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Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta #223148
11/02/10 11:28 PM
11/02/10 11:28 PM
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Harvest Moon Regatta 2010
Initially I had planned on doing this race with Chris Green as we had talked about doing it for the past few years on my Nacra 20 beach catamaran, 20 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, 390 pounds with no cabin, just a trampoline between the hulls. Usually something came up and we scrapped the idea. This year, I was hell bent on doing it. Unfortunately Chris has a job and couldn’t get out of some previously scheduled commitments.
I contacted Wendy Simkins of Spanish Fork, Utah since she had expressed great interest in doing more of this type of racing at Ruff Riders in South Padre. She bought a ticket and headed down Wednesday evening before the race. I stopped by the Green’s for a few last minute items and picked up Wendy at the airport then headed to Galveston. The forecast wasn’t looking to favorable for a beach cat doing this in the dark and I was contemplating my escape routes should it get too rough. Initially it was looking like the weather wouldn’t get rough till mid day Friday, so we should be ok.
We rigged the Nacra 20 on the beach near the Flagship Hotel. Upon inspection of my 2 year old shrouds, I noticed a broken strand. Luckily I had a replacement set and quickly swapped them out. The rest of the standing rigging was gone over with extra special care just like when we prep for doing the Tybee 500 or the GT 300. When we were about finished rigging and suited up, Jose Cerdas met us at the beach to take the truck and trailer to his house for our ground crew, Kurt Peters to pick up later and drive to Port Aransas.
Here’s a list of safety items we carried on ourselves and the boat;
EPirbs on each of us along with personal strobe lights and VHF radios.
PFD’s (ofcourse) with safety lanyard and quick disconnect attachement.
GPS, Coastal Charts (which came in really handy for building a fire), cell phones.
Dry suits (since we would be sailing through the night).
Survival items in case of being marooned on one of the outer islands.
We shoved off in light winds and nice sunshine. Initially deciding to forego donning the drysuites and stowing them in the drybag since it was so hot. I did, however put on a spray top. We went out and milled around the start line and conversed with other boats while waiting our turn to start. At this time, we saw Corey Harding and he informed us it was already blowing 18 knots in Corpus. Not good. We chose to start with the other multi hulls as we watched most of the other big boats start as much as an hour ahead.
We did get a pretty good start without trying to foul anyone since we weren’t “officially” allowed to be in the race in the first place. We jib reached for a while with the wind direction initially preventing us from using the spinnaker. After about an hour, we threw up the chute and really took off double trapped and passing everything in sight. We got a few “thumbs up” and some pictures of us taken as we flew past the slower boats. One monohull in particular must not have liked us overtaking him so fast and did an abrupt turn into us as we were beside him, almost making us take the chute down to avoid a collision. I still don’t know what was going through his head. Maybe it was his first time sailing, who knows. It was one of the dumbest moves I’ve seen in sailing so far. We strapped the chute, dropped the traveler and heaved ourselves out on the wire as far as possible to get over him and finally did.
Once past, it was game on again. We were running about 16 to 17 knots of boat speed with the chute up until about San Luis Pass. The sun was getting lower and we decided to drop the chute and let Wendy get her drysuit on. This isn’t an easy task to do on a beach cat out on the water, so we heaved to a little to slow down the boat and smooth the ride so she didn’t get any water in the suit before she got it on. We then opted to keep the chute down and jib reach down the coast more and try to get farther out so we had plenty of room to clear the Freeport Jetties. By the time we passed the jetties, it was dark and we had the moon at our backs. It was still a little low and wasn’t much help in lighting things up much. The wind had built to about 17 or so and the waves were getting pretty choppy. This makes things much more difficult when trying to navigate. Any beach cat sailor can tell you that you gotta pick your course through some of the waves when they get to a certain size, so you can maintain good boat speed. When its dark, its pretty hard to see which waves you want to take head on and which ones you want to steer around. Pretty much, it was no choice but to take them head on since we couldn’t see them anyways. I have to point out that by the time the sun set, we attached ourselves to the boat with safety lines and carbiners. I was trying to navigate by keeping what little I could see of the shoreline to my right and watch the lighted rigs. It was almost impossible to watch the handheld GPS and drive at the same time. The waves were getting too big. We kept this pace for a short time more when I noticed the waves going in a different direction, then WAM! We hit the shoals off Brian Point with both dagger boards down. I was trying to unhook my lanyard and Wendy was trying to get the boards up. The wind rotated the boat more down and was pushing the boards harder into the sand while Wendy was fighting to get them up. Finally she got the leeward one up as I looked over my shoulder and saw a big snake like head lift up out of the surf about 6 feet. I couldn’t believe what I just saw. I was trying to see if I could see it again and wasn’t disappointed when it rose up again. Then Wendy saw it too and said the same thing I did….WTF?! What looked like the head and neck of the Lockness Monster ended up being a log getting washed up in the surf. Man I was glad we didn’t hit that. We managed to get off the shoal and got back under way only to hit another one, only this time we still had the boards up and were able to jump off the boat and run it across with the help of the sails.
