Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Beautiful Days.... Tropical Sailing....



This was the view from our office in Paradise Village, Puerto Vallarta this morning.  Not too shabby.  Shorts and T-Shirt sailing all winter long.


Seriously beautiful scenery, ideal sailing conditions, and some 'significant' wildlife.  


We are here all winter long.  Give yourself a nice gift and get on down to paradise...



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Impressive Alumni!

One of the most gratifying things about doing what we do here at J World is catching up with our alumni, sometimes years down the road, and hearing about all the great sailing adventures they have gone on to experience.

Just recently we got a quick note from a couple of just such sailors... Mark and Emily Fagan graduated from J World and went on to pursue great adventures.  Emily wrote, "Our experience with J-World was exactly what we both needed to get the confidence to go cruising."  And boy did they do it in style.  They have published articles on their adventures, wrote a large portion of the "First Timer's Guide to Mexico," released a series of DVD's on cruising...  and more!

Read their story below, then visit their website and kick back for a while...  there is a TON of great stuff there (all the pictures are from them too), and if that doesn't make you want to cast off for the tropics (or come visit J World in Puerto Vallarta) I don't know what will!

Thanks for the update, Emily and Mark, and thanks for the kind words.  We are thrilled to hear how much you enjoyed your adventures aquatic and thanks for sharing!




I was an experienced sailor from my former life when Mark and I got together.  I learned to sail on the Charles River in Boston at Community Boating as a kid in the 1970's.  This is a very cool city-sponsored program for residents of the area.  I then lived aboard a Nonsuch 36 in Boston Harbor for 4 years in the mid-1990s (my mid-30's).  Brrr.  Those winters are really cold.  You have to build a shrink-wrapped enclosure with 2x4's and mylar over the deck of your boat to keep the snow off, a tradition for year-round liveaboards every October… In mid-winter you walk straight off your boat onto the snow on the finger pier -- no need for stairs!

Mark had sailed Hobie Cats on the lakes in Michigan as a kid, but had no experience on larger boats.  I had lusted after the J-40 when I lived on the Nonsuch and then the J-120 too, so when I saw that the Liveaboard sailing lessons at J-World in San Diego took place on a J-120, I was hooked.  We did the Basic Sailing class together on the J-24's, and while Mark got the hang of tacking and jibing properly, I picked our instructor's brain about how travelers and spinnakers worked, two areas I was very fuzzy on.

After four days on the J-24, we moved onto the J-120 for three days and two nights, staying at the J-World dock one night (the policies at our planned anchorage in Glorietta Bay had just changed, requiring advanced reservations, and our instructor didn't know that til we got there), and the other night in Mission Bay.  This was Mark's first time anchoring out and staying overnight on a big sailboat, and even though we had no wind the whole time and lots of fog (it was May -- I didn't know about "Gray May" and "June Gloom" back then when I planned this excursion for us -- he said to me at the end of the class, "That was the best vacation I ever had!"

Wow!! My sweet hubby was a sailor!!

We then did a 3.5 week charter in the BVI on a Sunsail 37.  We anchored out every night -- no moorings or marina stays -- and we had a ball.

We really wanted to go cruising, but we lived in Arizona, and getting from the desert to the deep blue sea was a big step.  Instead, we took off in an RV for 2.5 years first, and learned how to live off the grid on solar power and how to live a traveling lifestyle.  One winter we stayed in Jacksonville Florida while visiting our son who was stationed there, and as we watched the boats on the water, the urge to go cruising intensified.  We began a serious search for a boat, decided the model we wanted was a Hunter 44DS, and subsequently put four offers on different ones in California.  It was 2009 and the bottom was falling out of the economy.  None of our offers resulted in a closed purchase, so we left our RV in storage and flew to the Grenadines to spend a few months in the Caribbean to decide whether we wanted to cruise there or in Mexico.  The Caribbean is gorgeous but the people weren't very friendly.  We had our doubts about cruising there.

Then, in our third week in Grenada, Mark just happened to look at Yacht World (we had sworn off of it during our Caribbean soujourn), and he saw the ideal Hunter 44DS had just come on the market as a foreclosure.  The bank had an online offer form, so Mark filled it out.  Rather than click "send" right away, he showed it to me and went off to take a shower.  I saw his number and laughed and took another $10k off and clicked "send."  Within 30 minutes the broker responded saying the bank had "respectfully countered" two thousand higher than our offer.  Oh WOW and Oh NO!!

Taking just our word and our full-fare, fly-today plane tickets as enough to hold the boat for us, we flew straight to San Diego on New Years Eve 2010, and went right to the boat on New Years Day.  It was perfect for us in every way and we were thrilled.  We named it "Groovy."

Within three weeks we had put our trailer in long term storage and sailed Groovy to Ensenada and begun a new life as cruisers.  We stayed there for six months outfitting the boat.  We added 555 watts of solar power on a beautiful custom-made arch and 300' of chain and a 60 lb Ultra anchor.  We spent the summer months anchoring out around San Diego (floating between the old A9 anchorage, Glorietta Bay, Playa Cove and the Police Dock), and during that time Mark installed a 60 gallon/hour watermaker.

Paradise Village...  the J World Office is just off to the left....

In November we sailed to Cabo, leaving a week after the Baja Ha-Ha, and after our 17 day passage we promptly crossed the Sea of Cortez to Chamela Bay.  This was a 330 mile passage that was downright terrifying, not because of high winds but because we were tossed all over the ocean in very choppy seas.  Six hours into that passage we heard two sailors chatting on the VHF radio about the weather forecast they had heard on SSB.  "This is no time to be crossing the Sea of Cortez," one of them said.  Yikes!  But if we turned around, we'd be sailing back into Cabo in the dark.  On we went.

