SSC Mid WInter Newsletter, February 2013
St. Thomas Rolex Regatta | Notes From Martin, Virgin Islands | Caribbean Christmas
Bermuda High races at St. Thomas Rolex Regatta 2012
The crew races Bermuda High, St. Thomas Rolex Regatta, 2012 | Photo: Ingrid Abery


Sound Sailing heads to the Caribbean
The crew on-board Bermuda High, St. Thomas Rolex Regatta 2012

St. Thomas International Rolex Regatta

March 21 - March 24, 2013 


We are looking forward to doing the Rolex again this year. For the last two years we were in the hunt for a podium finish (3rd place) up to the last day, where the winds were lighter and we were not as competitive.


This year, Bermuda High has a lightly used 109% North 3dl racing headsail (new these sails cost over $5k) instead of the much smaller 90% Dacron headsail we used last year. Interestingly, this is a sail off a Farr 40, an all out racing boat. This will get us upwind much faster, with little penalty as the CSA rule does not not penalize larger headsails accurately until you get over about a 120 (according to the measures and sailmakers I have spoken with). All rating rules have their little tricks and loopholes. Another unusual aspect to the CSA rule is that battens are not penalized, so our new jib has battens for better performance. I expect this sail will move us up one or two places. We have also switched to a racing bottom paint, which should also help a bit. The difference between the first and third or fourth boats is generally a matter of seconds, so everything is important.


One interesting thing I have discovered is that, even with a less than perfect sail inventory, we have consistently finished in the top half or better of the fleet, and most of our competitors are really good sailors. I do the start, but thereafter, the crew rotates on the helm for 2-3 minutes. One might think this is slow, but it is not, and I think the reason is that our drivers stay super focused on going as fast as possible, while the rest of us call tactics. Focus is the key to doing well, especially for the person on the helm. The person who just relieves the helmsman stay by their side for 2-3 minutes to make sure they stay up to speed and the tell tails are perfect. This system keeps everyone involved and focused, making for a great learning experience. I also am well known for staying calm and collected, and the sprit on Bermuda High is always very good. At the parties, there are often hear of high level captains and owners screaming at the crew and making everyone's life miserable! We may not have won yet, but every year we get better, and we sure have a great time!


If you choose to stay on board Bermuda High, costs are as follows:

Main salon berth - $40 per night 

Forward stateroom - $90 per night

Both aft staterooms have been reserved already.


Cost for three days of racing and one day of practice: 

$480 - members / $600 - non-members 


Arrive Thursday, March 21st and sail with us to the St. Thomas Yacht Club (leaving from CYOA dock in Charlotte Amalie). The race ends Sunday, March 24th followed by the Rolex Award Ceremony and Party held beach side.


Complementary breakfast served each morning at St. Thomas yacht Club from Friday, March 22 through Sunday, March 24. Lunch will be served on boat in between races.



Learn more about the St. Thomas Rolex Regatta here.

Fleet Positioning Decision Time | Winter Survey
This week we are making the reservations for dock space in Norwalk and Mystic. We are interested in hearing from Members and Prospects about your ideas for fleet positioning.

Last year, we moved our Oday 240 to Mystic, and kept her on a mooring.  Several members got great use out of her, with Mike taking her up to the Newport Folk Festival! However, the gas outboard engine proved challenging for some, so having her down here allows us to offer better support.

One idea we are considering is moving the Oday 240 back to Norwalk where members might get better use out of her and positioning one of the Sabre 30's in Mystic. This means there will be no Daysailer in Mystic.

Your comments are welcome.

Puerto Rico on the Horizon
Bermuda High approaches Puerto Rico
INDY - Hanse 540
Bermuda High heads to the Virgin Islands | New Sailing Dinghy and other upgrades.
After sailing Bermuda High down to St Thomas, I spent three days working on her, offloading all the gear and cleaning her up. I pulled the 'new' dinghy out of storage, a 20 year old 13' Blue Jay in excellent shape which I brought down last fall. Wanted to test how the J worked as a dinghy. I installed lots of upgrades, a large bow eye for towing, a new drain plug system (which will be self bailing when sailing fast enough or being towed), pad eye's for the lifting harness system, etc. The dinghy worked extremely well. Most Blue Jays, as they were racing dinghy's, are amazingly well built, with excellent layups and Airex cored hulls and decks. We easily loaded in all seven kids plus me and Eileen, and she still felt very stable, typical of skiff type boats. In boats only slightly larger, Grand Banks fisherman would load in thousands of pounds of fish. Unlike most dinghy's, she felt safe and stable enough to walk on the foredeck or side decks, and the mast, which will stay up for the season, makes an excellent handhold. 


I was also pleased to discover that Bermuda High could be sailed both upwind and downwind with the Blue Jay in the davits. She also tows very well, but she stays totally dry when in the davits with the plug pulled. It is important to make sure the centerboard line is really well mashed into its stopper when J is in the davits. If dropped down, the dinghy will heel. I installed an electric motor bracket with a battery. To charge the battery, I added a solar 10 amp charger, with a deck plug on the dinghy and another deck plug in the solar panel junction box. The ships solar panel can charge the dinghy battery when she is up on the davits. I also added sail slides to the main, along with a topping lift and a jib storage bag. She can now be off sailing in under 2 minutes, just pop in the rudder, remove the sail covers, hoist the sails and you are off. She is amazingly fast and easy to sail, and will plane with a light crew. 


