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May 5 - Team Narwhal R2AK 2019 - Minutes Attached

posted Apr 20, 2020, 4:50 PM by Mark Olsoe   [ updated May 13, 2020, 4:22 PM ]
ZOOM presentation by Bill Quigley, Mark Dix, Joel Smith, and Li Sung.  They raced from Port Townsend to Ketchikan on Tatiana (Bill’s 32’ Farrier trimaran) by sailing, pedaling and rowing.  Joel designed and built pedal drives, and Mark Dix designed and built rowing stations. Bill finished building his boat in 2006

Once again we will not be meeting at the Puget Sound Y.C. and instead will be online using the "Zoom" app. There was a positive response to the last Zoom meeting –– plan on joining us!

6:30 PM PST   - Virtual Potluck

7:00                - Presentation “Team Narwhal R2AK 2019” 

====================================================================Minutes provided by Secretary Eric Lindahl =====================================================

Adhering to current Covid combating criteria we had another Zoom meeting.  What a great thing.  45 persons tuned in from as far away as Nova Scotia, Yukon Territories, the east coast & Mexico to discuss multihulls, R2AK and hear about 2019 Team Narwal.


Regular meetings usually start with a pot luck and mingling session where we meet and/or catch up with everyone.  Like last month’s Zoom meeting we went right into the catching up part.  It was like sitting around your living room with a bunch of friends and like-minded folks.  Wait, that's what it was.   I really enjoy this format.  What surprised me is that the conversation was pretty normal.  For whatever reason there was very little “talking over” each other.  Perhaps seeing everyone gave non verbal clues to help this. (you can choose to turn off your camera though).


Nice to see some new or seldom seen folks pop in.  Connie and Andrew, Matt in La Paz, Sandy in Tacoma, Ben D and I suspect a few others I’m not aware of in BC.  Ben P from Nova Scotia, Greg C from SFO/Baja, Al H, Andrew I, Doug from Pt Townsend, and many others I can’t ID.  Thanks for your interest.  I hope it was as entertaining for you as I found it.


 After a half hour or so of visiting, Commodore Scott brought things to order for a few minutes of business.  He broached the idea of a more centralized tool loaning library.  The club has several handy items members can borrow; boat jack stands, weighing scale, industrial racks for a temporary boat shed frame, etc.  Scott has offered a small “tool room” in his office which is Wright Yachts, the Corsair, Seawind and Neel dealer.  We can put our tool library items there and he encouraged anyone who has unused tools to donate them to the library.  Routers, sanders, saws, hand tools, anything boaty.    Members can check them out from there.  Probably a good idea is to permanently engrave them so they don’t get forgotten in the back of someones workshop.  We’ll revisit this at another meeting.  Scott mentioned that Corsair 880 #1 will be coming to the Seattle area.  Hopefully we can get a peek at this more voluminous and thus heavier 28’ trimaran in the near future.  Vice Commodore Diane said R2AK is canceled this year due to Covid so she’s canceled reservations of the Port Townsend Yacht Club for our June meeting.  This would have been the eve of the R2AK start. Diane rescheduled it for next year, so mark your calendars for multihull dinner-meeting-party in Port Townsend on June 6, 2021, and consider enjoying a long weekend there to see race boats, talk with racers, watch the R2AK race start the next morning!  


 The meeting was turned over to Bill Q the owner/skipper of Tatiana the Farrier 32 he built and is the vessel of R2AK Team Narwal.  A round of silent applause went up from the multi screen for their team effort and 7th place finish of 44 teams, 700 miles in ~5 days!   


I will make a qualifier here.  This is written from shaky memory and hurriedly scribbled notes while trying to absorb all the cool info being given extemporaneously by Bill, his crew and the participants asking questions and adding anecdotes.  It was reviewed by the presenters to get it as accurate as possible.


Bill thanked everyone for the support he got from club members; a screecher, a spinnaker, a furler, a tiller pilot, logistics, including use of some members’ rented house in Ketchikan!  He gave a shout out to Greg J. for the beautiful laser engraved Narwal logo carved into a cedar board.  Suitable for prominent display aboard.