We never had any passage as difficult as that one after that.  In the next 3.5 years we sailed as far south as Chiapas, at the Guatemala border, and as far north as San Carlos in the Sea of Cortez.  We left our boat for two hurricane seasons, once in San Carlos and once in Chiapas.  Our favorite cruising grounds were from Zihuatanejo and south of there.  The Bays of Huatulco were a sheer delight and we stayed there for four months, roaming from one anchorage to the next.  The snorkeling was superb and the daysailing was terrific.  We crossed the Gulf of Tehuantepec twice, encountering smooth conditions each time (although there were threats on the horizon on our return trip, but nothing that disturbed us other than putting a lump in our throats!).  We spent 5 months in the Sea of Cortez and passed through the charming anchorages of the Costalegre several times on our way up and down the coast.  We enjoyed both of those areas a lot, but our hearts were -- and still are -- in Huatulco.



We took advantage of being in Mexico to do some inland travel, and in many ways that was the highest highlight of our cruise.  We went to Oaxaca, a vibrant and energetic colonial city that has some fabulous ancient Zapotec ruins nearby and a town center that comes alive at night.  We also visited San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, another colonial city that has an intriguing Mayan influence.  We visited the ancient Mayan ruins at Palenque, Yaxchilan and Bonampak and were fascinated to find 1,000 year old ruins filled with painted frescos of Mayans that had a very Egyptian style and were brilliant enough to have been painted 100 years ago.  We traveled into Guatemala and visited the colonial city of Antigua, but we found the area disturbing, as the poverty is extreme and the people did not seem happy in the way that the Mexicans are.  We also visited San Miguel de Allende and lastly Guanajuato, a colorful and artsy hillside town with a history steeped in silver mining.  Guanajuato was our favorite place in all of Mexico.

We returned to San Diego in July, 2013, doing the Baja Bash after the wild northers of the spring season had ended and before the hurricanes of the late summer got too dangerous.  We managed to find ourselves in the sweet spot tucked between two hurricanes, and in just 8 days we went from Paradise Village Marina in Puerto Vallarta to Ensenada.  It was a bumpy ride for about 24 hours and slowed to a crawl at once point when the oncoming waves got pretty intense, but other than being a white knuckle ride due to us worrying about what might go wrong, everything went like clockwork.

We ended the sailing phase of our lives with a wonderful six month stay at Kona Kai Marina in San Diego, taking full advantage of being San Diego "residents" in one of the most charming parts of the city for a while.  We put our boat up for sale in September, 2013, moved back into our trailer in December 2013, and sold Groovy to a Canadian couple in June 2014.

We have been cruising around the western states in our fifth wheel trailer since last January and are now fully-fledged RV full-timers once again.  However, our memories of our cruise are vivid and tangible and they are with us every day.  It was an exhilarating ride, and we are so grateful we had an opportunity to fulfill our sailing dreams.



So, that's it in a nutshell!

When we returned to San Diego we were really excited about our cruise.  Talking to future cruisers, they reminded us of ourselves a few years earlier -- excited and bewildered at the same time, with a very limited idea of what cruising Mexico will be like.  We were invited to give a talk to the Catalina Owners Association, and as a result of that slideshow, we realized that creating a DVD might help future cruisers visualize what their cruise would be like and get an overall understanding of Mexico's geography and anchorages from a cruiser's standpoint.  So we created a DVD series and sold them to cruisers at the various gatherings and on the docks.  Since then we put them on Amazon (they can be seen at this link) and have them available for cruisers to buy there (or at Seabreeze Nautical Books).

Our website is:  http://roadslesstraveled.us and all our cruising-related links are under the "Cruising Lifestyle" menu item.  I have published feature stories about our cruise in Cruising World, Sailing Magazine, Sail Magazine and Blue Water Sailing, and I published a cover photo in Blue Water Sailing (from Zihuatanejo) as well.  These can all be seen at our Press Room page on our website.  I wrote the core of the current Baja Ha-Ha First-Timer's Guide to Mexico and have two new feature magazine articles coming out in the next few months.  One is in Sailing Magazine (the November issue which should be on newsstands soon) about the Costalegre and one in Cruising World (February 2015) about our 60 gallon/hour watermaker.

Our experience with J-World was exactly what we both needed to get the confidence to go cruising.  Even though I was an experienced sailor, I had quite a few gaps in my knowledge to fill, and, for Mark, every hour of our instruction was new info that he gobbled up eagerly.  Our instructor was Rob was absolutely fantastic.  He was very clear in his instructions, very patient with our mess-ups, and incredibly motivating.

I hope our story inspires other J-World students and alums!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rolex Big Boat Series Wrap Up


The 2014 Rolex Big Boat Series September 11-14  in San Francisco Bay was a fairly different experience for me this year.  I've done more BBS's than I can can count now, but none like this.

First off, we didn't sail a big boat.   BBS has, over the years, grown more inclusive to the point where this year they included the not-quite-23 foot J/70s.   Thirteen teams plied the waters of San Francisco Bay, a pretty good turnout considering it was mostly local boats and the event was concurrent with the massively attended J70 Worlds.

