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Monthly Archives: May 2009

I’m in Boston today visiting with my friend Tifenn Judet de La Combe who has been helping me sort out some logistics in France from the French Library in Boston.  We are heading up to Maine today to visit with her Step Father Mike Birch, who is a legend in the world of solo racing, and one hell of a nice guy.  We will also see my friend and mentor Kip Stone who I worked for for a few years during his very successful campaigns on the beautiful Owen Clarke Open 50′ Artforms. 

It will be very good to relax with them and discuss the upcoming events in my life and campaign and catch up with the events in their lives.  They have been where I’m at many times (in fact Mike is building a boat for himself right now) and understand the stress and fatigue factors that I am experiencing at this point.  Honestly, and they may not know this yet, but I need them to help me get my head on strait and to try to help me remember that this is supposed to be fun.  To race and do well means first having a boat which functions perfectly so that it is simply an extension of the sailor’s every synapse,  and secondly it’s all about attitude.  In my case one may be directly tied to the other, but until Myrna is working completely I will not know.  That said I need to improve my attitude to get her to that point.  So I head North for council before I jump into the fire of preparing Myrna for the qualifier in France. 

Please excuse my lack of updates, but I just wanted a break from all things boat for a while. 

I’ll do an Ullman sail update before I leave for France on the fourth.



Well, she’s off to Europe.  Matt Scarpelli and I drove from Florida to Baltimore with Myrna and over the course of four days we managed to get the boat loaded on the Wallenius Wilhelmsen ship .

BaltimorePPhoto by Beth Perry (she c0nsistently takes good photos).  Guy decorating boat: Matt

 Well actually Matt and Beth Perry managed to do it.  I was not allowed into the shipping area because I didn’t have the proper identification.  Matt also managed to prevent an 18 wheeler from taking my mast out while it was backing out of the loading area.  Big shock there.  Why wouldn’t that happen at this point?  Thankfully Matt smokes because otherwise he wouldn’t have caught it.  

More significantly we managed two trips to South of the Border  in South Carolina, and had a great breakfast at Pedro’s diner.  South of the Border is a roadside sociological event, and I recommend anyone who is driving up or down I95 to visit.  It’s super bazaar.

Before leaving Fort Myers I received my new spinnaker in the mail.  Dave Bolyard overnighted it to me to make sure it fit, and it is a big improvement in both cloth weight and shape over my current spinnaker which is a cut down fractional runner from a 30′ sportboat.  This is a design straight from Dave Ullman and Bolyard and the team at Ullman Gulfcoast knocked it out very quickly just for a single hoist in Fort Myers before Myrna was packed up for France.  It’s an amazing group to be working with.

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Dave Ullman is busy designing the rest of the sails and I plan on spending the next week in the loft puting those together with Bolyard before leaving for Europe myself.  No rest for anyone here.


Well, I’m made it to Fort Myers very early yesterday morning.  All up the trip across was about 440 miles, which took me three and a half days, a very slow pace.  I was becalmed on a daily basis and rarely saw wind over 10 knots.  I had to do a lot of sail changes and maneuvers to make it to Fort Myers without an engine.  

 I was hoping to make this qualifier a vacation and sleep a lot, but there is no way to do that when the wind is light and shifty because you simply won’t go anywhere and I have, like, these deadline things.  This means I will have to do my qualifier in France because I didn’t make the 1000 miles, which is just another set back.  Just add it to the list 🙂

It all started with the 70 mile trip to Ship Island off the coast of Gulfport, MS.  The trip out there was easy enough and I made a very nice discovery about the turboed Myrna that I had not anticipated.  On the beam reach north of Cat Island which is just west of ship, the breeze picked up to 15 plus knots and Myrna started planing flat out with just a jib and mainsail.  Flat and fast with all the water ballast and gear stacked.  She would never do that before and it’s exactly the reason I had Dave Bolyard build my flat screecher sail at the Ullman loft in Mandeville before the Bermuda 1-2.  Clark and I call it “the thing” because it’s the thing that the IMOCA open 60’s do so well with the apparent wind well forward of the beam, and we could only get Myrna to do it a 100 degrees true in 12-15 knots.  Now with the new larger sail plan and the carbon mast she does “the thing” with main/jib at about 80-90 degrees TWA, which is really exciting.  It’s not like the boat goes 15 knots at that angle, but she will now average above 8 knots which is two knots above hull speed and feels great.  

