Coffs 2015 - "The Prep"

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Rating: 4.60/5 (5 Votes)

The preparation for an Ocean Race begins with safety, safety and more safety. Now you cannot be too safe, and it is not a popular position in sailing circles to criticise safety standards as being excessively onerous. So I won’t do that – but, since this is my blog, (and I can say what I like) I will let you in on a little secret -  

 For a litlle corinthian crew like us to  satisfy the paperwork and stability requirements it takes a big time commitment, is extremely expensive and just a little bit painful. So big kudos to the RPAYC who are leading the way in trying to simplify this process for boat owners.

625 DSC 0047Sat Phone and PLB's from Epirb Hire - Check!

 They have mandated Sat Phones as equipment that can be exchanged for more expensive HF radio equipment installations and use Top Yacht to electronically submit documentation crew experience ect. This goes some way to making things simpler and cheaper. Top Yacht is a good, but could still be a little simpler to navigate for the crew, and the interface could use an update to make it a bit simpler to get around,  however it is significantly better than the alternative.

We started “prepping” for our Coffs Harbour entry around 6 months out as we knew we had some hoops to jump through, and he crew needed to get holidays organised. I will spare you every little detail, but here are a few big hitters that will give you the idea of what’s involved.

First some background:

The Cat 2 Safety Audit is like the overarching safety bible. It checks your boat’s construction, setup and safety gear. It is a comprehensive checklist of 274 points that need to be signed by the owner as compliant and double checked by a suitably qualified Yachting Australia Auditor. Interested in more info? 

Basically It breaks down to:

  • Prevention equipment – Boat construction, Stability, Tools, Radio, Tethers, Harnesses, Jack lines  ect
  • Emergency equipment-  Life raft, Sat Phone, First Aid Kit, Flares,  Personal Locator Beacons
  • Crew Experience & Training – Survival and safety at Sea (5), Marine Radio Operators Certification (2) and Applied First Aid (2)

The Notice of Race ensures you provide the relevant documentation regarding construction, insurance, stability and crew training and experience to the Race committee via the Online Entry System.

Ok so background over – For us we needed to redo pretty much everything. Rig checks for insurance, Survival at Sea (which there is a separate article on), Medical kit and safety gear upgrades. But by far the biggest issue was we needed to be re-certified for stability.

625 ORCI 1Stability testing - Inclination & righting moment 

The certification has changed in the last 5 years as Yachting Australia looks to move to a standardised system. To do this we needed to be measured and certified under the ORCi handicap system.  That required getting to boat out of the water and having a Naval Architect remeasure the hull. The highly respected Andy Dovell assisted us with getting our Hull file built and then YA measurer John Anderson (Australian Sailing Olympic Gold Medallist) popped over to the club to measure our rig, hull and sails. A big thank you to Rayshele Martin from Yachting Australia for helping out with the organisation of the certificate.  

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John taking mesurements 

In addition a bunch of good people from businesses at the RPAYC boatyard assisted us getting the I’s dotted and the t’s crossed. Kylie from the RPAYC boatyard snuck the boat up into the yard on short notice and while it was up there for Andy to measure, good friend of the boat and our shipwright Heath Walters from Northshore Marine organised some last minute keel repairs. He also helped us organise a bunch of stuff including new sheets and a halyard, along with our Rig Check for insurance so Club Marine would cover us for the distance.

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Northshore Marine getting the last minute keel repairs sorted 

Our Cat 2 audit was completed by the very helpful Bob and Jim, then  Troy from Douglas Marine helped us pass, by servicing the diesel and installing a fuel shutoff valve where one did not look like it would fit.

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Troy got the fuel shutoff sorted while the boat was up being measured.

Marty from Anderson Marine Electronics was good enough to perform our last minute Radio Certification (on the 29thof December) during his holidays and finally Ken Noble our diver was the last person to work on the boat, on the morning of departure when he cleaned the hull around an hour before we took off. 

So a big thank you to all that got us to the dance on time..... and a reminder we have plenty of room on the boom for sponsorship next year if you are interested!:)

625 DSC 0042Foredeck

So on our Chrissy break, Morag and I refreshed the non-slip paint on the deck as we decided we really liked our bowman and it would be a shame to lose him. In addition since we have a little man on the way it made the pit area safer for Morag to move around in what will be her last Ocean race of the season.