Here’s the Race Boss description of the team  


Bill was thankful for all the work put into the effort by the team.  Joel took on the pedal drives.  Mark made the rowing stations and Li as an engineering PhD helped determine the right propellers, and provided navigation, safety, and first aid gear.  Together they attacked many details to make the boat ready and more comfortable for the journey.  I think I heard that Mark sanded the rough surfaces of the sail around the telltails so they would not stick to the fabric in light wind.  That's a racer for you!  I remember Bill Buchan doing similar things in prep for simple Thursday evening club races.


Bill started the slide show with pics of the efforts leading up to the race and then of the race itself.  They were great visual aids to the descriptions he and his crew gave us, and that I’ve tried to recall in the paragraphs below.  The give and take of the crew (and us audience) during the show jogged memories and produced details which might have been forgotten in a monologue.  


Joel was perfect for the pedal drive.  He once owned a company designing and manufacturing recumbent bikes.  He made 2 drives, one on each aft aka/beam.  They faced inwards, toward each other and made it easy to steer with a hiking stick and pedal at the same time.  This freed up one member to do other things; boat work or rest.  It was extremely useful and appreciated.  Joel’s effort was unique in that the drives had a 5 speed derailleur.  Few other teams had this advantage.  This enabled them to dial in their preferred cadence and level of effort.  Bill mentioned that he appreciated the ability to back off from time to time to relieve his sore knees by just spinning along.  Discussion turned to the propeller choice and Li popped in with words like reynolds numbers and pitch angle etc.  Apparently he and Joel determined that model airplane props worked well with the human engine propelling a 3 ton boat through water at ~3 knots.  The numbers 17 and 19 were mentioned, not sure if that was diameter or pitch.  Joel decided to forgo a freewheel function to make the unit more streamlined.   He wanted to use as small a chain sprocket at the prop hub in the water as possible.  He found one with 9 teeth.  With no freewheeling, it necessitated great care in that, if a puff came along, it was critical that the drive be lifted out of the water immediately.  There were a couple tales of getting wacked by spinning pedals when the boat was suddenly propelled forward by a puff.  The team had glowing praise for Joel’s ingenuity and the efficiency of the drives.    


Mark made the rowing stations.  One on top of each ama somewhat forward of the aft beam.  He’d rowed a bit years ago with the Renton rowing club and he got advice and parts from them.  He made 2 sliding seat versions.  The sweep oars were modified to account for the seat being much higher off the water than a rowing shell:  The shape of the blade was changed to be parallel to the surface of the water.  He also made a Randall Foil modification to the top of the blade that helped control the depth of blade as it was powered through the water.  Finally he made the riggers holding the oars hinge at the deck edge so that they could be brought inboard with the oars attached.  They were very quick to deploy or stow.  This came in handy in docking and in currents which can be crazy and with fickle wind.  A couple times a quick deployment of the oars was needed.  The hinging riggers could also be set at different heights so that they could compensate for being on the windward (high) side or leeward (low) side to row at the most efficient angle to the water.  This is for “motor sailing” in light winds.  The crew praised Mark’s ingenuity in tweaking the stations to perfection.


Mark also came up with an original idea to use a SUP paddle.  Bill build a “floorboard” in the ama below the hatch.  This enabled the paddler to comfortably stand in the hatchway with feet at water level to paddle.  Other competitors that used these paddles were standing on boat deck levels, 1’-4’ above the water and had to bend over to get a bite on the blade.  Simple but genius!  This paddling method wasn't used much, but it did give a break from the other methods for variety and to use different muscles.  


There was discussion as to how well the pedal/row system worked.  First, every one can deploy to power the boat while being able to steer effectively.  Another advantage was the option to trade off sides and methods, third was that the oars were effective in maneuvering the boat in tight quarters or close to shore with swirling currents with no wind giving good steerage.  Fourth was the fact that the pedal drives were effective in sloppy conditions where the oars were a little harder with the boat pitching in left over waves.  Bill and the crew think their propulsion system was the best they’d seen over the years of observing the R2AK and would use it again.  In fact one of our members Jeff O. was signed up to do it this year with the same drives.  Alas, that's not going to happen, but I believe they are in for it next year.  


