Boogie Nights

"Ever wondered what it's like to live the dream, with damp elbows and a feint whiff of your close friends toilet habits? This is a yachting blog with a difference, as we go on a journey of discovery, a journey of stupid ideas and ridiculous adventures. The daily commute will never look the same again."

09 July 2016

Tres Gruyère bound!

Hello there, it's Grace O'Mally, reporting once again, this time for the second leg of the Triangle race 2016

Kinsale to Treguier (leg 2)

here, have an anti barf tablet. May cause hallucinations, a skin rash and a dry mouth. 

Downwind sailing to France? Anyone fancy that? It's all very well if your boat is set up for spinnakering like a pro. Boogie Nights is equipped with a spinnaker and a pole and some ropes and stuff. I've had a look at them and they're not all that. In fact you've gotta be pretty brave to use that set up because it all ends up going arseways pretty quickly... 

But you know what I say? I say, aye it'll be grand. Give it a go. What you got to lose other than your mast or your limbs? Get on with ya. 

Jayne has a fairly strict rule it's not used in anything more than 15kts of wind. Everyone agreed that it's a pretty good rule. That is, if by everyone we mean Jayne. Sue wasn't keen at all. 
On the start line we had around 20kts and most boats were going for the big sails hoist. Sue looked on with mild mannered dismay as Jayne put the spinnaker pole in the ready position and got the Spinnaker bag clipped to the rail. For "just in case" she said. 

the faces of two soon-to-be-shagged-out knackered skippers after hand steering nonstop for over two days. 

Resolute had similar ideas to get away from the start line and build some distance on white sails before hoisting their spinnaker

Anyways, we set off on white sails until the wind died down. Then when everyone had fekked off up ahead with their fancy coloured flappy things, Jayne hoisted the red white and blue thing and then they spent the next few hours faffing trying to get it to fly. 
Which it wouldn't. Though it must have done something good because the other boats weren't really getting any further ahead for a long time.

Until Jayne decided to drop it and try again later. Which went more literally than she intended as the halyard slipped off the mast winch accidentally and nearly launched Jayne skywards.
We ended up with a nice colourful sea anchor around the bow and under it. Barbie caught it in her teeth, risked severing her cable tie she did.  
Sue's training and experience in sail retrieval came in very handy as was Jaynes ability to hove-to in a split second. They rapidly exchanged ends of the boat. Sue dashed forward from helm to bow and Jayne jumped on the wheel and sorted out the various sheets before running forward to join Sue to get the sail back on deck. 

The wet spinnaker was dumped through a forward hatch, inspected and repacked quickly by Jayne while she muttered expletives. No damage luckily, only a dented pride. 
The boats ahead had visibly shrunk in size in the short time Boogie Nights was parked for the retrieval.
We white sailed through the night, gybing every couple of hours or so. The basic model of autopilot on Boogie Nights can't cope with downwind sailing very well. So they took turns, hand steering. 2 on, 2 off. Poor buggers. 

It was extremely tiring. Well, it was for them, not for me. I'm only 7 inches tall with my hat on and can't reach the wheel. Has anyone seen my hat?
Despite having the boom brake pulled to maximum tension, we still crash gybed countless times. The brake took the sting out of the gybes, but not the frustration from whoever was helming at the time. How many times could we crash gybe before something would break?
"How many times could either woman cope with the failure to reach the Minstrels or wine gums before crash gybing again?" 

are we nearly there yet?

Another day, another night of sailing without a single AIS signal or boat in sight. It was morale sapping for the two not to have anyone to spar or race with. (other than each other to the ginger biscuits)
Another unsuccessful attempt to fly the spinnaker was made at lunch time as we passed the shipping lanes,  but a much more successful drop, retrieval and repack, we were back to white sails again. At least the red, white and blue was dry now.

