Caribbean 1500: Some Folks Have All the Luck!

298 miles to go…Steve and Linda share how they’re using the info provided by the new SetSail-MaxSea software in their decision-making process.

298 miles to go. Many of the boats at the back end of the fleet are becalmed, and some are taking advantage of the conditions to…go for a swim! Now that would feel good right now to us. But as we’re close reaching at nine to ten knots towards the finish we’ve decided to wait until we’re anchored for a dip.

We had pleasant sailing last night, with nary a peep from the engine. Winds were mostly on the beam, around nine to twelve knots, and we were close reaching with the mizzen blade at 10 to 11 knots most of the evening. A few squalls livened things up and got boat speed up a notch,but they were all short-lived.

We’ve listened to all the usual weather sources on SSB, downloaded our faxes, and of course consulted our SetSail-MaxSea routing software. Everything agrees-which makes us nervous-that the wind will stay out of the east at 10 to 14 knots.

In order to better our record of last year we need to average a little over 9.5 knots-which ought to be easy, unless the wind drops. Right now our speed over the ground is just 8.75 with a knot and a quarter of current against us (which we’ve been fighting for the last 30 hours-it is not fair). Needless to say, we’ll be doing a lot of sail trimming as the wind shifts back and forth.

MaxSea screen arrangement

One of the things we really like about SetSail-MaxSea is how easy it is to rearrange the computer screen for different situations. Above is the way we are currently using the program on Beowulf. There are three sections of chart shown; in the upper left is a close in detail which we use to watch our track as the wind shifts push us up and down. The large chart shows the entire area between where we are and the finish, and the small piece (bottom right) is the finish line detail. The large white area bottom left is the polar curve window, which helps us with sail trim.

cruising/racing with Beowulf

Whenever the course is varying and we want to keep an eye on our progress in detail, we have a small window open (above) just for this purpose. The boat points along the compass course, while the red line with the circle at the end is the actual course over ground. In a situation like we have now, with the wind varying plus or minus 25 degrees from mean wind direction, this is extremely helpful in seeing what we are averaging (which allows us to make adjustments much sooner than would otherwise be the case).
cruising/racing with Beowulf

Above: There are all sorts of uses for the performance option. Along with tacking and jibing lay lines you also get a great polar data window. In its automatic form it reads true wind speed and true wind angle, and then tells you what percent of performance you are achieving. This data is presented graphically (the little red cross represents our present point on the curve). You also get a percentage of performance number. This is a great help with finding proper sail trim, much better in fact than watching the speedo as it integrates changes in wind speed and heading.
cruising/racing with Beowulf

Left: The finish line is specified as latitude 18 degrees 29 minutes off Virgin Gorda. So, using the SetSail MaxSea plotting tools we’ve put the line in, with flags of course at each end. Keep in mind that you can start an operation in one window and finish in another. So, if we want to measure the distance and bearing from our position in the upper left detail window, to the finish line detail, you just click in the first window, and then the second.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 12, 2001)

Comments are closed.