Saturday, March 12, 2016

“What goes on at sea”

Horizon Dream Team.  Back Left John Busch, Stan” The Man” Gibbs, John Shulze, 
Craig Chamberlain,  Len Bose, Gunner “ Pistola” Torre: Not seen Jeff “Elivs” Thrope, Grant “Spuds” Wooden,

Len Bose

At the end of my last column I asked you for luck and good winds as we raced the 1,100 miles from San Diego to Puerto Vallarta aboard the Newport Beach-based Santa Cruz 50 Horizon.
Now it is my turn to thank you for all the well wishes because we won our division and the race overall.

Rather than bore you with all the fine details on how we won the race I thought it might be more interesting to answer the frequent question I get from the general public when we do these offshore races.
We sailed the roughly 1,100-nautical-mile race from San Diego to Puerto Vallarta in four days, 13 hours, 52 minutes and 19 seconds. We won on handicapped time which is far too difficult to explain other than larger boats owe smaller boats time at the finish line most of the time.

One of the first questions I get is: What do you do at night?
We race through the night and the day until we reach the finish line. There is no stopping at sunset and sleeping until 9 a.m. the next day.

Our crew consisted of eight sailors, of these eight we would keep four members on deck racing the boat. Every two hours two new crew members would come on deck, so if you do the math that is four hours sailing and four hours off watch.
If you are lucky you can get a good eight hours of sleep a day. After the first day this routine becomes easier on you.

How do we see at night? We were very fortunate this race to sail under a full moon. It was like the police helicopter was behind us with the search light on. Not that I know what that is like.

This is always a good question because I have sailed on those moonless nights, when you cannot see what's in front of your hand, and that changes the game completely. When this happens you rely on your wind Instruments similar to how an airplane pilot flies with zero visibility.

What do you eat and how do you prepare your meals? Some race boats take this to the extreme in both ways. One boat might only bring frozen dried food and a single propane burner to do everything to save on weight on the boat. While the other boats are serving four-course gourmet meals with wine, with all the galley appliances.

Aboard Horizon we have a full-size galley, refrigeration and a three-burner stove top and oven. We ask each of the crew to bring a frozen casserole that will feed eight, lunch meats for lunch and yogurt with granola along with the fixings for a couple breakfast burritos for breakfast.

I also provisioned the boat with a lot of grazing food, for example different types of trail mix, dried fruits, beef jerky, chocolate covered almonds, espresso beans, and cherries. Our navigator kept asking me where I was hiding the rest of the food, but we made it and no one else was questioning me if we brought enough food. Not to forget there was also plenty of instant gourmet coffee and hot chocolate.
If you are wondering about water, most, if not all the boats, have water-makers installed on their boats. We stored 15 gallons of bottled water in case of an emergency, another four cases of 12-ounce water bottles just to get started and for luck 5 gallons of water in one of our water tanks. We made about 8 gallons of water a day the last half of the race.

Back in the day the only way to communicate with home or the race committee was over the single sideband radio SSB. We still keep these radios aboard for your last go-to should the world end.

Today, our daily position reports are transmitted via satellite emails or satellite phones. One of the biggest area of change over the last 10 years is the weather information that you can obtain over the Internet. This data is very expensive and the good navigators are very good at getting the information they need quickly and getting offline ASAP.

To my advance readers that have done many of these offshore races, still wondering how we won? I can explain it in one word: "preparation."

This race was the 32nd time I have raced down the Baja coast. Now blend in the 10 times I have raced to Hawaii, and I have never sailed on a boat that was so well prepared for an offshore sailboat race as Horizon was and is.
For this I have to thank our skipper Stan "the Man" Gibbs and of course the owner of this sailing team, John Shulze who resides in Singapore.

Lots going on in the harbor and will update you in my next column. Thanks again for the luck.
Sea ya.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist for the Daily Pilot.

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