Secondly, I sailed with a nascent team.  It flies against my instincts to compete in a high level event without significant practice and preparation.  I like to be competitive, and a lack of preparation is a recipe for frustration.  As I said, however, this was a different Big Boat Series.


You see, we had a J/Would alumni who just a month ago bought a J70.  It's his first boat.  He's been a great client and his enthusiasm for all things sailing is a real pleasure to be around, so when he expressed interest in jumping right into the 'deep end of the pool' and taking a shot at BBS, I couldn't say no.  If I had really thought about it and considered the fact that he had never driven a boat in a real race (outside of J/World Racing Clinics), or if I had thought about the fact that we had precisely one, and only one, weekend regatta to prepare, maybe I would have passed on the opportunity.  But then I would have missed out on a remarkable experience.

What the fleet lacked in LOA was more than made up for in sheer talent.  Paul Cayard was trimming main and calling tactics for Andy Costello (also owner of the J/125 Double Trouble).  There were at least three sail-makers racing on different boats, and a huge host of talented skippers and crews.  The regatta was seven races over four days.  Each morning, our initial daily race was on a windward/leeward course up the SF city front.  Morning breezes were light (10-12 knots generally) and building, and a good flood tide kept the boats tight up against the shoreline for current relief.  For the afternoon race each day, the fleet over to the Alcatraz course.  Breezes each day had built to 20-26 knots and the current had only built.  The afternoon races were marathons, some 16  miles long, including legs from the Golden Gate all the way down to the Berkeley Circle....  and back!


So all of that is pretty standard BBS.  So what was different about this one?  We showed up at a the premier sailing event on the West Coast with a new boat, a new skipper, and a new team, and we felt like we were racing sailboats.  We didn't break anything, didn't crash-and-burn (well, ok, there were maybe two good solid broaches!), and didn't get flushed out the back. And we had an absolute hoot.  Our skipper, so new to the sport, was out there with some of the top sailors in the country...  and in the world!...  and we could taste the competition, sailing many of the courses and races right in the thick of the pack.  In what other sport could you possibly do that?  And in what other boat?

The J/70 is easy to setup, straightforward to dial in, and fun to sail.  In the big breeze, they get pretty physical,  and while my muscles are still aching after five long days of sailing, it all made sense when we would turn the boat downwind and take off on a screaming plane the full length of SF Bay!  Seriously, we were outrunning the Farr 40 World's fleet and other boats with twice the length and four times the crew!  Now if the Race Committee can just comply with our request to have shorter beats and longer runs...

Anyhow, congratulations to Andy Costello for the overall win, and thanks to Dan for a great effort, and a great event.  It really is a ton of fun sailing with him, and he puts up with our antics pretty well.  His progress has been remarkable (a testament to J/World training programs and coaching, if I do say so myself), and we expect great things from him!

Wayne Zittel
J/World Performance Sailing
www.sailing-jworld.com

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Newport to Cabo Race!

Come join J World aboard a turboed 50 footer for the West Coast classic Newport to Cabo Race.  In March of 2015, six clients and three J World coaches will crew the legendary Hula Girl down the coast from California to sunny, happy Cabo San Lucas.  



If you want to gain valuable offshore experience, or just have a great time racing aboard a grand-prix ULDB sled, this is a rare opportunity.  Everyone aboard gets to take turns at doing everything, including driving.  The environment will be fun, positive, and conducive to learning...  and we'll of course work hard to achieve a great finish!   

Limited berths available.  Visit here for more info, or call/email us for a copy of the Team Brief.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The High Life...

The reports from Hula Girl in her offshore cruise from Hawaii to California continue to roll in.  They are well into the Pacific High, looking for the eastern side of it and the fresh breezes there to take them home.

Friday August 8

It seems with all of the hurricanes, tropical depressions and typhoons stirring to the south of us there is just no wind left for us folks sailing up north! We have lost count as to how many hours we have been motoring - the log knows but I can't stand to look. Right now we are humming along at 8.5 KT and the sea is glassy. When I say no wind I really mean no wind. Let's hope something changes soon. Jasper assures us that there will be wind in our future. So far he has not let us too far astray so we continue to trust his prediction, but we are formulating a back-up plan... If we can make it to the 400 mile mark off-shore we are hoping the coast guard can do a Gordo's burrito air drop to us. 



The fishing gods are taunting us daily. Today we had what looked like two medium sized tuna jumping out of the water right by our lures chasing each other but not the wonderful faux food we had to offer. Tonight looks like another pasta night.

But with all of that said spirits are high and we are happy to report that we only had one more small prop tangle, which given the early hour of the morning and the water temp, Jasper get's extra credit for volunteering to be dunked. Brrrrrrr. He had us up and running again in five minutes. We have passed a colossal amount of trash and tangles of nets/ropes and other hazards...

If you need to find us try 35 23.627 by 135 11.651 and please bring some fresh vegetables....


Sparky signing off...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hula Girl Pacific Cruise Report


Wednesday August 6

Well, we had an eventful day today. It started with calm seas and the need to motor then we hit a pile of submerged fishing nets/ropes - it wrapped our prop and then the fun began. We spent the next hour cutting and clearing the prop. Three of us went in to take turns being effectively keel hauled. I went out to haul in our sea anchor (a ton of fishing nets/roped stuck to our fishing line - felt like I was hauling in a 100 pound fish) but it did stop the boat from drifting. Ultimately Jasper needed to be kicked out of the water since he stabbed himself (minor injury but we preferred no blood in the water - nice traveling with a nurse and MD). And Chris methodically continued to saw away at the mess below the waterline. After an hour we were free again and more importantly the motor still worked - good as ever. Now we are making about 8.5 KT on the rhumb line for home! Seas are glassy, the moon just set and there is no wind. Let's hope for no more trash encounters this evening.

