Why buy a boat and do this live-aboard cruising?
Once upon a time, this was a common question. Finally, I may have found an answer.
I’ve noticed that when hanging around with boaters and cruisers, they don’t ask this question very often. They might ask it rhetorically as a conversation-starter. But I never had to explain cruising to a cruiser.
Non-boaters — of course — are curious about the boat thing. And I haven’t really had a good answer.
Now there’s this: http://rubyandpearl.blogspot.com
CA carefully entered Mom’s logs from her trip around the US in 2002. Scanned the pictures. Ran the old cassette tapes through some transcription software to get the spoken word record.
Wow. All of it. Breakfast in Depoe Bay, OR, on May 5th. CA entered all of it.
As you can see, Mom enjoyed a good long trip. Someplace that took some work to get to.
I think CA should have called this Harriet’s Getting Gas, since that’s the preamble on a lot of the audio recordings.
Two women in a van isn’t the same thing as traveling on Red Ranger at all. Hotels and motels are important when you’re motoring. Since Red Ranger was our home, dropping the hook for a week or a month wasn’t a problem for us.
But for Ruby and Pearl finding Wi-Fi, food, and shelter was a very big deal.
Dad wasn’t quite so colorful, but he didn’t want grass to grow under his feet, either. He took the family of six on some long trips.
Why buy a boat and go cruising?
It appears to run in the family.
If we hadn’t dropped the hook ashore to make some bank, we’d be planning our migration. However, since we’re not going anywhere, what we have as an alternative is armchair sailing. Here’s our armchair trip to Florida.
October is when we have the Whitby Rendezvous. The rendezvous is in Galesville Maryland. Previously, it was a two day trip from Deltaville. When we move Red Ranger to Herrington Harbor, it will be a day sail.
This is followed by the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis. This is a wonderful day sail from Galesville.
Then the Hampton Snowbirds Rendezvous. This is about three days down the Bay. We can make it four days if we stop in Poquoson.
They’re great events, helpful preparation for the trip south. And the travel up and down the Bay is the perfect shakedown. In the past we’ve done significant repairs along the way.
We like to spend a week or so in Norfolk on the hook by Hospital Point. We also need to top off the fuel. The trip from Deltaville to Annapolis to Hampton is can be about 40 hours of motoring; we would burn about 50 gallons of diesel.
It takes about week to run down the ditch to Beaufort. The docks are expensive, but there’s an anchorage by the Coast Guard station that’s wide open and sets the stage for jumping outside. We’d spend at least a few days there topping off fuel and water.
In previous years, we went inside the ICW to Wrightsville Beach. If we go outside, it’s 80 nm to the Masonboro inlet. That’s about 16 hours — too far for a day sail. But if we leave about 14:00 from Beaufort and make 5 kts all night, we could be there in the morning. The alternative is three days in the ditch.
For a night journey like this, we really need flat seas. This usually means almost no wind, or — at most — less than 10 knots in exactly the right direction: out of the SE or NW.
We love Wrightsville. We’ve spent weeks there. But it gets cold and we need to press south. It’s 110 nm to Charleston, 18 to 22 hours. The problem is that we need to get down the Cape Fear river: it’s another 25 nm: a 5 hour slog. So, the general policy is wait for a fair current, pull the anchor up just before nautical twilight starts (about 48 minutes before dawn) and plan to arrive in Charleston sometime just after dawn.
Since we get to do much of this trip in daylight, flat seas aren’t required, but they’re helpful. We’re willing to deal with winds up to 15 kts, but the seas need to be flat. Anything above 3’ can lead to sea-sickness, especially if it’s an overcast night or there’s no moon.
A dawn arrival is glorious. The Charleston light is visible at least 26 nm away. That’s a solid four hours of watching it work its way higher and higher above the horizon. I get to watch that during the tail end of my watch. CA follows it during her watch. We can often see the lights on the buoys marking the channel as we get closer. Plus, of course, the shipping.
Then the sun comes up and we can see the shoreline.
