Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sailing into the Sunset

Team Elsie Piddock had a great night sail on Friday night.  After a fast session with Alex Simanis from Ballard Sails--Nice jib, HUGE roach--in which we regularly hit 14 knots, and up to 10.5 upwind, we headed back to the marina to tighten the rig down.  All that new high tech rigging stretches under load, and we had her loaded up a bit.

Then back into the night.  The wind was down, and then up again as we rocked into Elliott Bay.  The boat goes as fast as the wind.  Literally.  It feels wickedly fast, but completely in control.  We have to wear funny costumes to have this much fun though!
 Yes, I have a Pencil Neck.
 No, you can't have the helm back!
Cuts like hot knife through butter...
A beautiful city, a beautiful boat, and a fine evening for a sail!

Wanted to give a big THANK YOU to all who have helped get us to the start line.  Thank you UCO for the running lights and headlamps, thanks to ESBIT and Light My Fire for the food jugs and Titanium sporks.  Thanks Morakniv for the knives.  Thank you KIND for all the bars, bars, bars.  Thank you Alex and the team at Ballard Sails for the rigging help, and the jib.  Oh my, what a jib!  (Kotuku has a ton of fast sails from Ballard Sails too.  Fast sails win races!)

Most of all we want to say THANK YOU to Alan, Jennifer, and Katie.  Whose beautiful, fast, safe boat Elsie Piddock will carry us to Alaska.  Without your support and hard work, our dream would be just that.  Thanks for trusting us with her, and for sharing in this adventure with us.

Soon now, we race.  North.  Tomorrow.  

Ride, Elsie Ride!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

R2AK Team Ellie Piddock (Formerly known as Team Kotuku)

Just a quick shout out to those who may not have heard:  Al Hughes, Graeme Esarey, and Matt Steverson have entered the Race to Alaska.  We leave June 4th, have one stopover in Victoria, and then take off for Ketchikan, Alaska.  Non-stop, hopefully.  No motors allowed, no outside assistance.

Skipper Al Hughes
 Graeme Esarey

Matt Steverson

"It's like the Iditarod, but with a chance of drowning."  Or so they say.  We think it sounds like great fun, and we have borrowed the Alan Trimble's F-25C (formerly known as Makika) so that we can get up there as fast as we can.  Apparently there will be $10,000 nailed to a tree for the winner.  Second place gets a set of steak knives.

Image result for makika f-25c (Elsie Piddock, back when she was Makika)

There is a tracker, and a wonderful website.  Please follow us and visit the site for updates:


Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy New Year! Planning for 2015 Already...

Kotuku likes to have plenty of room to change her mind.  So we often have to plan our maneuvers a ways out.  Lately Janna and I have been talking a fair bit about races we'd like to do again and the VanIsle keeps coming up.  Unfortunately for me, that is a year and a half away.  Not too early to mark your calendars and to start angling for a crew position though, is it?

The other bit of good news is that there are plenty of interesting races on the calendar for this year, and we will be looking for friends and family to join us in Canada and in the States for several longer distance races.  The first race is Southern Straits, which has turned into a bit of a tradition for us.  We love the hospitality of the West Van Yacht Club, and really enjoy the challenge of this one.

I expect Race To The Straits to allow us to smuggle children aboard one more time.  Talia is getting bigger now though, this could be her last race as baggage.  She might be driving next year...if so you might want to give Kotuku a bit of room at the mark.  Something that is always a good idea, come to think of it.

Then there is Swiftsure, an old favorite of mine.  Janna and the girls will be enjoying the city while we are bobbing around in the dark, drifting in the wrong direction most likely.  But when the wind does fill, the romp down through Race Passage is always a memorable one.

After that, we are interested in the Border Run concept.  And we will definitely be cruising this summer, killing fish when we can.  The year will finish with Round The County.

Come join us on one or more of our adventures!  Happy New Year from the Kotuku Family!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Round The County

Quick post:  We had a heck of a lot of fun, with some old crew, and some Thistlers.  And Janna joined us for a multi-day, crewed race.  That has never happened but she had a lot of fun and may well be lured back again.

So how did the race go?  We had a great time and battled hard both days but the lack of wind and adverse tide conspired against us.  Matt made wonderful salmon burgers, as usual.  Chris, Eli, Matt, and Al attempted to keep me honest in the back of the boat--we had our moments, both good and bad.  We didn't finish either day, but a good time was had by all.  Thanks to Bob, Chris, Al, John, Matt, Eli, and Janna for joining in on the festivities.  And thanks to all who help take care of the old girl, couldn't do it with out you!

Results are here:


Photos are here:

Jan's Marine Photography

And of course, a wrap-up from our good friend Ben:


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ballard Cup 1

Have a very nice day of racing yesterday, with the wind blowing hard!  Committee Boat said they saw 50 knots of breeze before they left the dock, but most of the racing was done in 20-30 knots.  We were shorthanded with just Al, John, Kenyon, and I having experience, but we rounded up Sterling and Ashley just as we were leaving the dock.

Nice sailing with #4 and no reef in the main.  Could have used one at times, but didn't have the reef line led.  Oh well.  We started exactly 5 minutes early, then got set up for a re-start by sitting on Beltane and forcing them to start directly behind us in dirty air.  Luckily there was plenty of breeze to go around!

