Pleasure Pier Start at 14:55
Approximately 172 boats of all varieties lined up off Pleasure Pier in Galveston for Lakewood Yacht Club’s 2013 150-mile Harvest Moon Regatta race to Port Aransas, TX. This is a PHRF only race so sometimes how you finish is not always how you finished. For the first time in a number of years, the entry list included more then one J/105. In this case, three J/105s – Bee Bednar’s Stinger (PHRF of 78), John Bell’s Kinderspel2 and Greg Turman’s Horny Toad (yes that is a real Texas toad, PHRF 87) – raced in the Bacardi PHRF Racing Fleet’s PS-C class with the Viper 830 Rented Mule (PHRF 69).
A Ghostly Kinderspel2 in Pink
The Bacardi Fleet started downwind at 14:55 in cool and light 10-knot breezes out of about 10 degrees. As the evening progressed, the winds increased to the mid 20s, finally topping out at 28+ in the early morning light. Rented Mule took line honors with Stinger finishing in sixth place scratch. The two other J/105s finished about an hour after that. This was definitely a hot chute run and perfect for the Mule. Being able to fly the big 110 sq mt kite made the difference for Stinger’s second place. Turman’s Horny Toad finished third, and Bell’s Kinderspel2 came in fourth. Stinger’s maximum speed was 18.1 knots. Have no idea what the Mule’s top speed was, but even with the smaller class kites, the other two 105s hit speeds above 14 knots. It’s somewhat interesting to look at the overall finishes in the 21 boat racing fleet. Rented Mule was the first boat across the line followed quickly thereafter by a J/44, two J/120s, the Hobie 33 Soap Opera and Stinger. On corrected time, it appeared that the final overall finishing order would be Rented Mule, Soap Opera and Stinger. Well, that will teach us one design hard heads a thing or two! Rented Mule finished fourth and Stinger eighth overall. Nevertheless sailing under spinnaker under the big moon-lit skies and spectacular stars provided a beautiful environment for all races. The big party afterward is a big payoff for a long 20+ hour run.
The ride back on Stinger turned out to be a bit more then just interesting. After about four hours motoring toward Galveston, the winds picked up to around 5 knots so we decided to hoist the main to gain a bit more speed. This resulted in a few degrees of lean which of course none of us thought much about. About an hour later, a considerable amount of water in the port quarter berth made it a big deal. Stinger was taking on water though what is thought to be the upper rudder bearing. At that point along the Texas coast, there is no place to run. Anxiety was a somewhat high. It didn’t take Kevin long to figure out that the water was coming in through the rudder bearing. Healing was the issue because it put the top of the rudder post below the water line. However, the real issue was that the forward weep hole in the stringer was plugged so water could not flow to the automatic bilge pump. Flattening out the boat would minimize the inflow but moving water to the bilge pump would still be a problem.
Kevin’s first feat of genius engineering was to rig the old fresh water foot pump to pump water into the bilge pump area and get the auto pump to send it back into the Gulf. Once this was done the location of the weep hole became clear and so Kevin’s second brilliant feat of engineering used a suitably bent coat hanger to clear the hole and allow the water to flow freely into the pump area. Anytime we tacked or just flattend the boat for a while allowed the pump to clear the water and we were back on track.
To further minimize leakage, all movable weight went forward to push the nose down. Sailing somewhat fatter angles minimized the lean and significantly reduced the flow over the top of the rudder stock. Stinger safely returned home after a slow 29 hour trip. Moral of this story is: always check all potential leaks before you leave the dock on any kind of extended run. The leaking bearing is the result of not recognizing the full extent of damage due to hitting a submerged object some time prior to the race.