Mid-Pacific:  out here, you are farther from dry land than you can get anywhere else on the planet.  

The fish we hooked today got away, which was a mighty disappointment, but we try again in the morning. The menu has taken a hit as the fishing has slowed and the rations have dwindled...hope for better culinary news tomorrow.

Hope all is well on the mainland!

Sparky reporting from somewhere in the vicinity of 33 51.187 by 140 20.862

Link to current location:  www.tinyurl.com/hulagirl

Monday, August 4, 2014

Pacific Offshore Cruising, continued....

The crew aboard Hula Girl en route from Hawaii to San Francisco on our annual cruise, seem to be having a merry time.  Despite the large high pressure system keeping the breezes down, they are still getting a good amount of sailing in...


Sunday August 3

We did not fish today since the ice box is full of the last fish family we wiped out. And to make fishing matters worse we have other foods that need to be consumed so this evening's menu was beef and rice stuffed cabbage rolls with carrots and sour cream. It is a Bosnian dish and if you have any reservations talk to Jasper who is now a believer in all things cabbage.

Well now as for wind - today was a pleasant surprise. While the wind stayed below 10KT we were able to average 6.5KT sailing throughout most of the day following the rhumb line (49 degrees). And we calculated our fuel usage and remaining fuel - we are golden. Definitely not planning on going too far south. Even as we make eastward progress we are planning on motoring north when we hit the high then dropping down to SF when we leave the high. We downloaded our weather and wind this morning so we are good to go.

As for today's happenings - we had to clear ropes off the keel, which was quite an impressive feat by Jasper sailing us in reverse. We thought we did not need him any more until that trick. He has bought himself at least a few more days... We checked the engine oil, we practiced some navigation, we are now tying knots of unbelievable proportions and we can get weather and updates without waking the chief. Not bad for this motley crew. There seems to be an air of happy content on board Hula Girl...

FYI 30 34.606 by 148 05.474.


This is Sparky signing off.



Monday August 4

We started the day with a whale cruising around us for about 10 minutes. What an awesome thing to see! Then we had distant breach off our bow. What a winner for us marine biologists! Can't figure out who our visitor was - I know who he was not (not a blue, grey or humpback). Then the water got glassy and well it was time to swim! Fantastic! Then we had to tump the captain back in to clear our rudder from some fishing nets. Today we motor, tonight we motor, tomorrow we motor, Tuesday we motor, then Wed we sail!!! Or at least that is the plan and we will of course try to sail here and there when possible but who knows how the winds will really blow...

Other than that we again visited a lovely fish and vegetable curry over rice - tomorrow we will have morally recovered enough to fish again! I shall do the tuna dance before casting our lines and hope the tuna gods are listening.

Other than that Jasper would like to report that the floggings continue...now let's see if you can figure out who is flogging whom....

True wind is less than a KT as we find ourselves at 31 52.915 by 145 26.111

Sparky is signing off to go learn something about the stars.



Saturday, August 2, 2014

Hawaii to California Cruise Reports Continued...

The reports from Hula Girl in the midst of our annual cruise from Hawaii to California.  Sounds like they are getting close to the high...

Saturday August 2


Hi Wayne,

The wind has been holding between 80-120 degrees but usually not making it past 8 KT (and the 8 only last about 15-20 minutes at best) - with that we have been motoring a lot today but getting our exercise putting the jib up, then down, then up, then down, and on and on. 

We are on the rhumb line home (48 degrees) and holding steady. If these wind forecasts are worth their salt we make be able to hold steady all the way - there is one pocket in about 500 miles that may be bad but if we hit it just right we might be golden... 


Full Double Rainbow, Mid Pacific on a previous HA-CA Cruise

Now on to the most important parts of our day: FOOD

Sparky is back in the saddle. After letting a HUGE one slip away on the sugar scoop (almost dove in after it - the crew is all on high alert for Sparky overboard if there is a blue fin in question) this morning we were able to hook two magnificent Mahi Mahi at the same time and land both! We had Chris on one hand line and me on the other - it was beautiful! The fish are getting bigger to boot - one was about 20lbs the other just under 15lbs. We have fish for days!!! We started lunch with a lovely tartar with capers and red onion etc... followed by crispy fried fish tacos with Bosnian style slaw. Heaven! Then we went for a fish and fresh vegetable coconut curry over rice for dinner - thank goodness we are a spicy boat. Soon we will start experimenting with the dessert menu.

[note from Wayne:  I am worried about the crew. I suspect they have been in the sun too long..  If theyare seriously thinking about incorporating fish into the deserts, I am worried.  Fish Brulee?  Tiramahu?  (Or would is be Tiramahi?)   Pescado Pudding?  Mousse d' Mahi-Mahi?  Argh, I don't feel so good... ]

We just hit 8 KT sailing - HOT DAMN - San Francisco here we come!!!

This is the fat and happy crew of the Hula Girl reminding you that butter and flour should be a standard provision on all sailing boats - the possibilities become endless...

May the force be with you!


Sparky

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hula Girl Hawaii to California Cruise Reports

We are getting regular updates from the crew Hula Girl on our annual Hawaii to California offshore cruise.  

