Friday, June 25, 2010

Thursday 6/24

It was just like last week, with a gusty breeze ranging into the upper 20s, making it another wet and wild night!

A torrential thunderstorm blew through town a couple hours earlier, leaving downed trees and power lines in its wake. Fortunately, the wind didn't die after the squall, so we still had a stiff offshore breeze to work with.

We're surfing down toward Pond Point in this photo. Using last week's combination of a full main and the #2 genny, Lee did a great job trimming the sails and the boat performed great, keeping pace with boats that usually leave us well back.

We were joined this week by one of Lee's work mates, Christa. She picked a good night to get her feet wet on a racing boat!

Remember me?

We missed the yacht club cannon by about a minute or so. Joyce would have jumped right out of her skin if it went off just as she steered through the breakwaters. But our timing was off and we were well past the yacht club when it popped. Oh well, you can't always pitch a perfect game, right?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

American Girl finishes Bermuda Race

Hello Friends of American Girl!

Well, last night wasn't the best sailing we've had, but with dawn the wind came up a little, and at least now we're moving. We made very little way from midnight until the sun came up. We're approaching our Gulf Stream entry point, about a half day later than we expected. Spirits are good, and we're looking forward to a freshening breeze and favorable current as the day goes on.

The evening update should come from in the Gulf Stream.

Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers out there!

Michael Brown
For the Captain and Crew
Captains message

First of all, I want to thank all of you who have sent loved ones to help out. I understand that our gain has been your temporary loss. But we are sailors and the sea has a powerful calling.We are who we are.
This has been an incredible adventure with lots of stories to tell by some remarkable men. All have given their best and crew chemistry could not have been better. I am so proud of this crew and her boat. We have sailed at a very high level of performance and got through a lot of real challenges. Very few people understand what 30 knot winds, 8-10 foot confused seas, and a dark night are like in a small boat. We had few issues and both boat and crew held up well. I can't share all the details of the kind of humor that gets us through such times as this is a family channel- but crew spirit was never in question.
Currently we are about 30 miles from Bermuda closing in with some very well sailed boats. Our tracking data tells us that most of the boats in our class took a very different approach than we did and will likely beat us to the finish. That is ocean racing and this chess match was not ours to win. We are however sailing in near perfect conditions with 10 knots of breeze blue sky and veryblue water. It is a beautiful sight with lots of boats and sailors all converging. I am also quite sure my crew has the best jokes.
We expect to finish in daylight and grab showers, food, and rest. Some of you will be arriving soon to see the spectacle around Hamilton harbor stacked with racers and their machines. It is a sight that is very special. Bring your cameras.
Our only injuries have been bruises mostly mine and a little too much sun. We will live to sail another day.
All the best to the many friends of American Girl.
Ubi victoria ibi concordia
The skipper.
Less than 80 miles to go. We are looking at a daylight finish if the winds hold. It was a god night of sailing with some good speeds turned in. As of now we are flying the "code zero" A head sail that is not quite spinnaker but not quite jib, it is giving us a good boat speed for what should be our last leg of the race.
We can see a couple of boats around us now. Hopefully we are doing well, we will know for sure tonight.

Finishing soon makes us happy not just for a job well done but to be rid of the stink that has become our boat cabin as well. The combination of a racing boat with little ventilation and 8 men who are working hard to keep the boat fast tends to make things stink. Add to this a very high humidity, bodies being soaked in sea water with no chance to dry off, wet shoes and socks, Oh god...the shoes...... And we have a very unique petri dish of smelly bacteria that could infect a continent. There will be some serious cleaning done at the dock.

As for now we are sailing along with smiles on our faces and having fun. We would convince Dan that the course is actually "once around" that is, go around Bermuda and finish back in Newport but we are not sure we could take 4 more days of this smell.

"Cowboy" Kell Morris
Watch Captain
For Captain and crew of " American Girl"
NOTE: American Girl finished 10th out of 13 boats, but keep in mind that this was a much closer race than their position indicated. A lot of what helped the winning boats was being in the right place when the winds picked up. Congrats to our friend Miles and the crew of American Girl for a great race, and a wonderful play-by-play via satellite phone.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"American Girl" in the Bermuda Race

Former Full Tilt crew Miles Abrams is sailing in the Bermuda Race which began yesterday. I'm getting emails from the skipper about the yacht's progress, and I'll repost them here. Looks like Miles had an exciting first day!
Ahoy Friends of American Girl!

We've had a nearly perfect first seven hours or so, and have settled into our offshore routines. The Port Watch is on duty now, and Starboard is enjoying some well-earned rest after six hours of all hands. Nothing has disappointed so far: the adrenaline rush of a 13-boat class start, perfect afternoon breezes under clear, sunny skies, one of the best boat dinners I've ever had, and a truly spectacular sunset.

Now the hard work begins. As the breezes get lighter and the night gets chilly, bodies get tired, but we all have to stay focused: distance races are won or lost at night.

Thank you all for the support and well-wishes!

For the Captain and Crew
Miles is fine and should be commended for his bravery.

