Monday, March 14, 2011

#1 Getting Draft Stripes and Sail Numbers

As I posted in late February, Jep will be sailing in MAST on Friday nights this summer. While I do not have the most robust head sail inventory, making due with my current rags is the only option I have. In a perfect world I'd buy a roller furler and pop for a new #1 (155% genoa) but I'm afraid that will have to wait until 2012.

Jep has 2 head sails: a #1 made of nylon (very light) and a #3 (105%) made of dacron. Neither sail has numbers or draft stripes. Both sails hank (clip) onto the forestay.

Surprisingly, when it comes to local sail lofts, the Milwaukee market is quite limited. I had heard of S Lee Sails in Port Washington, but when I attempted to contact them, the listed number had been disconnected. Bad sign. The North Sails loft in downtown Milwaukee is over priced and last time I had some simple work done they took forever. That left me with Nielson Sailmakers in Racine.

I spoke with Micky Nielson regarding the work I wanted on the sail. She informed me that in PHRF races, numbers are not required on #3 head sails. With that in mind, I opted to leave my #3 alone and only add numbers and stripes to my #1.

This past Saturday morning I made the 30 minute commute to Racine to drop off the sail. Upon a quick inspection, Chris Nielson told me that the bolt rope on the luff of the sail was too short and he would reset the rope at no cost. Awesome! With a longer, reset bolt rope we should not have to tension the halyard quite as much. I'm hoping this will also improve the overall sail shape.

The sail should be done by this weekend.

UPDATE 3/26/2011: I picked up the sail this weekend. Not only did they reset the bolt rope at no cost, they also added a tell tale window! Chris said that if he were using the sail, he'd want a tell tale window, so he installed one!

To those of you who read this and need work done to your existing sail inventory, I highly recommend taking your sail to the Nielson loft. The staff is courtious and knowledgable. They also design and build new sails.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Louie's 12th Last Regatta - A Few Months Later...

"Okay, Charlie - why on earth are you writing about Louie's 12th Last Regatta like 5 months later?" Because I want to, so shut up and read.

If you have followed my blog to any degree, you'll realize that I have a complete lack of consistency when it comes to posting on my blog, so when I'm in the mood to write (like I have been this week), tap-tap-tap goes the keyboard.

Before I begin, you poor saps reading this should know that I am sipping on a home brew stout in order to bring the "Hemingway" out. Okay, maybe not.

What was I writing about again?

Ah yes, Louie's 12th Last Regatta! What an event. I searched back through the blog to see if I had ever written about one of my favorite weekends of the year (and by "search back through the blog" I mean "thought about if I had for 5 seconds and couldn't remember"). If a description of the regatta has graced the wonders of my blog in posts prior, oh well. Here goes again...

Louie's Last Regatta started back in 1999 by a small group of sailors here in Milwaukee looking for one last blast before putting their beloved boats on the hard. The regatta is a charity event benefiting Children's Hospital of Wisconsin that takes place in the Milwaukee Bay on the last weekend in September. The past few years have seen anywhere between 120 and 150 boats and have raised upwards of $150K for the hospital each year. All of the degeneracy aside, it makes the event that much more fun to know you're supporting a worthy cause.

2010 in particular was a special year. It was the first year the regatta had seen a scrappy little boat named Yep, It's Jep fighting the Lake Michigan seas with the big boys! Now you'll have to forgive me if I cannot recall every little detail about the day since it was, you know, 5 months ago. The day also started with a bloody Mary bar at McKinley. Is there really any other way to get a race day started? No way there is!

We sailed Louie's with a light crew consisting of myself, Drew, and James Young III, henceforth known as JY3. The day started out sunny but rather chilly. If my memory serves me correctly, the temperature was in the 50s with 3 to 5 foot seas and North or North-northwest winds blowing maybe 10 to 15 knots. How did I remember the wind direction you might ask? Simple - I'm full of it. Actually, I remember because we were headed south on our downwind run. It also got cloudy and the temperature definitely did not increase.

We were in the last group to start the race. What's unique about Louie's is that every boat is technically in their own "division" so you're assured to take first! The name of our division was Here Comes the Judge.

