Sunday, July 24, 2016

Another check-off on the bucket List

This is Darby. Darby is a tropical storm approaching the Big Island to make landfall on the Big Island today with 60 mph winds and heavy rain. It's on track to pass over us here on Oahu tomorrow, Sunday. My first almost hurricane. Check. Don't need to get closer than this.

For Darby to become a Category 1 hurricane, the wind gusts would have to increase another 10-15 mph. That doesn't sound like much, does it?

Yesterday we met the finishers as they were escorted into the Kaneohe Yacht Club. When we got there, a group of winners were already Med-tied - stern in, that is - at the dock. Even after such a long and grueling race, the skippers and crews were busy ho sing down the boats, folding the sails, hanging up gear to dry. Just like any other race.

Can you imagine sailing to Hawaii in this boat?

This year's race has created at least one legend. Two guys, Mark and Ian, on Mas! a Moore 24 - yes, that's 24 feet - finished the race in 10 days, 14 1/2 hours to take First in Division, First in Group (Doublehanded) and First Overall. This is an amazing feat, and even more so because, well, Moore 24. One of the first ultralight downwind sled designs, its popularity is undiminished since its breakout in the 1970's. To understand the boat and its history, read You'll learn that this is in fact the second time a Moore 24 has gotten triple bullets in the Pac Cup.

We talked with the skipper, Mark, and helped him fold his sails. The jibs are built so that the bottom portion can be rolled up, making the sail smaller and the clew, the corner that controls the trim, higher. That makes the sail easily adjustable for a huge variety of conditions. You wouldn't really want to use those sails for regular inshore racing - sail shape and performance is somewhat compromised - but what a great feature for the ocean.

We hung around the yacht club all day, drinking MaiTais and cheering boats as they came in. Just about every boat had at least somebody aboard that we know, but the biggest thrills of the day were seeing Redhead, the Cal 40 that lives in the slip next to us at Richmond Yacht Club, tied up at the dock having finished during the night and taken 1st place in their division ...

... And greeting Tiki Blue, our neighbor across the dock ...

Gary is this year's Pacific Cup Yacht Club commodore, and a tireless promoter of this race. He almost had us signed up the race Wildcard this year, but we just weren't ready.

He loves to tell the stories ...

Gary's wife, Kelly, is one of many spouses out there who support sailors. Kelly was enjoying her stay at the Moana Surfrider, and was a little dismayed that the race ended so fast and she had to move to the crew house! "I was having a great time," she said.  

Of course the biggest event of the day for us was the arrival of Adrenaline! By that time I was having so much fun that I'd lost track of my phone, which is my main camera this trip (it was sitting on a table next to a near-empty pitcher of MaiTais), and besides it was low on battery. It figures.

Fortunately, there were other "Adrenaline Junkies" around including Vivienne, who captured the traditional arrival photo, with the crew in their Aloha shirts.
According to today's standings report, there are still about 24 boats out there, and they have slowed down in order to let the storm pass through before they get here. Reading their blogs which are sent to the Pac Cup website, they are reporting beautiful conditions and great attitudes, if not exactly high spirits, as they creep toward the islands. They're enjoying beautiful sunsets and starry nights as the full moon wanes.  

I suppose we'll have some spectacularly starry nights when we get out there.

Meanwhile, I've heard today from our Adrenaline skipper Shana (yes, a woman, she owns the boat) that at least some of the boats may need to anchor out to ride out the storm. Normally the boats could all be tied up together in a big raft-up inside the harbor, three rows deep, but not with sustained winds of 60 mph on the way.

As I finish writing this, the system has moved closer to us and we are getting intermittent heavy rains. Apparently the Pacific High, the high pressure system that usually lurks in the Pacific, has moved onto the mainland and you, all our friends back there, are roasting.

Mark and I just returned from a walk to the local market here in Kailua (we've moved into a garage apartment here) to get some ahi poke salad for dinner. Mark picked up a bug on the plane, so he is laying low trying to fight it off, and I am considering renting a bicycle.

I want to go to the famous Kailua Beach, which seems to always have blue sky above it, no matter what.

Thanks for reading, and remember: Aloha. It's a lifestyle.

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