Tuesday, July 31, 2012

B-Team Becomes A-Team

Ellie has not been on a sailboat before sailing on Donnybrook. She'll be sailing from San Juan to Massachusetts when she becomes a junior at University of Maine. Her uncle and close friend of mine, Bob, asked her sail with us to give her a feel for life on the water.

Damn! Does this girl get sailing! With 5 minutes of instruction she's keeping Donnybrook on her way to Grand Haven in challenging conditions. She's getting a great upper body workout. For those not familiar with sailing big boats in these conditions (20 knot winds, 4-6' waves), it looks easy with a good helms person (as Ellie is) but can get messy pretty quick with a few mistakes.

Thank you, Ellie, for making my trip back to Chicago a little easier!

Working on Donnybrook

Here Dan is keeping the boat moving. Donnybrook sails herself for the most part, but requires constant monitoring. Dan and I see each other only once or twice a year so we spend this time catching up.

A significant aspect of sailing is you spend so much time together with your crew. I strive to pick crew I want to be with and, I think, form a stronger friendship with the people I sail with.

You form a bond with the people you sail with. The bond is something that is hard to replicate off the water.

Second Watch on Donnybrook

The off-watch crew of Ellie and Bob are relaxing belowdecks on Donnybrook. Today is the first day since the race we've been able to make any significant headway under sail only. We've been riding northwest winds toward Grand Haven and making good time.

Last night was fair sleeping. Thunderstorms are neat on the boat while at dock, unfortunately it gets stuffy with the hatches closed. Bob and Ellie are catching up on their sleep.

One of the best things about sailing is you can function on the boat under way just as if you're at dock. We can cook, shower, and do anything else while sailing. It's like sleeping in a giant baby cradle.

We're doing 7 knots, which is fast on a cruising sailboat. The waves are 3-5 feet. The experience is a little piece of heaven! We can do this for as long as we have wind and water. This is the type of sailing that takes people across oceans!

In our case our next port of call is Grand Haven and the promise of fun and excitement on the Coast Guard Days midway.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Badger Leaving Ludington

Here, the Badger car ferry is sailing into the sunset for Manitowoc. We had a nice dinner at Jamestown Brewery then found ice cream before walking to the beach for the sunset. The incoming storms blocked the actual sunset, but it was still a nice night.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Foggy Sunrise and Hike on South Manitou Island

It was fantastic sleeping last night. I needed a blanket for the first time on the trip. The air got cool and the fog rolled in. This is what I saw while making sure the anchor didn't drag this morning. The anchor was fine.

My inflatable dingy, Samman, was left behind in Bob's garage so shore excursions from anchor require flagging down a ride or swimming. Yesterday we put our shoes, snacks, and other stuff in plastic dry bags, unfortunately one leaked so we returned to Donnybrook to re pack. Dan was spooked because his smokes got wet and decided to stay on Donnybrook rather than risk losing another pack to Lake Michigan.

Bob, Ellie, and I tried again and made it to shore with dry supplies, but only Bob's shoes were re packed. Rather than return to Donnybrook, we decided to hike barefoot.

Our feet were fine. The trails are mostly grass or sand. South Manitou Island is a time capsule of what rural Michigan life was like in the 1940s before it became part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We saw old farmhouses, one built in 1860, barns containing a mix of horse and tractor driven farm implements, orchards, and a one room school house.

The wildlife we saw consisted of birds, a gardner snake, and large toad.

The most amazing thing about this uninhabited island is how quiet it is on the island. You stop walking and it is perfectly quiet. I've never experienced quiet like on South Manitou Island.

Thus remains one of my favorite places on Lake Michigan, if not the world.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Beaver Island Sunset

We're at anchor in St. James Harbor on Beaver Island, Michigan. Garlic bread is baking in the oven, water is boiling for pasta, and home made pasta sauce is warming. Good tunes are playing.

The picture is our view as we wait for the stars to take over the night sky. I have to remind myself that this is work, returning the boat to Chicago after the race.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Moment of Finish and 2012 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac Results

This is my view of finishing. Donnybrook set a boat record of 69 hours, 51 minutes, 46 seconds which corrected to 54:33:46. Overall we finished 28 of 43 boats in the cruising division. We were 18 of 20 in the competitive Cruising 2 section.

Official Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac results are at http://competitor.cycracetomackinac.com/results.cfm.

In the picture Todd and Roxray are holding the sail number board. Mike is standing by in case anything is needed. I'm sitting next to Mary as she steers us to finish.