Tuesday, July 29

Hula Girl is humming along today. Averaging 10 KT of wind and about 6 KT boat speed throughout the day. Mellow seas and a happy crew. We played with reefing today and did a few man over boards just to make sure we don't lose Jasper along the way.  We also took a brief detour to chase a flock of birds that were fishing - we have two most excellent hand lines in the water - one squid and one minnow and we are hoping for a tuna sooner rather than later. Just after dropping our lines we were checked out by a shark cruising by - pretty cool! Also lot's of algal blooms that are accumulating and drifting with the current. We used a make-shift plankton net to collect some and check it out. Waters are pretty much teaming with life around here! 

Hula Girl, Mid Pacific (photos from previous HI-CA trips)

Chris wins best dinner (as of yet) award - North African couscous! I win an award for not puking today and finally having my sea legs. Jasper wins sleeping on the job award. And well Anne is keeping us all in line and that deserves an award!

Other than that we are at 24 50.186 by 156 05.543 and we are in touch with the rest of the group. We will figure out why the autopilot hates us....

Signing off for now...
Emina

p.s., Where the *&^%^ is the peanut butter!?!?



Wednesday, July 30

Sparky here again. Today was a good day at sea. Again we had mellow seas, 8-10 KT winds and averaged about 6 KT boat speed. My sea legs left me again but they are on their way back... The peanut butter saved us all - thanks for that! 

Good Food = Happy Crew (photos from previous HI-CA trips)

The big news of the day was the lovely 10 lbs Mahi Mahi that we caught. The menu included a tuna tartar (with red onions, soy sauce, chili flakes and capers) followed by tuna fillets fried with garlic and olive oil accompanied by a Greek slaw with feta cheese, black olives, and fresh tomatoes. Today was a great food day!  We will dump the minnow lure and do all squid. We are aiming for a blue fin. 

Boat wise Hula Girl is doing well and the autopilot likes us again. It seems we will be trying to tuck under the Pacific High - so far the plan looks as though it may work. Jasper is still on board and there are no mutinies to report! Hope all is well at home base!

Our location is 26 57.780 N 154 30.145 W - crew spirits are high - all stomachs are full!

Rock on,
e


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Inside 100!

So as I write this on Saturday afternoon, we are inside the 100 mile check in point, about 75 miles from the finish line in Kaneohe Bay on the north side of Oahu, to be precise.  We should finish tonight, or - more specifically - early tomorrow morning,  having made the crossing from San Francisco to Hawaii in the 2014 Pacific Cup in about nine and a half days. Average speed over the 2070 mile course would be a bit over nine knots.  We are the third boat to Hawaii in our class (maybe the seventh or eighth boat overall), however (because of rating differences) a number of boats will 'correct' out in front of us, so we'll likely be 6th in class, and about 12th overall.

Those are the stats.  What they don't show, of course, is the human side of the experience.  As the Hawaiian Islands come into range on the distant horizon and Hula Girl charges along in the late afternoon sun, a whole range of emotions begin to take hold.  And when you cross that finish line, pull into the dock and step ashore after having traversed the Eastern Pacific Ocean, you can at once feel gratified, relieved, excited, exhausted. You have accomplished no small feat, and, most importantly, YOU have accomplished the feat.  This wasn't any cruise ship.  No one just took you for a sailboat ride. In the past 10 days, each of our team was on watch a total of 12 hours per day, and drove about 4 hours per day.  That means that over the course of the race, each driver drove for the equivalent of a 40 hour work week!

And I can tell you the level of improvement has been just fantastic.  At the start of the race, for plotting and routing purposes, I generally assume we'll be going about 85% of our target boatspeeds.  I'll modify this a bit one way of the other depending on a variety of things (experience of the crew, race conditions, etc.) but we were pretty close to that number.  By the time we got to the halfway point, I was using 90%.  The next day I bumped it up to 95%.  That's pretty impressive.  I can't really tell you how fun it is to see a team go from just 'hanging in there' sailing the boat (and sometimes not even able to do that in the darkness of night and shifty conditions) to full-on efficiency across the whole spectrum, day, night, squalls, and tradewinds.  And, of course, it's not just driving...  the trimming, the crew work, the understanding of the relationships between all the positions, etc. etc. just became stronger and stronger. and contributed to our increased efficiency day after day....

One of our team mentioned that it's really like having four coaches aboard:  not only are there three 'regular' coaches, but the group has been pro-active at working together, fostering a real sense of unified purpose and experience, and sharing with each other to improve as a whole.  I'll admit, I might have been premature in calling a group of diversified sailors who had never stepped on a boat together before a 'team', but that designation is certainly justified now.  I'm proud of all of them.  Marko, Joe, and Alix came aboard with extremely limited exposure to sailing, and I couldn't be more impressed with how they have progressed. Dale, Mike and Jimmy all brought more experience aboard and all rose to a high standard.  And, beyond them all just doing great, we had a fantastic time.  I have to say it was an extreme pleasure to sail with each and every one of them, for the first time or again.

So good on you all, team.  We were up against probably one of the toughest fleets I have ever raced to Hawaii against.  Each and every boat in our fleet was immaculately prepared, and the crew rosters read like a who's who of West Coast offshore racing.  This is the real McCoy, a true grand-prix offshore racing event.  The fact that our young team could even think of competing against these guys was cool.  The fact that we were able to be competitive against them was awesome.

An finally, a huge thank you to coaches Geoff and Jasper.  These guys did a great job.  It's no small feat to pull together a new crew and head off on a serious adventure like this, and the lion's share of the credit goes to the great oversight and instruction provided by these two.  I know I consider myself fortunate to have had them both aboard.  Thanks tremendously, guys.