The Irish food that Sue had stocked up on was going down a treat. Another casserole with Irish beef and then the pizza. Oh the Pizza.
It was actually more along the lines of Cheese with cheese and a pizza base hidden within it.
When they were making the pizza back at the little shop in Kinsale, Aoife there shouted to her mate Nell,

"hey Nell, can ya put some cheese on that batch of pizzas?" 
"Aye I did." 
"Well, couldya put a bit more on?"  
"Aye I will. "  
"Make sure there's plenty on there."  
"OK I put some cheese on the cheese"  
"just stick a bit more on, just to be sure like. We can't have 'em thinking we scrimped on the cheese."

Artists impression of Irish pizza. It caused a local shortage of cheese.  
Image courtesy of

Sue and Jayne pondered the risks of becoming cheese-bound as they took turns to eat the entirely cheese based food from their dog bowls. The conversation took a turn for the abstract as Jayne cast a final piece of cheese overboard and pondered the possibility of a dolphin becoming cheese-bound.
Sue suggested that it might be similar to a petrified effect that can only be counteracted by looking at things through a mirror and not directly at it...

I'm going to leave this conversation here.
They had been hand steering for quite some time and that was A LOT of cheese.

No word from Barbie on the matter. I'm surprised, I thought she was a fan of dolphins. And cheese.

After another exhausting night of hand steering and crash gybing, we emerged the other side of darkness to be greeted with the scent of land.
The wind shifted and finally a brief spell of autopilot to give Jayne a welcome rest while Sue was off-watch in her bunk. 

Jayne took the opportunity as the sun rose and the invisible crew was steering, to make some brioche toast for breakfast, followed by a nail manicure and a cucumber face mask pamper time in the cockpit. 

Nobody said that yacht racing absolutely HAS to be without home comforts and little luxuries right?
That's the beauty about racing your house. Inevitably something slightly odd will be left in the cupboard that isn't strictly speaking a necessity for racing. 

evidence of "lady times"
After a morning into early afternoon of sailing fast and furious, the wind gradually started to die as Boogie Nights approached the finish line. The tide was due to turn any time. 
It was like the two women were cheering a football match with odd random outbursts of "c'MON!" as they willed the boat on and the wind not to die and it couldn't have been more perfect. Sue clocked our finish time on the mark, we were on the end of slack water and the tide was just turning.

Then arrived the two French Customs dolphins, named Eeeheeehh eee Eeee ee and Ee Eeeeheeeh eep ee, (roughly translated that's Davide and Davidette) escorting all yachts in through the rocky entrance to the River. They swam alongside, almost touching the boat sometimes they were so close. Jayne stood helming but leaning over the side to get a better view. What she got was a face full of Davidettes blow-hole. Oh yes, and in public too. Nothing to declare. Nothing to see here. Move along. 
Our journey down the river was easy and there was finally a little time to look around and enjoy the scenery.

On arrival both ladies were quickly showered and ushered onto Amylou which was resplendent with its cockpit tent. How many people can fit into the cockpit of a Maxi 1100? Somewhere in the region of 13 people enjoyed the cosy space. Not once, but two nights in a row. It's always a good night when you see the night turn to day again. 

Now this is where it all gets a bit photographic and less wordy...

Gary (the owner of Amylou - on the left) was top host, along with his co-skipper

Russell (co-skipper of Amylou - on the right)
Both chaps not only sailed like gentlemen, but also made sure to call their wives as they picked up a signal via the Scillies on their way to their 4th place in France. 

Sue sits next to James (owner/skipper of Katisha, a Contessa 32 came first in class 3 in leg 1 and 2.)  

evidence of drinking past and drinking future.

evidence of the benefits  of cockpit tables, even when racing. 

team Resolute Dave and Gary, are just taking a little power nap at the back of Amylou.
They're like coiled springs though. 

There was the usual parade through the town, up to the cloisters in the Cathedral. And the ladies got the jet wash and dremmel out. They scrubbed up alright.

You wouldn't believe how much cheese these women can eat. 

Team Arrow, they came prepared for the parade. 

Alan?   Alan?   Alan?   Alan?   Alan?   Al?   Al?   Al?   Steve?   Steve?   Steve?   Steve? If you were part of the triangle fleet that were kept awake by the revellers shouting the above, then you need to see the following video link. If you heard anyone shouting Dave! Gary! Phil! etc, that was most likely Jayne, or Sue, or Phil, or Gary, or Dave, or possibly Russell, maybe someone else...