It's a tradition on Donnybrook that the new crew steers at the finish. In fact, I don't think I've ever been at the helm while finishing a Mac race.

More thoughts on the race to come.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Capt. and Crew

My family complains that I'm not in any pictures, so here I am next to Roxray. Behind is Mike and Todd is at the helm.

68 hours on the boat so far and we still look pretty good!

Reaching Down the Straights

Mary and Roxray are contributing by keeping Donnybrook flat. We're under Genoa and main while the Tartan in the background is nicely flying a spinnaker,

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunset Over South Manitou Island

South Manitou Island is one of my favorite places on Lake Michigan. We were fortunate enough to sail by at sunset. Here, Mike enjoys the scene. Roxray is below heating beef stew and beer bread for dinner. Todd is navigating and reviewing strategy for the rest of the race, and I'm making sure everything continues to run well.

This is our last night on the race with an eta of 3:00 Monday afternoon, our target of 72 hours.

It's been a great journey, with more to come.

48 Hour Update

198 total miles sailed and 174 miles from the start! Still sailing nicely. We're in the company of faster boats today.

Our shore support told us we cut Endeavor's lead by half over night. We also passed at least one of our Cruising 2 competitors. We remain optimistic for a strong finish!

Sunday Morning Sunrise

Saturday, July 21, 2012

24 Hour Update

At 3:00 pm today we sailed 101 total miles and were 86 miles from start. We're sailing strong again after the rigging problems!

We expect to see some lights on the horizon tonight after losing site of other boats earlier today.

6.5 knots on Donnybrook

What's it like to race up Lake Michigan on Donnybrook? This is one view. It's Saturday and we've sailed over 70 miles. We sailed very well through the night with as many as 22 boats within sight at 1:00 am. At sunrise there were still nearly a dozen visible.

This morning the wind was starting to build after stopping for part of the night. We readied "Blue", our cruising spinnaker. Once up and set, trouble! We had an 18 inch rip! Down came the chute for patching. Once down, the cause of the tear was found: The plastic spreader cover was on the deck.

My first thought was I should go up to put the cover back up. After some thought, I realized Mary and Roxray are both much lighter than me. I asked Mary if she'd volunteer to go up the mast to replace the cover, and she agreed!

After about an hour we had the cover replaced and were underway again. We had some main halyard problems from sending Mary up but they were fixed after another hour or two. Total loss from the adventure: maybe 6 miles.

We're now sailing 6+ knots on the rhumb line. We finished breakfast, pancakes and sausage. Thanks, Todd, for cooking! The crew is exhausted after the all hands event so the auto pilot is steering (benefit of cruising division) while I watch sail trim and tidy up.

Up the Mast

Here, Mary is about 20 feet over the water getting ready to put a spreader tip cover back on. We're about 30 miles from the nearest land in 400+ feet of water.

The need for planning and self sufficiency is one of the many things I like about sailing. There's no "roadside" assistance for repairs such as this. If we couldn't fix it we'd most likely have to withdrawl from the race and motor 5 hours to Grand Haven for repairs or risk tearing another expensive sail.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Before the Race

I'm at the Friday morning skipper's meeting. There're still a lot of details to attend to, but we're in great shape for our 3:00 start.

Mike, Todd, Roxray, Mary, and I will be racing in 6 hours and on the island in a few days!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Race to Mackinac Personal Safety Equipment

Sailing in the Chicago Yacht Club's Race to Mackinac is a yearly ritual for many people, a once in a lifetime event for yet many more people, and a dream for others.  The reality is personal safety is something that must be taken seriously.  As last year's race illustrated, things can quickly go wrong while sailing on Lake Michigan or any large body of water.

The above picture illustrates what equipment Donnybrook's skipper and crew will wear to prepare themselves for the worst possible scenario, starting with the inflatable PFD and safety tether, crotch strap to keep the PFD from riding up and your head above water, personal safety knife, light, PFD refill kit, spare bobbins (they do expire), and a handheld VHF radio.

Sailing is one of the safer sports there is as long as you stay on the boat (see US Coast Guard 2011 statistics).  Falling overboard and getting seperated from the boat, especially at night or in bad weather, is not good and puts the boat's crew at serious risk.

2012 Chicago Mackinac Race Tracking

You can follow Donnybrook via Yellowbrick Rack Tracking.  Watch her compete in Cruising 2!  I'm optimistic this year as Donnybrook went on a diet, I'm guessing down 500 pounds from last year's race.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

8 minutes later...

