Our first regatta of 2016

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We rang in the new with Mary’s family playing shuffleboard and singing karaoke. It was quite the night. However, the real excitement started January 2 when we entered Gimme Shelter in the Galveston Bay Cruising Association Icicle Series Regatta.

We’ve been crewing on other boats for two years now, but this was my first time to skipper our own boat in a race. Unfortunately, due to Mary’s broken foot, she had to sit this one out.

The Icicle races are only 8.6 nautical miles. They start at Kemah channel markers 1 and 2, then round a couple fixed platforms in the bay, and end back at markers 1 and 2. Here was our route for Saturday’s race. GBCA gave us a PHRF of 180 in the non-spinnaker cruising class.

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When I arrived to the boat I found that the Christmas elves from Banks Sails had visited and put Mary’s new mainsail on the boat.

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There’s nothing like the crinkle of a new sail. Unfortunately we ran into some issues as soon as we attempted to hoist it. The old sail had a bolt-rope foot, and we’d never adjusted the outhaul the entire time we’d owned the boat.

The new sail has a loose foot, and when we tried to tighten the outhaul, we found all of the cam cleats on the boom were frozen. All I could do was keep steering the boat while I hoped the crew could rig something up to make it work — and they did. (Go crew!)

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We ran into more trouble as we were nearing the first mark. The sheaves in the sliding blocks for the jib sheets began disintegrating.

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I guess 34 years is all you can really expect from a nylon sheave. I’m sure the cold weather added to the issue by making them extra brittle. Both the starboard and the port blocks had broken before the race was over, so it made trimming the jib a bit of a challenge.

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The wind died to 5 knots on the last leg, and we saw several people decide to drop sails and just motor back. However, we set the sails wing-on-wing and hung in there hoping the wind would pick back up.

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We finally crossed the finish at 2:42 p.m., a full 18 minutes to spare before the 3 p.m. cut-off. And, we weren’t last!

I spent Sunday tackling all of Gimme Shelter’s issues. She got a new set of blocks for the jib sheets. These things cost me an arm and a leg, so they better last another 30 years. They were actually very easy to swap out. I just had to unscrew the end cap from the rail, and they slid on and off.

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The more intense project of the afternoon was persuading the cam cleats on the boom to move again.

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It took half a can of WD-40 and almost two hours of hammering, sanding, scraping and more hammering to finally get all four of those things moving freely again. However, we now have a working outhaul and reefing lines, both of which are pretty important.

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Once I got everything working again, I raised the main, so Mary could get a good look at her Christmas present. She seemed pretty happy.

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One thought on “Our first regatta of 2016

  1. Congratulations on finishing the race even with a few malfunctions. The new sail is beautiful (and so is Mary). I want to order a bag made out of your old sail. Mary we can talk about that.

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