Sunday, November 19, 2023

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Anticrepuscular Rays"

Some of you may recall that one evening during the race we saw some beautiful rays of light coming up into the sky from the setting sun.  (The photo is actually of a similar very pretty sunset taken during the delivery.)

But the really interesting thing about the sunset we saw during the race was that there were similar rays of light coming up from the horizion in the opposite direction (away from the sun).

This is hard to see in the photo, but it was perfectly clear with the naked eye. I said that I would submit it to the Q & A section of the "New Scientist" (a popular science magazine that I get), but I've been dragging my feet and probably would never have gotten around to doing it.

However, just by accident I came across the explanation in an old APOD.
As you know, “Chance favors the prepared mind”—Louis Pasteur.
So check it out.

What we saw were "Anticrepuscular Rays"

I had similar good fortune in 2007 when we saw a white rainbow. Not too much later the explanation showed up in an APOD.

Cirrusblog Analytics - The Final Count

by Ulli

what does Google tell us about the visitors to our blog, how many? from where? and what were they looking at? I did a first assessment here, and now that the number of visitors is down to a trickle of around a dozen per day, I'll give the final overview:

Since a few days into the delivery up to now we got some 20,000 pageviews on the blog, from 2528 "Absolute Unique Visitors" (Google terminology), coming from all over the world, most from the USA - dominated by CA, followed by HI - then from Germany ;-)) , Canada, Portugal, and 44 more countries.

The most looked-up page was our "Crews" page with 536 pageviews. Which makes me feel guilty, as I probably have not included all of the folks who should have been mentioned under the Support heading. Anyone, give me a hint, and I will complete the page - you can reach me by email via the "Contact us" tab of the blog!

Pageviews peaked at 1635 on July 15, with overall total of over 20200:

Visitors peaked at 441 on July 15, with overall total of over 2500:

Duh, nobody from Greenland? And China? Africa?

Let me see: 4 states of the US did not visit the blog, but 48 regions, incl. Wash.DC, did? That sums up to 52. ... 52? Has something happened while we were out at sea?

Quite a few places in CA participated:

and a busy crowd on Oahu,HI:

... and finally Germany. I have no idea who was watching in all those places:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More video

now from ashore I have plenty of bandwidth and can afford to send videos without going through all the compression hoopla. Here is the footage we took on the boat; a total of 55 MByte, which we had snippled and shrunk to a mere 75KByte, an almost 1000 fold reduction. Too bad all this effort initially did not result in a result.

Watch the full video - you will find that we worked hard. And watch the confusion in our mind, while we were hard working to produce a completely spontaneous  work of art. I think it qualifies for some of the TV shows, where they show all these amateur videos, where something had gone wrong. Here we go:

Finally - we have the Halfway-Video up and running!

So, here is it, exactly as we had prepared it on the boat, and sent to
the blog exactly as we did during the race, same file, same format, same
everything, no changes whatsoever - except that it now was send from a
Linux computer. Ulli

Guten Tag !

see, this is the problem: you are away from the islands for a few days, and you already forget a decent greeting, like Aloha!

While Bill is busy cleaning up the left-over triple-S (shoes, socks, and shirts), I have my own clean-ups to do, like videos, and blog stats. It will come real soon, I promise.

Reading the after-race blog posts, I sometimes felt like reading the confessions given at a meeting of the "Anonymous Sailoholics". Amazing how despite this mix of people there is always a happy ending on every passage on Cirrus!

Only a few people are still looking at the blog, as i will show you shortly, but I have no idea who these hardcore Cirrutistas might be.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Cirrus Academy of Literature, Science, and Personal Hygiene

Yes, this was a great trip. I will get into that.

But first, we had a huge brain-trust on Cirrus. An intellectual surplus way beyond what is reasonably needed to get a boat from California to Hawaii.  Stimulating conversation? Sure, if you can keep up!

Need to know why your colloidal particles are agglomerating?  Worried about Flocculating?  Other issues in the field of Bio-chemistry? Go wake up Ulli.

You have a poem in 18th century Portuguese and want it translated into Spanish, but it has to RHYME WHILE TRANSLATED IN REAL TIME. Then go get Ric out of the head, if that is even remotely possible.

Caroline doesn’t have as many advanced degrees, but may be the smartest of all…especially if you are one of those people who needs to EAT FOOD, or GO FAST ON A SAILBOAT.Without her, we would have been a boat full of skinny, starving people, slowly drifting towards Hawaii while discussing Victor Hugo and String Theory.

Of all Pac Cup sailors, Kathy must be the best-read, and most loving of the written word. Her literary knowledge is a resource for all. But I have to confess, I liked to secretly watch her wince each time I used a split infinitive.

And of course Bill: the ultimate scientist-mariner, whose passion for the two disciplines (among others) has merged into a mastery of the ocean going vessel, and voyaging itself. Here is an example from on-board: I wanted to make the boat go faster, so I offered one of my favored solutions…to go in the cabin, and run forward as fast as possible, flinging my body against the main bulkhead to move the boat forward the way a hammer forces a nail. He buried his head in some calculations and soon corrected me. No, this would actually REDUCE forward momentum because the aft-ward force of running to the front would MORE THAN OFFSET the impact of striking the main bulkhead at full speed. He suggested staying on deck, moving all the way to the bow, and running aft at maximum velocity. “What do I do when I reach the transom?” “Just keep going”, said Bill.

So yes, it was a brainy crowd, very stimulating and fun to be with. Bill, many thanks for inviting me into the extended Cirrus family, with so many new friendships and memories. I hope I did my part. The 2010 Pacific Cup is atop my short list of epic passages on the water, and in life, to be recounted and cherished forever.

Yes, I will prepare for next trip by delving a little deeper into the New York Times best seller list, if one of you guys will just watch a few episodes of The Simpsons to even the score.

Mark Denzer

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Caroline Heinrich

Aloha Cirrus and Family and Friends who supported us during our voyage across the great blue Pacific Ocean.....whew!

This is my 3rd passage on Cirrus with Bill and each one of them has been awesome and unique in their own way.  This crew of ours was fabulous.  I've sailed with Ulli in the 2004 PacCup and he is so straight forward.  However, when he starts to cut up his business pants to look like a rag tag pirate out, cuz he gets pretty hilarious then....awesome watch partner and thanks for getting us home Navigator Boy!!

Rick was our green horn/Rookie.  He did an awesome job communicating to the world...really...the world...I never felt so much celebrity status then knowing people from Columbia, Portugal, Spain, Germany, etc where watching our every move. Thanks Rick for staying on the helm 30 minutes more during my dinner cooking... I'm sure it was worth it!!  Love Ya!

Mark was our "hands on", fix it..kinda of guy.  Nothing was too hard and he fix it questions ask.  He was also the winch on board...I'm the cleaning boy.....After I cook, he was there cleaning up the dishing and then some.  Very cheerful, full of energy.. total energizer bunny.  Thanks Mark for clean the head too.  esp with the shi shi everywhere!!

Kathy holds a special place in my time on Cirrus.  She was a trooper.  She not only did the race, but delivered the boat with Bill and Kate and Chris to San Fran.  I would never do that.  Princess that I am...too hard.......and they had a tough trip over.  I heard about her sickness....ugh...I wanted to make ever effort to be in San Fran early to help her out with the food prep.  She did an awesome job.  None of the food that I cooked or served would have been there if it was not for her provisioning sheet.  Very detail and I added more junk food than necessary, but Hey, I don't live on the a few extra Trader Joes...well, didn't kill anyone!!! ha ha ha .  Thanks Kathy for your willingness to come out early on your watch to let me off and sleep  and for taking care of my Hot Potatoe bunk each night.  It really did help to sleep where I slept....all because of your thoughtfulness....yeah and you wanted the food too!!!!!!  Hope to see you and the Berkeley gang soon. 

Last but not least....Bill.....I truely enjoy sailing with Bill.  There is no other person in this world who is the smartest, caring, thoughtfull person I know.  And, he is willing to put up with my "Bag Lady" status. 

You're the best Bill. 
Aloha to all and Guten Tag
Shalom, Adios, Aufwiedersehen

Wonderful Start Photos

Randy Riddle has posted a great set of start photos onto the web. Some photos from the Golden Gate looking down. Push the button for a sideshow.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Kathy McGraw

I go back on Cirrus now and can't believe I just spent a month of days confined to its 40 foot space--because it was not confining.  It's this unmoving ground that seems too solid.  I like a deck beneath my feet, a floaty bed with the water rushing by nearby, the ultimate planetarium just a step away, my needs limited to what's already on the boat.  To want what you have--seems easier on a boat.