Here we are leaving Lake Pontchartrain.

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Also upon rounding Cat Island to sail upwind to round Ship Island the wind increased and I had to reef the mainsail, and discovered that her heavy air upwind speed has gone up a lot.  She feels like a rocket upwind in over 15 knots now and seems to just launch forward when before she would just punch through.  I used to look at the gps speeds fluctuater rapicly (because Garmin dampening is pretty bad) from around 5.7 – 6.2 knots upwind in breeze.  Now, with the same gps the speed fluctuates from 6 – 6.5 knots (sometimes up to 6.8 which I know is BS).  These are not good representations of real upwind speeds, but it does tell me that the average has gone up significantly and you can feel it easily from the helm.  What’s great about this is that I was only trying to improve her speed in light air when I made these modifications.  I’ll take it.

Here I am taking my mandatory picture in front of landmark for Classe Mini.  It was very wet and at this point and you can hardly see the fort on Ship Island in the background.  

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Here’s the not so good part.  Once I was outside of the Mississippi Sound and beating int some really short steep waves that were being compressed and stacked in between Cat and Ship Island, I noticed the mainsail luff peeling out at the mast.  This was with the first reef in and the peeling stopped at the top two battens where the battens were under a lot of compression.  Conversly the head of the sail is bein leveraged away from the mast by those battens as one applies leech tension.  So I spoke to Sam Vasques at Gulfport Yacht Club and sailed to the club under jib only to meet him.  He helped me put the boat away and gave me a couch to sleep on.  Then I borrowed my friend Jeremy Richmond’s Dad’s truck the next morning (it takes a village) and brought the sail to Dave Bolyard’s loft to switch out the bolt rope to a larger one.  Dave mentioned to me that he thought the bolt rope was too small, but I liked the way the sail went up and down and wanted to see what would happen.  Well now I know what he knew!  We play mental tug of war often and I’m getting used to him winning.  

So I get to the loft, drop the sail off, drive to NOLA to pick up some spectra luff tape from the North loft there then drive back to Mandeville and Mark (Oz) Oswald and I set about doing some surgery.  He and Julie Bolyard did the bolt rope which I made little bits or something small and tedious, and we cut the boltrope down at the head and attached two plastic slugs which we knew wouldn’t pull out since that is where the biggest aft loading is happening.  

The next day I left again and the big breeze had shut down.  I missed a really good window for sure.  I would like to annouce this now.  The Gulf of Mexico has officially shut down for the sweltering summer which approaches.  She takes a vacation like this every year and lies around getting fat and lazy, only to punctuate her behavior with a hurricaine or three.  It can be pretty aweful, but like a family member, we love her anyway.  Either way, I was off sailing in the Gulf of Mexico again.  The place where it all started for me so many years ago. 

I’ll continue with the rest of this tomorrow.

Here’s a picture Sam Vasques took while towing me out.  Part of the tow agreement was that I had to participate in their boat parade which was litterally the least I could do considering that Same came and got me at 11 pm two nights before.


I stole this from Facebook.  He called the picture “BET and 32 0z.”   The back story there is that he picked me up and we grabbed some beers on the way to his house.  Sam and I sat around for a while watching cable.  At some point it occured to us how funny it is that a bunch of people thought I was bravely sailing alone into the Gulf of Mexico while I was actually laying on Sam’s couch, showered, drinking a big beer and watching a really dumb movie on Black Entertainment Television.  These things happen.


The lack of wind..

The lack of wind..