There's a bit of weed in this river. Some boats were hemp'd in... I said they were hemp'd in...
weed...I'll get my coat.  

Anthony and Yves of Big Doris were one of the nine boats that didn't make it over to Ireland due to the weather, so they came straight to France and rejoined the race from there. Anthony has taken part in every race since 1998 and still can't pose for a photo. 

Some small adjustments to his chartered boat, A J109 called Bonfire 4. Gaffer tape has many uses, it's not just for kidnappings and stopping water leaks on hatches.  

Mister Lucky, an Australian entry in the race and much welcomed by the fleet. 

Sue has lost her parrot and her wooden leg. If you see either, please get in touch.  

the fleet are finally back together in France, minus a couple of casualties who remained elsewhere to make repairs. 

fellow triangleurs discuss techniques for catching Sues parrot. 

Team Katisha (James and Phil on a Contessa 32) practice their gangster poses and acceptance speeches as they aim for the hat trick, hoping to win three out of three in their class.

The river that leads to Treguier is pretty with interesting houses and a real sense of history on the banks.

Sue googles "Dolphin petrification through cheese consumption" as we head out of Treguier for the start of the next leg.

has anyone seen the figure head?

abandoned cable tie? Has anyone seen Barbie?

to be continued...

05 July 2016

Kinsale? Yes we can!

The Triangle Race 2016 part 1 of 3. 

The various characters on the boat have been notably quiet of late.
Barbie particularly so. Barely a word from her. This is probably because she’s hungry and they’re all afraid.

We’re all going on a fekkin' diet

Losing weight seems to be the preoccupation of many people, for reasons peculiar only to themselves. Boogie Nights has been on a diet that would put an army of "fat feeders" out of a job. 

Between Jaynes obsession with only allowing small things onboard and one-for-one, we also had the issue of her only allowing things on board if they were to be used in a two week window.

the systematic emptying of cupboards and only refilling with essentials. 

She started by emptying the saloon cupboards.
Charts for East Coast? Get out
Pilot books for East Coast and the Med? You can get out as well you fat bloated bound pieces of paper.
DVDs, board game, book on tying knots? Way too heavy. Out!
Then the galley. Would all the glasses please step forward? Right, now get out.
Ok, not you small wine glass. Or your buddy there the champagne flute… you can stay.
But the rest of you? Fek off out of here. This is no place for heavy weight glassware.

Now then what’s going on in the throne room? PINK HAIRSPRAY? What the b-jeysus are you doing still in that cupboard? Get out!
Three hair brushes? Has anyone failed to notice Jayne had her long tresses chopped for the Princess Foundation over a year ago? She ain’t gonna be needing you again for a while. Get in the box. Ok, not you, little compact grooming device. She’s not a complete scruff bag.

Box after box of surplus STUFF left Boogie Nights, and it added up.
Gradually the waterline crept higher and the Ducato Maxi (known as the shed) hunkered down on its suspension, the fuel economy dropping from a marvellous 55mpg to a less marvellous 45mpg and stopping requires forward planning, similar to that of a fully laden cargo ship.
Nearly 200kilos were shed from the belly of Boogie Nights. All the empty cupboards on the starboard side were filled with heavy stuff from cupboards on the port side in an attempt to re-ballast a perpetually annoying list to port. 

If the boat had a voice, he might complain, like Marvin the android with the pain in all the diodes down his left side [*3]

A few luxuries remained though, the cocktail shaker along with decent sized cabinet of liquid refreshments. Medicinal.
A baking tin and basics for making a cake. Medicinal.
A second edition of Mill on the floss as well as an 1889 edition of the Pears Cyclopedia, because you never know when you’re going to need the exchange rate of the Rupee or Italian Lira as of the late 19th century when you’re racing offshore in the Irish sea.
And of course, a collective sigh of relief, the mascots all remained. Wonky knitted Donkey, Scary feet Sulley, Bendy Wendy the barometer legs, Talking Yoda, Silly sausage, Mr Oizo, wiggly Lil’ and me, the new girl, Grace O’Mally, Irelands fiercest, most notorious Pirate. EVER [*2] I'll be telling this story because I'm not cable tied to the front like a certain other character round here. Terribly quiet isn't she... 

