19 November 2023


posted by ulli @ 11/19/2023 04:57:00 AM


17 February 2007

Conclusion Pacific Cup 2006

posted by ulli @ 2/17/2007 10:28:00 AM

It is almost embarassing - half a year is over, and I have not even gotten to posting the arrival photo. So, here it is now. On the picture from left to right: Donna, Greg, Marie-Pierre, Ulli, Bill, David.

Don't know why I can easily do daily reports when on the boat, but as soon as I set my foot on land things seem to take forever. Well, herewith I am claiming all applicable excuses!

It is not that bad, really, I did do some homework, and I have even added an extra treat. All pictures are now posted - enjoy our Photoalbum from the race - the celebrity pages are updated, and the special is that I have added a video page showing a sampler of life at sea in real video footage. Thanks to something similar to the technology used by YouTube, we can continue to assert our claim for the best and most advanced website of a Pacific Cup racer. By the way, this site has had well over 1000 hits per day during the race! Who on earth was that?

Germany's winter temperatures are getting closer to the Hawaiian temps; for the first time in my life there has not been any snow in wintertime in the area where I live. Maybe, in the not too distant future, we'll have a similar race starting from Scotland (it's not colder than San Fancisco anyway) and ending with Icelandic Leis being handed over?

However, until this happens, I will happily settle for another Pacific Cup! Mahalo Cirrus and crew, Valerie, and all other supporters, posters, and anonymous fans. You all made it once again a true "Fun Race to Hawaii"!


17 July 2006

Cirrus on day 14 - The Last Day

posted by ulli @ 7/17/2006 12:53:00 PM

Only 25 miles to go! This will be the last email for this trip, although I should be careful with such a statement, since last time our troubles really began a this point, and I had to add a long mail describing all the things that had gone wrong. So keep fingers crossed!

Last night and this morning was awesome. Wind increased but the sea remained more or less flat, waves were only 2 - 3 feet. The wind is what we expected, but in combination which bigger waves, like we had them a few days earlier. Our speed reached long stretches of 8+ knots. We were really flying; what a treat for the finals!

California girl, Green Buffalo and Hooligan have already finished. Our daily run of 151 miles was 33 miles more than that of the next coming Cassiopeia. Our new distance to them of 127 miles cannot be compensated with the 14.5 hours we owe them in corrected time. Unless something really goes wrong, we finally secured #4 position in division, despite our handicap of not having a mainsail. We are pleased with the outcome.

We had a passenger for the night. A bird, with a bright red head and a bright green tail settled on the masthead. The colors are actually not surprising, any bird could get it by sitting on the tricolor masthead light facing port, with the red port light making his head shine red, and the
green starboard light making his tail shine green. Despite all shaking and rolling, making him flutter from times to times, he would not leave.

Time comes up for the 25 mile check-in; i will close this mail and hope I can send it.

Aloha and Mahalo to all readers and followers of Cirrus' race, and a special Mahalo to all who contributed to the site with comments, making it a bit interactive. And Mahalo to Valerie, who did the posting of the pictures (and probably other stuff, I have not seen the final site yet) as this cannot (yet) be done from underway.

Final wrap-up mail after the award party, unless, well, let's not think about this. But it may take a while before I get to it.


position at 1220 PDT : 21N39, 157W25, COG: 225M, SOG: 7.5 kn, ETA: Today,
Monday July 17, 2006 , 1215 HST

16 July 2006

Cirrus on Day 13

posted by ulli @ 7/16/2006 04:01:00 PM

Where are the trade winds? They are supposed to be with us at this time and distance to Hawaii, combined with some good waves, about what we had a few days earlier. Instead we have almost flat water and very low wind. Not a single white cap visible up to the horizon. In addition the wind is not coming from straight easterly directions as forecasted, but more from south-easterly to south. We are going slow, from 6 knots down to 3!

With that wind direction our wing-on-wing jib rigging does not work anymore. We had both (!) jibs on one side. then we raised the spinnaker in addition, having then a total of 4 sails up. But that turned out to not work well. We took the two jibs down, and are now going with the 3/4 ounce and the staysail. We are going; not exactly fast, but we are going. A situation where we dearly miss a real mainsail.

Our radio worked this morning at least well enough for the roll call. Apparently they heard me well yesterday, but I heard them not at all, which yielded me a few jokes about my several calls "into the blue", which I sent yesterday. Still, I have difficulties with sailmail; something is not right with the radio. And then racing committee in Kaneohe seem to have problems of their own, judging from the many relays that were necessary this morning for the 100 miles check-ins.

California girl has already finished. We are still on 4th, but being challenged by Cassiopeia. They are still some 100 miles behind us, but we owe them 14.5h for time correction! This light wind from beam really comes at the wrong time.

Yet another big ship on the horizon, but no racer visible. It is hot.


position at 1530 PDT : 22N50, 155W10, COG: 217M, SOG: 5.3kn, ETA: Mon, July 17, 1438 HST

15 July 2006

Cirrus on Day 12

posted by ulli @ 7/15/2006 09:30:00 PM

NOTE: this mail goes out via satellite; our radio is malfunctioning, Ulli

This morning brought a little surprise with equipment failure, where we never had a problem, the radio. I was sitting at the radio at roll call time, but couldn't here a thing. I scrambled to check the other candidate frequencies, but they weren't there. Finally, I thought to have heard an extremely faint voice reporting what seemed to be positions. I called for "all racers" asking for a relay, but did not get an answer. Finally I heard Riva giving her report, hailed them and managed to have them relay my positions. At least I avoided the 1 hour penalty for not giving a report, but not not hear any of the others, and so we don't know where we stand.

I also tried sailmail, and only with many difficulties could I transmit a tiny mail. It is quite possible that this report doesn't go through a all. I may then try the satellite phone, or postpone till tomorrow. We had been in a very strong rain shower at this time; maybe this had an influence, but I don't know.

We were rained on at least 5 times today, from mild to "cats and dogs", and once again I had to dry my pants in the afternoon sun. Of which we had plenty.

In late afternoon we changed the white sails back to spinnaker. The new, blue-white 3/4 ounce is up after repair in the center. Old Faithful could also be revived with defillibration and sprinkling a bit of Aspirin over it. The combined efforts of our Canadjian Sewing Team and Bill were at work. But we think he is too heavy for the current light wind conditions. The sea has
calmed down also, fortunately.