Of course the question was asked how fast?  Bill said they could easily maintain 3 knots in flat water with multiple rower/pedalers.  Each person added gives only a diminishing speed advantage.


On to the race:  The first leg to Victoria went well.  Though it was windy and rough, they finished the stage in 7th position.  By being near the front they had the disadvantageous dock position of being buried for the start of leg 2 by all the subsequent finishers.  Some boats complained about it and were moved to non encumbered spots but Narwal didn’t bother.  After finishing the first stage, they realized the cool guys had matching team shirts!  That couldn’t stand, so Joel’s amazingly artistic wife Patty designed a logo, made a stencil, bought some t-shirts, fabric paint, and with Linda’s help aboard Martyn and Linda’s Mahe catamaran mother ship made a set of fine looking team shirts for the crew to sport.  Some wag from another boat noted E & W were transposed on the logo’s compass rose.  Without skipping a beat Mark chipped in; “no, this is from the viewpoint of us Narwals, under water looking up”  Nice come back team Narwal!   Patty or Bill still has the stencil.  To top off the harbor silliness  Mark jumped in the 50º water to scrub the bottom wearing only a swim suit.  Actually his wallet fell overboard and after diving for it he said what the heck and did the deed.


The crew’s account of the second leg was very interesting and insightful.  I wish I could recount their telling and analysis of the progression of the second leg but I can’t possibly remember it all.   Maybe Bill has a transcript or some smart guy recorded the meeting.  Here’s some highlights I do recall:


On day one they were in a group of about 6 or 8 leaders.  They noted a critical move by team Pear Shaped Racing backtracking from a position inside the gulf islands to going outside with most of the others.  This lost them an hour or so and probably kept them from a break away move at Seymour Narrows.  Turns out Pear arrived at Seymour first and spent considerable effort trying to get thru the just-turned-foul current.  As the current built it was obvious that it wasn’t happening and they joined the rest of the fleet behind them to wait for the next fair tide.  Less than a half hour earlier and they would have gotten through and 6 or 8 hours ahead of everyone.  Oh how strategy and fate are so fickle.  See


Speaking of the Narrows.  When the current went fair the oars proved invaluable in providing steerage while rowing thru the pass with no wind, swirling current and close, nasty looking vertical side walls.


At one point in the middle of the night in strong gusty winds in Johnstone Strait, while tacking, there was a loud bang and something on the reefing line let go.  The whole crew was awakened to get tacked, sort out the problem, navigate without hitting anything.  Mark, as was his admirable habit, was first to volunteer to go to the mast to go to the next reef.  Bill was thankful for the crews willingness to go forward to the mast or foredeck, and competence to fix stuff on the fly.


Oars and bike drives were again helpful to play the eddies close to shore in exiting Johnstone Strait with no wind and foul tide.  Here they made out well against competitors.  I can imagine, without good steerage and way on, one would not want to get too close to the favored shore for fear of being pushed into it by an eddy.  This is also where they saw a bunch of whales but no Narwhals.


They also had an episode on the way to Bella Bella of wind from 4 to 20 in a couple seconds with instant 10 knots boat speed.  This overloaded and shredded an aging but borrowed screacher.  (Thank you Martyn)  Yikes.  


When they got into Hecate Strait (exposed to the open North Pacific) they had some big winds and swells and rain.  I think they said 35 knots.  Bill showed some video and I swear I was getting a little green watching it.   They went furthest west of any boat.  Bill related that as time went on, while off watch down below, he gained great confidence in Li’s learning curve of how to steer the waves to keep the boat under the mast at great surfing speed.  Then they blew out their spinnaker.  One video showed sailing with just a reefed jib at 16 knots down the swells and 5 back up the other side.  When things settled down they were pleased to see they were on the layline for Ketchikan.  


None of the crew are blue water sailors with years of experience.  They have a lot more now.   They were often double reefed with reefed jib.  They learned afterwards that at the same time Sail Like a Girl and Educated Guess were letting it all hang out with full sails and spinnaker.  Guess, on a Melges 24, had 4 crew on trapezes or racks!  The Girls lost count of broaches.... 10 – 15.  4 times the top of the mast went in the water, once so hard that a spreader was damaged.  Crews went overboard on these boats, thankfully on tethers and recovered.


