After halfway

October 20, 2013   

As captain I take when to have the halfway party as a very serious issue as there is always the post halfway depression. Different people feel it to different degrees. However, in my experience if you delay the halfway party to a day past when you actually think you are halfway then the second half seems to be going quicker. At the end of the day who really knows what halfway is especially when you are not straight lining it i.e. paccup or atlantic. If you are delivering back from Hawaii or in this case down the coast and you have to sail most of a circle to get to your destination halfway is a hard one to figure out. Is it halfway on lat and long, halfway on mileage or halfway on time? All of those can be substantially different. I tend to always use the time theory and then use the worst case scenario i.e. worst case the trip could be 20 days so have the halfway at 10/11 days it the mileage seems to coincide then great.

Anyways I am rambling. Only because my watch partner at this point has ants in his pants and wants to get it done and has commented three times in the last two watches that they distance to go is not going down. Another problem with using the distance to go is that that number changes dramatically as routing changes. Routing will change a lot when trying to work your way around a high pressure system and a large north going current. So here we sit 1151nm possibly to go at our average speed which has been 8.1knots this trip that puts us in late Saturday night.

Puerto Montt is reached by going through the Chile Basin over the Chile Rise to Golfo Coronados and then in through a channel between Isle de Chileo and mainland Chile. In this channel called Canal Chacao the tide can reach 8-9 knots so there is no going through unless on a favourable. Slack tide only lasts a few minutes! The tidal range is 8m in springs or 25 feet. So we could end up if luck is with us hitting the entrance at the right time. If luck is against us we have to anchor outside at Caleta Godoy and await the change in current. The Canal takes us into Golfo de Ancud then leaving Isle Puluqui to port through Paso Quellin into Seno Reloncavi. We will be at Marina Oxxean with the isla Tenglo across the channel from us and about 2 miles from the city. The pictures of the marina in the pilot book look great. The write up about Perto Montt itself from the lonely planet guide does not excite!

But that is 7 days down the road.. The wind has gone right on the nose and looks to be the case for the next 5 days. The sun continues to rise and give OK displays but what is cool is having the light of the moon from the stern at the same time as the sun appears on the horizon off the port bow. We have 5 days worth of fuel but are hoping not to use it as this motor sailing is not as fun as sailing. In the meantime it is very lonely out here. We last saw a ship 15th and it is the 20th prior to that we saw one on the 11th. They were probably wondering like us what a boat was doing out here. Haven’t seen any wildlife for about the same amount of time it was over a week ago that we had an albatross around otherwise there has been no wildlife. The other news is I will have run out of cornflakes by Tuesday which is a little bit of disaster as I have run out of fresh fruit for my morning yoghurt, cornflakes and fruit. Guess I should have added a few more bags of cornflakes to my supermarket cart. And so life continues on the 6-8am, 12-4pm and 8pm-midnight watch.

Ecuador to Chile day 6

October 15, 2013   

We are 6 days into what is most likely an 18 day trip from Ecuador to Puerto Montt. We are moving along at around 200 miles a day 60 AWA in another 2 days we will run out of the trade winds and it will be time to motor across a ridge with less than 10 knots of wind. The south pacific high is moving around quite a lot and is currently meant to split but we are looking so far out it is not worth banking on anything. By tomorrow we will be opposite the northern Chilean border. I have been reading the Chile lonely planet guide to come up with some fun weekend trips away from the boat. Looking forward to climbing a snow topped volcano, visiting the Yosemite of Chile and spending time at an island nature reserve. It is going to be stunning. Looking forward to Christmas time in Tierra del fuego where I am hoping to do the Dientes trek a 53km most southerly trek in the world.
We have had a little excitement with the pin dropping out of the vang in the middle of the night. Bit of a fire drill to get it stabilized before the hydraulic lines split apart. The vang on this boat is about a ton to heavy for two people to lift. So I ended up in the dark on the end of the main boom to disconnect the topping lift and use it to hold the vang up while we found something to take the place of the pin. We now have a ¾ inch drive that is normally used as the manual furl for the main the shaft is a little too small for the hole but it is plenty strong!
There hasn’t been much wildlife really to speak off besides one albatross which paid us some attention for an hour and then got bored. Also a tiny bird landed to rest and ended up in the pilot house. After defecating on the leather the captain had me banish the poor bird back outside. I can’t see that it would survive out here 1000 miles from land. The small petrels have been skimming the wave tops putting in a foot and wing every now and again.
I have been spending time replying to lots of emails, organizing lists of items to get for heading to Antarctica and going through photos that are over 4 years old.
As usual Vivid is luxurious with three square meals a day and no need to put on foul weather gear as the pilot house is dry and temperature controlled. Every now and again it is necessary to head outside to trim sails otherwise the day merges into one watch after another.
I suspect we will be landing in time for the weekend after next hopefully we will get in on a Thursday giving us Friday to clean up a bit and then have a few days off in Patagonia.