At this point, we’ve done at most 46 hours under power in flat seas. That’s about 60 gallons of fuel. We’re ready to refill the tank in Charleston. And eat Shrimp and Grits. And perhaps wait for Thanksgiving before pressing south.
It’s about 145 nm from Charleston to St. Mary’s Georgia. This is a plump 24 to 29 hours. We’re (again) waiting for flat seas and fair winds to make the jump. This is dawn departure aiming for a mid-day arrival at St. Mary’s.
Then it’s time for a longer break. Hiking around Cumberland Island. Perhaps visiting Fernandina Beach. It’s a 20 mile day sail to the St. John’s River. From there it’s a 30 mile day sail to St. Augustine.
If we play our cards right, we’ve burned another 40 gallons or so of fuel, and we’re far enough south that Winter is Fun.
Bahamas or Coconut Grove?
Long, long ago, from a city far, far away…
CA and I enjoyed looking at boats and marinas. In the years BC (Before a Craft), we’d make excuses to visit marinas just because boats were so cool.
There’s a basic aesthetic of shape to the hull and topsides. There’s the technical aspect of deck fittings and hardware. And there’s a fitness for purpose in the hydrodynamic and aerodynamic worlds. And they’re cool. Even when we knew nothing about boats, there’s a level of supreme coolness to them.
When the stakes were low, it was big fun.
Now, however, the stakes have been raised. Our essential home, Red Ranger, is down in Deltaville while we’re working up here in McLean. It’s a right long drive down to Deltaville of a Saturday. And Winter is Coming™. We need to find a new home for Red Ranger.
Back in ’06 or ’07 we settled on A Idea, and started trying to shop. At the time, it was just A Idea and a poor marina decision was inconsequential. We’d seen Annapolis. We’d seen San Diego. We knew what sailing nirvana looked like. And we knew there were waiting lists for slips. We weren’t sure how to make the decisions.
We used spreadsheets to compare and contrast every nuance as we tried to come to grips with all the unknowns.
Its hard to move forward with A Idea, when we’re unclear on what we’re doing. And — at the time — we didn’t even have a boat. So it’s really a kind of three-part shopping expedition. To find out what’s important, then find a boat and then find a slip. But we’d like to know approximately where that slip was before buying a about. Otherwise we might wind up settling for a slip so far away that the boat merely languished. Chicken? Egg?
Once upon a time we flew to Baltimore and spent a long weekend driving around looking at Marinas. We weren’t sure what we wanted, but it wasn’t there. We looked at Norfolk and it seemed like a reasonable compromise between what we thought might be a good idea and reality of holding down a day job, finding a boat, fitting it out, and taking off to purse A Idea.
We created spreadsheets with lists of marinas and details details details about each marina. We sat in the car after each tour and filled in the cells on the spreadsheet. We wanted to be sure we didn’t do something completely stupid.
We created hugely detailed spreadsheets when nothing was at stake.
The Bold New World
Now, we’re shopping with a few more years of experience. And a boat. There’s a lot more at stake.
The conversations are suddenly very focused.
Us: “42ʹ overall, 13ʹ6″ beam, 6ʹdraft, 30A shore power.”
Them: “Well…” followed by a sales pitch.
That’s sort of it. We’ve seen a few marinas, and we now know what we need. And the bottom line is that we don’t need much.
I rebuilt the engine cooling system at anchor in a river. See “Heat Exchangers Exchanged.” We’re sort of competent at some things.
[Let’s not get carried away here. We’ve met people who’ve pulled their prop shafts while in the water. Yes. They opened a giant hole in the boat and jammed a plug into it without losing any parts or sinking. We’ve met people who’ve redesigned and rebuilt their rudder. When it comes to self-sufficiency, we’re barely moving the needle.]
The marinas (and yacht clubs) seem to compete on amenities. They compete on what we want.
At the boat show, we talked to a guy from a totally Posh Yacht Club. The Whitby Rendezvous is held at a small yacht club’s facility. It was a remarkable contrast between West River Sailing Club and Posh Yacht Club.