Another big upgrade is a much larger Kyocera solar panel, which puts out 8-9 amps, instead of the 3-4 amps from the previous solar panel. As before, it can and should be tiled to best match the suns angle. We can now keep up with the normal daily electrical loads from the fridge and careful battery use. I replaced the original 4d AGM batteries and as a result, Bermuda High now has a superb electrical system.  We found that with the normal fridge and house loads, the solar panel was able to keep the batteries over 12.5 volts with no charging from the motor.  Very cool.

Hanse | Brokerage News 


As some of you may know, Sound Sailing Center resigned as a Hanse dealer last fall. We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with Hanse, and delivered 15 new Hanse's over the last five years. The decision to resign was mine alone. Mostly, I wanted to get back to product development and spend more time on Sound Sailing Center. We are putting together the last new Hanse we sold this fall, a 415, which is presently in front of the office.


We continue to do some brokerage work for our students and members. One student closed on a Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 40 (congrats Tom!) in Jan while another partnership of two students and long time members (Rob and James), after looking at some 20 different boats, ended up making a deposit on the Hanse 375 'Commanche' we had for sale, which has just been accepted. The decision to buy a boat is certainly one of the most exciting moments in someone's life, and although membership is an incredibly good deal (which one only appreciates in full when you have a boat), owning your own yacht also has lots of pluses. Please keep us in mind if you think a new or brokerage boat might be in your future, and we would be glad to send you a write up on the steps to buying a brokerage sailboat. Given the number of storm damaged yachts, there will be few attractive brokerage yachts available soon


We still have INDY, the Hanse 540 we delivered five years, available for sale. Her owner is keen for offers, and she represents an excellent value on a truly outstanding yacht. The Hanse 540 has been one of Hanse's most popular models, with almost 400 built. Her combination of quality, performance, comfort and ease of handling make her extremely attractive.  


Indy H540 under sail
INDY sails beautifully


Christmas in the Virgin Islands

Just before midnight, Dec 19th, Eileen arrives with all seven kids at San Juan airport. We dock overnight in Puerto Del Ray Marina, the largest marina on the east coast of North and South America-over 750 slips. We check out in the morning and sailed to Culebra, well over half the way to St Thomas. We enjoy dinner on the boat and go ashore where we search unsuccessfully for ice cream-a little too late.


Martin gets dipped into the waves for some fun on the bosuns chair.

 The next day, we motor around the corner to the undisturbed island of Culebrita, anchoring off the NW tip between the main island and Cayo Botella at a lovely small beach. Day anchorages only, but a great beach with lots of interesting coral. As usual, it is essential to make sure you are dropping the anchor in sand, well clear of any coral, and given the rough conditions, I snorkel out to inspect it. The blue jay cleanly surfs up on the beach with a full load. Good snorkeling and beachcombing here. The local coconut palms provide a fun snack for us. We head back to the mother ship, and set sail for St Thomas where we spend the night. 


We sail out the next morning to the St John while hoisting the kids on the bosuns chair, lowering them down for the occasional wave to break over them. A great way to pass the time on a long upwind run. We tack into to Reef Bay, one of my favorite spots, only to discover that both of the two moorings are occupied. We carry on to little Lameshur Bay with plenty of time to head ashore for some beach time. Back to the boat for some grilled steaks.  


Andrew gets air time at Spring Bay, Virgin Gorda

After a good nights sleep, we hike over the hills and up the valley to the Petroglyphs, ancient carvings by the native Tahino Indians, in a lovely series of pools fed by a freshwater spring which sits under a 100 foot waterfall (best seen after a heavy rainfall). After a dip in the pools, we hike back down to the ruins of the Reef Bay plantation. Martin decides to adopt a hermit crab which decides to pinch and not let go. I drive a stick between the claws to open them enough for Martin to pull the fold of skin out. Not an easy or painless process, at least for Martin! We hike back for a swim and set sail for the eastern end of St John. 


On day five, we sail up Sir Francis Drake passage to Spring Bay National Park on Virgin Gorda, a less crowded version of the Baths. Great fun jumping off large ancient boulders into the crystal clear water. All things must come to an end so we set sail for Christmas Cove, where we will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Arie and crew from Art Objects. After a fun filled Christmas, we decide to spend one last night at CYOA.


Day six we head for Vieques. We spend much of the day sailing and finally make it to our destination. Dusk arrives surprisingly early in the Caribbean during December, so we head into the first bay, Bahia Salinas del Sur while we still have light. Lars and Martin watch carefully for coral heads on the bow. This is quite an easy harbor to enter as we anchor under sail, using the boom brake to back us up and Don Street's Chart and Cruising Guide. The sun sets and we enjoy incredible stargazing with the help of the binoculars. 


A quick swim the next morning and the we raise the sails and make our way back to the marina. Running down the south coast of Vieques, we sail past many interesting harbors. One could easily spend a week or two cruising this coast with many harbors to be enjoyed in solitude. However, our trip is coming to an end and we must head back. We rent a car on our final day and visit El Yunque National Park. At 3484 feet, this mountain area forms a true rain forest with astonishing scenery and many large waterfalls. We hike up one of the main trails and stop for a swim in one of the pools between the waterfalls-an amazing end to the trip. 


The little A's in a waterfall pool, El Yunque Rain Forest, Puertop Rico


Thank you to all of our members and customers. We welcome your feedback. If you would like to learn more about a particular facet of sailing, please let us know.



The gang at Sound Sailing Center 

Sound Sailing Center | 54 Calf Pasture Beach Road | Norwalk, CT 06855