I am no survivalist purist.  Yes, I struggled at times to keep down enough water to keep my pee from coming out brown (and succeeded!  Key to this--sleep with your water bottle and drink every time you go to bed or wake up.)  The trip from Hawaii to California included days of seasickness, intense heat, no wind, glassy seas, lots of motoring, and then lots of hand steering in high seas.  It also included watching episodes of "West Wing" on my iPad and finishing "Pale Fire" by Nabokov.  It included nights of stargazing, of identifying constellations with skipper Bill--Scorpio, Cygnus, the Summer Triangle.

The race from California was more comfortable and more focused on sailing fast--but there were still nights I could fit in cultural juxtapositions--we had a couple days of light winds, and Bill shortened the watch schedule from four hours to two and let us stand watch alone.  One starless night, standing watch alone, zipping along into the blackness, watching the phosphorescence in the wake, I listened to show tunes.  "If I Were a Rich Man" and "Cabaret"--such moments are so Evelyn Waugh-esque--because I held two thoughts in my head--my remoteness from civilization, my responsibility to my crew and the possibility of things going quickly and catastrophically wrong, contrasted with the utter frivolity of show tunes memorializing diaspora and forshadowing holocaust.  "What good is sitting alone in your bunk . . . "  I believe I sang out loud, but softly, as to not wake anyone.

Clearly, I was not the strongest crew member, or the funniest, or the most helpful.  My attitude at times lagged.  At times, I watched episodes of "Firefly" in my bunk, and requested breakfast in bed.  I didn't wash very many dishes, but I washed some.  I was not quick to hand steer when I knew that "Auto" could do better, and, yes, I did get overconfident after several turns at the helm under spinnaker and accidentally jibed (but then recovered!  No breakages or injuries!)

I take some credit on the delivery that when the winds and waves were high and lives were at stake (when are they not at stake?) I came through and dragged myself on deck for multiple watches, but those laurels only last as long as the next race.

Yesterday, my older sister asked me what I learned from these trips.  Other than becoming more intensely aware of where I fall short, I also became aware of where I want to do better.  I fall a little in love with each of my crewmates on these lengthy trips, become impressed by their positive qualities, and want to become a better person.  I listen to their stories, learn the names of the people important to them.  For a time, the heaviness of one's own story lifts and we share in the ur story--a group of people slowly traveling from here to there.

I will always treasure the memory of Chris singing "Bird on a Wire;"  the night Bill and I talked about the novels of Neal Stephenson; Kate laughing in her bunk at my jokes;  Ulli slowly revealing his shapely legs, cutting his long pants with dull scissors slightly shorter each day as the weather got warmer;  Caroline's catching, cleaning, and cooking up several meals of Mahi Mahi;  Mark's spot on speculations regarding Pegasus' plans to sabotage Cirrus by sending remote controlled attack flying fish;  Ric's reciting lines from Pablo Neruda in Spanish.

Thanks so much to everyone who made these trips possible for all of us.  But let it be known--those of us who were there were the lucky ones.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cirrus has Finished!

On Tuesday morning, at around Oh-dark-thirty (0200 actually), several "friends of Cirrus" were at KYC listening to the VHF radio. We heard the KYC escort vessel Nore hail Cirrus on channel 68, saying welcome to Kaneohe Yacht Club. About a half hour later, the crowd assembled at slip G54 to peer into the darkness and wait for the lights of Cirrus to appear. As the lights ghosted closer and closer, we began to be able to make out her distinctive pointed bow and gray hull, and the cheering started. And here she is, sliding into the slip, with camera flashes exploding in all directions. Welcome Home Cirrus, and, to the crew, welcome back into the warm embrace of friends and family. Well done.

Arrival time: 02:05 HST

At the 25 miles check-in I reported an ETA of 02:05 Hawaiian Standard Time. We still intend to use the Sampan Channel, and it currently seems likely that there is no delay due to perhaps too low water.

We were told the finish line buoy is missing, so we need to go to the virtual "Midpoint" as provided in the race instructions.

See you in, like, 4 hours,
Aloha, Ulli

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Perhaps our most Beautiful Day

by Rick:

Its Monday afternoon and we are around 75 miles from Oahu. The boat is moving along softly at around 7 knots. The seas are very mild, perhaps two feet, while the wind is a little over 10 knots. The sun is out and the sky is an incredible blue with white clouds visible off in the distance but not above us. The color of the water is a pure indigo blue. It all adds up to perhaps the most wonderful day we have had in the whole trip; its a great way to end the voyage. Some of the crewmembers are sleeping in the mild heat of the cabin and away from the sun. The others are up on deck casually and quietly talking about a thousand different things. The ship's atmosphere is one of slowness and laziness.

Its funny how each day has a tone of its own, the other day when we were catching fish we were all bustling with energy and activity. Today we are very relaxed and placidly enjoying the beauty that is all around us.

Several have bathed out on deck taking advantage of the easy conditions and the warm sun; everyone one wants to be looking their best for our arrival.

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A Finish for the Real Men Among Us

Sunrise saw a boat slowly crossing minor waves and low wind. It shouldn't stay this way. Conditions were just right to get the spinnaker up. Shortly after, the wind picked up, the waves increased, and we were flying through the water. It continued. We were at the limit. Waves crashed over the bow, jumping the dodger, filling the cockpit; fish flying through the air, tuna and mahi-mahi bouncing their heads at the hull. Rogue waves all over the place, playing ping-pong with that little float called Cirrus. Skipper was a bit concerned, but on we went. The kite almost exploding, we needed three men for the spinnaker trim alone. We sure made a good time, taken off an hour at least from the finish time. The photo shows us hard at work at the helm.


Well, now that you know I do admit that I may have not have been completely thruthfull in describing all the nuances of our final day at sea. But what can you say about a day in mellow weather, with beamy wind blowing into white sails? I let Rick give the answer. The Sarong-Bimini is Caroline's work - whose else? I am so ashamed.

But it is true that we are making good progress; the low waves allow decent speed even at low wind. And Otto is driving, which at beam reach he is doing really well. Currently we are 1 hour 15 min ahead of expectations, and may even get better. So arrival time closer to 2 a.m. Hawaiian time (not 3 am as reported earlier). Be aware that things may still change up or down! Watch for our 25 miles forecast in about 4 hours.

P.S. The 100 mile check-in was a real problem. There was so much noise that I could understand basically nothing. And vice-versa. Despite that I could make out that it was Valerie, who was talking. Don't know on what grounds, but I was sure about that. Some 30 min later, after recharging the batteries - though this has not been the problem - it worked still poorly, but at least we finally got all the info across. Hopefully 25 miles is easier.

A Few Witty Phrases Captured During our Trip

All gatherings of small groups for an extended period of time give place to witty or funny phrases that stand out from among all the conversation. Here are a few selections from the latest voyage of the sailing sloop Cirrus:

- While discussing tactics early on in the race:

"We need not focus on going fast on this race, we just have to avoid being slow."

- In describing bouts of sea sickness and moments of peak vulnerability, a crew member made a comment her husband hopes does not hold true once back home:

"I only throw up when I'm taking off my clothing."

- The hot bunk system depends on fairness and solicitude on behalf of the crew; no one should linger in the bunk while others, tired and just off watch need to have their rest. One male crew member, still groggy from sleep, did not measure his words carefully when he offered his bunk to a female crewmember:

"Want to get in?" he said motioning at his bunk where he laid. The female crewmember promptly set things straight by responding "Are you getting out?"

- There was a great and fruitful day of fishing where three Mahi Mahi were brought on board. The fish would land and flap around presenting a bit of a danger to the crew and a greater chance of ending back in the water. An old trick is to pour some alcohol in their gills which kills the fish almost immediately. This being a strictly dry boat at all times during this voyage, the only alcohol on board was a bit of ceremonial Hawaiian drink used by the skipper when he departs and arrives at ports. This small vial was called for and used on all three fish. A member of the crew, strongly missing libations over these two weeks of sailing had this observation:

"It's ironic that on this boat only the fish are having Schnapps."

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Cirrus in Dismay - Crew deteriorating

Clear the channel! Send the ambulance! Gosh, the race has taken too long.

The Final Stretch

by Ulli:

we currently have a big rain shower, the first real one in this race. We needed to not only close the hatch, but also put the door-window in the companionway. Going at a good clip now.