We got back under way as the conditions worsened even more. The waves were getting bigger and the wind was building. It was not possible to be on the wire since I couldn’t see the waves and we’d be getting knocked around too much. We both rode on the trampoline and I tried to pick a point of navigation to drive to. I could make out a brown strip that I knew was the beach and a radio tower ahead that I was used to seeing in the GT300. It was still extremely difficult to see anything and drive at the same time. I started contemplating our options. If we went much farther down, we’d be committed to sailing at least to Matagorda. This could be bad if conditions got much worse like they were already. If we did this and beached it down farther, we would surely be in much worse weather and possibly on a beach not accessible by vehicle. At this point, I reluctantly made the decision to beach now. I gave Wendy a heads up on this. We turned into what I knew to be the beach. As we got closer, the surf was pretty big. I navigated our way through the waves as conservative as possible since visibility was pretty bad. We beached and turned the boat into the wind then dragged it backwards up the sand as far as possible to get above high tide. This is where I was glad to be on a 390 pound boat. We dropped the sails and rolled them up on the trampoline. This was going to be our sleeping spot for the night. I figured since the weather wasn’t expected to get better and only worse, we’d be sailing back to Surfside in the morning. Surfside was the closest place to get Kurt to come get us with the truck and trailer. I phoned Jose Cerdas and Kurt to let them know our status and sent a few texts to others who knew our plans. When doing an adventure like this, it’s good to do a “float plan” where you have a few reliable contacts on land who know your course and ETA. Now I could go about making things more comfortable. Wendy and I started to gather drift wood to make a fire. I used our folding paddle to dig a fire pit then used my knife to slice of thin pieces of wood for kindling. The wind was pretty strong and gusting over 20 and really making the fire not cooperate. Wendy found a napkin and that still didn’t do the trick. I had some JB Quick Epoxy in the pelican case and wondered if the hardener had enough catalyst in it to be flammable, so I tried that to no avail. Back to the Pelican case; the only thing left in there was the foam liner or my coastal navigation charts. No brainer there, burn the charts. It worked, we got the fire lit. I did show Wendy where we were on the last chart I lit, so she had a better idea. The warm fire was nice. I’ve read many times that a fire can be a real moral booster in stranded situations, and this one didn’t disappoint. I just wish we had a few chairs. Wendy asked how far I thought we had made it and I guessed 50 miles. I turned the GPS on and made the start line our “go to” point and…. 49.8 miles! Man, I’m good!
I had packed a few small blankets just in case of this situation and we broke them out so we could get some sleep in hopes of sailing back to Surfside in the morning. The blankets looked a lot bigger in the store for sure. We decided to put the drysuits back on for more warmth. My tee shirt was still a little damp but I slept pretty good, all things considered. I pulled the mainsail over the boom and bungied it down to make a primitive tent/shelter. It helped to keep the sanity if nothing more. The wind built through the night, shaking the boat at times. I knew this meant the surf would be getting bigger.
Morning came and as expected, the surf was freekin’ big. To make matters worse, the wind was blowing straight on shore. For those of you who don’t sail, a sail boat like this has to go no higher than 45 degrees to the wind or it will stall. This meant we would have to take the big surf at a 45 degree angle at best and try not to get rolled. I’ve considered myself as being extremely skilled in navigating the surf with a sailboat but we all know each of us has that magic bullet with our name on it. I was praying I didn’t find mine that day because I wasn’t the only one who would be paying for it. I didn’t doubt Wendy’s tenacity for adventure but I surely didn’t want to get her hurt.
I called Kurt Peters and let him know our ETA into Surfside would be about 10 am. I gave Wendy a little briefing as what to expect and we shoved off. It was a little worse than I thought when we got past the second sandbar. There was no way to take some of the waves head on due to the size. We actually had to run from a few by turning the boat towards the beach a little and let the wave break, then turn back into it. It seemed like this pace would keep us in the surf forever. We did get hit by one that almost did us in. It picked us up as it was breaking over and carried us a good 30 feet back and slowly trying to turn us on our side. I worked the mainsheet out to depower the sail and tried to steer into it without losing too much speed and somehow we made it over the top without going over. I have no doubt God was with us all the way out that day because it took more than just the two of us to get through the impact zone of the surf. Once we made it past the breakers, we weren’t out of the woods. We had good wind, about 17 to 20 knots but the waves were so big, we had to watch constantly for the big ones coming over your shoulder. They were still breaking on occasion even farther out. I wanted to play it a little conservative and had Wendy stay in off the wire for the trip into Surfside since we weren’t racing anyone at this time. We were doing well over 20 knots of boat speed probably closer to 25 plus. We really had to pick our course through the waves and managed to catch some air which made the run back more fun.
As we came to the Freeport Jetties, we were intersecting with a shrimp trawler (Bubba Gump boat) and had to let him pass in front of us as we slowed down briefly. Then we came closer to Surfside and I reminded Wendy why they call it that. It’s a great place to surf. It also meant we had some big waves to contend with on the way into the beach. We picked our way through the surf for a smooth and safe landing on the beach and were greeted by a vacationing couple from Colorado who were glad to see more action on the beach than just the seashell hunters. Wendy and I congratulated each other for surviving the ordeal but were both a bit heavy hearted about not completing what we had set out to do. We later got word from some of the other racers that got to Port Aransas first that they came into the Jetties at the finish in 25 knot winds and big waves. They hadn’t heard what we had done at that time and were a bit worried about us. I don’t regret pulling out of the race when we did but I’m still disappointed a little. We’ll definitely have a go at for next year again.