Another big ship had crossed our stern, but no racer in sight.



position at 2100 h : 23N35, 153W29, COG:243M, SOG: 5.8 kn, ETA: Mon, July
17, 1340 HST

14 July 2006

Cirrus on Day 11

posted by ulli @ 7/14/2006 02:46:00 PM

After changing into some new sails yesterday evening we continued at a good clip, and made a 151 mile day. Unfortunately, Green Buffalo and Hooligan each made 25 more than us. There goes the chance. I wonder why Hooligan was doing so poorly on the day before. They may have had some problems, which they obviously have overcome. I took a look at the boat behind us, Cassiopeia. They are some 90 miles behind us, which sounds like a safe margin, but they have a better ratings with the consequence that we owe them 14.95h! Assume an average speed of 7 kn and this translates into 105 miles. So simply to escape them we have to gain an additional 10 miles at least. Unfortunately, they gained 10 miles on us last day.

We are now replacing our second jib with a bigger one. However, that second one had never been raised on Cirrus before. Let's see what problems come up.

The Pacific Ocean is not that pacific any more. Waves are a good 3 meters, and higher on occasion. The boat is pushed by the waves like a baby stroller by a bulldozer. Wild boat movement is still the norm. The waves are coming at an angle of about 40 degrees from behind, making prediction of the movement difficult. They are grabbing Cirrus at the starboard stern end, both lifting her rear and pushing her sideways, resulting in a rolling motion to port, and often bringing the rail under water. That would not be so bad, but then the wave passes under the boat, lifting the bow, and pushing the boat to the other side, letting the boat swing all the way until the starboard rail is under water. If this had happened in the first days, we would all still be green down to the toenails. So we manage, but the dinner cruise is over.

Speaking about dinner, we are scraping the bottom of our food supply. We usually had fish by this time, but so far we are out of fishing luck. It may have to do with the fact that we had no fishing line out yesterday and today at least until now. But yesterday nobody was in the mood to possibly also having to handle a fish; the sea was a bit too wild. Today we had one of those canned soups. Hmmm. Either we get fish or we sail faster.

Right now we have a sunny sky with lots of clouds, limiting the impact of the hot sun and making it really pleasant in the cockpit. Down below it is, however, rather warm and stuffy. The night was completely overcast, stars were visible only occasionally. Apart from the two nights in the beginning, we never had a full, starry sky again. Since we still have a 3/4 moon, the night is rather bright nevertheless, even if sky is fully overcast. That doesn't mean you can easily distinguish between water and sky. The dark grey water is separated from the light grey sky by a blurry mid grey stripe, the horizon.

Click on the weather map on the Cirrus blogsite for a little surprise. On the bottom right you will notice that hurricane Carlotta has left the Mexican coast and goes after us. I think we will be faster than Carlotta, but let's see.

No ship nor boat traffic the last day.


position at 1330 PDT: 25N00, 150W20, COG: 248M, SOG: 7.8kn, ETA: Mon, July 17, 2006 1619 HST

13 July 2006

Cirrus runs on Shore Power

posted by ulli @ 7/13/2006 11:32:00 PM

Mental shore power, that is. Our secret weapon ashore, Valerie, informed us about the ongoing "Get Cirrus Home" contest. This was enough of a kick in the ... to get the inertia out of the system.

Conditions remained wild all afternoon and evening, and still are. I did my last weather faxes and emails after dinner (shrimps and bow-tie pasta. Excellent. We missed the chilled Chardonnay), and got Valerie's message. I had dragged Bill at his ears over the boat all day long, whispering "third place" into his ears, but he wouldn't budge. The mail did it. (Yeah, we know who the boss is, don't we?). We now have the (tiny) trysail at the main position. Greg, at the helm at this time, yelled something about getting an extra half knot. Then we mounted the second (smaller than the first) jib on the starboard pole, to now have two jibs kind of wing-on-wing. Currently 7.3 to 7.8 knots, we are sailing again!

It didn't quite go without problems, though. Bill, Dave, MP and myself were on the foredeck. With the waves still reaching up to several meters, and the extra weight on the foredeck, Cirrus likes to dive in the waves ahead and scoop up water. Lots of it. At that one moment I was sitting on deck using all my force to hoist the new jib. The wave soaked me up to my neck, and Dave and Bill also needed some dry clothes. MP was smiling broadly, as she remained reasonably dry. Some lines tangled, the sail wouldn't unfold, and so on. But eventually we were through.

We go for #3, but we need the shore power. Keep it flowing!

Aloha, Ulli

P.S with luck i may get a photo through of the new rigging.

radio email processed by SailMail
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Cirrus on Day 10

posted by ulli @ 7/13/2006 01:26:00 PM

That was a wild night! Wind picked up quite a bit under squally conditions, and we got close to loosing control over the boat. But we managed, and all is well. The sails may disagree.

With the good wind yesterday we made 162 nm, a very good result for us given our sail outfit. We remain on 4th place in Division A, and only 8 miles behind the 3rd boat, which is now Hooligan, who had been passed by Green Buffalo. We may still have a chance for 3rd place, but everything else only with divine interaction.

However, others may have better lobbying in that regard, as HE ruffled us up a bit in the morning hours. Strong squally conditions soaked us with plenty of rain, and provided more wind than we cared about. And neither did our spinnakers care so much about it. The new 3/4 ounce got a tear in the center (!), which necessitated urgent activity to get him down before he would be blown up completely. We raised Old Faithful instead, our 1 1/2 ounce spinnaker, which had survived all previous 3 races of Cirrus. Conditions got even worse. The boat was not only rolling widely, but additionally also swinging horizontally - think of the mast as rotational axis - as well as bumping up and down, and see-sawing forward backward . At the time I sat down below at the nav station doing the morning roll call of the fleet. I had the feeling of sitting in a new adventure ride in Disneyland, and was beginning to wonder whether my breakfast would stay where I put it. But even old Faithful was overpowered, and lost his foot in the battle. We took him down and laid him to rest down below. It looks bad; he may join Humpty-Dumpty. Now we are back to our only white sail, the jib. The main sail, of course, still cannot be raised.

We are making 6 - 7 kn, but this is likely not enough for us to be challenge for 3rd place.

Sleeping is another challenge under those conditions. In mellow conditions you can lay down in your bunk in your favorite sleeping position, the boat would be slightly rolling, and if you had mom around for a lullaby, you would be quickly sinking into your most wonderful dreamy sleep. But under current conditions, things are a weeny bit different. The wider and "more comfortable" your bunk is now, the more difficulties you will get. I prefer the "coffin-sized" bunks, where you can barely move. Lying in the middle of it would do you no good. You'd be slapped around, either bouncing your face or back or arms and legs and knees on the hard sides of the bunk. What you need to do is to press your back onto one side, then raise your knees and arms to wedge yourself into a locked-in position, and hope to find some sleep. It may work. Other bunks, which are open to one side, like the settee in the center of the boat, need a so called lee-cloth. It is a strong piece of fabric spanning almost the full side of the settee, and being tied to the ceiling of the boat with lines to form something like a fence. This provides something like a hammock, and is actually quite comfortable. But mellow conditions are much preferred.