The ETA remains unchanged at 3 a.m. Hawaiian time. Only in the best of circumstances will it be a 1/2 hour earlier. However, since we have a low low tide at about 3 a.m., we may have to hang out a while until the flood comes in and we can go through the Sampan channel. We were discussing hanging the crew out at the end of the boom to give the boat heel and let us go through the channel immediately. After all these good meals, this should have an impact :->. We want to avoid the shipping channel, as it take even more time.

Is there some official advice for the ebb/flood situation? As this is outside the race, you may just as well also give your own info and/or recommendation.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

In Memoriam of the King

The sad news reached us this morning: Pegasus had crossed the finish line. A quick calculation showed that apart from airlifting Cirrus there was no way to catch up with them. We had to face the reality that we will soon be separated from the King!

The crew broke out in tears during this morning's mourning in the crypta of Cirrus with the cloud paintings on the blue walls, and some needed to drown their sorrow in alcohol (bummer, had only apple cider left; also note the horizon - we had a bit of heel in the washing machine).

What would happen to the King now? Will they take equally good care of HIM as we did? And give HIM the place of honor HE so richly deserves? Questions over questions came to our minds, which we couldn't answer, but only hope for the best.

A last thing remains to be said:
From the crew of Cirrus - Congratulations to Pegasus!

Mahalo to all Friends of Cirrus, who were so supportive in the lost fight,
Aloha, Ulli

No Two Alike

From Bill

1820, Sunday, July 18th, 2010

24-56, 155-14, speed 6, course 205m with 250 nm to go,

Looks like we will be there early Tuesday. Really early if the wind holds up, later if we slow down (probable).

No race is like any other. What a slow start we had. Then a long hard reach on starboard followed by a week of reaching on port tack.

Hardly any spinnaker. Skipper's getting old (er). I can remember when it was a point of pride to blow out $10,000 worth of sails on just about every race. Seems like yesterday.

Crew is shifting gears. Thinking about being home, seeing loved ones, not having to be on edge every moment and available. Single minded dedication to the group is starting to fade into individual concerns.

The last couple days have been really rough. Not big dangerous stormy waves but medium sized waves that seem to come from many different directions. Jumps, lurches, drops, slides............. If you are not holding on most of the time (even when sitting) you will probably get hurt. Bruises are accumulating. How Caroline cooks in these conditions is a marvel. Fresh fish tacos again for lunch today. Lasagna for dinner, dessert, appetizers, etc.

She is so good at it that she is going to miss it once we hit the dock. A special skill.

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En La Recta Final

Faltan 242 millas nauticas para llegar a Oahu, habiendo recorrido 1900 millas mas o menos. Estimamos cruzar la meta a las tres de la manana del Martes 20 y atracaremos una hora y mas tarde en el Kaneohe Yacht Club. Todos estamos muy contentos con nuestra aventura y llegar despues de dos semanas en este gran mar nos presenta con sentimientos encontrados. Queria ahora aprovechar para enviar un saludo muy especial a los familiares y amigos de Puerto Rico, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, y Espana que han estado pendiente de nosotros y enviados saludos y deseos de exito. Junto a los amigos de EEUU, Portugal y Alemania, le han dado a esta empresa Hawaiiana un matiz de confraternidad internacional que le ha brindado un gran estimulo a la tripulacion del velero Cirrus.

Reciban un gran abrazo,


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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Yawn, 'nother one

that is it for the day.

still driving in a washing machine,
ETA estimate: Tuesday, 20th, 3am Hawaiian time (at least we get that thing with the night arrival right :> )

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What Could Be More Obvious?

From Bill

What could be more obvious? Right in front of our faces.

We have been speculating and wondering and discussing, all in the wrong directions, trying to figure out why we are having these crazy weather patterns,

Well. Duh!

The only thing it could be is the planetary alignment that everyone is talking about. After all, think about it, is it possible for Venus, Mars and Saturn to line up between the sun and the moon without it having some profound effect.

With that problem behind us let's move on to a discussion of communications.

At the start of the trip we were using a satellite telephone with world wide coverage. (Maybe even the whole solar system.)Then when it was clear that we were going to stick to the Pacific Ocean we switched to the SSB radio and used it to make our daily check in reports and to send email by Sailmail. Now that we are getting closer to the land we are going to switch to to the VHF radio that is only good for line of sight communications (or a little more). Then, of course, we'll fire up the cell phones. As we approach the dock there will be a lot of waving and shouting. Finally, there will be body contact and then ............


After downing wonderful snacks of raw fish and then wonderful fresh fish tacos from this morning's Mahi Mahi catch up went the cry: "Hit On The Line!"

Another Mahi-Mahi at least twice as big as the first. It has been filleted and is in the cooler. The Skipper has set an arbitrary limit of 3 fish per day. (And already there are discussions: "Did he really mean 3 Mahi-Mahi or was that a 3 fish total?")

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by Ulli:
The last day was partially clouded, but enough sun came through to make for a hot day and a sunburn at my arms. In the evening the clouds were back as a solid, thick cover, ruining our attempts for watching the celestial party of moon, Venus, Mars, and Saturn. Hence we had another pitch black night. Makes for fun driving. Especially when in addition with up to 20 kn of wind the waves seem to come from all sides. It was like in a washing machine. Nobody slept too well in those very bumpy conditions.

But the deep blackness enhances the magic effects of the ocean, which you come to see only on a vessel at sea. When Cirrus breaks through the waves, she creates whitecaps on the water around her, and in particular in the water running away from the stern. This rough stirring of the water activates all bio-fluorescence available in living organism or in animal and plant debris, and as a result, we have little flashes of greenish-white light in the water. Thousands of them, in an endless stream. My favorite visualization is a Chinese man sitting in the cockpit and throwing his rice-grain sized firecrackers in the water by the handful. Upon contact with water they explode.

In more scientific terms it is about the presence of "Green Fluorescence Protein (GFP)" which can be activated simply mechanically, here by the boat movement through the waves. This protein has become an important tool in every genetic engineering lab. But here on the water it is simply the magic of firecrackers.

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got fish?

we do!

Even before dawn Caroline put out the fishing lines, two of them. At 10:30am PDT the sounding voice of a hunter, signaling success in the efforts to feed her cubs, boomed through the boat. Otto was doing the driving, Caroline had her eyes on firmly on the prey, which was still fighting in the water. Some 20 min later we had Sashimi on the plates! Delicious. And now, sitting at the computer on the nav station, which is next to the galley, I smell pan fried fish for lunch.

Now let's the race begin, Aloha, Ulli

Friday, July 16, 2010

Moon and Planets

by Ulli:
Today and tomorrow you can see an interesting constellation in the sky:
After sunset, look West. You see a bright evening star, which is Venus. Further to your left you see the waxing (increasing) moon. Tonight you see halfway between the two the planet Mars, which has a slightly reddish tint. Again halfway between Mars and Moon you see planet Saturn (the one with the rings; possibly difficult to identify without telescope). Tomorrow the moon will have moved a bit further to the left. Mars is now approx. 1/3rd the distance on the line from Venus to Moon, and Saturn almost exactly on the midpoint from Venus to moon.

It was a semi-clear sky during the day, but now it has become cloudy again. We probably have no chance of seeing it. Enjoy.

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Endlich, Finalmente, Finally

From Bill

Around noon today, under blue skies and fluffy white clouds, with the wind behind us and the boldness of destiny before us it happened. Yes, make no mistake, The chute was launched. You heard right: "THE SPINNAKER IS IN THE AIR!!!!!!!"

A cry went up from the assembled throng, "LET OUR DEEDS BE WORTH A SONG."

As a line formed for the privilege of driving the boat in these trying conditions grown men were seen elbowing the weaker of their colleagues out of the way. Women were observed abandoning their children by the wayside.

Finally, as some semblance of order was being imposed on the process another cry went up "A Squall Approaches. Clear a path for the Skipper." And so it went, from one adventure to another until all were sated. Reluctantly, around 1630 the fun came to an end and we put the chute away for the night. More tales tomorrow.

Visitors to this site often ask what they can bring for the crew, what have they been missing: ice cream, pickles, whatever.

A casual pole reveals that the most desired reception of all would be a luncheon (perhaps on the next day) consisting of perfectly ripe fruit, soft french cheeses, pate, crudites, sliced baggette, and a dipping sauce of extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. A suitable, crisply cooled, white wine (or two) would be nice. Don't go to any trouble. We were thinking mostly WHOLE FOODS. For dessert, a variety of gelato--lemon grass flavor is a particular favorite of the skipper.

