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sail-world.com -- Mini Transat Race - Diane Reid shares her dream from Cascais

Mini Transat Race - Diane Reid shares her dream from Cascais    
Mon, 18 Nov 2013

Mini Transat Race France To Guadeloupe - Live The Dream! Diane Reid will race across 4300 nautical miles in a 6.5 meter open class Mini…….single handed! She is the third Canadian in history to qualify for this gruelling race. Follow her here...

'The best chance of winning the race is by being the best prepared for the race.

A Technical Stop or 'Say, A (not so) Funny Thing Happened on the Way to…' Saturday November 16, 2013
Diane writes: I was out in all that massive wind on the first day. It was blowing twenty five to thirty knots and I had my code 5 kite up. I have to be very honest: I find it a handful to have a spinnaker up in that wind. Even a little one like the code 5. But, all the rest of the kids did, and the boat is built to do that. It’s just me needing to be confident in those conditions. It was all going very well.

Very well that is, until a big gust came. It was about 38 knots and definitely WAY too much wind. The boat rounded up to weather and laid down on her side, just like the text book says it will do in a gust. The issue here is getting the boat back on her feet again. To get the boat to stand up I need to unload the kite by easing the sheet. Even with the sheet eased, it’s very hard to get the boat moving again, because bearing off, exposes the kite, which then fills, cranking the boat over, back on her side.

So instead I let the tack line go and cranked the sheet in to the boat. This brought the leech of the kite in behind the main. Then I slowly cranked the sheet in with the winch and eased the halyard a little at a time to get the sail in to the boat. Once I could get my hands on the clew I slapped a carabiner clip on it to the lifeline and then blew the halyard off and pulled the sail into the boat.

Then I made a new rule: No kite up in more than 25 knots.

For the rest of the night I kept the kite down with two reefs in the main and my storm jib up. It blew upwards of 40 knots that night. The next day the wind lessened as I was in the lee of Portugal. The waves were still pretty big but the wind was only at about 20 to 25 knots. So I put the kite up again. It was working really really well. I even had the autopilot driving the boat. Sometimes the pilot was a little slow to recover if there was a big wave that would role the boat to weather or if there was a gust, which creates a similar problem of rolling the boat. But I need the pilot to 'learn' how to steer in heavy wind, so I let it run.

Just as the wind built to a steady 25 knots, with puffs of 28, I though of my new rule. I was setting up to take the kite down, when I got slammed on my side again. Undid the regular take down set up and got set up for the post broach take down. By the time I got the clew cranked down to the deck and had just started hauling the sail it in the boat, the bobstay ripped through the bow. Without a bobstay, the bowsprit sheared off where it bolts onto the custom, stainless swivel plate.
Bobstay Pulled Out of Hull.

What a pain in the glass! Here I was cranking in the kite, just hoping, and hoping some more, that the broken sprit didn’t damage the bow before I could get to it. Got the kite in and ran up and got the sprit on deck. It was an absolute nightmare. So I turned the boat back on course, set the pilot and spent about five minutes feeling very, very, very mad at myself.

No time for anger, I had to make a plan. Thought I had the batteries sorted out following the Gijon to Sada delivery. In fact, the first day out of Sada, I almost ran out of power. The second day, although the solar panels brought the batteries up to 12.8V (13.5 is full), I was skeptical that they would hold power while under load. So now with a poorly charging battery system, a broken sprit and a tear in the bow, fortunately in a section that is safe from water coming into the boat, I decided to head for port.

On the radio to the support boat to tell them I was going to head for a port for a technical stop. It was a very low moment. I though I might cry into the VHF, but I didn’t. I was so upset with myself for letting this all happen. I work so very hard at making sure that everything on the boat is in top shape. And… well anyway. So, the support boat sorted out with me and I started to head in to Portugal.

Another boat was already heading in with a broken rudder, so I would fetch up to them and we’d go in together. Went for the bullet proof sail plan and put 2 reefs in the main and the storm jib. While I did that, the battery power dropped to a critical low. So I radioed the support boat again. Told them I would probably loose power and not to worry if I stopped answering the radio calls. Hand steering again. Once I got to the east side of the commercial shipping traffic lanes, I was almost without power and dead tired. So I hove to, parking the boat so I could sleep.

The support boat watched me on the AIS and watched the traffic around me and let me sleep for an hour so I could rest. Woke to start hand steering again until the sun came up to hit the panels creating enough power that autopilot could drive. Then I lost power to transmit on the VHF. More pain. I can manage the boat without power… that’s ok, but it’s difficult to race. All my emergency stuff works so in a pinch, I am fine,,, just not fast. Not fast. During my race. Sigh.

As morning broke and I was heading in, I heard Pip on the radio. She was heading to the same port with a broken spreader. She is a serious inspiration. Pip was in fear of her rig falling down. She figured she could just make it to port on port tack. It was her starboard spreader that was dangling. She has the same fittings that I have. They have failed me several times as well. So we both sailed into the dock here in Cascais.

There’s a bunch of other minis here also. This race is seriously eating up & spitting out the minis!


Anyway, I know this is a long post… sorry :-) Turns out that Fiona Brown, the English language media person for the Minis, knows a fantastic guy here in Cascais named Vincent. Although it is late Friday, Vincent found a machine shop for Pip to fashion her a new bracket. He chopped the broken bit off of my pole and we drilled a new hole in it. Had it reinstated within an hour of me hitting land.

Vincent then found me an electrician to sort out the power on the boat on Saturday. Vincent then loaned me his grinder and tools, then found another boat with a work shop on land, next up he found some sea glass and polyester and all the fiberglass tools and stuff that I needed.


I decided to haul the boat out to do the repairs. The tear was floating about two inches above the water line. I did 6 layers of 600 gram biax sea glass on top. The glasswork is almost an inch thick! Plus I’ve installed a piece of hose into the hole so that the rope won’t cut the glasswork. I’m pretty sure that that is why it ripped out of the boat because the bobstay is still all intact, but the bow was torn. The rope is something called SK-75. It’s incredibly strong stuff and with friction it cuts like a knife.


The electrician has done some lengthy testing of the solar panels and the batteries. He has decided that the batteries while physically here in Portugal, spiritually they are Phuket, assume he spoke of the sailing place in Thailand, although I can’t be sure, there was a bit of an accent. The batteries metered full today when he arrived at 13.4V and when we would load them the power would start to drop very quickly. The amps as well as the volts coming in to the batteries from the panels were all correct. But the batteries just aren’t holding their power. I should be able to go for three days in a conservative mode and have enough power. I can’t go for five hours right now without running out of power. It’s getting worse every day. While we were sitting on the boat with all the panels disconnected, the batteries drained from 13.4 to 12.8 just having the panel lit up for about 20 minutes. And they were a birthday gift from my mom! It’s the weekend. The only batteries I could get with 100 amp hours each aren’t deep cycles and they are just lead acid. All I need is about 10 lifecycles out of them to get to Guadeloupe and Miami and I will be good.


The bow is repaired and the batteries are coming Sunday. I’ll rig the pole tomorrow and then climb the mast to see what kind of damage I did to the mast head light which has now stopped working except for the all round white light. The only little problem left is making sure that I launch in time on Monday morning to stay within my 72 hour max time limit for a technical stop. My clock runs out at 1400 on Monday. The marina says they will put me back in first thing monday morning, so I should be good.

I will triumph over all of this challenge. It wouldn’t be the one girl’s ocean challenge, without it. It’s been a little disheartening. But I’m smiling again because I’ve made really, really good progress!

Diane :)

Pit Stop: Bow Sprit & Battery Charging - Friday November 15, 2013
If you’ve been following the Fleet Tracking you know that Diane is making a pit stop in Cascais, Portugal (the west side of Lisbon). Shore Crew has from heard from Diane, via the race organizers, that: Diane has arrived, is safe and that her good spirits are vexed by charging issues and the bow sprit. The plan is to get these items addressed and back out to race.

Mini Transat has a news item posted, which includes both Diane and her friend Pip Hare, coincidently pulling in at Casais also for 'technical issues'. Do not believe Diane’s bow sprit is broken, just that it needs attention. The big issue being charging batteries. 3,700 miles without power for the AutoPilot is a LOT of hand steering. Nothing yet on Pip’s blog, but the news report speaks of a broken spreader.

Several competitors have had much tougher first couple of days: de mastings, hitting a log and taking on water, keel issues. You can read the english translation of Ian Lipinski’s first hand account of the first night’s de-masting, getting rolled and rescued : spoiler alert: Ian is in a deluxe cabin, en route to Sfax, Tunisia arriving Tuesday.

Hmmm… and electrician on a Friday. Fingers crossed for a quick turn-around.
'It´s Going to be an Epic Run of Endurance' – Diane Reid

Noon Update: For the start, the sun came out. The fleet shook the reefs out of their mains. The competitors got a clean start in a north west breeze of 9 knots. It took about an hour to get out the estuary and into the ocean. Diane and the rest of the fleet are sailing along at better than ten knots.

Fleet tracking is up and running, but it only updates four times per day. Being 0800, 1200, 1600 & 2000 in France or 2am, 6am, 10am & 2pm in Toronto. There are some photos from the start, including one particular racer who is very happy to be starting.

Much of the fleet had considerable damage in both Gijon & Sada. Diane was unscathed. It speaks to Diane’s preparation and solid products from her sponsors including Cousin Trestec ropes, Brian & UK sails and her bonus spinnaker from Brainbridge and Sailcare which came with an interesting story. All part of Diane’s team.

In related good news, Diane’s friend, Mylène Paquette arrived in Lorient harbour yesterday. Diane & Mylène met at The Toronto Boat Show and sealed a friendship one evening at the Riverdale Winter Training facility. After 140 days at sea, Mylène becomes the first North American woman to row solo across the Atlantic. Bravo! Trust this is a good omen for the start of Diane’s about four week crossing. Mylène has a blog if you’d care to visit. Or check out todays coverage on CBC’s or the Globe.

by Diane Reid



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