Express 37 Limitless on the move! PacCup 2016 update via satellite

Hi everyone, sorry again for the lack of updates, it’s taken a while to get everything dialed in. We discovered the issue with the satellite phone connection — a bad USB cord as it turned out. Who would have thought! It was very frustrating trying to use a system that seemed to be working in every way except it would time out right during the actual transfer of data. We’re able to now send email as expected, so will try to get a few blog posts in during the rest of the race. Using a computer is much better for this than typing everything character by character into our backup satellite texting gizmo (a Delorme inReach). Thanks to everyone who has been wishing us well and keeping us in their thoughts.

The first couple of days were very wet. We were traveling upwind, and couldn’t really dry out ever completely. This is the traditional “uphill” portion of the race, and was physically and mentally exhausting, with no time for anything other than racing, fixing things, eating and sleeping. We got a pretty decent start in front of St. Francis Yacht Club on Tuesday and were excited to learn the next morning at the 0930 roll call that we had established a good spot in our division. In the meantime, it was all about racing hard and getting to the breeze as quickly as we could.

We’re doing a 4/3 watch system, in 2 teams. Team A is Doug (our fearless navigator, doing his 10th PacCup / Transpac race), Mike (aka “Pops” aka “Mr. I can and will fix anything”), and Gabriel (the most junior member of the crew). Team B is Shawn (skipper of Limitless), Cliff (an amazing driver and sailmaker who knows every dirty joke that was ever invented, and who is doing his 20th Pacific ocean crossing race with us), and Lori (fearsome foredeck and person also helping make sure people get sandwiches and their vitamins). The way it works is this: at 0600 Team A is on for 4 hours while Team B rests / has downtime, then at 1000 it switches, then 1400 again switches for the final 4 hour shift. Evening / night shifts are 3 hours in duration. This means practically getting about 1.5-2 hours of sleep at a time during the night, and slightly longer rest times during the day, with each team alternating days for a 2 4 hour rest period. Today (Saturday, July 16), it is Team A’s 2nd rest period. Mike and Doug are sacked out, and Gabriel is typing this blog post while everyone else is above decks on watch driving and making the boat go as fast as possible.

We’ve been working our way along the race course and are almost to the halfway point, which we’re all excited to get to. The past few days have included some pretty challenging downwind driving conditions, with swells coming from multiple directions, and instructions to drive as deeply and quickly as possible, which is tricky when the wind and waves are tossing the boat around. It takes masterful concentration and practice to do this kind of driving well, and Shawn, Cliff, Doug and Mike have all been very generous in coaching the newbies (Lori and Gabriel) with tips for doing it better.

We’ve gotten into a good routine, and crew morale remains high. Everyone has their appetite back after the first couple of days adjusting to life at sea, and we’re eating delicious meals every evening. Each morning’s check-in period gives us new information about our competition and where we stand, and it’s a very interesting race from a strategic perspective because the choices we make in terms of sails, direction and trim all will contribute to how well we do. We can’t see any of the other racers on the water, but we know they’re out there, also doing their best to make it to Hawaii first.

While we’ve taken a number of pictures and short videos, we’ll have to wait to share those until we get back to land, since our satellite uplink bandwidth is extremely limited. In the meantime, THANK YOU again for all of your support, well wishes and encouragement. It’s meant the world to each of us.

Until next time, team Limitless, all smiles.

We’re leaving for Hawaii today!!!

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for all your great support, it means the world to us.  We’ll be at Richmond Yacht Club, slip D04 from 8-9 am this morning, at which time we plan to shove off for our start at 1125 in front of the St. Francis Yacht Club.  It’s a very competitive fleet, and we’ve stripped everything off the boat that isn’t needed to make it go fast or be safe.  Our bags are packed and we’re ready to see what we can do in this fierce fleet of competitors.  We did a test sail yesterday and everything checked out A-OK.  We also did a test of our email over satellite phone capabilities, so we should be good for posting some brief updates along the way if everything goes as planned.

See you on the other side!!! 🙂

Shawn, Doug, Cliff, Mike, Lori and Gabriel
Team Limitless
Express 37 #18513

P.S. As a reminder, you can track our progress here: http://pcup.org/track.html and also check on the predicted and actual weather out there here: http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/shtml/P_brief.shtml

Also, our updates while we race are most likely going to be text-only, but we’ll try to sneak a picture in or two if we can. We’ll add photos and videos once we’re on land and have fast internet again. 🙂

Bob helped with a lot of last minute things. Also again, thanks to Fox Marine!
Bob helped with a lot of last minute things. Also again, thanks to Fox Marine!
Shawn driving Limitless back to RYC
Shawn driving Limitless back to RYC
Test sail!
Test sail!
Cliff inspecting the sails
Cliff inspecting the sails
Lori on the bow
Lori on the bow
Ready to cross the ocean to Hawaii!
Ready to cross the ocean to Hawaii!
July 12, 2016 Weather briefing
July 12, 2016 Weather briefing

Only 2 days left before we set sail for Hawaii! Skipper meeting, tracker, lots accomplished today!

The Pacific Cup
The Pacific Cup

Today was quite a busy day!  Doug Johnstone, our fearless navigator, arrived just in time to attend the mandatory skippers meeting along with Shawn and Gabriel.  Items covered in the meeting included safety, weather and routing, check-ins, the YB Tracker that each boat is equipped with now, and the ti leaves brought over from Kaneohe for each boat to bring back to Hawaii.

