Author: Rick

Clipper Training level 2&3

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Thought it was about time I put pen to paper . Ventured to Sydney again for level 2 training in early June. Met a whole new group of people with only Juscinta from Wellington from our level 1 , and 13 others , 2 more round the worlders ,Phil and Jackie , none from my yacht ‘ Visit Santa’s all from Australia and NZ ,Stuckey as skipper ,Will first mate and another teacher Trev who went RTW in 17-18 . Part of this was a 2 day sea survival course which was part classroom part practical . Afternoon of day 1 was in the pool , jumping in wearing life jackets , survival swimming ,denying life rafts ,getting them from the pool deck and from the water ,righting capsized ones and cramming 12 people at once into a very confined space . The main thing you learn is you never want to have to get in one. Due to the long weekend ,Sunday was on the yacht at dock doing the mandatory clipper safety briefing and race crew assessment . Second day of the course was mainly is the classroom with an exam at the end . To conclude we got to have some fun letting off flares from a small jetty in Rushcutters Bay.
Following day we slipped lines and headed out of Sydney harbour but not before a man overboard drill with Sophie going in the water to rescue Ruth the dummy. . Wind was a light to moderate NE so we set a course to windward up the coast toward Pittwater . It was soon apparent that the Humpback whales were migrating up the coast in large numbers and we were treated an ongoing display.
In between whale watching we practiced tacking manoeuvres and reefing and unreefing the main. As the breeze was dying out we headed into an anchorage Refuge Cove for the night rather than drift around.
Following day ,after another MOB drill, we tacked up the coast into a steadily increasing noreaster. We were to sail all night and have our first experience of a watch system ,split into an ‘odds and evens ‘ watch ,3 hours on. We took the first watch from 1800 to 2100. With the increasing breeze we put a reef in the main and continued up the coast . On retiring to bed at 9pm the water rushing past my leeward(port) bunk lulled into a blissful sleep, for 45 minutes. I awoke to the boat going through a tack and now on port tack we were straight into the waves and the noise and motion made it difficult to sleep. When I came up on deck at midnight I expected to see 3 metre seas but they were no biggger than previously. On our second off watch sleeping was much easier with us having changed to a more off wind course.
Next day we gybed down the coast in a Southerly direction and then set a spinnaker for the first time. First experience for me of an asymmetrical kite. We all had a go at trimming the kite and helming with the kite up. After a letter box drop of the kite ,having sailed south of Sydney we worked our way back up wind . On the way a loud noise from signalled the shackle on Yankee halyard failing ! We returned to Rushcutters Bay to complete our trip.
Level 3 I was doing as were 6 more from the previous week and we had 5 incoming for a crew of 12. I’ve now met 31 crew and none are on my yacht ! After slipping lines and raising sails another MOB drill was to occur so I volunteered to be the rescue swimmer . The procedure is to be connected to the mast via a headsail halyard and take another halyard with you connected to a rescue hook. After being lowered over the rail it is just like being out on the trapeze on a dinghy except it’s a 70 foot yacht. The first pass we missed MOB with the boat drifting away ,2nd with the casualty to leeward we were nice and close . Basically you’re lowered in the water ,make contact the casualty attach the hook to lifting strops on their life jacket or put the rescues strip around them if unconscious. Then the crew winch you both back on board . It was pretty cool doing this in a warm flat Sydney harbour but having to do the real thing would be quite different .
Our level 3 was pretty much repeat . More whales ,more manoeuvres, unfortunately less spinnaker work than we were expecting ,more emphasis on sail trim ,making the boat go faster ,a little odds and evens watch competition on on VMG to windward . And more beer and rum at the CYCA. Every time I sail it just whets my appetite for more . Just as well.

Clipper Training

Clipper level 1

March 1 arrived for Clipper level 1 training at Sydney. Met skipper Stuckey and 1st mate Lindsay, one other circumnavigator Angie currently living in Taupo NZ, 10 leggers from all over , nsw ,qld , Wellington Seattle , just 3 aussie born I think ,bunk allocated, familiarization ,allocation of duties ,brief safety brief ,dinner prepared by skipper and 1st mate , beer at Cruising Yacht Club of Australia . (Didn’t realize what a recurring theme that would be )

March 2 , breakfast at 8 ,all day alongside , allocated foulies, lifejacket tether , deconstruct life jacket and blow up , safety briefing above then below deck , lots of safety stuff and getting to know the boat and rig etc , we send Stuckey up mast to check rig , dinner ,just a couple of beers at cyca. We’re all itching to get sailing .