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Before and after the Kiwigrip

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The new deck paint came up well.

We also removed all the old sponsorship decals from the boom and added some of our own!

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So we finally Dave’s PLB details got into the system and we received the “Thank you Marcus - Your entry is complete” email from the Sailing office. I can’t tell you how happy you are to get that email, we are definitely going racing, finally it was time to focus on more pressing matters, like how much beer and ice are we going to need, and will the esky keep the food cold? Which delivery sails should we send up .....and the list goes on!

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You will notice I did not seem worried about what we were going to eat, as Dan had it covered – he told me a few weeks before he arrived that no way were we eating freeze dried and was working on a high protein meal plan that was easy to prepare, and virtually no washing up. He was talking Eggs and Bacon in the morning with meat and veg for dinner.  Having not done a lot of sailing, Dan has spent plenty of time offshore fishing so I happily left the food planning to him.

625 boat packingDan and I sitting on the esky full of food he prepped  

Deb and Dan arrived on an early flight from the Gold Coast on New Year’s morning, with a plan that basically broke down to: Plane  - Hire Car- Shopping- Kitchen – Beer

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On arriving Dan set up our new Vacuum pack machine and got to work. Our menu he had devised required a full day of preparation and consisted of:

•       Breakfast – Ham, chives and Scrambled Egg wraps with BBQ sauce
•       Lunch day 2 &3 Chicken or Ham salad wraps (made fresh to order)
•       Dinner 1 Chicken and Corn Stew
•       Dinner 2 Slow cooked Lamb Shoulder (8hrs) with mashed potato, Gravy and mint sauce
•       Spare dinners – 6 hour Beef Cheeks with Mash and steamed vegies
•       Coffee – Pre-made flat white Espresso coffee

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As he made extra portions we also enjoyed the same meals on the delivery home

625 DSC 0051Scrambled Eggs and Expresso coffee ready to go 

The secret was everything was vacuum packed, 2 cups of coffee or one portion of scrambled egg mix with ham and chive.  To cook them we just dropped it into a boiling pot of water (in the package) heat for a few minutes – which he had already timed and serve in a dog bowl. 

Why do we use a dog bowl? Well it was a tip from Neil Driscoll, the rubber base stops them sliding around and the n shaped edge makes a great handle.

The dinners were pre-cooked and took around 6 minutes to heat up and we were able to only cook the portions we needed at the time.  Eating out of the plastic meant virtually no washing up, just the spoons.  Brilliant!

625 Dan kitchenDan serving up the Chicked stew on the first night 

Now others may be already onto this but it was the first ride I have been on where we ate this well! Yeah we probably carried an extra 15kgs of food over freeze dried, but after having a long first night to get scrambled eggs and proper coffee while steering at dawn, I think the benefit to crew and moral, far outweighed the little bit of extra weight.

With the boat prep done and the food prep complete we woke up early on race day and packed the esky, got the delivery sails over to the club and packed the boat had a coffee and went up for the mandatory weather briefing.

625 unloading the car

The forecast in hindsight was not too far off, a 15 knot South Easterly start, turning light and East, then turning North Easterly around 10 knots  little later in the afternoon. We had sussed out the models and had decided the best course of action was to get as far north as possible in the shortest possible time to try and keep sailing into new weather. A pretty basic but sound plan! I had done a hundred weather routes and considering currents that was the best plan I could come up with.

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Back to the boat and it was time  to hand out the safety gear, fit life jackets, find pockets for PLB’s,  assign buddies and sound off numbers in preparation for the Safety briefing.  As a team we prioritise: #1 People, #2 The Boat #3 The Race #4 Everything else. 

I looked around for the YellowBrick tracker as I heard in the briefing that any boat whose tracker was not working would need to report in every hour….That did not sound like fun at all, so I was very keen to ensure ours was firmly attached.  It was quite lucky I did as it turned out that it had been fitted to the other newer High Anxiety 3 that was sitting in her berth on the marina! A quick bit of work by the race officials and a few zip ties and we were all set.

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What a happy looking bunch post Skippers Safety briefing 

Next up is the Skippers pep talk and then say our goodbyes and ……Finally….. After literally months of preparation, High Anxiety is heading for the start line of the 34th Pittwater to Coffs Harbour yacht race….

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Happy cheer as we head off

So want to see how we did? Part 2 "The Race"