Video in the works

Hello Dear Readers. Ulli sent me a short video of the halfway party, but it needs to be converted to a format that Google Blogger will recognize before I can post it. Since I am scrambling to leave for Hawaii, I can't work on it right now, but I'll get it posted as soon as I can. Thanks for your patience. ~~Chris

Thursday, July 15, 2010

talkstory with Caroline

Aloha everyone! Caroline Here. Now that I have some time on my hand, I thought you all would like to know what my day is like. First, let me tell you that the Crew of Cirrus are awesome!!
I've made it my most important task to "FEED the CREW". Thanks to the great provisioning of Kathy and myself, we have some substantial goodies on board. Breakfast is on your own, but when Lunch and Dinner come around, I step in and prepare the most delightful meals that a King and Queen would court on. Deserts are no excepts...esp. when all have come from Costco or (my favorite place) Trader Joes. Pupus are a must on this Hawaiian boat....yesterday we had our half way party and I toss out some shrimp, crackers and cheese, wasabi nuts, and edamane crackers and crunchy seaweed! I'm thinking culinary school might be in order for me at KCC.
I've put out the fishing lines every morning now since yesterday and Yes, 2 of them. Double the pleasure or double the trouble....either way "GOT FISH?"
As you may know, 6 people with no shower can be a--- well, smelly venture (yikes!!!). But we brought plenty of "Big Baby Wipes" and we all have taken a bottled shower at least twice in the last 10 days out here. I've taken at least 5...don't tell anyone...however, they can tell when my hair comes out wet and smells like herbal essence..ha ha ha....At night while everyone is asleep, I take out the disinfectant spray and do a spray dance to kill any menehuenes on know the stowaway stinkies that move and lurk throughout the air (scary stuff!). When I'm not feeding, cleaning, on watch, driving, throwing out the fish lines...I'm sleeping.....The most important thing the cook needs is her beauty sleep..if not, who knows what this crew would do if no food was prepared.....Kathy is my most perfect servant...she will come on watch earlier so that I can prepare the meals for the day...and let me tell you...she is eating very well.....she even might have gain some weight,although she lost her cookies the first couple of days..but she is recovery well..Lots of Carbs and dark chocolate pretzels are a good remedy. Ok got to go and sleep, cuz dinner is coming and I making shepherd pie tonight. Well let you know when fish cometh.

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On Eating Well

By Kathy

Yes, I am Caroline's servant. I move all my stuff over to her preferred bunk before she goes off watch, so she can have it all when she gets off watch. This is not much of an effort as she uses two airfoam mattresses on top of the already comfy boat cushions. Plus, she cooks all the meals that need cooking, and yes, I will stand watches for food. Every single item was shopped for my Caroline and myself, so we have all our favorite foods and snacks and beverages. I have eaten every meal and extras, above and below decks. I have made offerings to the sea gods, but not since Mark slapped a scopalamine patch on my neck. And here I am typing this!

I even managed to watch several episodes of "Firefly" on my iPad today. I have let Caroline watch them as well. I will trade iPad time for food. On occasion, I will even watch dishes!

Most people are up for my 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. watch. In the afternoon, I take a nap, and then get up for dinner at six. Then I take another nap until 10 p.m., changing over to "Caroline's bunk" when she goes on at 6 p.m., so she can have it when I start my watch at 10. It all seems to work out. Tonight we are having Shepard's Pie for dinner. I may have to stop soon to eat. OK, I'm stopping.

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Aos Amigos Portugueses

E uma delicia ter noticias vossas e ver as vossas messagems no Blog de Cirrus. Ficou grato de terem a acompanhar esta a nossa gran aventura. Ainda temos ums 5 dias de viagem, a entre nos quem disse nao anchorar em Hawaii e continuar direito a Tahiti (mas si faco isso a Maria Lucia envia um torpedo a nosso encontro!). Fica para o ano. Agora mesmo ficamos a 756 milhas nauticas (X 1.8 = Km) da Ilha de Oahu em Hawaii. O sol saiu e hoje estreiamos as calcas curtas, finalmente. Ja temos 6 dias de nao ver barco nenhumo, e esta uma gran solidao; mas tambem nao temos TM, noticiario, o trabalho, e uma maravilha de sol e bom ar.

Mais uma vez obrigado por acompanhar e aliciar a nossa viagem,


1933 Hora de California, Julhio 15
Posicao N31 30 979 W149 19 190 (No meio da nada)

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On the Edge

From Bill

Kim Ickler inquires about how does the boat smell. This prompts the crew to point out that she will soon know (from personal observation) when we cross the finish line. Or, depending on the direction of the wind, substantially before that.

The wind and sea remains painfully just a bit out of the skipper's spinnaker range. And he has become more cautious because of:

1. Old age (well maybe OLDER age)
2. Desire to end the trip without major breakage
3. Great crew but half have never really spinnakered on Cirrus
4. The experience of a few days ago in similar conditions

The wind is pretty steady 15-17 gusts to 20. The sea is not bad with 0ne and a half meter rolling swells and occasional sets of bigger waves that twist and turn the boat about for half a minute or so every 10-12 minutes. The smooth parts would be great the bumpy parts would almost surely require more people on deck for recovery. We are right on the edge. During the lulls we all ache to have the spinnaker up. During the rough spots we avert our eyes and discuss restaurants in Paris or skiing in Switzerland.

Still even with the "wing on wing" white sails that we currently carry we average 7-8 knots and set daily records for distance traveled so fun is clearly being had.

The Skipper's primary responsibility.

1500, Thursday, July 15, 2010
31-53, 148-50 with course 210 and speed 7.5

Too bad Ulli's video failed. One rule in this business is that "It will not work if you haven't tried it at the dock."
Well ahead of time.

by Ulli:
we decided that the next flying fish landing in the boat will be kept in the boat. Just to improve on the average smell.

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[update] We finally have it on the blog - see here: Finally - we have the Halfway-Video up and running! [/update]

by Ulli:
So it was Sarkozy, the man in high heels, who removed the movie. Gee, and I almost blamed Google for it. It went through the shortwave radio based sailmail just fine. Imagine, a video over sailmail, which is as slow as an old IBM electric typewriter. I had verified the video posting methodology when still at home, and it worked well, so I simply used the same setup (a netbook running Ubuntu Linux) for processing the video. Best transmission times are in the evening, I carefully selected best radio station, and successfully transferred all mails - it seems Rick is writing a book every day - the video, and received all comments - what a load! we enjoy those just as much as you - and the GRIB weather files, all in one shot in about 1 hour. Despite all shortcomings of sailmail via radio due to the physical limitations of the atmosphere (ionosphere to be more precise) my compliments to the makers of sailmail. And then Sarkozy messed up.
Maybe our able seaman, on-shore crew member Chris finds a way into Google for some advice of how to post a 'video.mkv' file (ffmpeg to compress video as H.264 and audio as flaac, put into Matroska container). The video must have arrived on the google server, since the text part of the message went there.
Well, I really don't want to burden sailmail again with that load, but we do have the sat-phone, which can transfer faster. But what a bummer: the software only accepts pictures as attachments and only as *.jpg and *.png, not even *gif, and no word, excel, pdf, and no video files! Can anyone help? We are using the UUPlus Software SPS-Mail Version 6.0.076-W. In the Settings->Setup->Account Settings dialog box is a button 'Allowed Attachments', but is is greyed out, and if it is activatable, I don't know how. Anyone knows?
As an apology to the pain inflicted by promising a video but not delivering, I am attaching an extra big still picture of the halfway party!
And as you can see, we are not as lightly dressed as we usually during this time of the race. Which leads me to the question about all these northerly routes, the boats have taken. Reason for this? The wind. In normal races, like those since at least 1998, the most northerly route taken by the boats was basically the Great Circle from San Francisco to Hawaii. One example for an opposite, an extreme southerly route, was actually Cirrus in the transpac 2007, which yielded Cirrus 1st place in division. This year, almost all boats "went North" with the exception of Dart. Dart may have missed the news and went South, which yields them last place in fleet. They have moved north 2 days ago, but it will be too late. And going north made for a cold ride. I tell you, have we had problems with the icicles on the spreaders! Initially I climbed the mast, removed them for better sail performance, and simply threw them into the water. Later, we used them to make Margarita on the Rocks and like stuff. Icicles from the boat do give a nice salty flavor to the drinks.
These times are over. It is warmer. In the daytime we are now in t-shirts, but during the night we still wear foul weather gear over multiple layers of sweater. The sky is still fully cloud covered, no stars visible, and the moon is still in New moon phase, so not visible and it is really dark at night. During daytime, the sun is barely peeking through the clouds. This is also unusual for race; at least partially clouded on a blue sky is the norm for this part of the race. It never is a crisp clear sky; some haze is always present. Even the night a few days ago was breathtaking mainly because of its full dome, 360 degree view, but because of clarity. You can see a really clear sky only over dry land, high up, like in the Sierra. A little bit of sun would be nice, is that too much to ask?
By the way: since we were outside of the Golden Gate Bridge, we have not seen a single ship (= big boats), nor boat (= small boat) during the last 5(?) days. No racer in our vicinity.