March 3 breakfast, then Brian ,an air traffic controller , and I are the day’s ‘engineers’ on the roser ,check engine generator , bilges , deck check ,then the fill the water tanks .
Get ready to sail ,yankee number 3 brought up on deck and readied . The sails are heavy . Boom tent disassembled. Last test we have to get on boat via a ‘spring line’ ,ie stepping on a rope -part of the agility test . We motor out of Marina into a busy Sydney harbour . Hoisted main in behind shark island ,hoisted yankee lots of tacking in a busy Harbour .
Was 1st trainee to take the helm just before open water , and steered us out through Sydney heads . Staysail was raised and we all took turns on the helm as the breeze gradually built up to 25 knots. Kept tacking up the coast . A reef was put in the main whick took a long time as couldn’t get a spare winch for the topping lift .
Went round Barrenjoey head into the Hawkesbury where we circled around in flatter water while the day’s ‘mummies’ prepared dinner. Then we went out for night sail . The noreaster was still blowing at 25 knots with 1- 2m swells and clear skies with the stars easily visible. After clearing Barenjoey heads I got to take the helm , fine reaching towards the Southern Cross. Every so often we hit a bigger wave and spray douses the crew further forward but rarely the helm. After a period of time we tack and find a course toward Barrenjoey lighthouse. We’re on a reach back now towards Orion’s belt. My first time helming a boat at night was one the trip highlights for me. Brian takes over the helm a bit before Barrenjoey head. We finally pick up a mooring well after midnight and are tucked in at Refuge Bay. We start an ‘anchor watch’ overnight.

Rig climb Glen tailing ,Juscinta and John grinding .

March 4 we’re all day on mooring. Showed new engineers the ropes , have a swim . Most of uus do a ‘rig climb’ .It’s not really climb .You have a climbing harness to which are attached 2 halyards both with a bowline and a snap shackle. Then a couple of people on the coffee grinders winch you up the mast. Got to the top of the mast and the height(27.3metres) makes the big vessel look small and there are great views . I might finally be getting over my fear of heights. They have to know we can paddle a dinghy so we have dinghy time trials round the yacht . We do man overboard practice to get use to the mechanics and teamwork required for such an event. We rigged the storm jib and trysail so we get familiar with them. Anchor watch at 2.30 am tomorrow for me .

Stuckey on Helm ,Glen on main ,Dot swapping preventer ,Angie and I chilling

March 6 ,we get underway after breakfast and all have a go at steering with the emergency tiller. Sails go up and we throw Ruthy(our MOB dummy) in the water do a man overboard drill. We make few errors ,such as dropping the sails before Stuckey has heaved to . But we learn a lot from the errors . We tack out past Barenjoey head with our timing improving as we go. The seas on the exit a rather steep I presume due to some wind against tide. We set a reef in the main an activity that has to co-ordinate multiple crew- 4 at the mast,a busy pit crew ,one on the mainsheet. We ease sheets and sail downwind toward Sydney,again in 20-25 knots. We set up a preventer and do multiple gybes all the way. Once through the heads there is lot of traffic to avoid ,viz ferries ,49ers ,18 foot skiffs, before we get to the marina. Beer at CYCA.

March 7 ,no wind ,assessment et al on the dock. Beer and meal at CYCA.

March 8 deep clean of yacht. The 98 nautical miles we sailed has just whetted my appetite. An enjoyable week with a great and varied bunch of people. k

Red Bull Defiance

We travelled to Wanaka , a 5 hour drive south of Christchurch for the Red Bull Defiance multiposrt race , James and I were entered in the team of 2 event , a 2 day race with 6 legs and you have to start and finish together and Lily was entered in the Skyline traverse , the last leg of our race .Friday afternoon we registered for the event and has to do our preparation , putting everything in the supplied duffle bags for transition from MTB to run and from run to kayak , and finally drop off our mountain bikes which would be taken to the start for us .

Miniaret Burn MTB 42 km 3:51

Saturday involved a bus trip to other side of the lake followed by a barge trip across the lake to the start at Miniaret station. We collected our bikes and prepared for the start and figured we’d just place ourselves about mid pack . The first section was relatively flat and it was a fast start . It was apparent early my legs weren’t up to the pace James thought they would! The first 12 km was flat with a few steep pinches then you hit the first of the climbs . There are 3 shorter climbs on fire road which seem to increase in grade from 6 -12 % and we have to walk the steeper sections . You then come back down to lake and hike a bike across the Miniaret burn and cross the beach before starting the West Wanaka Rd climb. This is narrow single track at 15% with occasional mud ! We pretty much push the bikes the whole way . This is followed by a steep descent back to the lake then undulating terrain to the transition over the West Wanaka brdige . I am sure James is frustrated by my inability to descend somewhere close to his speed . 3hours 50 minutes for 43 km being a lot longer than we anticipated.