We followed the fleet up to the L mark, rounded, went wing and wing directly at Meadow Point, gybed the main, rounded beat up to the mid-channel mark in about 5 minutes, went wind and wing again, rounded and finished.  The whole race took something like 40 minutes.

First in class, First overall.  Kotuku takes care of business when the wind blows.

See you next Monday!

Race to the Straits Photos

We had a wonderful race up to Port Townsend and back.  We had very favorable uphill conditions on Saturday, the girls were wonderful and watched movies all day while I grunted and sweated and tacked.  And tacked.  And tacked.  Double-handing is hard work, and all my time loafing behind the steering wheel hasn't exactly built up the strength I needed to tack the old girl a hundred times in 30 miles.  Janna seemed to be having fun though!

We ended up second, behind Westerly, the beautiful old yawl sailed by a couple of wily veterans.  We were also the second monohull to finish--out of 110 or so--so that took the sting out of losing a bit.  And we won the Jack and Jill class for the day.  Then we had a wonderful dinner featuring a 70lb halibut that my dad and Janna's dad caught the day before.  Life in the PNW is good!

Day 2 was downwind, not great for Non-flying sails class, but we did our best.  We managed to get ahead of Westerly and Breeze, our toughest NFS competitors, and then we just tried to keep our boat between them and the finish line.  It worked.  Results are here:

We had a great weekend.  Thanks to everyone from the Sloop who made it possible, and to Tom and Marie for hosting us in PT!
Photos taken by Jan's Marine Photography.  Thanks Jan!

Also, a very interesting review of the race here:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blakely Rock Benefit Regatta--3 Generations aboard

Blakely Rock Benefit Regatta is a fun race, and it is a nice easy way to take friends and family out racing.  So we had invited Talia's school friends, and asked the grand parents to come along and supervise.

Breezy conditions made it tough for the 70+ crowd and the 7- crowd that populated our rail on the upwind bash, but the kids were smiling big time when we turned to corner and blasted off south wing and wing with a poled out jib.  Grandma and Grandpa did their best to stay aboard, as did guest crew Leif (age 7) Katie (also 7) Talia (7) and Savai (4 going on 14.)  We were ably assisted by Leif's parents (Peter and Keturah), and Katie's dad Alan. 

Wind was puffy, maybe 25 knots + so we were well up into the wind range where Kotuku shines, but the forecasted rain was no where to be seen.  So for most of the race it was just us, in the sunshine, out for a sail with friends and family. 

We had a decent, but not spectacular start.  We luffed up a boat trying to squeeze in at the pin and bullied them into spinning, so we had a clear lane and were the only boat close to the line when the gun went off.  Before long we tacked onto the long port tack to West Point, crossing our fleet easily.  We took one hitch in a bit before the point, then carried across to the far shore in a progressive header. 

By this point we were ahead of all the boats in the NFS fleets that started ahead of us, and the spinnaker boats and the rest of our fleet were way back too. 

It was probably best that no one was watching too closely because our tacks went something like this:

Ok, all kids down Below.  You too Grandma!  Dad, hold on the the hand rail! 
Helm is down.  Release.  Grind.  No the other way! 
Ok, all set. all kids on the rail.  One hand for your juice box, one for the boat. 
Hard work for everybody!

Still, it was fun to have 4 kids and a couple of grand parents on the rail.  And Kotuku is safe and dry even in a blow.  Meanwhile, we were so lifted once we flopped over that we were basically pointed at the Rock.  It only took one or two tacks on the west side, one of which was more about staying clear of the ferry coming out of Eagle Harbor than anything else and it was time for our only manuever, the jib change.

Rounding Blakely Rock is always fun, and I joked that the last time we did this race I let Janna's dad drive, so this time I was going to have Janna drive instead.  She took the helm at the top of the beat and I went forward to rig the pole with Peter's help.  Down came the #3.  Grandpa sat on it, and then up went the #1 (we are required to sail bare headed during sail changes in NFS racing).  Normally we use a shorter pole if we aren't flying the spinnaker because it is easier to manage, but I didn't bring it.  So Peter and I clipped on the big beast, and away we went, wing and wing.  Not bad for a bunch of dads who don't do foredeck.

And Wing and Wing is Fast!  Apparently dad saw speeds to 12 knots, but Talia says that the fastest she saw was 11.2.  Regardless of which generation was right, it seems pretty darned fast to me without a kite up. 

We kept looking over our shoulders, waiting for the fleet to overtake us.  No one did, the closest boat was Eye Candy, but we had put them behind us at the start and they didn't have the horsepower to run us down.

Gradually, it dawned on us.  We were looking pretty good...we'd be first to finish out of 104 boats, and winner of the class and the NFS division.  You should have heard the cheering when our little bunch crossed the line and got the gun.  The fleets behind us never caught up, so we did a long beer tack out enjoying the sunshine and waving at friends as they came blasting back.  Dos looked great planing off, as did Little Blue Dune Buggy and More Uff Da with their bows up and new kites pulling.

Fun ride!  Thanks to friends and family, and to the Sloop for putting on such an epic race, with all proceeds going to support kids sailing programs at Sail Sand Point.