WE have an emergency message for:

George and Sue
Judith and RB
Lots of others

Just kidding. NO EMERGENCY. It's just that we would like to hear from you if you are out there.
Comments to the blog come to the boat as email. We love to get mail.


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Shoot the Chute.

From Bill 0030PDT, 32-56, 147-14, speed 8, course 220m.

Around noon yesterday we gave it a try. Boy did we ever. Up went the spinnaker (often called a chute because it is a really big light weight sail that looks a lot like a parachute). It was windy and bumpy, but "What the hell!" we are, after all, out here for adventure. So let'er rip.

It soon became clear that we were in way over our heads and that even with all five crew members in the cockpit doing their best and me still on the foredeck we never did have control over the sail. The only person smiling was Mark who loves to tell tales of sailing disasters that he has participated in. He was clearly gathering data for some story to be told in the future.

We didn't even get the sail launched properly. When I felt that the cockpit crew were ready I started to raise the sock only to have it torn out of my hands and go blasting up into the sky. Once up it was the job of the cockpit crew to get it trimmed, but it never happened. Once or twice we thought we had it but a twisting burst wind would collapse the sail and it would refill suddenly pulling the control of the boat out of the hands of the person at the wheel.

When I had enough of being thrown about and shouted aft that I wanted to take the sail down the command was met with disbelief. A discussion group was formed to determine if they had really heard what they thought they heard. It was decided that "Take down the spinnaker," was unnecessarily vague. A representative was dispatched to inquire if what I really meant was "Douse the chute."

Finally, down she came and we pulled the sail below to repack the sock and sail combination. Ready to go again.

Meanwhile we poke along at 8 knots, or so, with the main all the way out and the jib on a pole to the other side.

A serious half way party took place soon afterward and this has resulted in every single subsequent watch stander (Skipper included) sleeping through his (or her) wakeup call.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Halfway Party

Sending a video; not sure that it works. more separately, ulli

[update] We finally have it on the blog - see here: Finally - we have the Halfway-Video up and running! [/update]

Harsh Measures Have to be Taken

From Bill

Beyond half way. 34-06, 144-21, at 0030, Wednesday, July 14, 2010. 1040 miles to go.

A day ago we had an accidental jibe with the jib polled out to stbd. That was the occasion when the boom brake actually melted the line and we had a tough time getting it unstuck and functioning again. A conservation overheard later in the day revealed that "I could see that coming. The driver was having a harder and harder time keeping things under control." AND AND AND no one said a word to the skipper until after the accident happened. Unacceptable. So we have instituted a system that we hope will prevent this problem in the future.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Klabautermann is having a party in the fleet

by Ulli:

More vessels have reported failures in this morning's roll call. Recidivist now has not only a broken headstay, but also a broken boom vang (the thing which holds the boom down). Trial has a crack in the boom near the goose neck (where the boom connects to the mast; compare this with Cirrus' "Gilligan's Gooseneck" from 2006). Rhum Boogie has problems also with their backstay, can't fly a spinnaker, and can go 'only' 8 kn. California Condor has rudder problems, and can use only one of their 2 rudders. Deception is taking on water at the rate of 20-30 gallons/min, but are continuing the race. Rapid Transit retired from the race, returning home, no reason given.

This won't happen on Cirrus. Na, puh, nevah. Ok, we had a few broken sails and things on a few races, like in 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2000, and 1998. And admittedly, some Deliveries also faced a weeny bit of a challenge. But hang loose, mast, backstay, forestay, shrouds, keel, water supply, lights, engine, batteries, life raft, radio, are solid and won't break. We have scared Klabautermann away. I think.

But what if Ben, Professor of Klabautermania, were right, and we will soon have, maybe have them already, myriads of little Klabautermaennchen? Gee, let's get outta here, put even the underwear up for more sail! And of course, do not sleep; it is highly overrated anyway.

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Cirrus Attacked and Boarded!

by Rick:

The attack came out of nowhere. It was early Tuesday morning, around the times roosters crow and we would surely have heard them if the nearest rooster were not a thousand miles away.

Ulli and Rick were on watch while the rest of the crew placidly slept in the rolling, jumping, cold, and humid vessel. Despite numerous reassurances that the cold weather would only last the first three days out of San Francisco, we are now on day 8 and the weather is still cold and gray. (There sure are a lot of things I was not told before I hired onto this here crew!) So while some of us brought plenty of warm weather clothing and just a bit of cold clothing, we now find out that the proportions should have been reversed. Someone asked what should we do with the dirty laundry; another crewmember said, "I dont have that problem I am wearing mine." The reason for the change is that the wind conditions have forced us to go north so as to have more favorable conditions, as opposed to the traditional atmospherics where you tend to get into the tropical climate more quickly.

Its a hard chore to steer a vessel at night. The points of reference are gone, not that there are many in the open ocean. On this night we could see barely out to the bow of the boat, the rest was somewhat of a blur. We steered only by out instruments trying to maintain a particular position relative to the wind, we wanted speed if not necessarily an optimum heading. So we followed the instruments and steered left and corrected right which once in a while led to an overcorrection and then back left, and so it was for a good portion of the night.

The noise of the sea was continuous, both the waves coming against the boat and the occasional wave breaking and rushing towards the boat with a fast approaching and loud liquid swoosh. The waves crashing on the bow mixed in with the green and red light of the navigation lights which tell other vessels of our position and direction. Very often we would see explosions of green or red ahead of us.

Ulli and Rick took turns at the wheel. The never stopping turning of the wheel has a way of taking its toll, especially at 4 in the morning. Ulli in an analogy to be expected from a national of an Alpine country, says that staying on your feet while at the wheel while the the boat is jumping underneath requires the agility of a skier. And indeed the comparison is apt; your legs and knees flex left and right and up and down to maintain a balance and avoid falling and catastrophically turning the wheel as you go down.

This time it was Rick at the helm. It was he who became the target. Off to the right over the water there was a fluttering in the dark, it seemed green and red as it went through the loom of our navigation lights. The mind registered the movement and thought of a bird, and then quickly countered itself saying but a bird so far out?

The impact came all of a sudden, direct and hard, smack on the right side of the chest. Any pain was dulled by the hit being square on the life vest, over the metal automatic inflation capsule. Rick exclaimed out in surprise, Ulli asked what was that? A loud flutter and flapping was taking place on the floor of the cockpit. Rick cried out that a bird had flown into him. Ulli asked if Rick was hurt; the answer was no. Then the flapping creature was illuminated by the light off the compass and we saw, just as we smelled, the largest, Mother-Of-All-Flying-Fish we had ever seen. It was about a foot long, Ulli said it was like a Trout, Rick thought it weighed around two pounds. And it flapped and struggled trying to get back in the water, spewing scales and the most horrendous imaginable stink. Rick held onto the helm as Ulli pursued the fish. There was a quick comment by Rick about keeping keeping it for eating. Ulli, who was doing the chasing and getting smeared with slime and smell, got the creature in hand, and proving that possession is nine tenths of the law, gave a strong no, did not bother to further discuss the issue, and the fish went over the side.

Ulli went of to wash, Rick later followed and found a most propitious and surely providentially placed bottle of FeBreeze with which to douse clothing, foul weather gear, and flotation device.

The next morning, as the sun came up we saw a cockpit full of fish scales, the remnants of the attack. Cleaning them removed much of the smell but the memory of the attack remains. A rumor runs among the crew that this was a trial assault by sinister competitors, we remain alert for any eventuality.

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Half Way Party Tonight

Hey guys party time!

We are coming up on our half way longitude. Next is half way distance (the traditional half way point) and then the half way latitude. We must also be pretty close to the half way elapsed time point. Then there is the half way attitude point where people start asking, "Are we there yet."