I return to the day to day. I'm standing in front of my office waiting on the 145 bus to take me home. A balding man is sitting alone with the top down in his new Ford Thunderbird. In front of him is a good looking man on a hard tail Harley waiting for the light to change. Blue lights from a police car are flashing down the block. There's only one police car so it must not be too bad.

I ride over the Michigan Avenue bridge and see no fewer than six tour boats, all with camera flashes flashing.

Up and down the sidewalk thousands of people are walking, shopping, listening to street music, and enjoying the summer night.

Around the corner...

Before "Death Cab for Cutie's" music ended, the sound of Gypsy Rhythm Project's performance in Millennium Park's Jay Pritzker Pavilion could be heard. The pavilion unfolded while walking over Columbus Drive on the BP Pedestrian bridge. My environment changed from the Lake Michigan serenity, to a music festival, to nature, to artful rhythms played to the backdrop of children playing in the grass and young lovers enjoying each other and a bottle of wine--All in the space of a ten minute walk. Watching over the scene was Michigan Avenue's street wall, seen in the picture above.

This is truly a fantastic corner of the world.

Mid July Evening in Chicago

Thursday is a gorgeous day in Chicago. These boats are enjoying the last rays of the day in Monroe Harbor. The band "Death Cab for Cutie" is playing at The Taste of Chicago a few blocks away. Grant Park rabbits (I saw eight!) are eating grass in the dusk. Squirrels are chattering and shaking their tails. People are walking, pushing baby strollers, riding Segways and bicycles, sitting on park benches, and generally enjoying the warm breeze. People are playing tennis on the public courts. Birds are chirping. Flowers are blooming. Bees are buzzing.

There are no clouds in the sky as it turns from blue to gray to star filled.

It's a nice night in Chicago.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chicago Yacht Club's 2012 Verve Distance Race

The 2012 Verve Distance Race is less than 1 month away, running Saturday, August 11. There’s still time to register, but hurry because registration closes August 3.

New this year are predefined race courses of different lengths (8 miles to almost 30 miles) to match different wind conditions.  

The entry fee of $2.50/boat foot includes:
  • Race entry including a world class Race Committee.
  • Access to social events at the Chicago Yacht Club's Monroe station, including skipper’s meeting with professional weather briefing, live music, and a Mount Gay rum pour.
  • A skipper’s bag with sponsor’s gifts (think sailor’s equivalent of a VIP gift bag).
  • Dockage at Chicago Yacht Club, Monroe Harbor station.
  • Awards include:
    • Brag flags for first, second, third places in each section.
    • The overall best corrected finish will be awarded the 8 Mile Buoy Trophy.
This is a fantastic way to spend the day on the water, either as an experienced racer or someone new to sailboat racing.  Come early or stay late and enjoy downtown Chicago's beautiful Lake Front, steps from Millennium Park, Chicago's Museum Campus, and all the arts and entertainment Chicago offers.

See the Notice of Race for race specifics.

How to register?
  1. If you’ve registered before you’ll see your information. If not, you’ll be asked to select an event. Select 2012 Verve Cup Offshore Regatta and click Go.
  2. Complete your information and select your desired racing course/class:
  • Distance Race / JAM (Jib and Main)
  • Distance Race / Cruising
  • Distance Race/ Offshore Racing

  1. Click Continue and submit my registration to this event.
  2. Follow the prompts to complete your registration.
What you’ll need:
  • A sailboat
  • A crew willing to have fun
  • An ORR certification (you have one if you’ve sailed in the Mac race)
  • Sail numbers and a number board (see your sail maker)
Please email me if want more information, or see the Verve Cup's official web site.  www.vervecup.com.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sail Donnybrook and Social Networking

I like learning about new things and generally figuring out how stuff works.  This year the Chicago Yacht Club is promoting Twitter as a way of keeping family, friends, and coworkers informed about what's happening during the 2012 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, so I've been exploring Twitter and digging more into social networking. 

I've taken the challenge and dusted off my little used #Saildonnybrook Twitter account and added a couple of feeds to this blog.  The first, just below this blog's page title, contains Donnybrook's Tweets.  The second, to the right, shows the #RaceToMackinac Twitter feed.

Facebook is still linked to this blog site via Social RSS, however they've limited their capabilities to one update a day.  The feed also hasn't worked since March, but hopefully it's fixed.

I don't like facebook, but it is a necessary evil in the age of social networking.

I'll still be posting here, but during the Mac Race and return cruise I plan to make more short updates via Twitter.

Sail Donnybrooks Twitter page is https://twitter.com/Saildonnybrook.  The facebook page is here.