Final checks: have we got enough fuel for a full day motoring? Yes, there’s 50 litres in the 140 litre tank, plus the emergency jerry, that should be plenty. No point carrying an extra 90kilos of fuel for no reason ay? [*1]

Jayne relabelled the crew bins (little stash bins for small personal things) under Bond Pseudonyms. Her chosen Bond Girl name was “Inna Flapp” Professor of perpetual faffing. (aye that's about right)

The Triangle Race fleet assembled gradually over the space of a week.
Boogie Nights was delivered in glorious sunshine to Torquay with the help of a fellow skipper who’s identity must remain anonymous, but we will call him Dr GingerFinch for the sake of keeping a Bond theme.
Ice creams were eaten, new sacrificial sunglasses worn and new friendships forged as fellow crews started to mingle.
GingerFinch made a hasty retreat back to his Bond lair. Sue arrived with a truck load of food and supplies and chose her Bond Girl name as “Clara Onnatopp

Torquay - Fleet assembled. 
It's the seaside, it's the law. 

Going Swimmingly

The speed log on Boogie Nights hasn’t worked for some time and a strand of weed was blocking it, so a quick swim with a scrubber was needed to get rid of it.

Jayne has a particular phobia of putting her head underwater so bravo for her managing that. Needs must.

 Good lass. Not a bad scrubber. 

Meteorologica Shminky Pinky Bang Bang

The weather forecasts started flooding in and there was a collective rustle amongst the fleet.
Perhaps more a bristle than a rustle.
Good friends on a Maxi 1100, Amylou moored alongside Boogie Nights uttered the words “boat breaking conditions”

Sue busied herself going through passage plans again. Jayne was doing a thorough shackle and fittings check, adjusting, tightening and double checking.
A westerly wind of 25-30 knots was predicted and a rough to very rough sea state. 
This isn’t really much of a problem, except this is the Irish Sea we are crossing and we wanted to go West.
The thing with yachts is that, however marvellous they are at harnessing the power of nature, they can’t actually sail directly into the wind and this meant we would have to “beat” upwind, also known in Boogie Nights terms as :doing the the ziggy zaggy or a bit of a jiggy jaggy.
"Either way, whether we jagged or zagged, I tried to reassure Jayne it'll be grand. It always is. More or less. Except when it isn't."

This first leg would certainly separate the willows from the bough, the wheat from the chaff, the bugle from the caller, ladies from the men, the, no wait... can we all just arrive safely please?

Leg 1

Race start was typically entertaining in the sense that Sue and Jayne have only ever started one race together before. So while they discussed which line to pull, the race got underway:
"ease the main sheet, no the main sheet, no the main sheet, no that's the second halyard, no not the vang, no that's the third reef, the main sheet, the blue one, that one..."
"right, ok"
"can we gybe? are we ready to gybe? We need to gybe"
"yes, I'll try..."
"can we gybe a bit faster, no faster than that, ok, that was a bit faster than I meant... but that's ok the boom brake was on"
"shall we get the jib out?"
"yeah suppose we should really since the race started a minute ago..."

But never mind, there’s 250 miles to go yet to Kinsale.

Sue adjust a jammed reef line so we can fully hoist the main sail after starting the race with one reef in. 

A familiar sight for the remainder of the triangle race as Sue comes up from making her hourly plot on the chart. It's a ritual. It's her thing. 

Jayne -  never knowingly fashionable or stylish. Ever. 

The first day and night flew by and there was still the odd boat visible on the AIS radar screen but as the second day wore on, those signals started to fade and the weather switched on.
And it really switched on. It was like old times. 
Determined to keep their stomachs full of excellent food pre-prepared by Sue and avoid any downtime with mal-de-mer they dropped Kwells like ravers on acid, minus the UV facepaint or excess sweating.