Here is the OPC weather prediction center’s forecast for today. Painfully light winds if any. Hang in there Ryan!

Hi there Ryan is finally sailing and he left me his info. to update his blog – this could be dangerous! Here is the latest, on Thursday Ryan called to say that he was headed into Gulfport, Mississippi for a quick pit stop. There was a big breeze and Ryan’s main sail had started to come out of the mast track The bolt rope was too small a width in the windy conditions, luckily there was no damage to the main. Ryan was able to quickly swap out the bolt rope. On Friday he was back on the water continuing towards Florida and hopefully the wind will hold out to finish his 1,000nm journey before shipping Myrna Minkoff to Europe.

Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms. Well I’m sure Ryan would say that!

– Beth

Of  course by tonight I meant this morning.  The wind last night was gusting up to 20 knots straight down the Bayou Castine channel, and I didn’t feel like I could short tack out because it’s very narrow for a long way.  Nobody would have been around to get me out of the mud.  So I got some rest instead and am off to walk down to the boat.

Bye now.


I’ll be checking in by cellphone at every cell range I can get to.  Beth Perry or Pat Kent will be updating the blog as I go.  All of my waypoints are near land, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be get through.  

Here are the legs.  

1. Ship Island light house to Tampa Bay ship channel.  

2. Tampa Bay to a light north of the Dry Tortugas.

3. Dry Tortugas to a light south of Apalachicola.

4. Aplachicola to Fort Myers.  

I have a bit of a treck to get to Ship Island and that’s why I’m leaving tonight.  

I’ll be in touch.


I’m getting ready to leave.  I’m hoping to go on Wednesday, but there is a lot of little stuff to do that could add up to prevent me from leaving that day.  I didn’t go to Baton Rouge today because I need a notarized bill of sale, and that should be here soon.  I’m packing stuff up and doing little odd jobs on the boat now.  Tomorrow I need to go to the Ullman loft and tweak the main and jib a bit before leaving and I also need to laminate some holes on the ballast tanks that are leaking. 

The leaky tanks are from a gian hole saw hole I had to cut out to get my hand in there to undo a nut for the old pushpits.  I tried to seal that hole the easy way, and that just didn’t work.  I hate water down below, so I am doing some lamination in the morning.  I had to get back there today with a grinder which was really nasty.  I have stuff down below so to keep the dust from making its way all around the boat I sprayed water all over the aft quarters to keep it nice and moist for the dust to stick to.  It seemed to work pretty well.  

I also had a visitor today.  A 6′-7′ alligator swam up the bayou and right past the boat.  Normally they are not so bold, and to be honest it looked like it was just out for a nice stroll and seemed to be smiling.  It was quite funny.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera.   

I’ve got to run to Slidell and put some stuff in storage.  I’ve been ready for this moment for a long time.  


But you can never take today back!  So I ran some errands, and put a new tiller extension on the Columbia Sportswear sponsored canard.

rfor-blog-059and among many other little things I’ve been doing, I also re-nonskidded the foredeck, because it was only grippy when the deck was dry.  This only happens on minis when they are at the dock.  In almost every sailing situation, nothing is dry onboard a mini.

I also fit the solar panels.  These are amazing because they also tell one’s future if you stare into them long enough.  


Of course they don’t do that, but they do let me fall asleep offshore which at least helps me manage my future a little bit better.  

Tomorrow I need to run to Baton Rouge to register my bateau for the Wallenius trip to Europe.  It should be utterly tedious and unrewarding.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate responsibility and the paper work that is involved.  

Bureaucracy is alive though.



I’d like to introduce my newest sponsor.


Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics ( have come on board to ship my boat to Europe and not a minute to soon.  They were interested in my project, like the America’s Wetland message, and just wanted to be part of the team. 

A special thank you is in order to my agent Beth Perry from Sailing 360 Sponsorships ( who brought my project in front of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics.  She’s worked tirelessly on helping me and is the most prominent touchstone for my project.  My goal is to make it pay off for her in the in the coming years.