The daytime yesterday was simply wonderful. Waves and swells were building up, but easily manageable. The wind was sufficient to let us go at 7+ knots, with an 8+ during the squalls. The sky was blue with puffy clouds which helped to make the sunshine more tolerable. I had the first salt-water shower on deck. Greg followed me. Since the forward hatch was caulked shut, Bill installed a long garden hose, which reaches from the pump down below in the bow space through the companionway onto the forward deck. It is not easy to get yourself lathered with regular soap using saltwater, but i forgot to buy the saltwater soap. And once you have the soap on you, it is equally hard to get it off. But your feet and the wet deck are still slippery, and we really wanted to stay on deck and not slip into the ocean. So we secured us with a line wrapped around our body, since we could not use our regular harnesses, which would inflate when forcefully showered. So, it does take a bit of preparation, but it is sure worth it.

MP was sick yesterday, and we had to share in her duties. However, you can't keep a former bush pilot away for long. In the afternoon the was alright again.

We had the fishing line out all day yesterday, but still no fish. Where is hooker Joel when you need him ? (see our 2000 stories!). No ship seen (and no racer either). Are they striking somewhere?


position at 1300 PDT: 25N59, 147W34, COG:237, SOG: 6.6kn, ETA: Mon, July 17, 1843 HST

12 July 2006

Cirrus on Day 9

posted by ulli @ 7/12/2006 02:36:00 PM

You can rely on old traditions being cherished on Cirrus, and one of them is to blow a spinnaker. It happened yesterday during dinner time. The lightweight 1/2 ounce spinnaker, so carefully sewed by the Canadjian tag team, disintegrated explosively during a challenging squall. After thorough and careful evaluation by this highly qualified crew we decided to not fix the spinnaker, because we could not find enough pieces of it. Humpty Dumpty is no more.

The squalls had begun to appear yesterday, and we are already through at least half a dozen of them. A squall is a localized rain shower, some 1/2 mile to 1 mile in diameter. It has about the shape of a mushroom - the cap being the clouds, and the stem formed by the rain, pouring out of these clouds. They are moving with a speed of some 20 kn in the approximate direction of the surface wind, but at an angle to it of maybe 20 degrees. The attractiveness of the squalls to us is that they bring wind with them. Sometimes too much of it. If the squall passes over you, it pours rain on you from big buckets. However, once the squall has passed you, you may be unlucky enough to be stuck in the low wind hole behind the squall. So far we have not received a direct hit from the squalls, but mostly enjoyed good wind and some very refreshing rain. However, for Humpty Dumpty even that wind was too much. Unfortunately, we were also stuck in hole behind of them this morning, and had the sails flapping for a good hour.

Without the encumbrance of the main sail, which really may sometimes get in the way of the wind ;-) we are moving along quite well, still being in position #4 of our division. California Girl is unchallenged on first place of the division, but the fight for positions 2 to 5 isn't over yet. Looking at the boats' performances over the last days, we may well be moving down or up in ranking. Not sure what is going on on the other boats, but their performance is not convincing. Maybe they should also consider overcoming the impediment of the main sail ...

The squalls have helped us to again move at hull speed of some 8+ knots, albeit only for limited periods. Nevertheless, a 150 miles sail with only a single sail is not bad. It seems we have finally reached the trade winds; so far we expect a similar good run for today.

Another unlucky squid had propelled itself on the deck and was added to our dried squid collection. Flying fish are seen more frequent now. Only a few minutes ago we enjoyed the very unique sighting of a swarm of several hundred of flying fish all flying up simultaneously, a very, very rare sighting. We had the fishing line out yesterday for the first time. Nothing caught yet, but we keep trying!

I have begun to post the ETA, the Expected Time of Arrival below, as determined by my Cirrugator program. Of course we will make sure to come in during the night, why should we break with tradition?

'nother two ships passed at the horizon. Next vacation will be in New York; I need some calm and quiet environment to relax.


position at 1400 PDT: 27N01, 144W57, COG: 230M, SOG: 7.1kn, ETA: Mon, 17Jul2006 2248 HST

11 July 2006

Cirrus on Day 8

posted by ulli @ 7/11/2006 06:36:00 PM

Decisions, decisions, decisions, that's what a hard working racing crew is facing. Should we make the boat lighter by throwing one or more crew overboard - illegal by racing rules - or do we jibe now or later, or do we have the Champagne with the caviar or wait for the main dish? Yesss, we made it to the half-way point and had our party!

At about 5 pm yesterday we reached the top of the hill - 1035 nm behind us, 1035 nm to go. We blew the horn, and skipper served us his best Champagne, a bottle of German Sekt, Schloss Gutensteiner. Mind you, this is a "dry" boat, meaning no alcohol on board! So Bill really went out of his way to offer this treatment. We used our best crystalware, which nevertheless looked strangely alike to our day-to-day cups used for coffee, soup and cereals. It was delightful, but the best was still to come.

The elegant dinner cruise party began at 8pm. We began with starters, consisting of premium caviar avec un peu de Creme Fraiche, complemented with finely minced fresh onion, and crisp light rye bread. (I got the caviar in Walnut Creek, snatched the onion in my friend Ben's house, and smuggled all aboard, hiding all in the fridge) We had a bit of trouble deciding on whether the second bottle of well chilled Champagne (2nd ! on a dry boat!) should go with the caviar, or with the main dish. We settled on caviar. The evening was very mellow; warm, but sufficiently cloudy and windy to make sitting in the cockpit very pleasant. We all dressed up with clothes not worn for more than one day. Otto was driving, so we could all sit together. Main dish was a succulent filet of Ahi, lightly braised in lemon butter, presented on a bed of savory coconut rice, and topped with grilled, green asparagus. We savored the meal, enjoying a scintillating conversation about God, the World, and Siberian toilets. After a short recess to admire a gorgeous sunset specially arranged for the occasion, desert, chilled cheesecake with sun ripened mango and bite-sized pineapple was served, which we devoured while watching the rise of the full moon. For entertainment we had hired the singer Diana Krall, who set the stage with exclusive jazz and blues. A dinner cruise possible only on a cosmopolitan vessel like Cirrus.

This midpoint between San Francisco and Hawaii is actually quite unique in that there is no spot on earth which is further away from land! 1035 nautical miles, or approx. 2000 km. It's like going from Moscow to Portugal at bicycle speed, and having a party in Berlin.

