Must read story about the Gunboat 62 delivery and Video clip of parts of the sail and crew and amazing footage of Dolphins swimming with Chim Chim written by our Captain from To Sail or Not To Be!
After the America’s Cup gig in Bermuda ended, I was lucky enough to land another fun one as part of the crew delivering ” Chim Chim ” back to the mainland after she had raced the Transpac. Not having much multihull experience (aside from racing Hobie 18’s a couple of decades ago), I was really curious about the boat and how it would be different from Alsager (our boat) and the other monohulls I typically sail, and I was very much looking forward to making a passage that I’ve dreamed about doing since I was a kid.We departed Waikiki after dark on a moonless Friday night (bad luck I know but we wanted to get ahead of the remnants of a nearby tropical storm) and made for Diamond Head. Once we got a few miles out things got a little bit real, as we quickly found ourselves over-canvassed and beating into a messy mix of trade swell combined with a southerly swell from the storm further offshore. After some debate, rather than slamming into it in the pitch black on our first night out and together as a crew, we back-tracked and went around the west side of the island, which proved to be quite relaxed. Unfortunately, once we rounded Oahu and headed north, we then endured about 36 hours of the not so pleasant swell cross-up while close reaching into 20-25 knots. While we were making good speed, sleeping was very tough on account of the noise and quick motion. I think most of us were feeling it in one way or another and our provisions were hardly touched. I’ve never even felt queasy offshore (and I’ve been through an F9 storm off California), but I was feeling it big time, though I managed to avoid feeding the fish!After that, conditions mellowed considerably as the sea state gradually smoothed out and the wind slowly abated, and the barometer soared. Appetites returned, and we all started to get to know each other a little bit and really enjoy the trip. Our track was almost due north, and we enjoyed a few days of close reaching with a mellow swell, warm temps and 10-15 knot breeze. Chim Chim really shined, making 9-10 knots SOG in true wind speeds of 8-9 knots! Eventually we ran out of breeze all together, and resorted to motoring across the high in search of the prevailing westerly on the other side. We took a break one day and went for an awesome swim in beautifully warm and clear water, and had a fantastic dolphin visit. Then, the sky began to change as the barometer fell, and it did really look like we were soon to have a totally different experience. The wind filled in from the southwest, and we had a few days of on and off rainy weather and much cooler temps. About 600 miles west of landfall the wind died altogether, and with a poor forecast we resigned ourselves to a long motor to finish up the remainder of the passage. Just when it looked like the wind wasn’t going to happen, we came out of the fog and ended up broad reaching towards Cape Flattery, sailing consistently at speeds in the high teens, and peaking at 26! On the last morning the breeze died again and we motored through the strait of Juan de Fuca in calm conditions with very smokey skies on account of all of the forest fires still burning in BC. We stopped in Port Angeles just before dark and had a great dinner ashore, and finished up the final leg to Seattle the next day.Overall, it was a great trip on a great boat with a great group of people, and I’m thankful I was included. I learned a lot about sailing a modern fast cat. Some observations:1) ” Chim Chim is a good boat. ” We ate great meals in comfort while blasting along at 20 knots and more, though the motion is quick and does take a bit of getting used to if you come from a monohull background.2) Coming from monohulls, the downwind sailing angles in light wind can be frustrating, since significant VMG gains aren’t really made until the wind hits 12-14 knots. It’s just something that takes getting used to. And order to maximize VMG you need the right kite up. We primarily used a fractional reacher since it was forgiving and had great range.3) We pushed Chim Chim pretty aggressively, and aside from blowing up the bearings in one block, nothing broke and Chim Chim arrived looking great. One of the Yanmar sail drives was acting up, but ultimately it sorted itself out. All boats need continuous maintenance, and no matter how expensive or extravagant, you’ll deal with leaks and clogged heads.4) Take more books than you think you will need.5) Hawaii to the mainland is an easier (though much longer) trip than Cabo San Lucas to SF and points north.6) Though I already love Alsager, I have a new appreciation for her, and while she won’t do 25 knots and certainly doesn’t sail flat, I was fired up to sail her up the Delta and Napa river with my family as soon as I got back!