One small miracle (given the strong personalities and sense of entitlement of this crew) is the fact that the "hot bunk" system works so well. For those of you for whom this might be a new idea, let me explain: We have six people and four beds. Only four beds are required since two people are always on watch. But that means that no bed is ever empty and the occupant changes every eight hours. Each person has a personal sleeping bag that they roll up when they get up. For most of us this is a pretty spartan process. Caroline is the exception. When she occupies a bunk it is converted into a combination "bag lady" cacoon and gypsy encampment. Sorry, No foto today, maybe later. First she lines the bunk with inflated pads, under and up the wall, then there is a hanging drape so others can not see in. (Hard to guess what might be going on in there.) In addition there are a dozen objects hanging from the handhold bar in the ceiling: a fan, sun glasses, a woven Mexican style bag full of hand cream and other similar stuff, an iPod, etc, usw. Who knows where all this stuff goes when she is on watch. Probably spread in a thin layer all over the boat so it sort of blends in.


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Monday, July 12, 2010

Klabautermann acting up

by Ulli:

Mark the Tweaker has always an idea for improvements. The latest was to go wing-on-wing, that means the mainsail goes out one side of the boat, and the jib the other side. This works only by keeping the jib steady with a pole, like our spinnaker pole. Worked beautifully! Rarely ever were we below 8 kn. But you have to drive pretty much deep down wind, which increases the chances for an accidental jibe. And sure enough, it happened. Not a big deal thanks to Bill's boom breaker. But Klabautermann must have sneaked on board, how else could we explain it: This naughty boy made the line in the breaker heat up so much by the (intended) friction within the breaker rolls, that the line partially melted and glued itself to these rolls.

You should have seen me. In my furor I jumped across the dodger, grabbed Klabautermann at his ears - of cause they are invisible, but as any Harry Potter fan can tell you, invisible does not mean ungrabbable - and threw him over the stern of the boat into the sea. What a monster splash!

Now, whaddayouknow, the naughty boy kicked back! He threw a bathtub of water over the stern into the cockpit, and I, then standing at the helm, stood up to my ankles in water! And some water splashed down into the galley and extinguished the pilot light in the oven. Well, I understand that he is jealous about our food, but we could have easily shared; we have plenty. But splashing along in the water he just garbled something like "... going to Pega..." but I could not understand the rest.

Skipper Bill masterfully fixed the breaker, but this stuff is annoying. Can't we have some royal words to keep the naughty boy in check?

Klabautermann must have been on other boats too. Recidivist reported a broken headstay, which is the steel cable which ties the top of the mast to the bow of the boat. A pretty important piece on the boat. They continue sailing without it; wonder how this works out. Bequia reported a steering failure. They return home. As they are in our division and had been ahead of us, we moved ahead one rank for free :-). Tiki Blue had previously retired from the race because of electrical problems. They also were in our division; another freebee :-)).

This is all true, as true as me following orders and are not going to bed to sleep!

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Sunset Photo

While the crew of Cirrus works to make the boat go fast, I thought I'd contribute a picture I took on the delivery. The open ocean is a very special place. Enjoy ~~Chris

PS: You can click on the picture for a larger version.

Cirrus Ahead of Pegasus in the Fleet Ranks!

by Ulli:
Today's official position report, consistent with our Cirrugator results, sees Cirrus on fleet rank 28, and Pegasus on 42, i.e. 14 ranks behind us! Let's celebrate while it's hot, who knows how long this will last.

Pegasus is suffering from the same disease which had caught Cirrus: a Low blocking the exit from the San Francisco bay. Their performance was a 'dismal' 220 nm, while their expected performance is some 320 nm. However, they are catching up.

More surprisingly is the track they are taking: so far they are exactly on the track which Cirrus was going. Big deal, they are too lazy to navigate, and are just sniffing out our path. You can probably see it on the iridium tracking page, when selecting only Cirrus and Pegasus.

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190 nm Daily Run sets new record for Cirrus

Pleasant news this morning: Cirrus made her best daily run ever with 190 nm (nautical miles)!
We're happy; but Chief Commander wants more.

Yes, M'me Chief Commander, understood. No more sleeping until at the dock.

Gosh, I already fulfilled the order. Barely slept this night due to commotion on deck; it still is a wild ride. Had planned to have chute up this morning, but postponed at the moment. Gusts reach 25 kn, seas still heavy.

Aloha, Ulli

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sailing on the Wild Ride

by Ulli:

At 8 am PDT this morning, our 24h-run was an awesome 187 nm (nautical miles); this ties the record for a daily run for Cirrus from 2008, but this time we were under white sails only! This didn't come from nothing. It was a wild ride, let me tell you:

The day begin with a gorgeous sunset. After the night had been so crystal clear over the complete sky, the morning continued. First the moon rose, only a thin sliver, because we are going into New moon. Then, about an hour later, the sun followed. And not only did we get a full 360 degree view, also nothing near, at the horizon or beyond, not a single cloud, obstructed the view of the sun, coming out first as an red glowing pin head, quickly widening to a bar, and then becoming a fiery orange fireball. I don't recall having seen a sunrise like that ever in my life.

The day continued with good and increasing wind. The waves also increased, up to a typical wave height of about 2 meter. Whitecaps on the waves were then everywhere. And as sudden as the sky had changed from a full cloud coverage to completely open on the previous day, it changed back to a complete and thick cover within less than 3 minutes! Wind hovered around 20 kn. We didn't put a reef in, following the orders of Chief Commander Kim. (Well, we were thinking that this is what the order said, but apparently the race committee censor had stepped in and blackened out some words (wink, wink) as they might have seen it as 'outside help'. We should not discuss this and keep it a secret on the blog, where nobody can see it! Just kidding.)

Anyway, we continued to run in full gown. Wind went even beyond 20 kn. So all you wind dancers out there: No more Pffft, Pffft, and whatever you were doing. We have enough wind for now. With a full cloud cover and a New moon, the night was pitch black. You couldn't make out the difference between water and sky; the horizon was nothing but a diffuse dark grey area. To top this, the tricolor navigation light on the top of the mast went dead, and we continued with the position light on the bow. This 'illuminated' the waves near the bow, but only their white caps. Obviously, even if we had been able to somehow respond to any incoming waves, it would have been to late to react. The lights had one advantage: they marked the bow. It was so dark that we couldn't even see the bow from our position at the helm, and observing the movement of the bow is one thing which helps in steering. The one really trusty thing is still the compass, glowing red in the light of an LED. The conditions were such that we no longer used Otto (our nickname for the Autohelm, the mechanical self steering device) but steered manually.

What a workout! The waves were mostly from the starboard aft quarter, but of course, you couldn't see anything anyway in the darkness. You had to act on the wave action and anticipation. Every ten minutes a big wave would hit the bow, and throwing a few buckets full of water over the full length of the boat onto the helmsmen. It was wet in the cockpit and began to become wet down below. The instruments over the companionway also became clouded by condensed water, and were no longer of any help, as you simply couldn't see them the position at the helm. The water is rushing along the boat with a roaring sound, turning into thunder when the wrong wave hits the boat, and slams us broadside into he leeward water, and the wind howling in the shrouds further underlines the might of water and waves.

Is it better down below? Not by much. When you are in bed, you are being slammed around with the boat movement. Best way to handle it, I found, is to press your back to the leeward side of the bunk (the side to which the boat will lean over) and raise your knees to lock you into that position. At least you won't fly around in bed. But in your semi-sleep you are getting in, the sound of the water gushing by at a distance of 1 1/2 inch combined with the howling wind and rattling of blocks, lines and more, sound more terrifying than it actually is. I think I slept better at other occasions.

Last thing: how to get around on the boat? Carefully! And with one hand always, always, always holding on to something very, very firmly. Growing 'sea legs' won't help; there is just no way to maintain balance, when the suddenly jumps up, or down, or left, or right. Putting on pants is an artistic endeavor - step your feet against something solid, and then lean over for like 45 degrees, and for a few fractions of a seconds you might get away with using both hands. Might. Imagine what it means to use the head (uhm, no, this has nothing to do with using your brain, which is largely optional in this case, and more related to the other end of the human body. The head in mariners language is the toilet).

Isn't that all wonderful? Cirrus likes it, and so do we. Aloha

Pictures are coming by sailmail. we had to shrivel them down in size
Black night ahead again, wind up to 25 kn. lat/lon: 35N05/ 136w45, course 240M, speed: 8.1kn, completely overcast.

Devil Is In the Detaiils

later, 1610, Sunday, July 11, 2010. At 35-15, 135-58, course 240, speed 9.

Some little tales without comment:

Earlier in the trip we noticed that Mark's PFD had a red flag showing. The auto pill cage had been used and the CO2 cylinder expended. In a word, it was useless (except as a safety harness. He had vague recollections of having loaned it in the past so there is no way to know how long ago someone set it off and then returned it to him without comment. We have adequate spares for this sort of thing, so we were able to rearm it for him.