As expected, we have fallen back to #4 in division, but given that we are kind of the one-legged man among the long distance runners, we are doing not too bad. The late starting, fast boats are playing among themselves; they are now covering all first 15 positions. Still a slow going race overall.

I am having trouble with transmitting our email. All mails so far have gone via short wave radio. Unfortunately, transmission from our current location and at mid-day, when I was usually sending, is difficult due to atmospheric ionic conditions. I hope to have more luck in the evening.

And, yawn, yet another ship has crossed our bow, and still no racers in sight.


position at 1750 PDT : 27N55, 142W36, COG: 255M, SOG: 5.5kn

10 July 2006

Cirrus on Day 7

posted by ulli @ 7/10/2006 03:40:00 PM

This isn't a fast race by any stretch of the imagination, competing in slowness with the 2000 and 2004 races. And having only one sail up doesn't make it faster for us. That is saying you need to have at least one sail up, and here is where our next little problem came up.

In our strive for best use of very limited resources, we decided this morning, about 5am, under a full moon, to jibe the spinnaker to squeeze out another fraction of a knot of speed. It became a long struggle with lines disappearing into the air, the spinnaker guy's shackle opened inadvertently, the spinnaker sock not coming down, then not coming up, and eventually the bottom of the sail ripped from end to end. No problem, Bill, M-P, and Donna fixed it right on the spot on the foredeck using the famous sticky tape, and up the spinnaker went again, only to be also ripped again very soon. It came down again, and the new 3/4 ounce spinnaker went up, which we are driving successfully since then. The whole struggle took almost 2 hours, during which we had basically no sail flying! Klabautermann keeps haunting us.

And imagine our surprise, when we learned later that we still are #3 in our division! California Girl is pulling away, only challenged by Hooligan. Green Buffalo is right behind us, and I am afraid they have a good chance of overtaking us. They certainly will if we continue messing with sails like that. But for now we are doing ok, with 5 - 7 kn at wind speeds down to well under 10 kn. The late-starting, fast boats so far show great performance covering all first dozen places in the overall ranking, but they also may be caught in light air soon. Weather charts do not suggest that any weather changes are imminent.

Greg and M-P are repairing the ripped half ounce spinnaker since about 2 hours. As I said, it is a looooong rip, stitched manually. One is poking the sewing awl through the rim of the sail, the other feeding the second thread through. But if I can manage to post another picture, you will see they obviously are having fun.

I have to apologize, I have completely forgotten to introduce the crew. Some of us have links to their own websites on the the Cirrus blogsite located in the sidebar, which you may want to browse. We probably have the most international crew of the trip. Bill is resident of Hawaii and owner and skipper of Cirrus. He does his 6th race across the Pacific. Dave does his 3rd Pacific Cup race, all of them on Cirrus, and had his own boat on the San Francisco Bay. He lives in the Bay Area. Greg is Canadian of Russian descent; he does his second race, both on Cirrus. He is an avid sailor and cruiser on his own boat, which he currently has stationed in Panama. M-P, or Marie-Pierre as rumors have it is written in her passport, is Canadian of French descent, and currently also resident of Hawaii. She does her first transocean race, but she has done three boat deliveries, including this year's on Cirrus, from Hawaii to the mainland. Donna is also resident of Hawaii, and is also doing a transocean race for the first time, but she has probably done more miles under sail than the rest of us plus extended families combined. For many years she had commercially operated her own 80 foot sailboat, which was used for marine research all over the Pacific. And myself, a German native and resident of Germany, who had lived and worked for many years in the Bay Area, I am doing my 4th Pacific Cup, and the third one on Cirrus, as navigator, radio operator and doing a weeny bit of typing. And not to forget Valerie, wife of the skipper and Boat Nanny of Cirrus. She is the 'chef de cuisine', having prepared almost all of our delicious food aboard, and the unchallenged commander of the whole operation, taking care of all of this from ashore, not from the boat. So now you know; 1 nation per 10 feet of sailboat!

Yet another ship has crossed our bow, but racers still remain invisible. We have seen the first flying fish of the trip. Actually quite big ones, which stayed in the air for quite some time.

We have 1050 miles to go, which means half-time is coming up tonight with some surprise dinners! Something to tell you about tomorrow.


position 1400h 28N27, 140W01, COG: 255M, SOG:5.5.kn

09 July 2006

Cirrus on Day 6

posted by ulli @ 7/09/2006 02:10:00 PM

Well, the event of the day was definitely the breaking of the boom. We are doing quite fine since then, except that, as already mentioned, the rolling of the boat is really becoming a nuisance. We haven't addressed that part yet, but the mainsail had been packed nicely and stowed away. We do not see a chance to raise it again during this race.

I have successfully send a picture to our pit-crew ashore. Hopefully they will post it soon if they haven't done so already.

Surprisingly we fared well even against our competitors and actually moved up in our division to third place! And that despite 9 hours of driving with only the spinnaker. In fact, the distance-traveled advantage of the fastest boat in our division against us was only 10 miles! I told all the fleet during this morning's roll call that we lost the boom and experienced better speed without the main sail and suggested they all should take their main sails down. Do you think anyone wanted? Now they can't complain; we have given away our secret in public. If they don't take advice, it is their fault. Would I love to cross the finish line ahead of some of them...

Considering our limping-along with only one sail, we have changed our strategy. We are now willing to go dead-down-wind if needed - made easier by having only one sail - and have chosen the direct Great Circle route to the finish line. This is the shortest path, and as we see it, the only chance we may have against the others. Since a big High is forming almost due north of Hawaii - maybe "the" Pacific High, but probably not - we also do not see a real disadvantage in a more northerly route. This weather isn't anywhere near the typical summer pattern, but at least that part is now a bit in our favor.

The broken boom is not the first damage which happened on the boat during this race, but the other stuff was almost so mundane, I didn't found it worth mentioning. The wind speed and wind angle meters broke in the first day out. We now guess the wind speed largely from the look of the waves. For angle we have to look up at the mast to the arrow mounted atop the mast. You get a sore neck from staring up, you look directly into the blinding sun, and you are unable to distinguish between an angle of 110deg or 140deg, which typically is an important difference, and so we miss the instrument. The traveler got partially ripped up by the main sheet, and was put back as good as we could. The gooseneck pin broke, as we had mentioned, a block on the boom was ripped out by the spinnaker and lost to the sea - including the shekels ;-) which went with them. The last dorade (a vent for the inside) got ripped out by a swirling line, which required us to close that hole completely to avoid taking in water, eliminating the last ventilation from down below, making it worse than it already was. Dave came up with a great idea and formed new dorades from the aluminum trays which Valerie had used for preparing and keeping the food. Alas, during the boom breaking episode we trampled them back to sheet metal.

