November 16, 2015

How Many Horses to Plane?

Jonathan and Rebecca Mote and their six-month-old Morkie, Pirate, of the Corona del Mar-based Jeanneau 42DS Serendipity relax in Turtle Bay during the Baja Ha-Ha.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Jonathan and Rebecca Mote of the Corona del Mar-based Jeanneau 42DS Serendipity probably don’t have many questions about how to sail. After all, they doublehanded their Jeanneau 43 without any motoring in all three legs of the just-completed 22nd Baja Ha-Ha. They were only one of the five crews in a fleet of 115 boats to ’Soul Sail’ the entire way. And if memory serves us, they did it without the use of their autopilot.

Nor did they give in to temptation and motor when the wind got light. At one point the wind was so light for so long that their dog fetched the key to the engine, brought it to them, and gave them that soulful ‘can’t-we-start-the-engine’ look. Stalwarts, they didn’t give in.

While Jonathan and Rebecca didn’t have any questions about sailing, they did have a question for the Wanderer about inflatables and outboards. Specifically, how big an outboard they would need to get their 8-ft inflatable to plane, and with a load of groceries.

There were plenty of dinghies with outboards at the Ha-Ha dinghy raft-up at Bahia Santa Maria. Which ones had the best dinghy/outboard combination for planing?

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

This is a great question that there isn’t a simple answer to because there are so many variables — such as whether the inflatable has a hard or soft bottom, how clean the bottom is, how heavy the people are, how much the groceries weigh, etc. In addition, engine manufacturers can fool you with horsepower ratings. For example, some 15-hp outboards are true 15-horse outboards, while we’re told the very popular Yamaha 15 is actually a 9.9-hp with souped-up carburation.

So rather than theorize, we’d asking you for some real-world examples of what’s been working or not working for you. For example, we have a hard-bottom 11-ft 6-in AB inflatable on Profligate powered by a 15-hp, two-stroke Yamaha. As long as the bottom is pretty clean and we’re not carrying too much other stuff, we can plane with four light people or one heavy and two lights. What about you? Jonathan and Rebecca would like to know so they can replace their inadequate 2-hp with something appropriate.

Sailor’s Run ‘Shafted’ During Solo Lap

Two weeks after departing from Bahia Caraquez, Equador, on a solo, nonstop lap around the planet aboard the Baba 40 Sailor’s Run, West Coast sailor Jeff Hartjoy, 69, reports that the sailing thus far has been "some of the very best I have ever done." But his euphoria was dampened yesterday, when he made a life-threatening discovery.

Having already rounded Cape Horn solo aboard his Baba 40, Jeff has set out to prove yet again, that old guys rule. 

Sailor’s Run
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

After charging batteries for 20 minutes with the inboard diesel in neutral, he shut it down, but a "strange vibration" lingered, and he could hear something "spinning and rubbing." It sounded like the prop shaft, but that seemed impossible, as he had locked it in reverse as he shut down the engine. 

After tearing through a lazarette to gain access, Jeff discovered the source of the ominous sound: "Holy Shit! The shaft had come free of the coupler and was spinning madly about as we were sailing at over 7 knots. Now unattached from the transmission, it was really wobbling and was trying to slide out of the boat, but was stopped by the rudder, which was being eaten by the whirling three-blade prop." Being a very resourceful guy with 75,000 sea miles under his belt, Jeff eventually worked out a creative solution to this hair-raising dilemma, but it took five hours of work to accomplish it, much of it hanging upside-down in the bilge.

Jeff and his wife Debbie — who is acting as shore support on this solo voyage — have owned their ocean-tested ketch Sailor’s Run for many years. 

Sailor’s Run
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

First, he lashed down the shaft to keep it from spinning, activated a high-volume bilge pump, doused the genoa and staysail, and hove-to under main and mizzen. Then came the hard part. "I worked feverishly to separate the coupling, hoping to find the nut that had come off the end of the shaft and the key that locks the shaft to the coupling." He found the nut, but the keyway had slipped into the flooding bilge. He eventually retrieved it with a magnet, then found that he didn’t have the correct socket to secure the big nut, so he hand-tightened it, with hopes that it will hold together for the duration of his around-the-world trip — months more of open-water sailing. The shaft is now reattached to the tranny, but as Jeff writes, "You cannot even imagine what a feat that was."

Look for more on Jeff’s solo circumnavigation in the December issue of Latitude 38 magazine.

Sailing Just Got Real

Virtual reality just got more real for sailors, thanks to filmmaker Alex Pearce. Just check out this video of him sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge aboard his Sausalito-based Cascade 36 LaDonna Jean. (The videos should be interactive right from your browser — Chrome preferred. Click and hold to look in any direction. Right click to put in full screen and to change the way you view it.)

In case you’re not up on everything tech, 360° video is the latest-greatest, even though it uses technology we sailors know well: GoPro cameras. A specially designed housing holds seven GoPros, then ultra-fancy software stitches all the files together to create a more-or-less seamless 360° video. Viewers use their mouse to move the view to whatever angle they prefer. The videos can also be viewed through special goggles, which make for an even more realistic — and, quite honestly, breathtaking — experience.

Pearce also keeps his Cal 2-29 Shrimp Louie in Marina del Rey. On a recent sail out to Catalina Island, he was escorted by a huge pod of dolphins, which he captured on 360. If you have landlubber friends who can’t understand what the fuss is all about, send them a link to this story. Just be ready for them to invite themselves on future cruises!

For cruising sailors the annual Sailors’ Spash and Banderas Bay Blast are great fun without the pressure of serious racing.
Merlin finishing the 1977 Transpac, captured by an unknown photographer. © Wizard Yachts, Ltd. We got a number of responses to Monday’s call-out for Memories of Merlin. This
The first week of the 12th Transat Jacques Vabre was full of doom and gloom; two autumn gales led the way to a flipped maxi-tri, several broken boats, a half-sunk Hugo Boss, and several sailors enduring dramatic helicopter rescues at sea.