Ecuador to Chile

October 8, 2013   


So we are heading off today to move the boat south from Ecuador to Chile. 27m yacht all loaded up ready to go with food, water and fuel looks to be like a 19 day trip. As you can see from our proposed routing we will be 1000 miles offshore to get to the west side of the south pacific high pressure system and offshore of the Humboldt current. The current is a cold low salinity ocean current flowing north along the west coast of South America from the southern tip of Chile to Northern Peru which can extend up to 1000 miles offshore! Unfortunately we won’t be stopping at Easter Island.

As it creates a large amount of upwelling it is one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world as the cold nutrient rich water is full of nutrients. We expect the first few days will be dodging fishing vessels as up to 20% of the worlds fish catch comes from the Humboldt current. It is the opposite of the gulf stream decreasing the temperature of Chile and Peru.


June 5, 2013   

It is Monday morning (Memorial Day) and I am off the Monterey and we are going in circles behind an ocean going tug because the weather window has closed to get around Deception. Our destination is Long Beach. Everything up until now has gone according to plan. Commanders is telling me there is now no window till Saturday morning and not to go south of 35 as there is a bad sea state and it blowing more than 20 knots which is our self imposed limit. I have a flight to catch Thursday night it has been planned for several months however, seamanship like decisions must come first. So I persuade the tug boat captain to take us to San Luis Obispo to make the next decision. The grib files are telling me it is a bad idea to hang out in our current location. Off we charge at 9 knots every three or four hours we stop and change out the chafing gear that is protecting the nicely varnished caprails.

The sea state starts to build we are surfing into the towing hawser and the bridle is twisted so we are loading up on the starboard one more than the port. Time to stream out the handy truck tires on a 400 foot anchor line off our port stern. One is not enough – two works a treat and she tracks in a straight line and stop surfing into the hawsers. Life is good – we are moving South towards LAX.

Every thirty minutes we talk to the tug boat and 90% of the time all is well. It is now 2am and we are closing in on San Luis Obispo the wind has picked up and so have the seas. I am looking forward to anchoring as the ride has become a little more interesting. The maneuver we have to pull off has risks. The tug boat must slow down us and herself, we need to disconnect the bridle shackle, pull in our tyres, and side tie to the ocean tug. Then into the anchorage drop our anchor, set it using the tugs power and disconnect. All this with no steering or power of our own and add darkness.

I dial a bouy again on the mobile getting the wave data from Harvest and the wind data from Santa Barbara. The wind is hovering at 20 knots and the seas at 6-7 feet at 6 seconds. Back on the VHF to talk to JJ on the tug before we pull the plug and I miss my flight. Not only will I miss my flight but we are committing to $15k in costs to hold the tug in standby mode in San Luis Obispo plus another $5k in crew costs. The boat is still in great shape and she has coped well so far – the tyres are working a treat. The risk is being in conditions outside our insurance endorsement but do I fully trust the forecasts when real time is within the endorsement. Many decisions for 2am! I make a commitment. JJ can have us off Deception at 6am we are going for it.

The ride down the Santa Barbara channel was lively especially when we ended up side on to the swell to get into the traffic lane. I pulled rank on JJ and requested a change of course and to stay outside the lanes. We could do without waves breaking over the bimini. It was the right decision and we pulled it off arriving in Long Beach at 11pm Tuesday and were at the dock at midnight. Time to remove the insurance towing hawser, trash pumps and get our mast and boom cradles off of the tow vessel before they headed home.