The beats were ON though, sometimes 80’s disco, sometimes hardcore dance music, sometimes classical, rock music, reggae or world music, but always ON.
The rusty, orange stained pods pumped music out 24/7 and the waves built.
Both women took turns at helm, 2 on, 2 off. Sometimes more, sometimes less.
The near full moon was beautiful and equally revealing of the savage Irish Sea. It illuminated the breaking tops of waves in an eerie bluish colour.
In the wake, sparkled phosphorescing particles or critters, which was both mesmerising and hypnotic to watch.
The wind turbine hummed, howled and whistled according to the wind intensity but never stopped spinning.
Dolphins had come to visit during daylight hours, torpedoing out of the building seas towards us, swimming around the boat before heading  off again. 

2 on 2 off

Sue slept soundly below like a sausage roll in her duvet after another night time watch changeover.
Jayne sat at the helm, eyes still adjusting to the night-scape. Still clipped on with two tethers after the changeover-shuffle, she tweaked the autopilot located by her left knee and settled down into the “cosy” port aft corner, leaning against a fender tied to the back rail.
Cosy being relative when you are in the firing line of most waves.
Wearing the full monty Gill Ocean jacket, the collar is so high that the only thing visible when the hood is drawn is a tiny slit to see through. Rather like looking out of a letterbox.

foul weather gear : sponsored by Royal Mail

Boogie Nights launched off of another wave. Like a rapid descent in a lift, the stomach takes a moment to catch up. We landed with a shudder in the trough then started climbing another foamy peak. A cross wave hit us, SLAM - spray, the boat lurched off sideways as we headed swiftly down the other side of the peak, another wave threatens but passes by, breaking just behind us with a hiss.
In the troughs, the only things visible are the slab sides of water around us, in the brief moments as we crest the peaks there’s a feeling of observing the world from a height, it’s a massive aggressive watery desert as far as the eye can see in every direction. The moonlight illuminates a horizon that curves away and is quickly blotted from view by the next wall of water.

And then, it is inevitable.

Looking across in an attempt to read the next series of waves, a long horizontal foamy tube of blue resting on a black wall of water has your name on it.

In the time it took Jayne to utter “oh fu..” the wall of water, easily the height of the boom,  slammed into the side of the boat and broke across the cockpit. It was like being hit by a baby elephant. Lifted up from her corner by the volume of water whooshing across, Jayne’s tether pulled taught for a moment as she buried her head into her elbow trying to avoid too much water getting into the letterbox opening. Still holding the wheel she landed with a bounce, shaking the water from her hood and wiping her eyes in an attempt to focus again.

"Patti Smith – Because the Night blared out of the speakers. This was power ballad weather alright."
Jayne sang along, muffled inside her massive collar "Because the night belongs to nutters, because the night belongs to us..." 

the sea, painted by Hokusai

We were 15 minutes into a watch of 120. This was going to be gnarly.  

And the beat goes on. As always at some point, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy finds its way through the random playlist whenever challenging weather presents itself. It's like being in the book "Good Omens" where the Demon, no matter the tape cassette he puts in the stereo, always ends up with Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody playing. 

At the next watch changeover and two episodes into Hitchhikers, Sue emerged blinking from the companionway, suited and booted ready to sit in the firing line, cheerily she wished Jayne a good morning (it was a little past 3am). Her ability to be cheerful is something that should be bottled.
Jayne explained the previous watch excitement and suggested she sleep in the cockpit as the weather was showing no signs of improvement  and it would be much easier and quicker to react or help out if that final reef was needed.

As both women discussed their fatigue induced hallucinations, Sue had spotted a stranger in the heads and Jayne heard a male voice several times make various vocal noises that sounded like a "hmmm" or "aaahh" which she attributed to the boat talking to her [*3], just then, a metallic clatter was heard,  both women looked around in vain to see what it was. Jayne looked up at the rig and Sue looked down below.

BANG - massive wave. The boat shuddered.
A second clatter was heard, slightly less metallic and again no sign of what it was.

As the night passed into day and the two skippers continued their shifts, Jayne stood in the cockpit to look over the deck, scanning the fittings to see if anything had gone awry in the night. The angry waves hitting the boat from all directions were summarily dismissed by Boogie Nights as it powered on. Relatively little water found it’s way into the bilge, just a few basins full.
Except. Ah. Wait.