- WRSC has a bar/kitchen and a two rooms with some furniture. Heads. Cinderblock showers. Boat Launch. Dock. Moorings. No actual staff.
- Posh Yacht Club had a giant bar, a full-time chef, three huge rooms, patio, outdoor fireplace, pool. Posh heads with tiled showers. Four docks. Four grill and picnic table pads. A guy who appeared to be a paid concierge and (perhaps) a secretary or receptionist of some kind. A $75/month minimum at the bar/dining area. Fuel. Pump out. A membership fee above and beyond dock fees.
- On and off, we've been at Deltaville Marina. A lounge. Heads with fiberglass stall showers. A pool. A gazebo with grills and a picnic table. Four docks. A paid dock master. Fuel. Pump out. Adjacent to a top-shelf boatyard: Deltaville Boatyard. Walking distance from Ace Hardware and West Marine.
That seems to be the spectrum: from approximately nothing to just about everything. We spent some time the Ortega Landing marina. It was comparable to the Posh Yacht Club, without the membership fee. We’ve spent time at anchor, as well as city docks (with almost no amenities) and other tiny, family-operated marinas that are little more than docks in a creek.
Besides the fabulous Posh Yacht Club, we’ve looked at some marinas more in line with Deltaville Marina.
How do we decide?
More nerdy spreadsheet action?
Actually, no. We no longer need the crutch of a formal decision-making process.
We’re down to this:
Sturdy Docks with safe walkway access to carry heavy things down to the boat?
Nearby hardware stores or West Marine (or both.)
Nearby marine services for the things we can’t easily do ourselves:
- engine, transmission, and fuel;
- complex structural fiberglass;
- complex rigging — mostly dealing the masts themselves;
- sail loft.
Since we have a working fuel tank, I may take on the center fuel tank as a long-running project next winter. Or. I may hire diesel tech to rework the fuel plumping and add a filter/transfer pump.
Seems to have everything we need and only a little of stuff we might merely want.
Bonus: they’re an Eco-Lifestyle Resort. This has a lot of appeal.
We’ve moved our ground base again. After about 16 months in Richmond, we’re off to Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.
CA bought about 16 boxes from U-Haul: a mixture of medium and small. She bought some tape, too: the brown paper tape is better than the clear.
We don’t have too much that’s left “loose.” There are some things on the closet shelves, some things in the head. The galley supplies involve the largest number of boxes and some complex scheduling. Most everything else is kept in a container.
In the picture, you can see two Ikea Kallax which have four plastic baskets in a shelf. We stacked the baskets on a hand truck and carried the empty shelf. Also we have two Ikea Algot which have four drawers: we can just carry them around. They’re a little awkward for a long-distance lift, but everything stays in them.
The most complex part is the last few days before the move. We want some galley supplies, enough stuff in the head to shower, and enough bedding to be comfortable. But everything not on that short list are boxed during those last few days.
Moving Red Ranger
When we moved the boat, the berths were always available, the galley could be used, and the heads were in full service. The complexity of leaving two just towels out wasn’t part of the planning.
When moving the apartment, the last things to get packed are the first things to get unpacked: the minimal set of galley supplies, head, and berth.
Since downsizing the house — back in 2009 — she's gotten really good at moving.
We went from Niskayuna to Norfolk on Boissevain Ave. Then to Manteo Street. Then from Manteo to Red Ranger. Each step involved less and less stuff.
Red Ranger through something like 4,000 miles of anchorages.
Then from Red Ranger to Exchange Place in Richmond. And now to Tyson’s Corner.
And things got discarded. CA made trips to Goodwill to pare down some things we’d accumulated over the past year-plus that we didn’t really need.
It took about 90 minutes to move stuff from apartment to lobby and then lobby to truck. The staging allowed us to be sure the apartment was empty and clean. It also allowed us to consider the whole pile of stuff as we loaded the truck.
We did the same thing at the other end. We moved everything from loading dock to the vestibule for the freight elevator. Then we moved everything from there to the apartment. It was a slightly longer walk, but the elevator was bigger so we took fewer trips up and down.