Now I'm going to head out into the cockpit for the final evening and enjoy the warm weather, the trade winds, the good company.  I'm looking forward to getting to Hawaii, to be sure, but I am just as excited about the next couple hours.  Although I'd be lying if I didn't admit that a Mai Tai is sounding really, really good about now...

Have a good watch, friends.  And we'll try to post some pictures in the next couple days.

Wayne Zittel and the Hulagins

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Life in the Tradewinds - Hawaii, here we come!

Well the past couple days have been perfect 'chamber of commerce'
sailing conditions out here. But, of course, the deep Pacific lacks
any semblance of a marketing department (and the hotels are few and
far between). So here we are, just over a week into the 2014 Pacific
Cup and we are ripping along, on port gybe finally, heading, more or
less, straight for Oahu.

The last couple nights have been, shall we say, 'sporty.' There is a
big ol' moon out here, but it gets eclipsed by cloud cover and squalls
pretty regularly so it gets dark dark, with the brightest things
around being the fiery phosphorescence in the water. Then the moon
will punch thru, reflecting on the water like a silvery shimmering
blanket. After sunset, the breeze kicks up a couple clicks from the
normal 18-20 knots.... until a squall comes thru, then all bets are
off. Top breeze we saw last night was a short spike to 34. And Hula
Girl has been just lighting it up. The B&G instruments have been a
bit 'wonky' so we have taken to tracking top speeds on GPS which
doesn't show the quick spikes but gives a good and accurate
representation of steady speeds. Until 'Mr. Geoff's Wild Ride' in the
aforementioned puff, Alix held the speed record of 17.7. But with the
extra horsepower, coach Geoff showed us how it's done and raised the
bar to 18.8. So Alix still leads the Amateur division, and Geoff is
holding onto the newly formed Pro division. I'm sure our momentary
speeds were well above those numbers and into the 20s, but regardless,
Hula Girl (and everyone on board) is having a hoot.

We were sorry to hear at roll call this morning that Tiburon, the
SC37, had lost their rudder sometime yesterday. Apparently the
Passport 40 Cayenne was on scene with them and passing them extra
water and supplies for what will become much longer trip to the
Islands. I'm sure they were tearing it up in the breeze, and we are
sorry to hear of the problem but glad everyone aboard is safe.

We had a brief moment of excitement earlier today when the steering
wheel almost came off. It must have loosened up over the past 1500
miles and slipped just enough to let the key slide in the hub, so
turning the wheel did not really turn the boat. Uh oh. Hula Girl
rounded up in a civilized fashion and I, having identified the problem
Carbonautica wheel in it's "attached" state!
right away, ran below to grab the socket set.

I have to say that when I got on deck, pulled the wheel off and handed it to Jimmy saying  "Here! Hold this. And don't drop it!" his look was priceless. Wheel  was re tightened momentarily, and we were on our way again shortly. The socket is now living in the sheetbag near the wheel until we can get some loctite on that nut (the wheel, not Jimmy).



* The staff of J World and crew of Hula Girl would like to apologize for the immediately preceding pun. It was obvious and gratuitous, and we are sorry to everyone.... except instructor Andrew in San Diego.

This is what you get.

Mai Tais await! (as demonstrated by our 2010 Team)

Jimmy started trouble in the cockpit, again. You think I'd be used to it by now. Yesterday it was "Let's do the Tahiti Race on Hula Girl!" then today it was "So what food do you miss the most?" There ensued a discussion as to all the fine things we are looking forward to in Hawaii. Then a truly inspired lunch. Alas, no ice cream!



Geoff is on watch with Marko driving at the moment. Mike trimming, Alix grinding. Dale is off watch but still out in the cockpit chatting.
Haven't seen Jasper in a while. I assume he's sleeping, again. He
stayed up nearly all night last night, carrying on and partying away,
then thinks he can just lie around snoozing all day. Some people!

We passed close by a glass fishing ball yesterday. Alas, in race mode
there was nothing we could do except scoot by, leaving it to continue
it's lonely and long voyage....

That's what I got for now. 561 miles to go. Averaging about 11.5
knots. With a bit of luck, we'll be in Saturday night. Supposed to
get a bit lighter for a stretch the next couple days, but our breeze
has been higher than forecast recently, so we'll just have to wait and
see.

Anyway, more soon...

Wayne Zittel and the Hula Girl Team

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Speck...

Well all right now. It's straight up midnight, and it looks it.
Pitch black at the moment, even though we know there is a nearly full
moon up there, somewhere. Just a couple hours ago, we passed the
halfway mark in the 2014 Pacific Cup. At this point, we are farther
from dry land than you can get anywhere else on the place of the
planet. California is over 1000 miles away on one side, and Hawaii
more than 1000 miles on the other. North and south of us there is a
whole lot of nothing for a long ways. But calling this 'nothing' out
here would be a true error. True, we are but a spec in the ocean, but
the ocean is a great thing and (for the moment) our playground.

The breeze came up again around sunset, as it did last night. We were
a little better prepared for it this time, and shifted down to the
heavier 4A spinnaker (last night we had the big/lighter 2A up the
whole time, which caused yours truly undue stress). Shifting down was
definitely the right call. We are seeing sustained 20-25 knots, and
the lovely Hula Girl is in her element, scooting along at steady 12-14
knots. The driving right now is difficult, to be sure. But our team
has been getting great practice in the past couple of days and I'm
really pleased with how everyone is doing!

Our fall from 2nd to 6th in the standings two days ago was a bit
disappointing, and after a great run yesterday we were sorry to see we
hadn't picked up anyone by roll call this morning, but by our
calculations we have narrowed the margin a good ways and we think that
we are in a great lane to make some good moves. We don't think the
boats way south of us will get good angles into the islands (plus, it
could get a bit lighter down there). We think the boat north of us
have gotten more lift earlier on our way out towards the layline to
Hawaii. So we are pretty happy where we are. The light planing boats
are, as expected, untouchable in this stuff, so we are targeting a
respectable finish amongst the displacement members of our fleet. Now
we just have to sail like rockstars!

Everyone has been behaving wonderfully. Now, with the boat flatter,
we did a bit of house-cleaning today. Most of the crew have enjoyed
showers in the cockpit, and things are remarkably civilized! It's
pretty warm now too... hot in the sun during the days, and welcomely
cool at night.

The crew also wants to thank Sue for the phenomenal batch of
cookies... I'm not sure what we did to deserve being recipients of
her baked specialties (not only for the Pac Cup, but earlier in the
year we received cookies and milk just before the SD to PV Race!), but
boy we are are highly appreciative! Especially me, as I have taken
to using the treats as rewards to keep instructors inline. Especially
that Jasper character... he has taken to making things up, just for
attention, I think, I mean dolphins sleeping with one eye closed and
half a brain?? Really Jasper, where do you get this stuff?!? I
think he was in the sun too long today. But seriously Sue, thank you
from all of us. Please let us know your shirt size so we can send you
a Hula Girl team shirt!

That's it from me for now. I'm going to go on deck to get some cool
fresh air and take Hula Girl for a spin. Enjoy your feather beds
tonight, friends, It's a bit more 'sporty' out here tonight, and
that's working well for me at the moment!

All the best,

Wayne Zittel and the J World Team

Miles....

Monday morning commute was pretty nice this morning.  Traffic was, for the most part, non existent out here.  Life on board is good.  Jimmy is on his iPad, making sure I really know where I am going.  Dale just took a shower and is napping, and coach Jasper is zonked out in one of the pipe cots.  Mike just woke up and is getting ready to go on watch (he's grazing for snacks in the galley as I write this).  The sailing team on deck at the moment is coach Geoff, with Marko trimming spinnaker, Joe grinding, and Alix at the wheel....  and they are doing awesome.
"stock photo," actual Hulagans may vary...
Just about a week ago, this team had never sailed together.  Now, here we are, almost 800 miles off the coast of North America competing in the great Pacific Cup race from San Francisco to Hawaii.  And it's pretty sweet.

We are well underway in shaking off the concerns involved with 'everyday' shoreside life.  So many of the things and stresses that seemed so important a week ago aren't so pressing anymore.  They aren't completely gone, to be sure, but the perspective is different.  It's kind of like having the vague feeling that somewhere I have frequent flyer miles which are about to expire, but I don't really care.  I'm more concerned with nautical miles , at the moment.  And we know the world rolls on without our immediate participation or attention, and it's kind of nice forgetting about it, even if only for a bit.  The World Cup, for example:  forgot it was even going on.  Wouldn't know a thing about the outcome had we not overheard Caro, the beautiful Botin 65, chatting on the radio with one of our competitors, Hana Ho (Caro is a German boat, and was celebrating the result).  And partisan politics, misbehaving starlets, self-driving cars, and the close of the markets today really don't mean much to us at the moment.  And it's pretty nice.

Well, after the first couple days, the breeze remained unstable.  We had big variations in speed and direction which meant our team had to work extra hard to keep the boat moving.  The wind also remained more northerly than forecast, so we spent a good amount of time reaching straight for Hawaii.  We thought the wind was working around to the east (as expected) and changed to a flat reaching spinnaker for part of the day yesterday, but it didn't really happen so in the afternoon we changed back from the 3A to the Code 0.  Early this morning, the shift had come in to stay, so shortly after sunup we hoisted the big 2A spinnaker and are pointed pretty much at the islands for now.  The breeze is up to 16-18 knots with occasional gusts to 20 and there is a small but building swell making for some good surfing conditions.  The smaller lighter boats in our fleet (especially the J125s Hamachi and Reinrag2, but also the SC37 Tiburon) are going to be virtually untouchable in this stuff, but we'll keep the hammer down and see if we can't take a bite out of a couple of them.

Saturday night out here was stunning.  The full moon peaked out of the clouds for a while, and lit up an ocean full of jumping dolphin.  Absolutely breathtaking.  Today is overcast, but actually nice...  it's plenty warm (most of the foulies are getting stored away at this point), and a break from the tropical sun is nice (we'll have enough of the shortly).

So that's about it for now.  Everyone have a great night, think good thought for those of us out here in the deep blue, and we'll see you when the big 'ol sun comes 'round again!

Wayne Zittel and the Hula Girl Team

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Exit Strategy...

Well, sometimes the wind does what it is forecast to do, and other
times it doesn't. And sometimes it doesn't at first, and then later
does. And sometimes it doesn't at all, unless you are looking at a
different forecast, then it pretty much does until later when it
doesn't at all. You get the picture. Sometimes the breeze can be as
fickle as, well, the wind. And so it has been for many of the racers
out here in the 2014 Pacific Cup thus far. With our start aboard J
World's Hula Girl not until Thursday (many of the smaller and slower
On Port?
boats started as early as the previous Sunday in an effort to get us
all to Hawaii about the same time), we watched the earlier fleets work
their way from the California coast with no small degree of
difficulty. LIght and shifty breezes kept things challenging. And
weather patterns were in no rush to go back to 'normal' so it was into
this uncertainty that we sailed on Thursday.