I was telling the crew that a double tether (3 ft and 6 ft)was required to leave the cockpit. Caroline's tether caught my eye. Sure enough, it is the same one she used in the 2007 Transpac. On that occasion I remember looking on with amazement one afternoon when she took out her knife and cut off the 3 ft tether and threw it away. "It tends to get caught on things." she said.

Kathie and Caroline have done a fantastic job on the provisions. Caroline is doing all the cooking since Kathy fights sea sickness and the guys can't be trusted not to make a mess of things.

Rick and Mark took part of the boat apart (in pitching seas) to check the water level in the forward battery bank. One cell was completely dry. That has been fixed and even if it does not solve the battery problem it needed to be done none the less.

De Ju Vu (Spelling?)

Bill from 35-48, 133-52, sailing 240m at 9 knots or more, wind dead on the beam over 20 knots most of the time.

Fast hard sailing in the pitch black darkness of night that is both moonless and heavily overcast. The last 4 hours of driving in these conditions is a wonderful antidote for the annoyance I expressed in my last post over the battery problem. It feels like roaring down a ski slope in the black of night in a school bus with the lights off. Cleansing for the soul.

Funny how things that were high drama yesterday are now routine.

0310 Sunday, July 11th. Thinking about breakfast and reading the Sunday paper. I wonder if it is possible to subscribe to the New York Times Sunday only, and have it delivered once every three months. That is about how long it takes me to read one.

By the way, we have 1520 miles to go. So, we are roughly one quarter of the way.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Let's See. If This Is Saturday, We Must Be Half Way To........................

From Bill.

At 36-17, 132-25 on Saturday, July 10, 2010. Making 7-8+ knots at 245m in 17-20 knots of wind, dead on the beam.
Boy O Boy no change in hardly anything except that the wonderful blue sky and bright sun have disappeared once again into cold, cold and grey. Funny how it comes and goes in a flash.

Lots of electrical problems. Apparently the batteries are getting tired. Occupies more and more of my time each day. Not what I want to be doing. Rather be sailing and enjoying my companions. Unfortunately there is no choice. Once committed to all this technology you have to try and keep it running.

That's it for now. Sorry to cut this short but I smell dinner. Big event of the day.

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A Night to Remember

by Rick:
The clouds left us last evening. After nothing but gray skies since the voyage began, the clouds disappeared in a matter of minutes leaving only blue skies. When the night watch came on deck, there was nothing but wonder in their eyes as millions of stars shone with delicate blue-white light. It was very dark and clear and one could also see the milky way. To our starboard side was the Ursa Maior or Big Dipper; low on the horizon and so big and close that some crewmembers did not recall ever seeing it so near. It was easy to find Polaris, the North Star and just a bit to its left there was a remarkably brilliant celestial body, which Bill said was probably Jupiter; Ulli thought it could be Venus. We spent much of the night, with our heads up looking at the night. Once in awhile we looked down and admired the sea and the 360 degree horizon as well as our very white and luminescent wake. The air was cool and fresh.

At one moment it got much too cool, the wind picked up to over 20 knots with a few gusts higher. The boat was moving fast, at over 8.5 knots, and increasing its angle of heel (leaning over). At around 0400 the decision was made to reduce sail and a great operation ensued. Bill of course led the effort; as usual he clearly planned what was to be done and carefully instructed those in the cockpit what each of their roles would be. Bill and Mark would climb on deck but not before hooking themselves to the boat to ensure they would not fall overboard. Ulli would operate the lines in the cockpit and Rick would steer the boat, trying to slow it down by keeping it close to the wind but not so close that it would stall or tack.

The first thing done was to reduce the size of the headsail, this cut some of our speed and made the boat stand up straighter in the water. Nevertheless we kept on moving forward quickly and crashing through the waves. Bill and Mark moved forward, holding on for balance, and moving through the dark. We were intentionally avoiding the use of artificial light so as to make use of the ambient light and not damage our night vision. It was amazing how much you could see by starlight.

Bill and Mark reached the mast and began to work the various lines to reduce the size of the main sail. They held on as the boat bounced around quite lively in the surf. The crewmembers off duty and who were trying to sleep below decks were having a tough time. As the boat speed through the waves and bounced around, the people in their bunks were being tossed around and around. One crewmember below said that if she had been in a bathtub with shampoo she would have had a wonderful churning bubble bath.

Back on deck Mark called out to Rick to steer the boat into the wind thus slowing it down, reducing heeling, the crashing through the waves and the wind in the sail and their faces. Rick steered into the northeastern wind, careful to come up far enough to slow down but not so close to the wind that the boat would stop. Given the darkness and the significant wave action this required concentration. Ulli worked the various lines in the cockpit in response to what the crewdeck was doing and while Rick may have wanted to help Ulli, there waa no taking the eyes off the wind instruments and compass.

Instructions were yelled out back and forth through the noise of the wind and the waves. Eventually, Bill and Mark on deck and Ulli in the cockpit reduced the size of the mainsail and the boat slowed down to just over 7 knots; it also sailed more on an even keel. Bill and Mark came back to the cockpit and sat down, a bit out of breath. Bill looked out in the dark at the crew and, in his understated way, gave them the best of all compliments: "That went without a hitch."

The sun soon started to appear and with the clear skies it was a beautiful sunrise, the wind started to die down and Ulli saw that our boat speed started to go down below his level of comfort for this race. Bravely he asked Bill, who was just getting out of his gear from having reduced sail, to come back and undo all that was done. Bill just said "There's some people who can never be pleased." A while later everything was done in reverse and the sail was raised to full size.

Its now about 0900 and there is sun everywhere and the cabin is alive with movement getting ready for the day ahead. In reality, the activity never stops, the boat activity goes on 24 hours.

by Ulli:
putting a reef in the sail was really a bad idea. more than 2 hours at a speed in the low 7 kn. Now back up to high 7 kn and even some low 8kn! Wind at maximum of 20 kn, typically 15kn apparent, right on the beam. Whitecaps now everywhere, waves are building
time: 0930PDT, lat/lon 36N29 / 131W15, clear blue sky, sunny

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Skipper has a Friend

by Bill:

The ship's cat, who has never missed crossing, seems to have developed a new friendship. I wish I could say that she seemed to be happy about it. But no, resigned seems to be a more accurate description. Still looking sort of kittenish she has none the less seen a lot. (And there have been moments when she has averted her eyes.)

At the moment Cirrus is really rolling. 7.5 knots boatspeed and kind of bumpy. Wind is around 15 knots and the seas (pretty quiet until now) are starting to build. We slipped back in our fleet standings recently, probably because Cirrus always performs better than expected in light air and is only average when it gets really windy.

Having a dingy sailor on board is a new experience. Earlier, when it was not so windy, he was suggesting ouching (a technical term for running around on the boat to rock it and thus cause it to move even when there is no wind. Then pumping the main (It would have taken two people in coordination.) and other esoteric ideas were suggested.

It is currently 1800 on Friday, July 9th, 2010. We are at 36-57, 126-56, course 245m and speed 7.

by Ulli:
it is still cold. And given our northerly route, this is not surprising. I have been up the mast a few times, removing the icicles from the spreader for better performance. Given the good speed, mood is up. All is well on Cirrus.

Hail to the King!

HE is speaking to us! The king himself comments on our blog - I am re-attaching his mighty words at the end of this post - and commands us to save HIM. We fell on our knees immediately and praised his words (and at this occasion were inspecting the bilge for the best place to reside in for the rest of the trip). The skipper immediately - well, not quite, he took a nap first - decided what to do:

We must sail faster!

What a wise decision, only a seasoned skipper would be able to arrive at. Unfortunately, there appear to be seasoned skippers on many other boats too. The wind has picked up over night, coming to 10 kn and peaking at 15 kn. The boat was heeling over, with the port rail (the left side, for you land lubbers) in the water, and waves on occasion jumping over the bow and washing the foredeck. After some sail trimming we reached 7+ kn of boat speed. That's the way to go! Now the wind is down again, and boat speed to around 6 kn. Still, it is much better than waltz dancing on glassy seas. We expect the wind to increase, and wind angle to change, to allow flying the spinnaker in 2 days, and probably jibe in 6 days, then pointing directly to Kaneohe.