We started at about 08:00 and had finished by 17:00. Here’s the breakdown: an hour to get the truck; total of 3 hours of shifting cargo in our out; 2 hours of driving; an hour for lunch; an hour to return the truck; about an hour of “other” activity.
We actually run a timer on the cargo shifting just to see how long it actually took us. She had allocated two hours. We did each leg in 90 minutes.
Monday, I’ll find my new work space here in the office in Tyson’s. CA will start doing “1womanwalking” to explore the neighborhood and look for a job.
In no particular order.
The Foldaway. The idea is to replace the transom ladder with a foldaway that hangs from the toe rail between the lifeline gates.
ECH2O Tec Watermaker. We’re looking specifically at the belt-driven, modular unit. We can put the pressure vessel in the hanging lockers. The control panel can be put behind the companion ladder or in the galley.
A FilterBoss FPM 60 Fuel Polishing Module. This is essential for working with the central fuel tank. If we recommission this tank, we need to use the polisher to transfer fuel to the starboard saddle tank. We can also simply polish fuel periodically from either tank.
A NavPod RMX 4800 to hold a new BMG Zeus Touch chart plotter.
Did I mention the B&G instruments? I’m (currently) set on the following:
- A Zeus 9″ chart plotter. (Our current plotter is 5″)
- A new wind instrument.
- A new depth/speed/temp traducer.
This will replace the failing DMI instruments. It allows me to put in an NMEA 2000 backbone. Once this works, I can look at
- A Triton Pilot Display
- The Computer, Compass, and Rudder Position Reference.
This will replace the Benmar control head. I think that the high-current B&G computer allows us to keep the rugged hydraulics and merely replace the control. I think there’s a linear position sensor that clamps onto the hydraulic ram.
This allows the existing Standard Horizon CP180i to move down to the nav station. The Triton display will allow us to see autopilot details that the Standard Horizon can’t show.
As a weird side-note, the old chart plotter is about 5″×7″×2″. It seems to have some kind of VESA/FDMI MIS-B standard M4 screws that small flat panel TV’s have. I doubt the holes fit the 75mm or 100mm standards. The wires (and a bracket) pop out the back, so most TV backing plates won’t work without 1.5″ thick standoffs.
The old chart plotter is much thicker than any tablet, so a simple tablet mount won’t work, either. As part of this upgrade, I think I'll have to make some kind of backing plate out of Starboard to fit a tablet-sized (and thickness) bracket. I don’t want to cut a giant hole in the nav station. I will put the Triton display in the hole occupied by the existing wind-speed display.
When we pull out the DMI instruments, we’ll have four big instrument holes to fill on the forward edge of the cockpit. I might try to actually glass over the holes. It involves putting a backing plate behind each them, carefully grinding them to be conical, then taping over the hole with several layers of wetted-out fabric to create a solid structure. I’d then have to sand it all fair and apply a layer of gelcoat (or maybe just paint) that more-or-less matches the existing cockpit.
Or, I could get a piece of teak-veneer plywood and screw it over the holes.
When we’re sailing, the prop is left spinning — freewheeling. It appears that either some transmissions say “never let this happen” or sailors have determined through the rumor mill that this is bad. The idea is that the transmission has no pressure to circulate fluid and this causes wear.
The Velvet Drive manual says this:
There’s no damage from letting the prop spin.
(In spite of this, Red Ranger has a Sarns PropLock brake. Similar to the existing ShaftLok brake. We have the brake shoe backed off far enough that it does nothing.)
Can the freewheeling be put to use?
http://www.sailnet.com/forums/miscellaneous/22098-propshaft-alternator.html They talk about a Valeo alternator that works are low RPM’s.
Some folks call this “propellor regeneration,” a “shaft generator,” or a “prop shaft alternator.” From what I can gather, it’s not terribly efficient because of some hydrodynamic concerns regarding pushing vs. being pulled.
But. It can turn propellor motion into electrical power rather than uselessly heating up the transmission.
Here are some more pictures of an installation.