We expected that the natural wind-generating geography of San
Francisco Bay and the (in)famous 'slot' thorugh which seabreezes are
accelerated would give us good wind at the start, and such was
certainly the case. Team Hula Girl shot out the Golden Gate and into
the Pacific where we met the first windshift to the south (as
expected), and away we went, heading (more or less) towards Hawaii on
port (!?!) tack. Conditions held into the first night, where things
started to get lighter and shifty. We use two weather models to
forecast the wind: COAMPS and GFS. The former takes into account
geography and the impact of land, so since we were just off the coast,
this one should have made moire sense. But COAMPS hadn't been dealing
with the weird weather patterns of the last week terribly well, go it
had a high uncertainty rate. Which left GFS. It did ok, but not
great. The bottom line was that both of them told us to expect the
unexpected, and hence we resolved to stay close to the straight line
track (the rhumbline) , and keep moving towards Hawaii. That was our
basic exit strategy. I know it seems logical, but it's easy to get
tempted to a side of the course, sometimes realizing short term gains
but at a cost down the line.

We were able to see maybe half our fleet spread out around us the
first night, some fairly distant and a couple close by. And we
crossed tacks with Delicate Balance a couple boat lengths away a
couple hours after sunrise on Friday. The morning roll call had us in
a good bunch, too early to have too much separation and still anyone's
race! Conditions since leaving the Gate had been 5-10 knots, mostly
upwind, and we carried the #1 jib since Thursday afternoon and all day
Friday. The breeze was blowing anywhere from east of south to to just
north of west. Reflecting the instability of the winds, the
conflicting swell patterns make it a bit lumpy out here... especially
when it gets light! Early this morning the wind veered a little bit
and so just after first light we shifted to the Code 0 and staysail.
Been sailing like that all day as we work a touch south to avoid a
patch of high pressure in front of us and to keep with our fleet a
bit. We were second in our class as of the roll call this morning.
Not that it means too much this early in the race, but it's
encouraging!

Life on board is great. Everyone is getting acclimated to life on
board, and accumulating lots of practice sailing the Hula Girl with a
jib up, which will pay dividends later as the spinnakers go up! We
have a fun bunch of people on board for this race, including three
veteran 'Huligans' which is actually making life easier for coaches
myself, Geoff, and Jasper. One Sunfish spotting. A small turtle. A
number of fishing net floats, all plastic (no glass ones), Some
lonely seabirds. And that's been about it for the day. Not much else
to report, which is good news!

I think it's time to start up dinner, so I'll sign off for now but
will be beck in touch shortly...

All the best to our friends and family ashore, and we'll see you in the morning!

Wayne Zittel & Team Hula Girl

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th All...

Well I for one can't really believe that it is July already.  The sailing season has been absolutely ripping along. Classes have been running regularly in California, and there are a lot more on tap.

  • Up next is the Pacific Cup race from SF to Hawaii, with our start less than a week away!  The Hawaii races are sold out thru 2015, but we are accepting reservations for 2016.  We'll be posting reports from the boat here so stay tuned for all the late breaking news from the middle of the Pacific!

  • We have a Racing Week in San Francisco July 21-25, then another one in August. 


Have a great holiday!

- The J World Team



Friday, April 18, 2014

San Diego Yachting Cup!

Yachting Cup is a fantastic Spring event which draws a great fleet each year.  The 2014 running goes down May 3-4, hosted by San Diego Yacht Club.  J/World San Diego runs a three day racing clinic aboard our J/80s on the Wed-Fri prior to the event, then the teams compete in the regatta with a J World coach aboard.  Want to sharpen your racing skills?  Maybe chip off the winter rust and get ready for the upcoming season?  Or just have a fun time in beautiful southern California?




We have limited spaces for individuals remaining, and one boat available for charter to a qualified team.  Visit here or contact us for more info.

Wayne Zittel and the J World Team

Monday, March 31, 2014

A couple more SD-PV Race pictures....


Hula Girl heading out past Point Loma...  next stop, Puerto Vallarta!

Lookin' lean and fast...

Everyone eyeing the sail trim... I like it!

Leading off the line...

San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race Gallery

Team J World had a great run aboard Hula Girl in the 2014 San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race.  I have to say I can't imagine a more pleasurable group to have been sailing with.  Everyone did a truly fantastic job, and I was very much impressed with the vast improvements I saw in ability levels and proficiency.


Just getting going...  passing the Coronado Islands

More Coronados....  wouldn't see land again for a couple hundred miles!

Hula Girl, in her element.

Lightening the boat by removing the deadweight...  hey, wait a minute, that's me!
When it got really light, we seized the opportunity for a much needed cleansing swim.

We were blessed with amazing sunsets and a huge moon for most of the race.
The nights were truly spectacular.  

Dolphins setting the pace...

More of our sleek friends

And more.  Tons of sea turtles out there, too.

No, it's not the same night as the picture above.  They were all like this!

The Hulagains hard at work....  thanks again team!

Next up is 2014 Pacific Cup which is unfortunately sold out, but we have just opened up the 2015 Newport to Cabo race for registration.  Visit here for info, or contact us to receive the Team Brief.

All the best,

Wayne Zittel and the J World Team