In the meantime, the glassy hole we got stuck in got plugged with wind, and the consequences are best seen in the attached little graph from Cirrugator. If all boats were going as fast as expected, their tracks would form a vertical line from the top to the bottom at corrected time 0 (zero). However, while this applies to the Thursday starters, all of the Monday, Tuesday (that included us) and Wednesday starters veer off to the right, i.e. are significantly underperforming. The weather forecast suggest that the fast boats starting on Saturday will enjoy conditions as good as or better than the lucky Thursday starters did.

Only a miracle will Save the King! Make miracles happen, dear Readers, the bilge smells really bad!


HIS words: (I may have to ask my friend Ben for a proper translation,
he may be more familiar with that antique style than I am. A whole lot more)
"What this means for the King"? How dare you! I command thou to take
back those scoundrel words that would render asunder my union with
dearest Bill lest I relegate thee to finishing this voyage residing in
the bilge! Art thou not on board to defend my honor? Art thou not on
board to sail? Shall we rename thee "cargo"? Blaspheme, I say! Now I
command thee, end these pointless words of defeat and get out there and
sail, man, sail!

Under my seal on this 9th day of July
The King

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Like Dancing a Waltz

It is 1740 on July 8th, 2010 and we are located at 37-41, 126-24 with a wind of zero and speed of zero. The boat turns slowly this way and that. Like dancing.

For a couple hours the haze above got a lot thinner and the combination of sun and no wind produced a heat wave that threw people into a panic to remove the 6-8 layers of heavy clothing that they were wearing. It is still kind of warm and most people are in shorts and tee shirts.

The quantity and quality of cuisine rivals that of Berkeley's finest restaurants. For lunch we had perfectly warmed Costco chicken tacos and Amy's burritos with salsa and guacamole, with apple juice to drink. Dinner is spaghetti with Ikea meatballs in red tomato basal sauce. Loaves of Costco fresh baked multigrain bread with real butter, green and red cabbage salad with tomato's, carrots, apples, red bell peppers in Trader Joe's Tuscan Italian dressing. After this meal we expect to be treated to Joe-Joes chocolate and vanilla bean cream desert. WOW!

There is talk of circling Oahu (after crossing the finish line) until the food runs out.

Dinner. Gotta go................

We are slowly getting out of the hole. The afternoon was spend with a lot of tweaking the sails, with some benefit, but only minor one. A little satisfaction comes from having pulled ahead of Scaramouche. The are suffering from the same problem that we have: a heavy boat in light wind. Wind is picking up and we are moving, although only at about 6 kn. But it will get better with wind speeds going up to 15 - 20 kn and stay there until the last 5 days, when it drops to 10 - 15 kn. But there is also a sad story in the forecast. On Saturday, when the fast boats will start, the hole, in which we are/were stuck will be gone. That is, these boats, including Pegasus, will have almost smooth riding from start to finish. You know what this means for the King? Sigh.

P.S. Picture that: Breakfast in bed. Is that a service or what?

P.S. P.S. Someone is sending pictures to our sat-phone email. This is a burden to us and is burning up minutes, so please don't. We would, however, very much like to receive the photos on a CD or stick or SD card or else, and I can make them available to others. Full resolution is preferred over reduced sizes.

We Have to Stop Meeting Like This.

It is Wednesday morning around 0500 and we are at 37-35, 126-07. Wind about zero, boat speed about zero, wandering around. Early in the evening I decided that there was not anything to do on watch except lookout, so we could change to one person on watch at a time. Like we did on the delivery. (Where there was a lot to do but not enough people.)

That worked for awhile, but I just looked (in the middle of the night) and all three of the male crew members are in the cockpit, each one adjusting something different to make the boat go faster even though there is no wind. Many heated discussions. I pointed out that if all discussions take place while facing aft it might help.

The boat approaching us that I mentioned in my previous blog was "Scaramouche V" from Canada. We spoke with them on the VHF radio. As they were passing us a half mile away we found ourselves in a big pod of whales. They were all over the place. Then we got a call from Scaramouche that they were also seeing a lot of whales. Busy place out here. After the other boat passed they seemed to slow down. We could see their lights all night. Another smaller boat also went by but they seemed to be heading in a strange direction. Not sure what they were up to.

There is so little to report that I am going to have to start making up stuff. Actually, we did see some aliens from outer space, but I'll tell you more about that next time.


P.S. Just an aside about the unexpected pleasures of trips like these. As many of you know the water is often phosphorescent and lights up brightly as the boat pushes its way through. Sometimes there are bright single flashes from individual little jelly fish. You haven't lived until you are flushing the toilet in the dark, as I did recently, and the flush water lights up the whole room. Pretty cool.

by Ulli:
This is beginning as a really slow race, much like it was in 2000. I guess the only reason why we can't see land any more is because it is so foggy and cloudy. No sun, no moon, no stars, just a grey dark mass of something. Celestial navigation? Forget it. We sure appreciate to have a compass. Not to mention the GPS. Unfortunately, there is nothing to navigate to, as we are basically standing still. Bill just did an experiment, throwing a paper towel in the water and watching it disappear. And whattayuknow, after 5 min it was 20 feet behind us! Well, I always wanted to celebrate Christmas in Hawaii, maybe I get a chance now!

As indicated by Bill, we had yesterday evening a threesome of racers, Cirrus, Scaramouche, and Sea Reine from the first double-handers division. A really rare event, as most of the time you don't even see a single boat around you. The latter two were really close together, they could probably speak directly with each other. When I called Sea Reine on the radio, they didn't answer, but Scaramouche told me their name on the radio. Sea Reine's course however, was due north, which could only mean that they were quitting the race. We'll find out today. Scaramouche is the fastest boat in our division, now that Pneuma hasn't started (don't know why), owing us almost 23 hours at the finish line. The fact that they are still within sight gives a little comfort; at least we aren't on last place in our division. We expect the slow conditions to last for another day, and then improving significantly.

Yesterday we had big, long swells, overlaid with small waves. The swells look like mountains of water, moving towards you, but when they reach you, they only lift Cirrus up very gently, and setting her down equally gently. You barely notice them on the boat. The small waves, however, mostly less than 1 meter, sometimes collaborate to form a nasty ditch and let Cirrus dive her nose into the water, scooping up a bathtub full of water, which upon rising, is gushed towards the cockpit. The sea right now is very calm and flat, an appearance of molten lead.

It is surprisingly warm this year, just the regular double-polar underwear and your foulies (foul weather clothing)on top, plus a hat and ski gloves, and you are fine!

Just this moment we were passed by a school of dolphins. They weren't interested in us and went along. Which reminds me that in addition to the whales we also saw porpoises yesterday. Yeah, more like visiting a zoo than racing.
Aloha, Ulli

time: 7:16am PDT, lat/lon: 37N36.8/ 126W08.3, course: none, speed: none, heading: all over the place

P.S. Does the Iridium tracker work, can we be seen on the PCup tracking website?

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Who Would've EverThought

Day two and still in sight of Pt. Reyes. (Well. Not really. It is 10-12 miles away but lost in fog.) I am writing this at 1515 and we are at: 37-53, 124-47. Morning found us drifting around with barely enough wind to keep the boat pointed in the right direction. So, I amused my self by running around putting bungee cords on all the sail control lines to take the slack when puffs of wind came and went. Made the boat quieter. By now things have picked up a lot and we are sort of actually headed toward Hawaii. Absolutely nothing to see today, up, down or around. Grey, grey and grey.

Ho! Just as I am writing this a sail has appeared behind us and is getting closer. Big excitement for the day,

I will keep you posted.

We have had to scrap the Spartan menu that Kathy and Caroline prepared for us so we could power through the first couple difficult days. Since the days aren't difficult everyone is sitting around thinking about their stomach. So, we have had to break out Mexican casserole, the shrimp and lobster pasta, the Pad Thai chicken, etc. Right now there is a spirited debate about what movie to watch tonight. Kathy favors some reruns of "West Wing" that she has brought along.

Bill, on Wednesday afternoon, July 7th, 2010.

by Ulli: as if it weren't bad enough, our fans provided us the soccer results that Germany had lost to Spain. Sigh, it just fits into the grey around us. And no rum on board for a little compensation.

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Pictures from yesterday.

Randy took 100 pictures yesterday. Here are a few.
The first one is a classic photo-op: From left to right: Mark, Rick, Kathy, Bill, with Ulli in the back, and Caroline in the front.
Second is an overhead shot of Cirrus blasting under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Third, Kathy's buddy, Paul Kamen, paid us a visit at the dock as he departed for a seven-day sail to Stockton in his El Toro. What a guy!
These are high-resolution images. Click on a picture to see a larger view.
If you want to see all of Randy's pictures. go here: