sat at the rest stop, oil and water were coming out of the exhaust - a lot of water and a lot of oil.  We are potentially staring down the barrel of a highly expensive repair on a diesel truck that only has 50,000 miles.  Needless to say we don't expect any calls from Ford asking us about our personal experiences with their products.  

The truck was serviced by Carl (no relation to Carl Spangler of Caddy Shack fame) prior to the trip and we thought all was good however the truck was experiencing low power during some of the climbs.  My personal thought is that there is something wrong with the turbo and that the problem with the truck is not too serious but the reality is that there is a possibility that the entire engine is toast.

Stay tuned for more as the saga continues.  We are off to try to rent a truck on Sunday and nothing is open.  Please feel free to send this note to whoever might want to keep track of our progress.