Following the skippers meeting was the official Pacific Cup Bon Voyage party.  With 5 out of our 6 teammates present things are really starting to come together, and a fun time was had by all.

2016 Pacific Cup Tracker - Limitless
2016 Pacific Cup Tracker – Limitless

You can now track exactly where Limitless is!  This will be a 6 hour delayed position, but will be updated at all times.  They did emphasize that if we for some reason disappear off the YB Tracker site DO NOT WORRY, it is almost certainly just a glitch in the tracker, not some disaster with the boat.   Click here to check out the live tracker page: http://pcup.org/track.html

Notable accomplishments today:

  • Mike and Shawn got the hood that goes over the sliding hatch re-bedded and fastened
  • New starboard spinnaker halyard installed
  • Water tanks plumbed
  • Lots more fiddly little projects, each important and necessary to get done before we go.  Feels like the list is endless, but we’re almost there!

Click through for gallery of today’s pictures.

More work on Limitless – fresh crew arrives to help!

Mike arrived from out of town late last night to help get the boat finished and ready to race in our start on Tuesday.  He worked on installing the new hatch cover today and also on the covers for the bottom instruments in the forepeak.  Lori was also on board helping get the new jib halyard installed and the second / bottom spinnaker pole track car connected to the top one with a short Spectra line.  Meanwhile Shawn got a lot of work done on the refrigeration system.  The new propane tank locker installed by KKMI will make an excellent princess seat (and keep everything safe).  Things are coming together bit by bit, lots of small tasks to finish before we cast off for Hawaii.

Tomorrow is the skipper’s meeting and then Bon Voyage party at Richmond Yacht Club. Looking forward to wrapping up the final preparations in the next couple of days and then casting off for our start at 11:25 am on Tuesday 7/12/16.

Getting all the electronics to talk to one another

Limitless has a number of electronic systems for measuring data about our environment that are useful for safety and performance.  Each has its purpose and reason for being on the boat.  Here’s a quick summary of some of the key components:

  • NKE instruments
  • Garmin chart plotter
  • Vesper AIS system
  • VHF Radio
  • SSB
  • Satellite phone

Dustin at Fox Marine (shop located at KKMI in Point Richmond) is helping make everything talk to one another, so the chart plotter, wind instruments, depth sounder and AIS all can coordinate together for a complete picture of how the boat is doing at any given moment.  He’s also helping to get everything fused and wired correctly for safety.

Fox Marine

PacCup Inspection for Limitless – Passed!

We prepped everything for inspecting and passed our Pacific Cup safety inspection (with a couple of minor homework assignments).  Michael did a great job of checking everything over and also sharing some useful tips that would help make it a better trip for us on the way over and back.  Limitless is now ready for finishing the last projects before we leave in less than 2 weeks!

Preparing Limitless for her safety inspection tomorrow

Preparing the boat for getting inspected tomorrow (Wednesday) at Richmond Yacht Club by Michael Caplan.  Lots to do!

Limitless getting weighed and measured at Berkeley Marine Center

Limitless needed to get her PHRF and ORR certificates, which means getting weighed and measured. Came in right at factory specifications!

Delivering Limitless to the Bay Area from Southern California

Starting out in her home harbor of San Pedro, California, team Limitless worked together to bring the boat up north to the Bay Area for weighing, measuring and inspection in preparation for the start of the Pacific Cup 2016 race.

Shawn and Bryan delivered her to Santa Barbara, where Gabriel joined the crew after a one-day delay due to needing to check on the engine.  From Santa Barbara the next stop was Morro Bay, where Bryan got off the boat in order to make it back home in time for his wife’s birthday.  Shawn and Gabriel then set off for the 26 hour trip from Morro Bay to Santa Cruz.  After arriving in Santa Cruz and refueling and relaxing for a few hours, they then made the final push from Santa Cruz to Berkeley, leaving at 0430 in the morning, successfully arriving Sunday evening in time for the weigh-in to happen Monday morning.

Winds ranged from 3kt to 30+kt, averaging 20-25kt out of the northwest (i.e. directly on the nose).  Seas ranged from 2-3 foot waves to 9-12 foot waves.  Typical conditions for a delivery from southern California.

Gabriel making his way to Santa Barbara from Oakland

Meeting up with the boat in Santa Barbara, getting underway to Morro Bay

Next leg of the delivery: double-handing Limitless from Morro Bay to Santa Cruz – 98 nm

With enough fuel to make it to Santa Cruz, we set off from Morro Bay shortly after lunchtime.  Building pressure and winds means we don’t have a lot of time to spare before we need to get going again.

Delivering Limitless from Santa Cruz to Berkeley – Monday 6/20

The final leg of the trip was from Santa Cruz to Berkeley.  Traditionally this involves getting some rest, then leaving early in the morning (think 0400) to avoid some of the heavy winds and waves that can be found rounding the various points along the way.  This was again a wet and boisterous trip leading to spotting the Golden Gate Bridge and passing under on the way to Berkeley.  We got kind of emotional about that. 🙂

After all that, arrived successfully in Berkeley to a warm welcome and parked at Berkeley Yacht Club’s guest dock to prepare for weighing and measuring at Berkeley Marine Center the next morning.