Wednesday morning up bright and early to remove the boom and get the mast ready for removal. Thursday remove the mast at 110 feet she is a beast and it is much easier said than done. There is more hydraulic, electrical and electronics sprouting out the mast base than wiring in most people’s houses. Once it was out it became a bit of project to get her horizontal as she is so butt heavy but after a while she was in the cradle and we were stripping her halyards out. I had to leave the yard at 3pm my flight was at 5:45pm.

The week had flown by and I was on the plane bound for London to surprise my father. Every year for many years the five Perrin’s had sailed Santana (an Express 27) around the Isle Of Wight in the Round the Island Race. This tradition had fallen by the wayside when mum had a particularly bad bout of sea sickness and Daniel (my older brother) and I had moved to the US full time. Since then we had purchased a new Schumacher design a Capo 30 also called Santana. This year Dad’s health has been suffering and he now he only does one race a year on the boat – the Round the Island. So the idea took shape back in March – I called Daniel and asked him if he could take Friday off and fly from New Jersey to London.

Friday morning Dad still has no idea of our surprise. Myles (my little brother) is organizing the crew he told Dad he was bringing David (trim) and Anne (foredeck). Daniel and I are standing on the curbside at Heathrow and my mother arrives in her Fiat 500 to drive us down to Hamble. We get to the boat Dad is off somewhere and we hide down below. Dad’s rigger comes down below and is surprised by two random people sitting on the couch. Dad eventually gets to the boat we are covering our mouths from giggling so much. He walks into the companionway and looks down at us. Now if he had been a woman he would have screamed but Dad just got a big smile on his face and asked ‘what are you doing here?’. Well Dad this is David and I am Anne!

Needless to say we were jetlagged out of our mind. We had a 6am start so Daniel and I stayed on the boat and were still in our PJ’s as we came down Southampton water. Daniel did a great job seeing as he hasn’t sailed in 4 or 5 years on trim. Myles of course helmed superbly, Chris put us in the right place tactically, Dad continued to smile all day despite parental abuse from his kids, Neil did a great job trimming the main and I between sail changes had a nap behind my sunglasses. It was stunning weather for the UK with bright blue skis and sun and by 8:30am we were almost halfway through the race.

We took a pontoon in Cowes and met my mother for the obligatory fish and chips at Corrie’s cabin on Cowes High Street before loading the boat up and heading back to Hamble. Daniel and I retired for a nap below and did the clean up until 9pm. Up at 6:30am Sunday for a quick trip back to Heathrow and our flights back to the US for work on Monday. The result of 2nd in class and 51st out of 1459 was quite frankly icing on the cake. Dad’s email says it all

‘Thank You all so much for the greatest surprise! Starting with Friday night we had a great time and sat gave us a splendid result to share in my special year You are the greatest, I personally was so thrilled to be able to get around the island and with you all doing all the work I just needed to say I have a great family!’

Oh well – well done – Spinnaker Cup

May 25, 2013   

Unfortunately a weather window has opened for me to take the big blue boat south to Long Beach so instead of flying out the sail on 40 Degrees in Rhode Island at the Atlantic Cup I have stayed here in Mill Valley for the weekend. The boat is ready to go and we are waiting for the tug to get up the coast – she is now off Monterey. This also meant I wasn’t able to do Spinnaker Cup. However, Racing Yacht Management client Tiburon came 1st in division and 3rd overall. Well done guys. The course record was broken and it was a wild ride downwind by all accounts. Wish I didn’t miss it. RYM spent the week prepping the boat to comply with the offshore rules including category 2 ISAF for the upcoming Coastal Cup.

The race council at SFYC did a superb job of on the water pre start safety checks including ensuring that all crew were wearing lifejackets with crotch straps attached and being worn. An entire crew had to be reminded that crotch straps in their bags were not of use should they fall overboard. Another crew had forgotten their lifesling so had to quickly return to their dock to retrieve theirs. Thank you SFYC race volunteers for encouraging safety offshore.