When the race started I can tell you this: the Judge was not coming or going anywhere because the Judge started off in the wrong direction and had no idea where the hell he was going. Luckily we were not the only clueless sailors out there, but it was certainly frustrating. When we finally figured out where the hell the first mark was, it was game on!

Drew and I were the "experienced" sailors on the boat. While JY3 was and is still quite green, he held his own and did as he was told. Even though our start was, to put it lightly, brutal, our tacks were crisp and quick once we were dialed in. We also managed to hit every mark without over or under shooting.

That's what she said! Sorry, I just had a Michael Scott moment. Moving on...

The second to last leg of the "beer can" course was a downwind run. One thing I figured out this summer was when running down wind, pull up your swing keel (if you have one)! It honestly gave us .5 to .8 knots of boat speed!

When we finally heard the toot of the air horn indicating we had finished, it was time for a celebratory beer! Unfortunately as the seas were 3 to 5 feet, both JY3 and I were getting a little queasy after bobbing around for a couple hours. Nevertheless, once we made it inside the break wall our "lumpy" stomachs had subsided enough for a fizzy cold beverage.

We got the boat all buttoned up at the slip and walked over to the Milwaukee Ale House for the post race festivities. We bumped into some friends we met earlier in the summer, had some beers with random sailors and generally enjoyed the atmosphere of the event.

Finally came the awards ceremony. The MC of the event shocked me! Before announcing our 34th place finish (out of 60 or 65), he gave a shout out to my humble little blog! After all was said and done I found him in the hall and asked how on earth he stumbled upon my blog (I also wanted to make sure the poor man had a life since he actually read this drivel). As he told it, they were out sailing one day and sailed by a boat with a very interesting name. He thought with a name like Yep, It's Jep, there had to be a story. Smart guy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

2011 Spring Planning and Projects

It's funny how after enduring snow, cold, and generally crappy weather, your mind eagerly awaits spring planning for the upcoming sailing season. While I'm always brainstorming improvements for Jep, I generally try to put off my spring planning until early March for a simple reason: planning too early will drive me insane!

In my own twisted way, I equate spring planning to vacation planning. When it all boils down, Jep is my little 24 foot vacation home on the river, so I guess it's not too crazy!

Luckily all of the hard work was completed last year. If you review previous posts, you will realize the extensive man hours that went into my spring preparation in 2010. From barrier coating to installing genoa track, Jep began to transform from a bare bones cruiser to a racer with some creature comforts.

Not to take away from this season's spring festivities, but I do not envision logging nearly the number of hours as I (and Drew) did last year.

So what's in store for this year? Glad you asked!

Most importantly, Jep has a new main! I've posted quite extensively on the new main. I finally took the sail out of the bag and unfolded it partially. What a difference between the old bed sheet I had been flying and the new sail! The material is unquestionably denser and stiffer with noticeable improvements in workmanship. The most striking difference I found was the difference in batten length (among numerous others). As the new main has 2 full battens, one of them is approximately 5'7" long. I believe the longest batten in my old main was maybe 30".

Since the new main has a loose foot (no bolt rope that travels through the boom), having an adjustable outhaul is essential. The outhaul system I am installing is quite simple. It consists of a regular block that attaches to the back of the boom and two cheek blocks (only one pictured) that will be placed at each end of the boom. I purchased 3/16" New England Sta-Set line to complete the system. The outhaul will route back to the cockpit.

Another improvement due to the new main is the addition of a rope clutch and winch. Previously we would use our brute strength to hoist the main and add the desired tension to the luff of the sail. This worked to a certain degree in lighter air, but in heavy air, we never had the halyard tension required for the conditions. Having a new sail coupled with racing this season, being able to properly adjust halyard and luff tension is essential. Pictured are the new additions: Spinlock XAS rope clutch and a Forespar Marelon #6 self lubricating winch.

At some point I will be modifying my backstay to make it adjustable. I have yet to purchase the necessary hardware but I know exactly what I want and need to make that a reality.

There you have it! Besides adding all of my fun new toys, I'll be doing some simple cosmetic work in various areas in addition to my usual bottom and wood work.