Narwal had a funny episode in the middle of the night where the compass gimbal would stick on north at certain angles of heel.  Bill was below and would see a south heading on his device and swear they were going in circles.  He finally came up to see whats happening and Li swore they were going north.  After going round and round and lots of head scratching they figured it out.  The compass was mounted on a hinged bracket.  If the bracket vibrated, and tilted down too much, the gimbal could stick, reading north.  They tried to use a screwdriver to prop up the hinge, but it was ferrous so not much of a solution.  The routine became to lift the compass every so often to keep it level.


 Here’s a couple random notes:


They had no wind instruments.  They feel it would help immensely to have them in light winds to follow the wind while beating at night.  My own experience is that they also help in gusty conditions to keep the boat pointed in the right direction with the rapid and not quickly discernable changes in apparent wind angle. 


When they approached the Bella Bella check point they had tasks assigned for when they first got wifi.  This made efficient use of time.  One would retrieve weather info, one other team locations and standings.


They felt they had the most comfortable boat of the top 25 finishers.  Plenty of water, food, 2 burner stove and room to sleep.  As well as 6 stations and 3 propulsion styles to change muscles and body positions for maximum comfort.


There was some discussion that 2 front runners turned off their trackers and went stealth.


It was brought up that one team had a motor on board.  To clarify,  The “motor” was not for propelling the boat but was used to charge batteries to power hydraulics to swing the bulb keel on the Schock 40 .  Apparently the motor did not work properly in the race.  See this article for good descriptions of Angry Beavers experiences in the race and the issues with the fuel cell and swinging keel systems.   A topic of much discussion, before during and after that race was that; in a human and wind powered race, why would a team enter and be allowed to race in a boat that needs a methane fueled motor to be safe and work properly?  …..especially with a big crew of young, strong, athlete sailors?


Narwal’s watch schedule was adopted from Tom B. who did the race in 2018 on an F28, (and who was in attendance tonight).  It was 2 on deck, (one steering, one trimming/navigating), one on standby resting or cooking meals or inside jobs and one completely off watch sleeping.  This resulted in 4 hours of sleep every 12 hours.  Joel mentioned that he got behind his sleep cycle on the first day as he wanted to pedal his inventions so much.  It was hard to get it back in line.  OTOH Mark was admired for hitting the pillow immediately to stay on track.  What is the saying “age and guile beats youth and agility”.


The lads said it was really dark but that their lighting was adequate.  They put red film on some inside lights for night vision.  


Bill said don’t bring towels.  They will get wet and never dry out.  He felt like they were carrying 25 lbs of wet towels.  Some use those wicking back packing towels; small, wringable and might dry eventually.


Keep sails inside.  They get filled with water on the tramps and heavy.  Just deal with it in the cabin.


Quite a bit of discussion on keeping warm and dry:  I think I mentioned that it rained a lot.  Ketchikan averages 1/2” a day!!!!  It was said that you can not stay dry in the rain if you open your dry suit to pedal.   That is not fun, you have to live with it zipped up.  If it gets wet inside it will not dry out.  Shawn in the audience, a white water kayaker, said you can cook yourself dry in a gortex drysuit.  Kokotate is the best and most expensive.  OS is good, lighter and cheaper.  Li got cold at one point and was not much help for a bit.  Finally he got warm after getting on all his layers.   Joel revealed that he had one of those battery heated vests, much to Bill’s surprise.   In skiing or hiking we always say its easier to stay warm than get warm, so over dress until its too much.


Another funny story:  When they were an hour or so out of Ketchikan and finish without dying was looking possible Bill passed out with his head on the winch.  We can all understand that being the captain is stressful even in fairly benign conditions.  They could not wake him and they needed the winch to tack.  Shouting didn't work.  The last good kick made it happen.


When they finished they all went to the house Diane and Mark had rented and passed out for hours.  They were very grateful for that hospitality.


Bill found it interesting that on the flight home in clear skies they were flying over 25 competitors who were still racing.  


It was nice to see some former and future competitors join us on Zoom.  I’d guess some 8 or 10.  Some chimed in with their thoughts.  Thank you.