One of the boats with three SFYC ISAF trained crew aboard had a MOB off Pigeon Point and recovered the person in 5 minutes. They credit the training to safely recovering the MOB. Brought a smile to my face and makes all the volunteer hours well worth it.

Aldo Alessio

May 20, 2013   

Racing Yacht Management clients filled the podium at Aldo Alessio Regatta in SF. Well done Adam, Shannon, Barry, Steve, Bruce, Rolf. What RYM did on the boats made no difference to their winning ways that is for sure.

I was aboard a new client TNT in the IRC division. IRC seems to be struggling in the Bay and has been for some time so we were all lumped into one class.

Artemis tragedy AC72

May 12, 2013   

In response to the numerous forum posts online Artemis racing released the following statement
‘Artemis Racing is in the process of conducting a thorough review and analysis of this week’s accident. As a part of this review, Artemis Racing is sharing and exchanging data and information with concurrent work being performed by America’s Cup and the San Francisco Police Department. Until this process is complete, any conclusions being made about the events that led to the boat’s capsizing and its tragic outcome are pure speculation. Out of respect for Bart’s memory and his family, we ask that the broader sailing community and others reserve judgment until all the facts are known, and not persist in unnecessary rumor. We again thank everyone for their continued support and thoughts during this difficult time.’

There are only a handful of sailors in the world that know what it is like to sail these boats and an internal review by the people who understand the monsters is the only way to do it. The multitude of posts are pure speculation, as is what I am about to write. I have been asked what I think went wrong. I have never sailed these boats and never will I have no knowledge of the conditions aboard the boat. However, there are a few things that I believe will be reviewed in the accident investigations.

1) The engineering/scantlings of the boat.
2) The issue of entrapment – it might be found that ironically having no flotation device is a safer option than having any. The type of knives on the crew members body.
3) How to get larger amounts of emergency air aboard the boats. There is a problem with the boats being so fast that rescue divers might not be able to get there quickly enough. Teams might also need as many rescue divers as sailors to make sure every sailor is gotten to quickly.
4) Development of a single standard operating procedure for crashes followed by all teams. There are a lot of safety measures in place so maybe there are already enough and the procedure wasn’t at fault but I am sure that will be investigated so the all the teams learn.

Maybe infrared cameras would be more efficient at finding sailors quickly instead of a search. However, I am not an expert and I do know water shows up as black so maybe that wouldn’t work. In the below picture you can clearly see my outline when I was helping during thermal scanning of Darling two weeks ago.