We did not see another racer, but one more ship had passed us, this time on our stern. It sure is overcrowded on the Pacific these days. A little squid had jumped out of the sea and landed on our dodger, where it dried to death. Except for some few birds no other wildlife visible.


position at 1300 PDT: 29N00, 137W24, COG: 252M, SOG: 7.3kn

Klabautermann ruffles Cirrus!

posted by ulli @ 7/09/2006 04:01:00 AM

Exactly at midnight, under a full moon, it happened.

A loud "bang" sounded through the boat, followed by a yell from the night watch in the cockpit. And not much after, an "All hands on deck" call was made. The boom broke.

The boom is the pole which holds the lower side of the mainsail, and is fastened to the mast by the gooseneck. Faithful readers might remember the "Gilligan's Gooseneck" story from 2004 (see link about 2004 emails in the sidebar of the blog). The boom is essential to keeping the mainsail flying. It broke on the mast side, before the attachment point of the vang. It is therefore very unlikely that a "Gilligan's Boom" story will develop, however, we keep thinking of what could be done.

It obviously was a job of Klabautermann, what else could it be? Klabautermann, for those who don't know him already, is the little gnome well known to the German seafarers, who is present on all vessels going to sea and is responsible for all the bad things happening aboard. And if you are in doubt, just think about the midnight timing and the full moon! In retrospect we think it is no surprise it happened, given that the blessing of the boat was missing, in particular the part where we drink this excellent Hawaiian brandy. But so it goes on a boat - skip a step, and the penalty will be right there.

We secured the pieces of the boom so they would not go overboard, and then lowered the mainsail and removed it from the mast. We are now sailing with the spinnaker alone, still going along at 7+ knots. As long as we can go downwind we will be ok. However, the boat is now doing a lot of rolling; the mainsail was very helpful in stabilizing the boat. Hopefully this will not revive the seasickness theme...

Nobody got hurt in the process; I am glad to report that the operation went smoothly and professionally. As mentioned, repair is unlikely due to the position of the break. We think about raising the storm sail to keep more control on the rolling motion. While it is not bad right now being on rather flat water, with the much higher waves expected near Hawaii it might get ugly.

Since we are making good progress on the spinnaker alone, I will recommend to the fleet that all take their mainsail down, in particular all in our Division A. I will see how many takers I will find who follow the suggestion.

I took some photos and will try to see if one low-resolution picture can be transmitted and posted, but I cannot promise it.

And what happened after all was cleared up? Like little kids in the sandbox fighting over a shovel, the watch was fighting over who gets to drive first! Oh dear. Excitement is still high; everyone is in a good mood.


position at 0320PDT : 29N23, 136W17, COG 240M, SOG:7.5kn

08 July 2006

Cirrus on Day 5

posted by ulli @ 7/08/2006 02:01:00 PM

Last afternoon had been hot and slow. Eventually, with our moving away from the High, the sky turned cloudy and it became cooler. But then, very suddenly, the clouds disappeared and wind slowed down considerably. The High seemed to have suddenly expanded. And indeed, as we later noticed from the weather charts, the High had almost explosively stretched by a few hundred miles. There went our hope for better wind! This morning's chart showed another surprise: a cold front coming from the North-East. If you click on the weather map picture on the Cirrus blogsite, you will see today's chart. This weather is not even close what you would expect in the summertime on the Pacific. Will be interesting to see what the next days bring. Right now we are moving at a very satisfactory 8kn again. The sea is basically flat; swells maybe 2-3 feet, small waves only. As we are going downwind, the boat rides calm and quiet.

Last day we did somewhat better than the day before, but so did the other boats. Overall not many changes, except that California Girl is now really benefiting from their south course. Well, we would have been to slow anyway for such a detour. We have the lightest spinnaker flying, and even did already some jibes, i.e. changing the course to the wind, where the sail goes from one side of the boat to the other. This becomes interesting on Cirrus with our two spinnaker poles. Each pole has three lines to control, each spinnaker corner another two, plus the mainsail control lines, plus the boom breaker, so you are dealing with a good dozen of lines to change course under spinnaker. The advantage is that you can maintain tight control over the heavy spinnaker poles, and prevent them from moving around on the foredeck, which could be quite dangerous, as someone would have to be on the foredeck during the maneuver.

The sea water has become warm enough that we have begun taking saltwater showers. Still a bit on the "refreshing" side, but wonderful. And here comes my bi-annual lecture on saltwater usage for showering. Most of you will remember some beach vacation, where you very much looked for a freshwater shower to "get the salt off" your skin. Well, after saltwater showers taken in the middle of the ocean there is no such need. You feel wonderfully refreshed with no itchy feeling at all. You can even wash your hair and it becomes just as airy as with a freshwater rinse. Since we cannot afford to use our drinking water for showering, this is certainly a good thing. My explanation is that the difference to saltwater at a beach is that near shore the concentration of protein from decaying organic material might be acting as a glue to bind the salt to the skin, and that such protein concentration is much more reduced over deep water.

No traffic seen for the last 30h, no ships, no boats. The only other living creature around us was a huge Albatross .


position at 1300 PDT : 30N10, 134W35, COG:242M, SOG: 7.9kn

07 July 2006

Cirrus on Day 4

posted by ulli @ 7/07/2006 02:21:00 PM

Boy, is this ocean crowded! You can't do anymore a decent day's sail without running into some ship. This night we noticed a light at the horizon, and, after starting the radar, realized that it was not a racer, but again a big ship. And we kept seeing it at a constant angle, which meant we were on a collision course. Again. Calling them on the radio had no effect. No answer over 10 min. Then we used flashlights to shine on our sails and to flash at them. No effect. There may not have been anyone on duty; how comforting. Finally Bill got out his new high beam light. They probably felt the heat from the light beam on their sleeping heads and finally answered. I heard a voice with a strong Asian accent, and could not understand a word. Eventually they went by and we calmed down. Three ships ties with the record from 2000, and we are only in day 4.

At about 5 in the morning the planet Venus is rising. Venus is very bright, and when only a little bit over the horizon it looks like the steaming light of a big ship. So imagine you are on watch and have dutifully screened the horizon every few minutes for any traffic, never saw anything, and suddenly you turn around and, as judged by the size of the steaming light, a really, really big ship seems to be coming up right behind you! Such mistake has happened before. Even on Cirrus. I tell you, even when you are aware of this, your heart stops for a blink.

