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Finally – two Wednesdays in a row the wind has blown more than a trickle and we have won both races. I know, it’s just a race and nothing to brag about. But still, it’s good to know that there is life in the old whale when it comes to a blow.

 

It is annoying to make a third or a fourth place when there is no wind at all. However, considering the competitors up front who all have brand new high tech sails and are race boats by pedigree, it is fairly nice that 30 years old Salt still hang around and sails in her handicap. It is a fact of life that something has happened the last 30 years of yacht construction. I bet Salt weights twice, if not thrice, the weight of a few of our companions. And I have missed crew a couple of races so I have had to single hand and double hand a race or two. I am telling you that she is not easy to handle alone in a blow among hard-core competitors with no faint heart for the single handler.

 

I am just so pleased with finally winning a few races. And this weekend we are sailing a short hand races from Saturday to Sunday with the weatherforcasters promising rain and wind – the nicest flying whale weather you can think of. The assurance of winning a race makes me optimistic about the next one.

The Kaskelot depiction takes you topside

 

 

What a slow season so far. The weather in Stavanger – and most of the South and Western part of Norway – has been one long sunny day for a month. I don’t complain, but it would be nice if the sunny days also included a few races with more wind than a trickle.

When nothing else works, blame somebody

Somebody has to take the blame for the bad results so far. Why not the sun or my absent and unreliable mate and brother?

Salt has so far only been able to come up with thirds and fourths. The only Wednesday it has blown I was forced to singlehand. None of my trusty mates showed up for the race. I have to say though I was close to win or at least come in second. But I was forced of the finishing line with half the boat over the line by a fierce competitor coming in low on starboard tack. It was by the rules. I could do nothing but jibe out an come back. By the time I got the complete boat over the line several late coming competitors beat me to it. Fair and straight, but very frustrating. One more hand and Salt would have been first across the line. She beat them all to the weather marker, but could not hold the competitors behind during the spinnakerleg – I can’t set the symmetric spinnaker single handed when the legs are so short – so I had to watch them pass. However, Salt came hard back upwind. All in all a good race.

Bob Dyland weekend

This weekend we where supposed to sail Utsiraseilasen 2008. Last year it was postponed because of a storm, this year I had to postpone the race as a result of the lacking wind. Ugh – the result was a long weekend working in the garden.

 Well – it could have been worse. Friday Bob Dylan performed for close to 20.000 fans in Stavanger. I was among the fans and enjoyed it immensely. Not as much as a windy race, not even Dylan can compare to that – but Dylan performing Like a Rolling Stone sure helps.

The Kaskelot depiction takes you topside

 

Several of you have asked for more photos of “Salt”. Her’s a slideshow for all of you:

The Kaskelot depiction takes you topside

We where first, but ended up second after a miserable end of season race.

What a drag. And there is nobody but the captain to blame. That don’t help much. Well, I guess when you can’t do a better start and a better choice of sails – you just don’t deserve any better. During this fall we have interchanged with the Nessy 94, Marco Polo, by being first and second. By the last race we where neck to neck with 7 points each. Alas, this time there was no interchange. A miserable mistake at the start really set us back. This combined with setting Genoa 2 instead of the much larger Genoa 1, really slowed us down. The racetrack was to short to peel the Genoa, so no. 1 was not set until after the reaching marker. Which was way to late!

Next year, guys!

I guess number two is not that bad.

However, much of our honour was won back at the very last race this season for Salt. We took part in the traditional Høstskvulpen – the Fall race, and finished parallel with the fast and furious big boats. As you can see from the photo above there was less than no wind. By share luck we found a small patch of moving air and clung to it. We finished first in our class, but lost by handicap by a minute to our closest competitor.

It’s OK. We did well, no matter what.

The Kaskelot depiction takes you topside

Early fall is more like an end than a start. It’s a little depressing, soon school starts up, and before you know it things start becoming normal non-summer. However, first day of fall racing started up today. And whatever depressions the family crew felt about a long wet summer, became better by beating all our competitors, and most of the others to. It’s an incredible better start than coming in 4th or boring 5th.

We did work for it though. I had Salt out of the water and bottom cleaned, cruising equipment like anchor and chain is out and in the garage, sails and anything with weight is moved towards the center, and I did check the weather forecast in detail.

Still, thanks to the rest of the family we came of to a good start – not the best – but acceptable good start – made for free wind and gained it. Salt excelled at showing of her big number 1. Genoa in the 10 knot + breeze going steady 6 knots upwind – while the rather light-weight female (and one rather lightweight boy) crew kept hiking her up. Most of our competitors had to resolve to number 2. Genoa or even smaller. Sometimes masthead rigs are just great!