One year anniversary written by Bryan Chong

April 14, 2013   

There’s nothing in life more absolutely devastating than the loss of a loved one. It creates a sudden vacancy once occupied by a meaningful connection, awakens us to our own mortality, and forces us to evaluate who we are, what we’ve done and where we’re headed. For the family, friends and survivors, the April 14, 2012 Low Speed Chase accident at the Farallones changed our lives forever.
Alexander Graham Bell said, “When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
The door that opened for me catapulted me out of my old life and into a new one. It made me reflect on the decisions I’ve made in life and led me to readjust my priorities. It motivated me to stop procrastinating on things I’d do when I had “enough time.” Instead of returning to work, I went on the road with my wonderful wife and infant son. We spent the summer driving 10,000 miles in our yellow Westy Vanagon around the West Coast visiting friends and places I’d always longed to see – Yellowstone, the Tetons, Glacier, Pikes Peak, Telluride and Mt. Rushmore, just to name a few. I finally saw a concert at Red Rocks and a rodeo in South Dakota.
Then in September, instead of going home like responsible adults, we flew to Europe and kept adventuring until we ran out of good weather. All journeys eventually end, and in late January we finally came back to Marin. The trip afforded me the priceless chance to spend a year bonding with my wife and son. It also gave me time to reflect on life, the accident and those I’d lost. It was the trip of a lifetime and I wish I could have shared it with all my Low Speed Chase crewmates.
Not a day passes that I don’t think about what went wrong that day at the Farallones and what can be done to prevent something like this from happening again. I was by no means an expert in safety before the accident, but since I’ve been home numerous sailing groups have invited me to share my thoughts on this topic. I always bring my tether and lifejacket with me to emphasize the basics, but I prefer to focus on the fundamental concept that safety only exists when everyone becomes a leader.
Safety leadership isn’t always easy. It takes a willingness to speak up when others don’t. It’s choosing the safety of yourself and your crewmates over pride, appearance, comfort, costs or an engraved silver cup. It’s leadership by example and can be as simple as showing up early to make sure the safety equipment’s primed, double checking a teammate’s PFD cartridge and tether, tossing your favorite sailing hat in the water to force an MOB exercise, buying your friend a Spinlock lifejacket for their birthday, or setting the expectation that you’ll only crew on boats that take safety seriously. It’s investing in yourself by attending training, sharing what you learned with others, and following through when on the water.
Over the past year, I’ve learned that sailors aren’t the only ones shifting their attention to developing a better safety culture. Tuesday morning, I spoke to the 200 person executive leadership team at PG&E, our local power company. Last year they lost five people to accidents that might have been prevented with the proper use of safety equipment.
I now routinely find myself in safety discussions in which I’m called upon to offer my opinion. I’m still not an expert on all the safety practices, but I do see three areas where we can start focusing.
1. Resolve to be a leader on safety issues. You don’t need to own a boat or be the most experienced sailor. You only need to care about the people aboard.
2. Take a sailing safety class. I recommend finding an interactive one with a small class size that requires attendees to calculate minimum depths using wave forecasts, set off flares, cut rigging, extinguish fires and enter the water with full gear.
3. If you’re in a leadership position for a yacht club or sailing team, recruit a safety instructor to host a seminar for your people.
In 2007, Ashley Perrin and Paul Cunningham, who both specialize in preparing boats for offshore sailing, attempted to host an ISAF certified safety training class. Not enough people registered. Fast forward to today. In the 12 months since the Low Speed Chase accident, they’ve hosted seven classes at the San Francisco Yacht Club, all filled to capacity. Are we evolving as a sailing community? I’d like to believe we are.
A door has opened for sailors to embrace safety. Many have already walked through that door and taken leadership roles on their boats. I’ve seen others pulled through by spouses demanding they attend a safety class before their next ocean race.
This weekend, as we remember those we lost at the Farallones, let’s also keep in mind that this is our moment to cement a culture of safety by continuing to invest in training and equipment that will save lives. I truly wish for the memory of Alan, Marc, Jordan, Alexis and Elmer to be the spark that transforms this community of sailors.
Be safe.
Bryan Chong

Choosing a life raft

February 20, 2013   

The rescue early last week of Alain Delord, the French single-hander whose boat was dismasted and holed Jan. 18 in the Southern Ocean, after he spent three days in a life raft offers a graphic reminder of the importance of choosing a raft that matches your voyage.

In the age of EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Beacons), it’s easy to lulled into thinking that prolonged life raft ordeals like the one described by Steve Callahan in his classic tale “Adrift” are a thing of the past. Had it not been for the assistance of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, who dropped Delord a better raft with food, water, and a survival suit, the 63-year-old singlehander might not be alive today.
Delord was eventually picked up by a cruise ship that detoured more than
700 miles to rescue him.

Life raft survival kits used by the recreational yachting community can generally be divided into five categories based, in part, on the distance in miles the yacht will be sailing from shore. Types of emergency survival packs include ISO Pack I, ISO Pack II, SOLAS B Pack, Offshore Pack (Type E), and Coastal Pack. — Practical Sailor, read on:

A good cause with some great raffle prizes

February 12, 2013   

Rob died just over one year ago from lung cancer– an otherwise very healthy 58 year-old guy who never smoked.

Help us raise money for the #1 cancer killer — lung cancer by bidding on some amazing items donate by Rob’s friends and associates. This online auction is part of the fundraising efforts of the 1st Rob Moore Memorial Regatta, being held on February 16, 2013 in conjunction with the CYC Midwinter Regatta. Jointly organized by the Corinthian Yacht Club and the Bay Area Racing Federation, all proceeds from this auction will go directly to the National Lung Cancer Partnership to support lung cancer research and awareness.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »