Thanks to Our Partners and Suppliers for a Great 2014 Season of Mini Sailing

As we reflect on our second full season of Mini sailing aboard Abilyn, we must give thanks to our partners and suppliers, each of whom has contributed significantly to our program as well as to the sport of sailing.  If you are interested in supporting Abilyn Racing in 2015 as we push forward toward the Bermuda 1-2 Yacht Race, shoot me an e-mail at  

From training gear to base- and mid-layers to ocean racing foulies that incorporate HH's latest innovations, HH had us protected on and off the boat, and looking good of course.  We showed you How To Dress a Sailor.  Now go find your gear at, or buy my virtually unused, brand-spanking new HH Ocean Jacket.

Without the support of Landfall Navigation, we could never have gone offshore and Into the Washing Machine, or around Block Island just for kicks (and to add 90 miles to our end-of-season delivery).  Landfall set us up with emergency beacons, flares, and an unbelievably light offshore 4-man life raft--all of which we hope never to use, but are nevertheless essential to offshore sailing.  Visit Landfall Navigation at  

Our first partner on this venture, DMK hooked us up with their DMK Box, which takes all our boat data (NMEA, SeaTalk NG, GPS, and AIS) and transmits them via WiFi to our mobile devices so that we can analyze information using programs like iNavX and iRegatta Pro.  Not having to install or rely upon multiple repeater displays was a key goal, which DMK helped solve.  Visit DMK Yacht Instruments at

Abilyn came loaded with Harken winches and blocks.  We added a few T2 Soft-Attach Carbo blocks late in the season to serve as outboard leads for our genoa sheets and spin sheet tweakers.  The soft attachments not only save weight, but also let you adjust the location of the lead by lengthening or shortening the attachments.  Visit Harken at

Sailing Abilyn is an intense, heart-pumping, muscle-burning endeavor, especially in the heat of summer and when the breeze is on.  Z Blok saved us from sun burns, and also didn't sting our eyes when the sweat started flowing.  Best stuff ever.  Visit Z Blok at

PredictWind's offshore forecasts were spot on, and their data, charts, and route optimization tools helped us plan our deliveries and offshore qualifier.  Visit PredictWind and check out their new swell forecasting functionality at

If you have a GoPro or camera that you use for action sports, then you know you need mounts.  We used RAM Mounts' rail, pole, and suction mounts along with their extension pole aboard Abilyn to get some cool shots.  We also used their iPad mount to create a flexible display mount in our companionway so that the iPad could be viewed while in the cockpit or down below.  Visit RAM Mounts at

Bad Elf's GPS Pro modules worked seamlessly with iNavX.  But since we were able to wire up our onboard Garmin directly to the DMK Box, we're using the Bad Elf modules as backups (the more the merrier), and also as great tools to track our practice runs.  Visit Bad Elf at

Sometimes, you just need to climb your mast by yourself.  I had to do that a number of times over the season, and ATN's Mastclimber let me complete various punch-list tasks on my own, including repairing a broken runner, inspecting the masthead tri-color light, and installing bungees on the runners to ensure they don't get caught in front of the spreaders when you need to trim on.  Visit ATN Inc. at

A Delivery To Delay the Off-Season Blues

In a last ditch effort to delay the off-season blues, co-skipper Sam Cox and I wanted to get in one last, good sail aboard Abilyn before the demand for shrink-wrapping in the northeast goes through the roof.  So, rather than simply delivering the boat from Larchmont Yacht Club to Brewer Pilots Point in Westbrook, CT, we set out last Friday with a plan to round Block Island (or maybe even pull into Great Salt Pond for breakfast).  This would increase our mileage from 70 miles to 160 miles--a good distance to cap off a great season of Mini sailing. 

I watched the weather all week.  It was a no-go through Thursday as strong easterlies were barreling down the Sound.  But Friday's forecasts according to PredictWind and WindAlert called for those easterlies to flip to the west and southwest, which would give us a perfect wind direction to pop the kite and make easy miles to the east.  The forecasts then seemed to call for two possibilities--the westerlies might back to the southwest by Saturday and build from 10-15 to 15-20.  Or, the westerlies might clock to the northwest and bring 25 knots.  Either way, when we rounded Block Island, we would not be close hauled on the least according to the forecasts.

At 1600, we pulled off the mooring ball, dodged some Optis heading out for a late-afternoon practice, and popped the big kite as we glided past the Larchmont Breakwater in 65 degree (F) weather under clear skies.  The breeze was more from the south-southwest, which required us to sail at at a true wind angle (TWA) of 120 degrees in order to fetch our waypoint--Race Rock Light.  This proved too difficult with the big kite as our apparent wind was being pushed forward of the beam as the breeze built into the high teens and low twenties.  As we were being pushed north of rhumb line, we switched to the Code 5 so that we could reach higher and get back on course.  This was possible in the lulls, but we were still overpowered if we wanted to fetch Race Rock Light, even as the genoa provided surprising stability at higher angles.  Ultimately, we dropped the kite and jib-reached down the Sound, hitting speeds of around 11 knots.  We were sending it all evening, and well into the night.  Check out the highlights from the downwind leg below.

Delivery highlights from downwind leg out to Block Island.

At 0000, we had a decision to make--exit the Sound via the Race, the Sluiceway, or Plum Gut--or simply pull into Pilots Point and call it a night.  Heading for the marina wouldn't have been any fun, and, in any event, the last train back to NYC had long since departed.  Heading for the Race would have set us at a TWA of about 150 degrees--a little too deep as we weren't really in the mood to put the kite back up.  We opted for Plum Gut, which allowed us to continue power reaching under main and jib.  As Sam slept, I shot through the Gut at 8-9 knots of boat speed, which proved quite easy with the slack tide; it was my second time navigating this tidal inlet in darkness.  After we were clear of Plum Island, the third-quarter moon began to rise, and, at 0300 Saturday morning, I gave the helm over to Sam as we sailed past Montauk Point to the south.  By 0500, we had reached the southeastern point of Block Island.  

We could have cut our "losses" here, simply turning around and heading back to the Race and on towards Pilots Point.  But again, what fun would that have been.  So we continued counterclockwise around BI--gybing onto port on the backside and popping the Code 5 as soon as we had a clear angle to "1 BI"--the navigational mark identifying safe water north of Block Island.  It took us no time at all to cover the length of the island, as huge rollers from the south helped us surf up towards 1 BI.  By 0700, we reached our mark and headed up towards the Race.

It looked like we'd be able to sail at a TWA of about 100 degrees all the way to Pilots Point, which would have been a fast, albeit bumpy reach given we were now seeing some steep swell in the Block Island Sound.  "I'm in another damn washing machine," I thought.  Luckily, the steep swell was short-lived as the Long Island land mass to the south prevented any significant fetch.  As we neared the Race, both the swell and breeze abated significantly, leaving us with a 2.67 knot foul current just as we neared Race Rock Light.  Yep, we should have hit up Dead Eye Dick's on Block Island and waited for the tide to change.  Next time, Andy.  

As we fought through the foul current, a new problem arose:  the breeze began to clock from the WSW, ultimately hovering directly on our nose.  Well that wasn't in the forecast.  Now we had about a 25-mile beat in a boat that doesn't like to beat.  Lovely.  For the rest of the delivery, we tacked along the Connecticut coast, and pinched to achieve maximum VMG.  

So it was slow-going from the Race.  Our friend Adam Loory of UK Sailmakers astutely pointed out that we had our dessert before our vegetables.  True.  And we paid the price.  It took us 13 hours to sail the 100 miles from Larchmont, NY to Block Island, and then 10 hours to sail the roughly 47 miles from 1BI to Pilots Point.  Ughhh... And to top off the long haul, we were welcomed at the harbor by what can only be described as a death cloud--a line of dark gray cumulonimbus extending along the coast.  As we navigated through some shallow, rocky areas near the harbor, we didn't know what this cloud would bring.  Nothing?  60 knots?  Luckily, the breeze remained consistent at 18 knots as the cloud past overhead.  The worse that happened was that I bumped Abilyn into the rubberized corner of the dock as I was backing into the slip--nothing that a little compound can't resolve.

The best part of the delivery?  Pizza and beer at the greatest railroad station pizza shop in the northeast:  PIZZA WORKS!

So now the boat is tucked away, awaiting my return.  After the Bermuda 1-2 forum in Newport on November 1, I'll make a pit stop at the yard and strip Abilyn of all her goodies, and, along with the help of Bob and Andrew Connell at BYY, set her up for a restful off-season.  Restful, at least for her; I'll be spending the off-season pondering next June and preparing mentally for what lies ahead, given that we are now officially qualified to enter the race.    

Here are my favorite images from the delivery.  Enjoy!

This just in...

Abilyn Racing is officially qualified for the 2015 Bermuda 1-2!!!

The race committee recently informed me that my 206 hard-fought, solo, offshore miles coupled with nearly 500 miles of additional documented sailing aboard Abilyn was sufficient to gain entry to the regatta.  

This is definitely great news, but I need to remember that I still have some important training before being able to cross the start line and aim for 165 M.