Some Design Considerations
It appears that the issues involve (1) mounting the alternator with a proper belt tensioning arm, (2) fitting an appropriately-sized wheel onto the shaft, (3) supplying a switchable voltage to activate the field coils. A self-exciting alternator is a permanent drag; a switchable alternator can be disconnected when trying to drift in light airs. It also needs to be disconnected when running under power: there’s no reason to have the extra alternator running when under engine power, it’s just more drag.
Since alternator fans are unidirectional, the fan will only properly cool the alternator in one direction. We only want this alternator to work when the shaft is spinning in reverse. When the shaft is moving forward we have to be sure the exciter circuit is off or we’ll bake the alternator. We might want to rig some kind of safety interlock based on the transmission’s neutral safety switch. We should only be able to power the alternator’s exciter when the shifter is in neutral.
How big a wheel for the alternator itself?
Generally, the alternator RPM’s need to be over 1,000 to generate a reasonable level of output. A 12” pitch propellor will (ideally) turn 1 revolution when dragged through 12” of water. Banging along at 6 knots (437,480 inches per hr) should turn the shaft at something close to 600 RPM.
Sanity Check. We use a 2:1 transmission, so that means 1200 engine RPM’s should yield 6 kt. We often have to dial the RPM's it up a bit higher to overcome friction and other losses. So this 600 RPM at the shaft seems right.
If we use 5:1 ratio of wheels, we can get good voltage all the way down to 2 knots. For 1 knot, we’d need 10:1 wheels. Below 1 kt, we might want to turn off the exciter circuit: we’re barely moving as it is. If we put a 12.5″ wheel on the alternator, we can just put the belt on the 1.25″ shaft itself — no wheel needed.
When we size an alternator for an engine, we have to consider the number of horsepower involved. There’s a direct relationship between power generated and horsepower consumed. Volts × Amps = Watts. 746 Watts = 1 HP. If we want to produce 100A at nearly 15V, we’re putting an additional 2 HP load on our engine.
When dragging the prop through the water, we’re losing 2 HP of forward power. A Whitby (23,000 lb) sailing at 2 kt (202 ft/min) is creating about 140 HP of power. The 2 HP alternator load is a negligible 1.4%.
It’s only an 80 HP engine. Where does this “extra” power come from? AFAIK, the answer is inertia. Our 80 HP engine can accelerate us to a comfy 6 kt (420 HP overall) because water is essentially frictionless. Water is, however, relatively adhesive (“wet”) and this tends to hold us back. More importantly, water is heavy: we must displace about 23,000 pounds of water up (creating wake) so that we can go forward into the space the water used to occupy. Once we’re at a cruising speed, we are adding 80 HP to push water aside so that we maintain 420 HP overall. We can watch our 340 HP of built-up inertia bleed away when we kill the engine.
CA did it again. Another wonderful rendezvous. Food. Friends. Fellowship. Fascinating Stories.
We had only two Whitby’s at the docks. The nor’easter and Hurricane Joaquin intimidated many of us, keeping folks away from the West River Sail Club docks.
Here’s a summary of what we did:
Monday 5 October
- Crews arrive during the day; lunch on your own; boat visiting.
- Social hour: cash bar, hors d’oeuvres provided by the Rita T.
- Supper — from our caterer, Real Food.
Tuesday 6 October
- Coffee and Continental breakfast
- Welcome/Introductions/Boat Card exchange
- Latest and Greatest Communication and Applications. Your iPad and Tablet can do a lot of useful things.
- Writing for Fun and Profit
- Patrick Tewes of Marine Electric Systems, LLC
- Davis Craven of Waterway Diesel Center
- Water Tank Replacement on Joie de Vivre. Removing the old aluminum tanks and replacing them with Dura-Weld Fabricated Tanks.
- Center Fuel Tank Replacement on Allegria. Removing the old (leaky) aluminum tank and replacing it with a new aluminum tank with a better cap and no foam to trap moisture against the aluminum.
- Social Hour (cash bar)
Wednesday 7 October
- Coffee and Continental breakfast
- Cruise Director's Corner. Solutions to a number of cruising problems. Cooking. Cleaning. Guest Accommodations.