Rocky Mountain Run 8.5 km 1:44

A ‘run’ leg is next with a kilometre of undulating single track followed by a climb of over 300m in 2 km on a heavily vegetated track. Once up the top you descend onto the ‘abseil entry ‘. On entering the waiting area there are at least 30 teams waiting to abseil . And it is now pouring rain and cold . We don thermals and waterproofs and eventually a tarpaulin is erected and we all crowd under it while we wait our turn to go down the cliff.

After more than and hour and a half we finally get our turn .There are 4 ropes and the girls in front of us are connected and jsut starting to descend. We are connected by a figure 8 device with a Prusik not as a safety back up . After connecting us the guy says we can try and overtake the team in front which we duly do as we go fdown the 40 metre vertical face . After disconnecting we then have to get down a steep muddy section of single track , which is much nore dangerous the the abseil . We finally get to flat ground and are able to run the last 3 ks into transition .

Lake Wanaka Kayak 18 km 2:09

After grabbing our life jackets and kayak helmets we have to run 1.5 km to the kayaks. We set the foot rests and pedals with me in the front with the steering pedals and James in the back. The first section across Glendhu bay is flat water and we make up some significant ground and actually go past several teams including a pair of Australian who were struggling after runing into a rock . After we turn around the final headland and paddle with the residual waves , the wind having now died down somewhat , to the finish for day 1 at Edgewater resort. The final task of the day was to drop our prepared duffle bags back at the resot for day 2.

Clutha River Kayak 20 km 1:48

Day 2 started early with a kayak across the lae and down the Clutha river . There were no announcements when we got down to the water . It seemed you just selected organised your own kayak and got it in the water at what seemed to be a generally agreed time. Once on the water one of the official boats did set a start line and count down to the start. Ther was a signifcant headwind and the first section was into wind and waves . After rounding the headland there was bit of surfing then of the waves before enetering the river . The river flows fast but the few rapids are relatively easy to navigate.We make up a bit of ground by picking some of the faster flows. The last rapid we pcik what appears to a fast movinf wave train to the right of an island only to find it halts in an eddy before the main flow and we lose a few places to the teams that picked the left channel. We hit the bank at the kayak finish then have to run 2 ks to the transition at Oxbow.

Criffel Peak Ride 26km 4:01

At transition we were expecting a Clay target shoot but now it was a knife throw. James knife sticks in the hay bale so we proceed straight to our bikes. On exiting the transition one of the Giant mechanics is there and we can clean and lube our chains which are still muddy from yesterday’s ride , as we didn’t have access to the bikes after day 1 finish, After a short ride over farmkand we are soon on the climb to Criffel peak. It is all mainly fireroad and just winds and climbs , Janes is pushing me some of the early sections where the terrain is suitable . We are however reduced to walking much of it as are most the competitors. Before the final bit of climbing there is a downhill traverse on narrow single track with rocky grassland either side. I hit a rock and ride off the edge and go over the bars . I am not particularly hurt but it affects my confidence on the downhill sections to come. After reaching the peak the descent is steeper . It is through farmland and we have to stop multiple times to go over stiles and fences . At each stop the two girls teams we had passed earlier catches us and after the stile we go ahead .The pattern continues . On a really steep grassy section my rear wheel slides out and I come down again but manage to keep my self from going into the farm fence. After James collects my bike and I collect myself we continue on . Once at the bottom we cross a creek and come into the transition at Cardrona.

Skyline Traverse 28 km 5:47

We spend a fair time in transition. The run starts on open grassland but is soon ascending on steep fireroad. We walk the steep climbs and run the downhills . We go past the two girls who had snucj past us in transition and are moving pretty well . We kake the cut off at Mt Alpha .Then it is the traverse to Mt Roy which is steep up and down on a narrow track . It is now windy and cold up ob this ridge. I have come to an almost standstill . Seems this is kikey hypothermia starting which my som recognises an we put on a warm clothes and wind breakers . Several team now go past us on the final ascent to Roy’s peak . The marshall at the top fortunately has some electrolyte which I put into the water in camel pack . It does seem then I am invigorated while consuming this on the down hill into the Roy’s peak carpark. We run in company with the two girls we passed on the descent butt have caught us on the flat. Somehow we find the energy to pull away from them and run the last 4 ks to the finish – maybe the Red Bull kicked in . We were happy to get to get to the finish and complete the event . Our total time was 19 hours 23 minutes. It’s a privilege to be able to race with my son in such a challenging event .