We even got the spinnaker up and down without much fuzz. All in all, a very good performance.

Next boat in came five minutes later. Ha! Eat it!

The Kaskelot takes you topside

Salt is scrubbed, polished, given a new Teflon VC17 underbody painting, all brightworks done, new thoroughull after the crane taking her onshore ripped off the sounder, brand new TIKI-Navigator running on the computer, mainsail repaired, number 2 Genoa in line at the sailmaker for maintenance – in short she’s given three weeks of all I have regarding TLC – time, love, care and cash.

And how does she pay back for such pampering? By winning the first race of the season, of course! What else?

And we won our class by two minutes. Serious flying colours, if anyone care to ask me.

On top of this the last few days of April and the first two days of May have been wonderful. Everything is so bright green, you could envy the cows who can eat it all day. The sun has been shining for a week – the weather has in fact been so nice it has been a pleasure to do her brightwork. And Wednesday was no exception – perfect sunny afternoon with a little breeze. Not much – but enough to keep us moving.

A lazy breeze was all we could handle anyway – three girls and myselves. A few knots more wind and we would have chickened out of spinnakerreaching. However, we did have a bad start by beeing pressed over the wrong side of the start-buoy and forced to round the start-boat and reestart. We lost quite a few minutes, but I guess most racers had a bad start May 2.

Avfull start or not – when it works out in the end, all is well. If it was pure luck, a coincidence or ample sailing we will know soon enough; Sunday is a new race – a much longer and more competitive one.

The Kaskelot takes you topside

It has taken a few years, but now it is done. The system is ordered, payed and will be delivered by late May. In fact I will go to Oka, outside Montreal, to pick the parts up myselves.

I sure hope it will stand up to the rigorus North Sea and help us out during short handed racing. Originally I planned to go for the smallest Cape Horn system. But the vertical hold-it-all stainless steel tube was concidered too long without outboard support – so I was recommended to change the system to the more rugged Spray.

Guaranteed one circumnavigation

I am now the happy owner of a contract with Cape Horne Marine Products where they guarante the Cape Horn Self-Steering System, model Spray, will steer my Kaskelot Salt through one circumnavigation or 28.000 miles. That is some guarantee!

If all goes well I will install the system mid May and test it out during the Shetland-Race this summer. I will blog the installation and the testing.

The Kaskelot takes you topside

Reading the lists of winners of the Sydney Hobart I am amazed to find yacht names of obvious Norwegian heritage: Christina, Solveig, Anitra, Peer Gynt and Freya. And even more astonished to find designers and sailors called Lars, Trygve and Magnus with the family name of Halvorsen.

I guess Australian sailors are less surprised. The Halvorsen story about the immigrant family from outside of Arendal, Norway, leaving bankruptcy behind and becoming a major part of leisure boating, both by motor and wind in New South Wales, is well known in Australia. Among the better sources for this amazing family history is the book “Wooden boats, Iron men. The Halvorsen story, by Randi Svensen, Halstead press, 2004.

5,5 with King Olav

The Halvorsen family made a long list of good looking, fast and very sturdy small double-enders, besides World Champion 5,5’s (one of the brothers became World Champion in one of them, and the Crown Prince of Norway, the late King Olav, sailed a Halvorsen-build 5,5 in World Championships at least twice), and a Dragon …

The Halvorsen’s participated in the Sydney to Hobart race most years from 1946 to 1965 and became Line Honours winner or overall winners at least seven times besides becoming number two or three years they did not made the line or overall first. Anitra for instance won in 1957 and became second in 46, 58 and 1959. And Peer Gynt won the Trans-Tasman race to Auckland (a race of 1,512 nautical miles) in 1948 and 1949, and became third in Sydney to Hobart in 1947. In 49 the yacht was sold to San Francisco where it won the Winter Point Score on San Francisco Bay. (Point is – Trygve and Magnus Halvorsen was magnificent sailors, but other sailors did it well in Halvorsen designs too.)

Freya – 3 time Sydney Hobar winner
The most famous of the Halvorsen double-enders is Freya. She became the overall winner in 1963, 64 and 65. She was thirty-eight feet nine inches long, with a beam of 11 feet. She was planked in Douglas fir with glued spline, upon glued Queensland maple laminated frames. Her deck was fiberglassed plywood, and her spar was a deck stepped aluminium mast. Her rudder tapered to a feather-edge. Australian National Maritime Museum is supposedly holding the line-drawings and specifications of Freya.

Tell me all about it if you know something more.

