May 6, 2011

Brick House Dismasted, Childresses Unharmed

When was the last time you had your rig thoroughly surveyed? Brick House’s upper shroud chain plate was shiny on the outside, but thoroughly rusted between the two layers of steel.

Brick House
©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Brick House, the Middletown, Rhode Island-based Valiant 40 sailed by Patrick and Rebecca Childress, was dismasted several days ago while underway from Kiribati to Vanuatu. The port upper shroud chain plate broke during a passing squall, causing the mast to fold over just below the spreaders. Neither Patrick nor Rebecca were injured and there was little damage to the boat. They were able to motor to a nearby atoll where they stabilized the rig and then motorsailed with a jury rig to Tarawa. They are now attempting to cut off the top section of the mast (which is dragging in the water) so they can continue the 400 miles to Majuro in the Marshall Islands where they hope to effect repairs.

Patrick is known for his solo circumnavigation 32 years ago aboard his Catalina 27 Juggernaut. Both he and Rebecca have written scores of articles for various sailing publications, and helped many sailors during their current circumnavigation.

While making way to a sheltered anchorage, there was a lot of stress on the mast until the crew removed the dragging sails and attached water level supports all around it.

Brick House
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
We hope you never look up and see a mess like this.

Brick House
©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In a recent email, Rebecca wrote: “Patrick climbed the mast to make miraculous alterations in a bumpy anchorage to make it safe enough for us to proceed. He has a great spirit about it all. What we need now is a 4-foot mast section made by Spar Tech (or possibly Super Spar – the Valiant factory isn’t sure which one we have) It is 25 inches in circumference; a perfectly shaped oval  about 9 inches fore and aft, and 6 inches side to side at the fattest part. There are no flat sides.”
 
If anyone can help find the proper section of mast, please email Patrick and Rebecca ASAP.

Amazingly, while bashing into waves for over 12 hours, the Tacktick wind sensor continued to give them wind speed equal to our water speed. After removing it from the mast, washing it in fresh water and lubbing it with WD-40, it continues to operate. The tricolor light housing was destroyed, but the Bebi Electronics LED light held tight for its 12 hours of salt water thrashing. It was unharmed even after Patrick dropped it in 38 feet of water.

Brick House
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Bubble Barrier at Georgiana Slough

Reader and Baja Ha-Ha vet Randy Garrett, who keeps his Beneteau First 42 R3 at Oxbow Marina in the Delta, called to let us know that a salmon barrier had been erected at the head of Georgiana Slough. "We were thinking of heading up that way, but someone told me that the barrier is only four feet below the surface of the water — we draw 9′ 6"," said Garrett. That seemed a little fishy to us so we did a little digging.

An underwater steel structure at the head of Georgiana Slough produces a ‘wall’ of bubbles, noise and light that encourages young salmon to stay on the straight and narrow of the Sacramento River.

latitude/LaDonna
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

It turns out that the barrier Garrett was told about is, in fact, in place at the head of Georgiana Slough. Its purpose is to deter ocean-bound Chinook salmon from wandering off the beaten path, where 65% of them would likely die. The "bubble barrier" does this by flashing strobes and emitting annoying noises inside a curtain of bubbles. The fish apparently don’t want anything to do with the cacophony so they hightail it back to the Sacramento River.

An inverted staff gauge shows the depth above the barrier structure.

latitude/LaDonna
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

But according to Project Manager/Engineer Jacob McQuirk, the depth of the barrier is much deeper than Garrett was told. "It’s no less than 10 feet at a normal low tide," he said. A little reconnaisance trip on a cruising boat that draws six feet proved that, while the bubble barrier looked intimidating, the trip through the minefield of buoys was the most hazardous part, especially in a ripping spring current. An inverted staff gauge at the entrance tells the clearance above the barrier, just in case you need visual proof.

McQuirk says the project — which includes a study of its efficacy — was granted an extension and is now slated to end mid-May, with the barrier being removed no later than June 15.

John Liebenberg crosses the finish line during the 58th annual Bullship Race. © RYC Photo John Liebenberg proved on Saturday that age and wisdom never miss an opportunity to beat up on youth, when he beat 31 other El Toros to win the 58th Annual Bullship Race.
If you’ve planning to do KFOG’s famous KaBoom, an annual synchronized concert and fireworks display on the Cityfront, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
We were up in the Harbormaster’s Office at Marina Bay in Richmond last week, where we bumped into Phil Howe, an old friend and yacht broker.