- Cruising the Western Coast of FL. Popular destinations.
- Sales info and Trends — The State of the Fleet
- Whitby Brewer Sailboats Association business meeting. CA, Terry, and Scott were re-elected unanimously.
- Social Hour (cash bar)
Thursday 8 October
- Coffee (leftovers, if there are any) and Clean Up
- Crews Depart. Hugs and Farewells. Plans to meet again.
The chance to connect with the other Whitby (and Brewer) owners is a wonderful thing. There’s a lot to learn from the other folks.
The Center Tank Issue
We’re going to see what we can do about our center fuel tank. Leaving it empty is not a good option: more experienced sailors have pointed out that a Whitby handles better with a full 80 gallon (about 600 pounds) load of fuel in the keel. It’s only 7.5% of the keel weight, so it doesn’t seem like it would be noticeable. An empty tank, however, is buoyant to the tune of about 680 pounds; so we’re talking a shift from -8.5% to +7.5%. A 16% swing in weight becomes a far more serious consideration.
We can fill the center tank with water. We have to be careful because we’ll eventually want to pump it back out again when we try to rebuild the center tank. We don’t want to have any of our fuel system contaminated with any water.
As an interim solution, I may be able to work out a better dam to redirect water around the tank. We can then fill it with diesel and see if it gets contaminated with water or not. The weight is helpful. Fixing the fuel plumbing and sensors is always beneficial. Right now, the tank is completely disconnected — no pickup, no return, no filler, and no vent.
Dee’s pictures of assembling a proper fiberglass cap over the tank was instructive. If the tank is capped, seawater can’t rust through the cap and contaminate the fuel. A cap over the tank can be installed by hauling the engine. It can also be done by cutting away the keel and replacing the tank.
Most of the job is pretty straight-forward. Most of it.
Removing the old tank means locating the boundary of the tank and cutting into the fiberglass. This is only the first step. Then the foam needs to be scraped out. The aluminum tank won't lift out easily: it needs to be cut up and pried out in pieces. It’s a lot of messy Sawzall and crowbar work.
The space needs to be cleaned and painted. The bottom needs to be filled to bring it up create a usable flat floor with a lower drain sump under it. The choice is sand (and gravel) mixed with epoxy. The low spot can have a couple of bilge pump strainers dropped into it. It will be inaccessible when everything’s assembled, so a spare strainer and hose makes sense.
Some folks have put the sump under the middle of the tank. I’m inclined to put the sump at the stern end of the tank. If the tank is made 4”-6” shorter than the available space, I think this void might allow some access to a bilge strainer that would be positioned under the tank.
Once the old tank has been removed a cap can be installed that will direct all bilge water over the top of the tank. More importantly, a dam should also be fabricated to protect the access panel from seawater.
One possible modification to Dee’s design is to use rectangular FRP tube stock to create a structure so that water can flow through the tubes over the tank cap and around the access panel. I think that two tubes on each edge and a flat sheet in between would be ideal. A dam at the forward end would assure that water is directed into the tubes and can’t get to the top of the tank.
A new tank can then be designed to fit the available space. It’s about 80 gallons, and the new tank’s top access panel has to precisely match the opening under the engine. An aluminum tank can be covered in Petit Aluma Protect or similar product to prevent future corrosion.
We don’t want to foam the tank in: it’s far better to use something like rectangular FRP tubes. These can be stuck to the tank with thickened epoxy. They can also be stuck to the walls of the keel to both keep the tank in place as well as support the wall of the keel.
A custom polypropylene tank can be used instead of an aluminum tank. I’m intrigued with plastic because it doesn’t require any barrier coat to protect it. Nor does it require a cap to keep bilge water off of it. It does require more support than an aluminum tank does: we’d have to assemble a fair amount of FRP channel to cover an approximately 4’ x 4’ surface of each tank. That’s about 96” of 2”-wide FRP channel to completely block in one side of the tank. We can’t simply bond a support to polypropylene, so we need to wedge the tank in firmly rather than use adhesives.
