Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Upgrades for 2007 Season

Well we have been working diligently (and slowly by Myrna's reckoning) to make Otra Vez a little easier to handle for the 2007 racing season. The major upgrades revolved around the backstay. First, we needed to move the backstay controls from behind the helmsman to in front of the steering pedestal where the mainsail trimmer can play the backstay. This involved adding two thru-bolted padeyes as well as 2 x 57mm Harken carbo blocks at the stern and 2 x 57mm Harken carbo blocks with integral cam cleat at the forward base of the steering pedestal. Second, we replaced the wire backstay with a Navtec Kevlar Biconic cable that complies with the OD class rules. The new backstay weighs 3.5 lbs and has a smooth polyurethane cover that dramatically reduces the friction on the mainsail (Let's hope the main hanging on the backstay is a thing of the past!.

Of course I chose a 40 degf day to effect the change. There is nothing so stimulating as swinging 56 ft. in the air, your hands freezing while trying to extract a recalcitrant cotter pin from the upper backstay toggle. Thirty minutes of pain and suffering later it surrendered and the new backstay was attached. As they say, its a game of inches, and the new cable was a few inches longer than the original wire stay, which means, more work (of course). Shortening the backstay tackle was relatively straightforward. I have been carrying around some spect-set II (spectra cored rope) for a long time, it finally came in handy as a new, shorter, cascade in the backstay tackle.

NE Ropes Salsa Line, a single braid dyneema/polyester composite line was used for both the 48:1 backstay fine tune and the 10:1 mainsail outhaul. Most people seem to mount a cascade for the outhaul in the boom. I chosen a simpler route, using a cascade between the boom and mast step. The outhaul line was changed to a 10mm technora/spectra composite (T-900) that should have virtually no stretch. The outhaul runs through a harken cam cleat on the cabin top in easy reach of the pit person.

We have used a "cheap & dirty" velcro system to attach the RaceMaster Compass to the instrument pod. Where is the cradle that comes with the compass you ask? Attached to the mast bracket on Traveller (long since sold). The trick to a proper solution was finding a way to center the RaceMaster cradle while not interfering with the Raymarine instruments and their covers. At the end of the day a few stainless (non-magnetic) spacers were used to put 3/8 gap between the cradle and the face of the pod, which allows sufficient room for the instrument covers to be installed behind the compass.

Keeping the boat dry is a key to longevity and reliability. While the A/C does a good job in the summer, for the cooler months a dehumidifier is a better solution. Luckily our post-katrina dehumidifier (I bought it to dry out the wood in the rooms damaged by the falling tree in our Mandeville house) was still going strong. It is amazing the difference to the interior when you run that monster 24/7.

Another major hassle was hoisting the main w/o a pre-feeder on the mast. Fifty dollars to spinlock and problem solved!!!

Changes were also made to the spinnaker handling setup, including the addition of 2 x 75mm Harken carbo-rachet blocks in the spinnaker sheet set-up. According to the class website it has been possible to trim the spinnaker in up to 15 knots w/o a winch. Pictures and a better desription of the setup will be the subject of a later post.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

2006 Harvest Moon Regatta

Otra Vez competed in the 2006 Harvest Moon Regatta, which is hosted by the Lakewood Yacht Club. The course is 150nm, starting at the Flagship Hotel Pier on Galveston Island and finishing in the Port Aransas ship channel.

Light winds at the start and finish made for a real test of patience. We we very well placed for the first 120 miles, but made a serious tactical blunder not to head inshore as the wind clocked around and lightened. As a result we were caught offshore with a very poor running angle (i.e. VERY SLOW) to the finish.

Nevertheless, the boat performed well and fun was had by all.