Boy, did we do poorly! It is almost embarrassing to speak about it, but the night was so slow we fell back to #4 in division, and back into the middle of the pack overall. We hope this is not the punishment for staying north. However, forecast suggests that we should be ok by the end of today; we are hopeful.

Boy, has it become hot! We are being fried in the cockpit, and it becomes really stuffy down below. This is another penalty for being too close to the center of a High. The sky is blue with only a few clouds, the night sky had myriads of stars again. Bill thinks he had seen the space station passing by in the sky, visible as a very bright spot. I am back into my traditional pant-cutting : a good inch comes off from the bottom end, and when we arrive in Hawaii, I will have brand new shorts. It is so easy.

Last salad is gone today. Fixed gooseneck is doing ok; everything in good shape.


position at 1345PDT : 31N24, 132W35, COG: 224M, SOG:5.5kn

A little note on our performance evaluation

posted by ulli @ 7/07/2006 02:21:00 PM

Apparently there had been a discrepancy between our performance calculation and the official one of the Pacific Cup Race Committee, which, with a little bit of helping from our end, was resolved in our favor ;-).

One problem is that there is really only one criterion to judge performance: crossing the finish line! Everything else is undefined. Nevertheless, we all want to know where we stand in relation to the competitors while still racing, and are looking for some formula to do that. In addition, in a race like the PacCup, where boats start at different times and with quite different technical properties (long vs. short, light vs. heavy, etc), the comparison becomes even more complicated.

Once a boat has crossed the finish line, its time will be corrected using the PCR rating of the boat. Cirrus' PCR is 607 seconds per nautical mile. With a distance of 2070 nm to go, the correction will be 607 * 2070 = 14.54 days. Or in other words, the expectation is that it would take Cirrus 14.54 days if properly sailed (an average speed of 5.93 knots). If sailed like that, the corrected time would then be exactly zero. The fastest boat in this year's fleet is Free Range Chicken with a PCR of 454 (10.88 days). The final ranking of the boats is then made by the corrected time of each boat.

So far so good, but how do you do it for the positions in between? Taking simply the distance traveled does neither account for the PCR nor for the late starters. You need a performance criterion, which is independent of both, and involves a time, so that you can correct for PCR. I have chosen VMG, corrected as described below. VMG is "velocity made good", i.e. the speed in strict direction towards the finish line, measured from the start as

VMG [kn] = ((Great Circle Distance from Start-to-Finish [nm]) - (Distance-to-go via Great Circle [nm])) / (Elapsed Time [h])

This VMG is then corrected with the PCR, using Cirrus' PCR as reference (to avoid the mathematical problem of having to divide by zero if a boat would go exactly at its rated speed, or the corrected speed becoming negative if going even faster than rated)

VMG corr [kn] = VMG [kn] * (1 - 1 / ( VMG [kn] * (PCR - PCR ref)[h / nm]))

Such a VMG corr does properly account for different ratings and late starters, and a ranking based on it would converge into final standings.

It should, however, be clearly understood that such a measure does not take into account any strategic advantages or disadvantages from e.g. going south or not doing it! Ultimately, going through the finish line is the only thing which counts.

For the Geeks among you:
Our performance tracking and ranking software aboard is based on HTML/PHP pages served by an HP dv5000 laptop running a Linux Kubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake)version of Apache 2.0 webserver with PHP extensions, gd library, jpgraph library extended with a Mercator projection class to allow plotting of navigational charts, and SQLite database. Works beautifully!


radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

06 July 2006

Cirrus on Day 3

posted by ulli @ 7/06/2006 02:31:00 PM

Sailing with the new, blue-white spinnaker up was such a treat. Moderate winds at under 10 kn, and a rather flat sea let us drive fast, close to hull speed *), which is some 8.5 knots for Cirrus. However, the night was so much lighter in wind than the day, that we came out only with an under 7 kn average for the day.

Fortunately the conditions were slow for everyone, and we ended as 1st in division and 3rd overall! Looking at the tracks of all the other boats it seems that from tomorrow onwards we may be the most northerly boat of the fleet, although we are already way below rhumb line. The presumed southerly advantage has not panned out for the other boats, and we certainly hope it never will. But, we are sticking to our strategy, and if it fails we'll make up the explanatory stories at the bar in Kaneohe. The Pacific High hasn't settled in yet - kind of late this year - , so even the fast boats starting today must resort to taking chances. Once the Pacific High does settle into place, some people will be surprised. We hope it is not us.

Dress code has changed considerably. We are into shorts and T-shirts, and put lots of sunscreen on to protect from the sun. Largely blue skies with some patches of clouds. Even the night was warm, and foul weather clothing was put on more by tradition than by real need. The night sky opened almost completely offering a wonderful look at the stars. There was a bit of haze in the air, so the stars were not visible as crisp as e.g. in the high mountains like the Sierra, but it was a treat nevertheless. We drove along the direction of the milky way. Briefly we could see a satellite crossing the sky. Today it is hot again, a bright, sunny day, but wind is down to under 5 kn, making sailing very slow.

Yesterday at noon was the last time we saw another racer, who later also disappeared from sight. After the roll call we realized that several boats were in the vicinity of 10 nm around us, but surprisingly we could not see them, not even during the night, where the mast top lights make the boats more visible. From our sitting and standing positions on Cirrus the horizon is about 4-5 nm away; the height of a sailboat and its mast may theoretically allow to see them up to 8 - 10 miles. So now everybody is gone, and we may see them again only in the harbor in Hawaii. We are alone on our disc of 5 miles diameter of water around us.

Well, not quite alone. Some commotion came up yesterday afternoon when two big ships became visible at the horizon, and - needless to say - on collision course with us. They would have to give right-of-way to a sailboat, but would they? and are they even seeing us? Maybe their Otto is driving them, and nobody is on the bridge. Wouldn't be the first time. We hailed them on the radio, and it seemed they were eventually putting their pedal to the metal and sped by about a mile in front of us. Quite a sight to see such a big ship so near. It is rare to see them, though. In 2004 we didn't meet a single big ship on our tracks.

Still remember the "Gilligan's Gooseneck" story from 2004? It happened again. Almost. Suddenly the boom broke off the gooseneck. Fortunately the wind was very low, and the boom was not that difficult to keep under control. The damage was limited to a broken cotter pin. After several hundred bucks in repair, a 20 cent piece was failing! I think we have it under control now, but it was scary for a few moments.