Randi Svensen quotes Magnus Halvorsen about Freya:

“Her long deadwood gave her the underwater body of a contemporary 50-55 footer. She had that feeling of a much bigger boat at sea. With her large vertical rudder there was perfect control. She responded to the helm at all times. Never did she broach to! Today’s sailors would find that unbelievable. She carried a shy spinnaker longer than any competing yacht. Indeed, a spinnaker could be carried until it was aback, without rounding up. Freya could also carry full sail to windward in 30 knots of wind.”

8+ knots consistent

The conditions of the Sydney Hobart varies from hurricane force winds to no wind at all – but still Freya used 3 days, 10 hours in 1965, 3 days, 5 hours in 64 and 3 days, 6 hours on handicap in 1963. Which is astonishing consistent on a 628 nautical mile long race in all sorts of conditions – and even more amazing, her mean speed was more than 8 knots. The Halvorsens must have pressed Freya above her theoretical speed at all times and in all conditions.

Freyas speed would have made her high up on modern list. She would have won in 2004, 2003, 1993, 1988, 1984, 1981, 1978, 1977, 1976, 1974, 1970, 1968, 1967, and 1966. The last two years the winners have been doing the Sydney Hobart in less than two days. But Freya would still be doing better than most yachts given the same speed as during her three consecutive winning years.

Amazing! What a double ender! And remember all of the Halvorsen race contenders was built both for cruising and racing. The Halvorsen thought of  comfort, security and speed. Both Halvorsen brothers disliked modern racing hulls and the very idea of using men as ballast.

The first photo is of Anitra on the Sydney to Hobart race in 1959.

The second is Freya showing her “shy spinnaker.”

The third is Freya going hard windward.

The Kaskelot takes you topside

A few months ago Norwegian motorboat-cruisers celebrated a political victory. Somehow they persuaded the Norwegian Minister of Commerce, socialist Kristin Halvorsen, not to raise the price and tax of red-diesel. For practical and bureaucratic reasons Mrs. Halvorsen decided to let the diesel-consumers go on pollut at 30 % discount.

This might prove to be a very short lived victory. The EU are blown in the direction of extinguishing red-diesel and let us all buy normal white diesel, according to Motorboat and Yachting. The end of story is that Red diesel quite soon is likely to double in price in the EU. And I predict that Norway will not be alone subsidising pleasure boat-pollution.

Sorry guys – but my heart does not bleed for the heavy diesel consumers. On the contrary I am happy for the fish, the fresh winds, the marine environment and the Earth.There is no reason I can think of why it should be cheaper to ruin the marine environment than polluting the cities.

According to Motorboat and Yachting this will come;

– as a blow for thousands of owners hoping that the Government would only impose the minimum duty required by the European Commission and create a ‘third level’ of tax specifically for leisure boaters.

Instead, it now looks likely that the worst case scenario will become reality: that the price of waterside diesel will rise to more than £1 per litre.

British Marine Federation chief executive Howard Pridding, who has been working closely with HM Revenue and Customs over the manner of the price increase, spoke to MBY during the London Boat Show.

He has been told that the Government is not keen on the idea of introducing a new level of taxation for leisure boaters.
The Government simply believes such a measure, which would bring the price of red diesel to around 75p per litre, too complicated to be considered seriously.

More likely, Mr Pridding says, is that boaters will have to buy ULSD, or white diesel, as it is sold at the roadside. That would mean red diesel would double in price from around 55p per litre, to more than £1 per litre.

The price increase has been brought about by a European Commission decision in December to refuse to renew a derogation allowing UK leisure boaters the right to use low-duty red diesel.

In the confusion following the announcement, some radio news programmes and Channel 4 television predicted that the EC decision would see red diesel gone by the middle of this year.

Mr Pridding says this is wrong. The new pricing structure would be impossible to introduce before June 2007, and far more likely is that the matter will still not be finalised come 2008.

Officials from HM Revenue and Customs refuse to rule out the loss of red diesel this year, but they give the impression that it is unlikely, according to Mr Pridding.

The BMF chief executive, who has worked tirelessly with the Royal Yachting Association’s Neil Northmore to secure the future of red diesel for the past two years, also shed light on how the bureaucratic process would work.

Firstly, officials will work out a draft proposal for how the new price could be introduced.

Then, the proposal will be put out to public consultation, with private boaters and all across the marine industry invited to comment.

Exit cheap boat pollutionOnce the responses have been taken into account and a final measure drawn up, it will be announced in Parliament, probably in a pre-budget report.

Finally, the new law must be passed by the Commons and Lords.

Mr Pridding says the impression he has is that the UK Government will take time to get it right, but he points out that they cannot be seen to be dragging their feet. If the European Commission feel the UK is deliberately stringing the matter out, they can start infraction procedures – something which the UK Government would not allow to happen.

Motor Boat and Yachting , , 15 January 2007

The Kaskelot takes you topside

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