The Hard Part
Once the tank is in, and the keel skin glued into place, then the really difficult parts begin.
The seam where we cut the skin needs to be ground down at a 12:1 or 15:1 ratio. This will lead to about an 8” swath on each side of the seam. This will expose over 20 layers of glass. The filler will use a combination of fiberglass fabric — something like 3 sets of four layers — roving, cloth, mat, and cloth. The roving is considered to be equivalent to about three layers of cloth or mat. Each layer is smaller than the previous. We’d start with a 16” wide piece and after 12 layers, we’d be putting on a 4” wide piece.
Dee says this is a three-person job. One person mixes epoxy. The next wets out a strip carefully and rolls it into a cylinder. The third unrolls that cylinder into the hull, using a small paint roller to mash the material it flat and air-bubble free. If the team works quickly, they can get back to where they started when the previous layer is still a little tacky. If it sets up hard, there’s a break while they sand it down to make a rough surface for bonding.
One the glass is in place, we’re down to an easier jobs of sanding, fairing, barrier-coating, priming, and painting.
It’s a lot of work. It gets us 80 more gallons of fuel. And possibly much better boat handling by trading some buoyancy for ballast.
Useful resources. Everyone should have them. We would describe them as indispensable. Mandatory. Don’t leave home without it.
BTW. Check out the sample page: http://www.onthewaterchartguides.org/icw-anchorguides/#tab-id-11
Yes, that’s us in Hampton, Virginia. And yes, it’s a truly great anchorage.
We were at the Hampton Snowbirds Rendezvous. I also rebuilt the engine raw water cooling system at this anchorage.
We’ll be at the Whitby Rendezvous. And we’ll stop by the Sailboat Show to look at new instruments for Red Ranger.
This race is huge. Huge. World-Wide. Organizers said to expect 400,000 people. We were confused by that, but it turned out to be the total number of people attending all of the races. (Not the number of visitors to Richmond looking for hotel rooms.) And apparently, we blew that estimate away.
Opening Ceremonies on Brown’s Island. A little marching around with flags. A little music. Some speeches. A pleasant summer evening.
The week of racing ended with Elite Women on Saturday and Elite Men on Sunday. Oh. My. Goodness.
On Friday the Brompton folks sponsored a race where you had to dress for work (coat, tie) run to your Brompton. Unfold it. And then race the circuit.
Some of the time trials and various age groups involve a number of different routes. The elite races were on the primary “Road Circuit”: a 10-mile loop through town.
For the elite men, the final race on Sunday was 16 laps. Over 160 miles at an average speed of over 20 mph. Insanity. And don’t forget the cobblestones.
Of course, the streets are closed. There are barricades everywhere.
Some streets (Main, Broad, and Monument) are being used in both directions. This means barricades along the sides and an extra barricade down the middle to separate the two halves of the track from each other.
A proper international crowd has assembled. There must be racers from 100 countries. We’ve seen serious bike racing fans from Norway, Ecuador, Colombia, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Sweden, England, and Denmark. I’m sure there were more.
Fans are draped in national colors. Or sometimes just wearing a team T-shirt. Or a team bike hat. There are “trade” teams as well as national teams. A bunch of fans are rooting for “Sky”. We had to ask. It’s a British TV network.
The televised coverage on the weekend was fun.
I’ve watched my share of Tour de France coverage on the TV (back when I had a TV.) It’s very scenic, but it’s some place in France I couldn’t even find on a map without the ESPN narration and commentary.
Glance at the Jumbotron TV in the fan zone, and we knew exactly where they were. Out Broad. Left on Belvidere. Right to head west on Monument. A very long scenic run down the flat divided road. This is the place to attack before the insane U-turn at Davis Ave. Then back part-way on the other side of Monument.
If you didn’t get your attack in, you’re stuck for a few blocks. The course goes right on Lombardy to shoot down to Main, then a hard left onto Belvidere to go back up to Broad. After only eight blocks on the wide, flat Broad there's a hard right to shoot down 2nd street to take a left onto Main.