Bob D of the big BC performance cat Bad Kitty and a few other locals chimed in with thoughts on next years race option of going outside Vancouver island.  It seemed like a good thing to consider.


Joel said he has good service and unlimited data with his cell plan.  $99/mo.  RV IT Guy or something, with cell chip.  This was related to his living aboard in a Cali marina.


Next month we will have another Zoom meeting on June 2nd where Narwal crew Mark turns captain and tells of the delivery of team Narwal’s boat (Tatiana) back to Seattle via the outside of Vancouver Island.  This time with a motor.   Which was used a lot!  As crew, Mark had mechanical engineering grads Zack and Chance.  Chance is one of the brothers who are working on revamping an older trimaran and may want to do the race in the future.  The brothers had previously given the club a presentation of their refit. I hope they join us as well.  


And you too.  Stay in touch or look for Zoom meeting notices on Sailing Anarchy/Multihulls, Cruisers Forum/Multihulls and FCT, the Farrier/Corsair io group.


Here’s the log of comments on the Zoom Chat feature during the meeting.  This is cool thing:  The audience could ask the presenter questions without disturbing the speaker or train of thought. 


 18:42:30         From Andrew & Connie : We are here.  Having slow network issues but can hear folks.  (I had commented that we only saw black on their screen box)

18:48:10          From Shaun : Scott, be sure to take a mask to Florida. I was in Miami last week and my first officer was in line for to get into wallmart and after standing in line for an hour he was still 20 people from getting in and a cop came up and told him since he didn't have a mask he needed to go home.

18:58:31          From Sandy farrier 20 eagle tramp : spanaway lake boat ramp opened today in tacoma

19:17:49          From Diane : I rescheduled the multihull club’s next Port Townsend event to be a year later on Sunday, June 6, 2021. That’s the evening before R2AK begins. 

19:24:06          From Ben P. : When or why did you prefer pedaling to rowing to paddling? Did you notice speed or efficiency differences, preference by sea state etc?

19:25:22          From Ben P. : (Also, how about the Gates belt drive?)

19:26:51          From pauls : Can you tell us how you selected the propeller?

19:49:59          From Jonathan : Would you want more lighting on the boat next time?

20:26:28          From Andrew & Connie : what was the watch schedule for your boat? 

20:27:34          From Jeff : How long did it take you to get into the watch schedule groove…  two days?

20:28:11          From Ben P. : You had a lot of rain and wind and cold and more strenuous exercise than normal for sailing. What did you try for staying warm and dry? What worked well, what didn't, what would you change?

20:34:20          From Jeff : Logs… what about the logs….

20:35:06          From Greg C. : Bill, a big California Thank You for sticking with Tatiana’s home port!  So great to see San Francisco on those float hulls in Ketchican :)

20:36:31          From Ben P. : Sounds like lots of people in r2ak hit logs. What did you do about collision risk?

20:40:48          From Andrew & Connie : Not a question, but we are looking to see if anyone wants a free bareboat charter from Alaska back down to Seattle late June 2021... let us know (boat is a SeaWind 24)

21:05:01          From Sandy farrier 20 eagle tramp : I agree. I can't drive to seattle for the mtgs

21:05:27          From Shaun : plus no cops on the commute

21:05:45          From Ben P. : Thank you all! I joined toinght from Nova Scotia. Way past my bedtime, but I really enjoyed this. I hope I see you all around r2ak o'clock in 2021 or so... :)

21:08:31          From Sandy farrier 20 eagle tramp : thank you. I couldn't be here the whole meeting 

21:12:02          From Andrew I. : Signing off: this was fun and I hope to meet the group in person some day! Cheers.

21:13:37          From Shaun. Kent WA, F31 in Tacoma : yes it was, good night!

21:17:03          From Sandy farrier 20 eagle tramp : i am building a cross between a tremolino and a farrier 20 using an aluminum  pontoon for the center hull and 17 ft cat hulls as amas. total weight 800# low cost. seats 4 deck 8 wide by  10-16 long

21:17:21          From Sandy farrier 20 eagle tramp : bye


Eric Lindahl