*) Hull speed: Basically the maximum speed which any boat can go limited by its hydrodynamic properties. To go any faster, the boat would have to go into surfing mode, which Cirrus cannot do under typical conditions, because she is too heavy. And we may not wish for those conditions, when even Cirrus can surf!

position at 1220 PDT: 32N30, 130W42, COG: 240M, SOG: 4.7kn

05 July 2006

Photos of Cirrus and the division "A" start

posted by ulli @ 7/05/2006 04:26:00 PM
Agnes took a ton of pictures during the Division A start on Monday and I sent a few of them over to Lisa Niemczura, the Pacific Cup co-webmaster (with Walt). And she posted them. Check it out: Division A Start Photos . -- Chris Doutre

Cirrus on Day 2

posted by ulli @ 7/05/2006 11:51:00 AM

Things seem to be settling into their tracks. Seasickness is an issue of the past - everyone is fine again. After almost 2 days for me without anything to eat, the Lasagne for dinner was even better than usual. Plus a wonderful green salad - might have been the last one for the trip as green stuff doesn't last well - and all accompanied with a great Bordeaux. Although I have to admit the wine tasted a bit like the bottled water we drink. Maybe it was bottled water? The new day started with a good strong coffee; we really are back in tracks.

The night was still cold, suggesting double-underwear, warm hats, ski gloves, and all the foulies on top of it. We look more like a returning polar expedition of big, cuddly Teddy bears than a sailing team racing to Hawaii. But things will change. Sky was fully cloud covered, with only glimpses of brighter sun rays, and every now and then a patch of a few stars in the night. Still pleased to say it didn't rain. The sea had become quieter. Wind was low anyway (10-15 kn), and waves were small, but big swells made driving a bit more interesting. Occasionally big canyons opened in front of Cirrus, where she would go into, dive into the hill on the other side, scoop up a load of water on the foredeck, and rush it back to us in the cockpit. Uuuhh, cold!

Our performance was quite pleasing. I have as 3rd or 4th overall out of the 28 boat that have started. We did a good 181 mile day, which is getting close to Cirrus' 1998 performance, which I see as our real benchmark. California Girl has apparently forgotten their warm underwear, or what else would make them go that far south? In fact, many boats are heading quite a bit south. Wether this will pay back to them still remains to be seen; if it does, we'll become very quiet. Current weather pattern is not changing that much; maybe we can get by with our course.

As of this moment we are raising the spinnaker (the new 3/4 ounce) for the first time in this race. Apparent wind speed is down to 5 kn, but we are making a pleasing speed of 7.5 kn. So far, things look good.


position at 1135 PDT: 33N56, 128W14, COG 242M, SOG 7.5kn

04 July 2006

Cirrus race position tracking on YOTREPS

posted by ulli @ 7/04/2006 03:32:00 PM

As you may have noticed recently, the "Position Tracking - Race" link on the left below has been showing the 2004 race. Well, it's just been updated and is now showing the 2006 race. Don't forget to click on the little red balloon pointer to get the boat's position, course, and speed.  --  Chris Doutre

Cirrus on Day 1

posted by ulli @ 7/04/2006 01:31:00 PM

This race may well go into the history books of Cirrus as the "seasickness" race.

We had a tight start with almost all boats of our division crossing the start line pretty much simultaneously. Something more seen in buoy races, where seconds count, not so much on ocean races, where the risk of damaging the boat is not worth the gain of a few seconds. Also unusual was that the boats were staying together for a long time after start; at least in the beginning everybody was trying pretty much the same strategy. Wind was good at 10 to 15 knots, although a long shot away from the gale force winds, that were forecasted. The waves and swells, however, were more of a problem and are remaining strong. Sometimes reaching 5 m (15 feet); the deck was thoroughly washed many times. Some bigger waves dumped bathtubs full of water into the cockpit, which we did not enjoy that much. Furthermore, the wind direction forced us to go close-hauled, which meant banging against wind and waves and swells for the last 24 hours.

I was first to give my dues to the gods of the sea. Marie-Pierre, who was down below crawling through the forward storage rooms for my medical bag, suddenly rushed out and joined me in the party. We had great fun spitting at the fish. Greg was watching us and asked whether he could join. But he was such a party pooper, all he wanted was some drugs, and after he got them went away. Later on, he partied all by himself. Donna and Dave made it ok through the evening, but partied through the night. I can tell you, their faces had passport quality in the morning. The only one untouched by all of this was Bill, who happily chatted and - ugh - nibbled at some food through the day and the night. I was laying down, knocked out and under drugs, and of no use so far. I haven't even touched the helm yet, can you imagine?

Fortunately, we had Otto Helm on board (some also call him Autohelm, the guy with hydraulic muscles to operate the rudder). Otto does really well in these close-hauled conditions, and he does not get seasick. Wave activity increased in the night, and cold spray and douses became even more frequent. So most of the driving was off-loaded to Otto, and the watch people could hide under the dodger. Weather is moderate. Completely grey sky since start, with only one moment of brightness, when the sun tried to make it through the clouds. But for off-shore San Francisco this is good - it is not raining!

This morning's roll call gave some good news at last. We were quite pleased with performance, being #3 in our division, and #5 overall for the 20 boats that have already started. Still, we did not meet our own performance with Cirrus in 1998. But so far it is all going close-hauled and with white sails. Much will now depend on how the Pacific High will or will not develop over the next few days.


03 July 2006

Cirrus is on her way to Hawaii!

posted by ulli @ 7/03/2006 05:14:00 PM
This morning at 11:15 am PDT, Cirrus crossed the Pacific Cup start line with the rest of the Division A boats. All except for Cayenne that is. That boat had a noticeable lead right from the get-go. But Cirrus was holding her own between California Girl and Hooligan (I think), followed by Cassiopeia and Green Buffalo, dicing it out for clear air as they all beat towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

Before the start, Agnes and I were fortunate enough to be invited aboard the race deck at the St. Francis Yacht club, where we took some great pictures that I hope to post here shortly. We also observed the entire start process with all the Volunteers counting time, hoisting flags, blowing horns, and firing the shotgun (!!) Thanks to Valerie, and the Pacific Cup Race Committee, for their wonderful hospitality.

Aloha Cirrus!
We wish you fair winds and following seas (and lots of clear night-time skies).

