It’s 12 days to the start of the EC. We did a gear check yesterday and found that we are ready. We could launch today. Maybe all this planning and practicing will have some benefits when the inevitable problems happen along the race course. We couldn’t have made it this far without lots of help. We’ve been extremely lucky to have some of the biggest and best companies in the marine industry take interest in the EC and our effort for the 2013 edition of the race. Thier contributions to our race program will help us to be faster, safer and more comfortable during what we hope will be a 3 day trip to Key Largo. We are also going to thank some individuals for their advice and support during our long preparation and training period.
Our main sponsor from the beginning, JSI has done everything from provide rigging and replacement equipment to boat storage. This St. Petersburg, Florida based company is a sailing mega store. Within their huge building they have a marine ships store, canvas and cushion operation, spar shop and sail loft.
The canvas department designed and installed custom gear bags and storage compartments throughout our boat. They modified our booms and provided the hardware for our staysail system. JSI donated the time and expertise of their riggers, canvas and sailmakers at any time we needed them for projects large and small.
This world class sail loft is located within the JSI facility in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is owned by renowned competitive sailor, Mark Ploch. Mark has been building winning sails for almost 4 decades. Most days you can see them building laminated race sails for boats over 50′ l.o.a. They regularly build sails for a fleet of cruise ships that are sail powered. So on any given day you can see sails designed for ships down to dinghys and daysailors being built in this facility. His sailmakers have hundreds of years of combined experience. For our project, sail designer Bill Durant sat down with us and took plenty of time to listen to what we were trying to accomplish with replacing the stock Sea Pearl sails. He came up with a bi radial design in dacron with maximum projected sail area. The sails were designed and computer cut, then assembled in the St. Pete loft. We have now put many miles on this new suit of sails and we feel they are the fastest and most durable Sea Pearl sails ever built.
Gill provide the team with the best foul weather gear we’ve seen in 30 plus years of sailing. This gear is tough, waterproof and has many handy features which will make our lives easier in rough weather on a 21′ open sailboat. We chose a combination of the KB1 Racer smock top and the Pro Sallopette bottoms. We added thier complete line of layered socks and are using the short sea boots. We’re outfitted with two pairs of gloves each, one a lighter duty pair and then a neoprene pair for extreme conditions.
To sailors, whether they cruise or race, Harken needs no introduction. This company has been providing sailors with top class racing and cruising hardware since the 60′s. We grew up using their stuff and it’s never let us down. Our Sea Pearl is completely Harken equipped. From the tiller extension to the boom vangs, it’s all Harken. There’s not much more to say. We trust this equipment and know it will function 100% of the time no matter what abuse we can come up with in the EC.
We needed durable and versatile personal flotation devices. We plan on wearing them almost constantly for the duration of the trip. We chose MTI and their “DIO F Spec“. It fits our needs perfectly. It’s light and comfortable with just the right amount of storage for the personal gear you want to have if you find yourself in the water. This PFD is now a full safety system. Each PFD is equipped with a PLB (personal location beacon) strobe light, whistle, knife, flare and signaling mirror. We have additional room for power bars and water in the event we have to leave the boat. We’re putting our trust in this MTI product and we’re confident it will over perform for our needs.
We can’t disclose what Raymarine supplied us with, as it is still top secret.. Lets just say that if you need to know what is out there in the dark they can help.
This world class Australian marine equipment company has outfitted the Team with all of our dry bags. This is not a small or insignificant detail and we put a lot of thought into it. Wet equipment will make our lives miserable and we’re counting on the proven design of the Ronstan bags to prevent that from happening. We also have other Ronstan equipment scattered around the boat for other systems.
You’ve gotta eat on the EC and hot food is better than cold. Forespar makes a wide variety of marine products and they donated one of their Mini Galley Gimballed Stoves to us for the EC. Makes freeze dried food and a pot of hot coffee easy.
Other Friends of the Team
We need to thank our wives for putting up with this project over the past year. They gave up many evenings and weekends so we could train, sail or meet for project discussions. They will be meeting us in Key Largo for a celebration and keys vacation at the end of this race. It’s little reward for them but they can look forward to a more normal schedule from us in the near future. Thanks for the understanding Joy and Jayne!
We’ve had special help from a couple of EC veterans since we decided to do this race. Bill Fite and Ron Hoddinott have spent hours working with us on strategy and planning. They worked with us and Doyle/Ploch on the sail development program for the Sea Pearl. Their knowledge and input was worth its weight in gold. These guys have finished EC’s and are Sea Pearl experts. We know that we’ll be making decisions in the race based on what we’ve learned from these experts. Thanks Bill and Ron!
Bo Boulenger, our South Florida connection. Bo has fished Florida Bay for many years and he shared his knowledge of this place with us. We scouted 100 miles of Florida Bay in one day on Bo’s flats boat. He shared the secrets of getting through the narrow channels with us in what had to be the best one day trip of the entire year we prepared for the EC. Thanks Bo, you have unlocked the last leg of the EC for us. Now we just have to get down there and follow your directions.
Hugh Horton has recently helped us in an area that we are extremely weak. He is providing us with a set of oars that are lighter than the ones we’ve been practicing with. Hugh has also given us some advice on rowing that will come in handy as we practice this somewhat foreign discipline (to us)during the race. We are OK rowers at best and Hugh’s help and encouragement is much appreciated. Hugh has sailed, paddled and rowed for many years in many varied places. A small boat conversation with Hugh is an education in seamanship. Thank you Hugh!
Small Craft Advisor magazine has been our friend from the start. Josh Colvin graciously offered to publish our blog on his website. This has opened up our adventure to a great many more people than we have access to and we hope they can learn from our preparation and occasional mistakes. Small Craft Advisor magazine is the best small boat adventure publication that we know of and we recommend that anyone interested in small boating should have a subscription. Thank you Josh and the crew at SCA!