They come flying east down the long hill of Main from 2nd street to Canal street, right past the front door to our building. I watched the first few laps of the men’s race from here. They have twelve blocks (almost 2km) downhill ending in a hard right onto Canal. This is a place to attach, knowing there’s that right turn where everyone will bunch up. There are just three blocks on Canal before the hard left onto Dock street.
Dock street is as flat as Monument. Wide open, along the old canal, under the railroad tracks. If you’re going to attack, that’s another opening. At Rockett’s Landing, there’s a U-turn on Nicholson back up to Main.
And then the pain begins.
The first cobblestone hill is the switchback path up Libby Hill. We watched the peloton charge up the hill. The noise of the fans is outrageous. They had bands. Food trucks. Big TV. Announcer. Celebrities like former Olympic Gold Medalist
They come roaring out of the park on 29th, left on Franklin, left on 25th to Main.
They only get two blocks on Main before the next challenge. The cobblestones of 23rd street. For the elite races, there another immense crowd here cheering the riders up the cobbles.
CA took a picture of a junior race where the grass is open with only a few people watching.
After the right on Broad, the attacks can begin again. There’s a five-block downhill followed by a wide left onto 18th; three blocks later it’s a wide right onto Main. Then a long downhill to Shockoe Bottom where Main starts going back up.
The final big hill is “Governor’s Hill” which we think of as 13th. The street actually goes diagonally from 13th to 12th. It’s a hard right off main, and a place to cut off the competition who were trying to attack on the last run down main.
The top of the climb is a gentle left turn onto Broad where it’s maybe a kilometer to the finish line at 5th street.
They had a fan zone at the top of this turn. I watched the entire women’s race from here. The TV was positioned so you could watch them until they got the the hill, then you could see the racers go flying by, and then back to the TV for the next lap.
We watched the end of the men’s race from the bar at Seven Hills Brewing. This is at the turn from Canal to Dock, so we could see the breakaway leaders and the Peleton fly past, then check the TV for status.
Preliminary estimates put the fans at something like 645,000 people. We watched three races, so there’s some duplication in that count. But the roar of the crowds at the cobblestones hinted at a huge gathering of fans.
This is a coveted sporting event, so we’re unlikely to see it again in Richmond any time soon. Perhaps other US cities will bid for this. Perhaps Richmond will get some other races and position itself as a cycling destination.
To recap: Saturday was really bad; one of our worst sailing days. See “Dymer Creek: 37°40.281N 076°21.201W” for gory details. Sunday was really good; one of our best sailing days. See "Yopp’s Cove: 37°39.070N 076°26.073W” for details.
The forecast for today was flat calm.
After we got the anchor up, we drove up Carter’s Creek to set eyes on the famous Tide’s Inn.
It may not be famous to you, but around here, it’s Something Important.
You hear more-or-less constant radio traffic from big yachts to the Tide’s Inn Marina. It seems like it’s a notable destination for boats from around the Chesapeake Bay.
Conditions were — as predicted — flat. Calm. Almost windless.
Monday was nothing like Saturday. No five foot seas. No waves breaking over the bowsprit.
Today we motored down the Rappahannock to the Stingray Point lighthouse. Conditions were flat.
How flat were they?
Conditions were so flat I didn’t spill any olives from my martini.
Conditions were so flat that we played billiards in the saloon.
Conditions were so flat we put the boat on autopilot and played Jenga.
The wind at the lighthouse was less than 5 knots. But the direction was fair to enter the Piankatank River. We hoisted the Yankee to do a little sailing.
We drifted partway into the Piankatank for about an hour, making 2 knots. We tried rigging the whisker pole to grab a little more air in the Yankee.
We count this as great sailing. We weren’t going fast, but we were going. Indeed, at these speeds, the boat is almost silent.
How silent was it?
It was so quiet, we could here the buzzing of the instruments and it was bothersome because it was so loud.
It was so quiet, we didn’t dare fart because other boats would hear it.
Since conditions were flat, it was ideal for fooling around with a giant aluminum pole on the foredeck.
We’re back in D-dock. Labor Day weekend was a delight.