Chris and Agnes Doutre

01 July 2006

Cirrus is ready to go!

posted by ulli @ 7/01/2006 10:25:00 PM

Cirrus underwent a bunch of little repairs, like replacing engine hoses, hydraulic cylinders for the rigging tensioning, got a bottom cleaning, caulking (lots of it) to seal the interior against water dripping into the bunks and a whole lot more. She is now waiting in the docks of the Richmond Yacht Club, eager to be released! We are flying our battle flag, as you can see.
The starting gun will sound for us on July 3rd, 11:15am PDT. Weather forecast currently suggests strong wind on the first few days, but then ....
On the other hand, with Germany having beaten Argentina in the soccer championship, something's gotta rub onto us. Cross fingers and wish us fair winds!
Aloha, Ulli

11 June 2006

Delivery completed successfully !

posted by ulli @ 6/11/2006 09:16:00 AM
Delivery of Cirrus from Hawaii to San Francisco Bay did not go without problems, but eventually she docked at the marina of Richmond in the evening of June 5, 2006.

Congratulation to the crew, and welcome to the mainland!

The left picture is the farewell picture as Cirrus departs from Hawaii on this delivery, and the bottom one shows the crew standing on the dock of the marina of the Richmond Yacht Club in the San Francisco Bay right after arrival. Obviously Bill still struggles with his sea legs. Or what other reason could you possibly think of to explain Bill's clinging to his Ladies?

The trip had a few challenges, from an unexpected storm, unusual for this part of the Pacific for this time of the year, which forced them to return to home base, to a complete lack of wind when they got near the center of a High, to good wind but cold, rainy misery when they got close to San Francisco. Unfortunately, they also lost a foresail to the sea in some of the more tricky situations. It is probably the one which we will miss badly during the race.

Cirrus now undergoes final preparations for the race; we are all prepared for the race beginning for us on July 3rd, probably late morning.

I have moved all delivery messages and comments to the Delivery 2006 Archive, which you can always access from the sidebar.
Aloha, Ulli

01 March 2006

Radio Communication Plan for the Race

posted by ulli @ 3/01/2006 12:00:00 PM
HAMs may also be interested to listen in to the radio communication during the race. A quick link to the full radio communication schedule is available from our Links section for 2006.
Briefly, daily roll call begins at 0900 PDT at 4146 kHz, but time and frequency will/may change during the race. The informal radio hour - "Happy Hour" - "Children's hour" is at 1700 PDT at 4146 kHz.

Pacific Seafarers' Radio Network

posted by ulli @ 3/01/2006 11:00:00 AM

If you associate HAM only with breakfast, you will be learning something new here. HAMs are the amateur radio operators, who do - among many other things - span a wide network of radiostations, dedicated to help sailors around the world. In our region we have the Pacific Seafarers' Radio net . If you have a shortwave radio, you can even listen in; you don't need the fancy HAM equipment.

While underway during delivery, Cirrus - Chris will be the radio operator - will try to participate in the net daily, starting at about 5:00 pm Hawaii Time, on 14.300 MHz USB (Upper Side Band). There will be a roll call, i.e. all participants will be called up by a central station. Since we will be lowest on the roll call list at first, we will not be called until about 6:00 pm. However, once we are called, we will provide our position report. When you listen in you probably won't hear us directly (our signal may be too weak), but you will definitely hear the net controller stations very clearly, and they will repeat our report.

Then they will submit our information to the YOTREPS website and about two hours later, the website should be updated showing a chart of the pacific and our new position and course since start. (KG6SKO is Chris' radio call sign)

The operators who run the net are 100% volunteers and they make tremendous investments in their radio equipment so that we can hear them almost anywhere on the Pacific and can stay in touch with our loved ones.

Weather forecasts

posted by ulli @ 3/01/2006 10:00:00 AM
Weather analysis and forecast are available from NOAA through short wave radiofax and online sources. The marine charts relevant for us are found here. The "Pacific Surface Analysis" chart shown on the left is the most important one; these are updated and reissued every 6 hours. By clicking on the weathermap picture on the left you will always see the most-up-to-date surface analysis. We will be using this one and others. The red line is the rhumb line from start to finish.

We will obtain the maps either by radiofax or through an email triggered auto-response system.

Locate San Francisco at approx. 38North / 123 West, and Kaneohe on Oahu at 22North / 158 West.

Cirrus clouds - the namegivers for the sailboat Cirrus

posted by ulli @ 3/01/2006 09:00:00 AM

The picture on the left *) shows an example of Cirrus clouds, the namegivers for the sailboat Cirrus, and the picture on the right how an artist rendered Cirrus' logo.

*) from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Cirrus_clouds2.jpg

Cirrus is going again !

posted by ulli @ 3/01/2006 08:00:00 AM
Cirrus is going again on the Pacific Cup, the sailboat race from San Francisco to Hawaii. You are invited to follow our trip on this website.

Is Cirrus a seaworthy sailboat?
Cirrus is a veteran on the Pacific. Her first Pacific Cup was in 1998, followed by the next Cup in 2000, and then again in 2004. So with all trips back and forth, she has navigated the waters between San Francisco and Hawaii six times. This year she'll do #7 and #8!

What will happen?
The race will start for us on Monday, July 3rd, 2006 on San Francisco Bay, in front of the San Francis Yacht Club at the shoreline of the city of San Francisco. During the trip we will be sending e-mails from the boat, which will be automatically posted on this blogging web site. If all goes to plan, the mails will come in daily intervals, on occasion also more frequently. If you would like to know what to expect, please visit the links on the left sidebar of this website to see the emails from the trips in 2000 and 2004.

How can one send an email being 1000 miles away from land?
Typically, emails are being send via either short wave radio or satellite telephone. In 2000 we used short wave radio, in 2004 we used satellite telephone. In both cases the bandwidth is VERY limited, and the connection is VERY slow, and not very reliable. Think of computer connections by modem as they were some 10 years ago. But we can manage.

How can you participate?
First, of course, as a reader of our messages. But, we also enjoy feedback from our readership, in particular when we are in some kind of trouble - check the reports from our previous races, and you will understand. This website has an advantage in that it allows you to add your own comments, encouragement and questions to the postings. To do so, simply click on the link "Add a new Comment" at the end of each posting, and follow the instructions in the pop-up window.

While we - during the race - cannot read these comments directly, our boat nanny Valerie, who will stay on shore, will make sure that any relevant posting will reach us. At the same time she will also make sure that any information illegal for us to have during the race - like competitors details, or weather forecasts - will not go forward.

For all the "geeks" among you
These Cirrus postings are available via RSS feed by simply adding this url to your newsreader: http://cirrusblog.blogspot.com/atom.xml.

I join Google in recommending Mozilla Firefox as browser and newsreader. Adding an RSS feed here is very easy: Look into the browser address field, which will look like this when you are reading Cirrus' blog (click graph to enlarge) : Then click on this logo at the right hand side of the address field. Click ok on the pop-up dialog box, and you have an RSS "Live Bookmark" installed.

If you are wondering why you would even want an RSS reader, then check out this site.