At approx. 0400 June 19 in very light winds we ran afoul of a long line fishing system. These are very long (up to a mile) lines strung between floating buoys. These buoys are not lighted and without a moon it is very dark out here and you cannot see them till you are Right on top of them. Soooo.... we caught our keel on one. After a few minutes of evaluating the system it was decided that it would take a swimmer to untangle us. Miles quickly volunteered, stripped down naked and jumped into the 60 degree water. A few minutes later we were free of the lines and sailing along. With Miles of course.
Thankful for light winds at the time of the incident we lost little time compared to what could have been a race losing scenario.
We will have to continue to sail well to make up for lost time but we are confident that we can do just that.

"Cowboy" Kell Morris
Watch Captain
for Captain and crew of American Girl
Good evening from your ship at sea.....
25 hours into the race and we have already had quite an adventure. We are currently trying to stay in a favorable eddy, which is a part of the gulf stream but not the actuall gulf stream itself. Its quite a challenge consisting of tacking back and forth against the wind and taking sea water temperatures till we find the "sweet spot". We hope to enter the main body of the gulf stream early tomorrow morning for a nice favorable current ride toward Bermuda.

More when we can....

"Cowboy" Kell Morris
watch captain
for captain and crew of American Girl
Friends of American Girl,

There's an adage in the military that "no plan survives contact with the enemy." I was thinking about that at the Nav station today, not coincidentally because we have three military veterans aboard. The principle applies to distance racing as well (though we would never think of the sea and the weather as "enemies"!) Let's just say the forecasts we based our strategies on bear only a passing resemblence to the actual conditions we are seeing now. So we adjust.

We are working our way around a large warm ring or eddy, a 90-mile wide mass of swirling water being thrown off the north wall of the Gulf stream. Seas are rougher here, and we're contending with currents that are tricky to figure out and wind that's coming from a right angle to where it's supposed to be. At intervals, we have to drop a thermometer overboard on a string to see how warm the water is. For all the high-tech instruments we're carrying, this low-tech solution has been the best way to be sure where we are in the eddy.

We're in the middle of the "dog watch," a pair of 2-hour watches (instead of 4 hours) that makes serving dinner easier and keeps each watch from having to stand the same hours each night. Variety of any kind is important on a long race.

Dinner smells excellent again, so I'll sign off for today and grab some chow.

Thanks again for supporting us!

Michael Brown
For the Captain and Crew

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday 6/17

Wild one tonight! The breeze was often in the 20s, and our wind meter hit 30 a few times during the race, so it was a bit of an exciting night!

Guest Mainsheet Trimmer Teri from "Wild Eyes" joined us tonight, and boy, did she pick a fun night to race with us!

During the leeward leg, Derek is living in Lazy Town, acting as a human gybe preventer. The joke is on him, though, 'cause if we accidentally gybed, he definitely would have ended up in the drink!

Lee and Janel holding the boat together on another downwind leg. The breeze was blowing out of the north, meaning we have very flat water but wicked wind! That's the kind of sailing I love, although we usually get it in early May when the water temp is bone-freezingly cold, so it's not as much fun as when the wind pipes up in warmer June or hotter July. Good time tonight!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday 6/10

It poured just a half-hour before we got there, so even though we got a little sun here and there, the boat was wet for quite a while.

Dramatic storm clouds recede over Long Island after soaking us with rain earlier.

Of course the wind died after the rain ceased. It always happens!

After the race was called for no wind, we got this picture of steam rising off the power plant in Devon and combining to form clouds.

Joyce and Janel. Tonight was supposed to be WAH, but it got postponed until next week.

Another cool shot of the sun beaming through the overcast skies.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Thursday 6/03

Almost no wind made this a slow race. 5 knots or less for pretty much the whole evening.

You know it's a slow race when I have time to compose and carefully focus the photo.

You know it's a slow race when I have a frosty cold beverage available to me at all times.

You know it's a slow race when everyone is on the leeward side trying to get the sails to catch some air.

You know it's a slow race when everyone has time to contemplate the weather 20 miles away.

You know it was a slow race when the sun sets and you've only gone to D and back to S in two hours.

But then again, even a slow race is better than NO race!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Full Tilt alumni in the Bermuda Race

Miles Abrams (the happy fellow on the left) who crewed on Full Tilt for a couple years has moved on to bigger and better things, but he'll always be considered "one of the gang". Here's an email I received from him:

On June 18, I'll join 7 other silly boys, along with two thousand or so additional participants, in a 630 mile sailing race from Newport, Rhode Island, to Bermuda. Depending on the conditions, it will take anywhere from 3 to 5 days. Glutton for punishment that I am, I will also help sail the boat back home after the race. Call it the vacation of a lifetime, an homage to my inner Peter Pan, or just the folly of a 41 year old computer nerd, it's going to be a blast. And, having just taken a hard-earned second place in last weekend's Around Block Island race, we're feeling rather good about our prospects.

If you'd like to follow along, each boat carries a transponder and can be tracked online at: My boat is named 'American Girl', and we're competing in the St. David's Lighthouse division. My/Our cousin Jared will also be racing, on a boat named 'Charlie V'.

During the race, we will be sending out periodic emails to interested parties as time, conditions, and satellite connectivity permits - email me back if you would like to be included in these communications.

There's also a reasonable chance that ESPN will succeed in broadcasting live from one of the other boats, 'Aurora'. If so, it will be online here: No scheduling information has been published yet.

And for those among you who actually sail, will have the most technical (and obscene) commentary. A search for Bermuda 2010 should get you what you need.