Lee Wicklund



Lee

Keyboard sailors are always faster in all conditions.
-- Have You Seen This? --
Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: TeamChums] #223149
11/02/10 11:33 PM
11/02/10 11:33 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,304
Gulf Coast relocated from Cali...
TeamChums Offline OP
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Forgot to mention, the race is 157 miles long and starts at 3 pm, so you get plenty of night sailing.


Lee

Keyboard sailors are always faster in all conditions.
Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: TeamChums] #223153
11/03/10 02:05 AM
11/03/10 02:05 AM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 5,558
Key Largo, FL & Put-in-Bay, OH...
Mary Offline
Carpal Tunnel
Mary  Offline
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Posts: 5,558
Key Largo, FL & Put-in-Bay, OH...
Great story, Lee!!

Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: Mary] #223161
11/03/10 07:21 AM
11/03/10 07:21 AM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,844
42.904444 N; 88.008586 W
Todd_Sails Offline
Carpal Tunnel
Todd_Sails  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2001
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42.904444 N; 88.008586 W
Great Re-cap, Thanks Lee

Glad you're OK.

Todd Bouton


F-18 Infusion
#626- SOLD it!

'Long Live the Legend of Chris Kyle'
Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: Todd_Sails] #223171
11/03/10 08:25 AM
11/03/10 08:25 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 712
mikekrantz Offline
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mikekrantz  Offline
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Posts: 712
Great story, and also a excellent job on knowing when to pull the plug - that's seamanship.

Too many people push on, and figure the coast guard will bail them out....

Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: Todd_Sails] #223172
11/03/10 08:28 AM
11/03/10 08:28 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 3,655
Portland, Maine
T
ThunderMuffin Offline
Carpal Tunnel
ThunderMuffin  Offline
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T

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Portland, Maine
Great write up Lee!


Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: ThunderMuffin] #223182
11/03/10 09:36 AM
11/03/10 09:36 AM
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 129
Austin, TX
BoK Offline
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BoK  Offline
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Austin, TX
Your write up was even better than when you told me the story on the phone last week. Awesome adventure. Wish I could have made it.


Bo Kersey
Corsair 31-1D 276
Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: BoK] #223195
11/03/10 10:41 AM
11/03/10 10:41 AM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 16
Austin, TX
nacraphiliac Offline
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Austin, TX
Discretion was very definitely the better part of valor that night, Lee! The wind and waves coming into Port Aransas on Jim Van Fleet's Abandonded Assets were some of the gnarliest I've ever seen. We always sit as far out and back on the windward ama as possible to drive the F-31 1-D because it's usually the driest spot but, with waves often washing completely over the cabin, the boat would climb and climb and climb an oncoming breaker and there would still be a foaming curl at the top that would smack you! Sleeping below was impossible and even going below made normally seasick-impervious sailors queasy. Still, we were always acutely aware that you were out there in this stuff on your I-20 and whatever discomfort we were feeling was nothing compared to what you were going through. Congratulations on some very tough sailing and I'll be rooting for you next year.

Mike Beuerlein
C2 F18 USA04

Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: nacraphiliac] #223202
11/03/10 11:07 AM
11/03/10 11:07 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,304
Gulf Coast relocated from Cali...
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Thanks for the kudos guys. Please forgive the redundancy in the boat description. It was written to be posted in the Galveston newspaper. I thought I'd share it here as well since there has been discussion in the past about sailors doing stupid things and not taking proper precautions. As you can see, we were prepared for the worst. I'm sure there are a few on here who would rather flame me for trying this, but I'm just not one of those guys who sits on the porch saying "man, I should have tried that." I do, however, often say to myself "that wasn't such a good idea."
Chris and I are still planning a trip that will make a few jaws drop if we pull it off. We'll tell you about it when we finish it.


Lee

Keyboard sailors are always faster in all conditions.
Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: TeamChums] #223203
11/03/10 11:18 AM
11/03/10 11:18 AM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 338
Nimrod Offline
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Nimrod  Offline
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Did you get any photos by chance? Congrats, you're a better man than I

Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: Nimrod] #223205
11/03/10 11:24 AM
11/03/10 11:24 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 3,655
Portland, Maine
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ThunderMuffin Offline
Carpal Tunnel
ThunderMuffin  Offline
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Portland, Maine
Wearing your flamesuit is not needed Lee.

1) you are experienced in beachcat distance races
2) you are familiar with the body of water being traversed (as evidenced by your mileage estimate and your ability to recognize the radio tower)
3) you were prepared for the conditions with the drysuit, safety equipment and blankets.

Anyone trying to flame you will need to come from a position of ignorance, and for that - you need not defend yourself.

Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: ThunderMuffin] #223207
11/03/10 11:32 AM
11/03/10 11:32 AM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,304
Gulf Coast relocated from Cali...
TeamChums Offline OP
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I think Wendy has some pictures of the boat by the campfire.
I guess I'm just kneejerking from the caustic posts about the Cuba Run from some of the guys who'll never do it anyway. BTW, the Cuba Run is still in the works as far as I know.
I gotta say, one of the other reasons for my decision was based on the fact that Wendy would have kept going if I said we were ok. She trusted my judgement enough to not question it. I didn't want to betray that trust with stupidity. She definately has a hunger for adventure.


Lee

Keyboard sailors are always faster in all conditions.
Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: TeamChums] #223253
11/03/10 06:38 PM
11/03/10 06:38 PM
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mrohrer Offline
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Good story Lee and great preparation and decision making. I'm glad the outcome for you was good. The most memorable adventures are the ones with adversity.

Mike Rohrer

Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: Nimrod] #223272
11/04/10 12:03 AM
11/04/10 12:03 AM
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 749
Santa Cruz, CA
SurfCityRacing Offline
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SurfCityRacing  Offline
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Posts: 749
Santa Cruz, CA
Nice one Lee!

Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: SurfCityRacing] #223359
11/04/10 07:02 PM
11/04/10 07:02 PM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 699
SE Pa. or Chesapeak Bay
HMurphey Offline
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HMurphey  Offline
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Posts: 699
SE Pa. or Chesapeak Bay
From a ancient Greek Philosopher " O, great Alexander ... a successful man must know one thing above all else .... when to quit ..."

Lee, you are a successful skipper ... the hardest decision was to "pull the plug" .... and head for the beach ... and you had the courage to make it .... You are welcome at my campfire anytime, and my cooler is open to you ...

Competitor:
Down the (Chesapeale)Bay 87-92'-Beach Cat
New England 100 87-91'-Beach Cat
C100 92-2002'(?)-Beach Cat
Around Long Island 09'- 43'Tri
Gov Cup 08'&10'-43'Tri

Harry Murphey
H18Mag/P19MX
Crew 43'Tri/TripleThreat

Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: HMurphey] #223367
11/04/10 10:26 PM
11/04/10 10:26 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,911
South Florida & the Keys
arbo06 Offline
Pooh-Bah
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South Florida & the Keys
Bravo Lee! Nice job of safety management and being responsible for everyone.

Eric


Eric Arbogast
ARC 2101
Miami Yacht Club
Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: arbo06] #223369
11/04/10 11:48 PM
11/04/10 11:48 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,066
Wellington, FL-Singer Island, ...
cyberspeed Offline
old hand
cyberspeed  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,066
Wellington, FL-Singer Island, ...
As TMS20 always tells me:

There are a lot of OLD sailors, There are a lot of BOLD sailors; but there are not a lot of OLD BOLD sailors!

I still wonder how he got to be as old as he is...


craig van eaton
Supercat 20
TEAM CYBERSPEED
www.TeamCyberspeed.com
Endurance Series
www.SailSeries.com
Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: Nimrod] #223380
11/05/10 07:45 AM
11/05/10 07:45 AM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 47
Mark Meis Offline
newbie
Mark Meis  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 47
Lee,

I was out there on my C28R. It was blowing. We watched you for a while and noted you below the line with your chute. We talked about how your ride was going to be later that night as the conditions followed the forecast. That night we clocked 28 knots of actual breeze and waves that were close to my spreaders. Couldn't stand up on my boat as you would be thrown. Best to crawl or roll for safety reasons. It was kinda like sailing in a storm. Maybe kinda like the day I sailed over to the Bahamas from Stuart and the day turned into night. Constant spray with down pours. A salt water flush was the reality. My eyes were beat up during this run as the spray was like being shot by BBs. Actually one of the best places to be on the boat was out on the alma. You just had to rely on your safety harness and drive. We actually backed off the speed of the boat to leave some safety factor in the bank.

I assumed you beached as the night was going to be long. Glad you were safe. Always another day.

Mark Meis
C28R 140
Far Reach


Mark C28R no. 140 Houston, TX
Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: Mark Meis] #223389
11/05/10 11:11 AM
11/05/10 11:11 AM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 3,224
Roanoke Island ,N.C.
Team_Cat_Fever Offline
Carpal Tunnel
Team_Cat_Fever  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 3,224
Roanoke Island ,N.C.
Wussy laugh


"I said, now, I said ,pay attention boy!"

The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea
Isak Dinesen
If a man is to be obsessed by something.... I suppose a boat is as good as anything... perhaps a bit better than most.
E. B. White
Re: Catamaran sailors pull out of Harvest Moon Regatta [Re: Team_Cat_Fever] #223392
11/05/10 12:01 PM
11/05/10 12:01 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,066
Wellington, FL-Singer Island, ...
cyberspeed Offline
old hand
cyberspeed  Offline
old hand

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,066
Wellington, FL-Singer Island, ...
Tawd, how did you get to be so old?


craig van eaton
Supercat 20
TEAM CYBERSPEED
www.TeamCyberspeed.com
Endurance Series
www.SailSeries.com
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