The lashed boat hook? Gone. Metallic clatter? Yes. Check.
The contoured deck panel that covers the lines from mast? Starboard side, Gone. Slightly less metallic clatter? Yes. Check.
Fek a doodle dandy!
That diet is getting ridiculous now. That was weight we didn’t mind staying ON the boat.
The non slip mat on the deck was also peeling up on every leading edge. 

spot the missing panel. That'll be £650 to replace then. Shit. 

With the big weather came small discussions and a compromise about routing.

route A or route B? A was faster but required slightly more navigational skill, route B, easier to navigate but would result in a tougher point of sail later by putting too much north into the route.
It was debatable over which route would be the smoother passage. 

Jayne had opted for the popular route north of the Scillies and south of the traffic separation zone (A).
It’s not buoyed but it’s plenty wide enough gap to sail through.
Sue wasn’t sure she was happy in the night sailing through it in the weather conditions.
With no other boats around us on the AIS to use as a judgement tool, and wanting to remain a strong team together, they re-routed to the east side of the traffic separation zone, up to a buoyed channel heading north (B). Knowing this would take them to a difficult place to sail on to Kinsale from with the strong westerly winds, it was decided to prioritise team work before speed.
The route would add another day to the journey. This was no longer a race but a matter of team survival and developing trust together.

time to start drying stuff, Sue put the lid to the wine cave outside to dry... which revealed a nice little stash of booze on the starboard side.

Surplus battery power thanks to loads of wind? Switch the fridge on and get that Prosecco chilled!

As Tuesday came and went and Wednesday dawned, the two were anxious not to miss the cut off arrival time on Thursday Lunch time.
But the good food kept coming, the calmer conditions meant that the boat tidying could commence and the pair managed to catch up on some sleep.

knackered sailor

The first signal Jayne found on her phone was one from fellow competitor sharing a screen shot of the AIS signal of Boogie Nights pointing towards Kinsale, followed by the same from Jaynes Ma.
The extra day delay meant the crews who had already made it to Ireland were worried about those still not accounted for.

While those awaiting our arrival on Wednesday evening could see this:

AIS signal as we approached Ireland

We were looking at this:

beautiful evening approaches to Kinsale

Only 20 boats out of 29 made it to Ireland. Whilst Boogie Nights wasn’t the last to arrive they were the only one out of contact since the early hours of Monday when the weather turned nasty.
There was still a little adventure to go even as we crossed the line, Jayne fired up the engine for the first time since Torquay 3.5 days before, it ran for just 2 minutes then cut out. [*1 - air lock. 50 litres is not enough it seems in a 140 litre tank. Next time there's big weather, make sure the tank is full]
So we sailed at 7 knots up the river with two reefs tucked in and the bombproof jib roughly set. Jayne fired off some help messages to the Race Organiser David Rayment who quickly came to our assistance. 
A rib came out of the darkness to meet and guide us into a temporary spot alongside two other boats in Kinsale Marina. 
The reception the Boogie Nights team received in Kinsale was absolutely top drawer. 

Drinks into the night in great company and nobody minded that the two unwashed ladies turned up after just a brief wet wipe down. [see Jaynes other blog about sailors and their wet wipes]

With such a short stopover there was little time for anything other than a quick trip to a chandlery to replace a lost winch handle, a rapid deep clean of all wet cupboards, receive a booby-prize for the most miles covered between Torquay and Kinsale (455 as it happens) and then hit the town for some traditional pub time. 

Sue had already crashed out, needing to recharge before the start of the next leg, but Jayne took one for the team and enjoyed some fabulous music in equally fabulous company (Katisha, Spruce Goose and Resolute)

live Irish music and an impromptu evening out in the town. 

Did I mention Barbie was still quiet?
She did a decent job up there on the bow granting us safe passage,  but arrived looking a little worse for wear. She's still not talking to us. At least she has all limbs still attached and managed to keep her shoes.   

How undignified. 

to be continued...

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