Sunday, May 29, 2011

Swiftsure Race Weekend-Cape Flattery Race

Saturday was the start of the 68th Swifsure Lightship Classic. Originally the race was run from Victoria to a lightship anchored on Swiftsure Bank and return. The lightship no longer is anchored on the bank, so a Canadian Navy ship anchors on the bank and is the turning mark of the race. The location is about 20 nautical miles in the Pacific Ocean from Cape Flattery. Originally all boats went to the bank, but to encourage participation for smaller boats, the Juan de Fuca race to Clallam Bay race was included in the late 60's and the Cape Flattery race to Neah Bay was started in the mid 80's. These races give competitors the opportunity to race in exposed waters without spending many days heading out to the ocean. Distance for the Swiftsure Lightship Classic is 138.7, CapeFlattery is 103.4 and Juan de Fuca is 79.9. There are also day races near Victoria for those that want the "Switsure Experience" without venturing into the exposed waters of the Strait.Racing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca is unique. The wind is funneled between the Olympic Mountains on the American side and the mountains of Vancouver Island. As the land inland heats up during the day, the wind can be "sucked" off the ocean, often at high velocity. The waters are really quite large and the seas can be quite nasty. In addition, the currents always need to be considered and can really add to the size and shape of the waves.

For this weekend, I was on "Sjora" a Sweden 36. "Sjora" is based in Victoria and for the weekend, I raced on her in the Cape Flattery Race. This was a warmup for the Van Isle 360 race(race around Vancouver Island in 14 days and 10 legs) that starts on June 4th.

I started this weekend on Friday morning when I got up at 0400, was out of the house at 0515 and caught the MV Coho at Port Angeles for the ride to Victoria. Lennart(the owner of "Sjora") met me and we worked on "Sjora" and later attended seminars on the weather and currents. The weather predictions were favorable(winds 10-15 knots rising to 20-30 knots in the evening), but the current was not favorable(big flood for the first several hours of the race).

On Saturday we got underway at about 0830 and motored to the starting area near Clover Point. The starting vessel is a Canadian Navy ship and they us a real deck gun for the starting signals! The wind was very late and the current was flowing through the starting area pushing the boats away from the line. We were in the third start. We were not close to the line and we were set away from the line. It took us an hour to clear the line! We were not alone, most of our race was equally late. We drifted for hour, barely making any progress toward Race Passage. Finally in the afternoon, the wind came to about 5-7 knots and we were able to beat toward Race Passage.

Fortunately, by the time we got to Race Passage, the current was ebbing, making it easy to get through. We continued tacking along the Canadian shore as we headed west. The wind built to about 15 knots and then more. We changed to the #2 jib and later as the wind increased to 20knots, we reefed the main.

We tacked close to the Canadian shore until we reached Sheringham Point. There, we headed across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The wind lightened some, so we shook out the reef. We closed with the American shore near Clallam Bay as the sun went down. The wind lightened some more, and we changed back to the #1 jib.

We continued along the American shore towards Neah Bay where we rounded the mark boat (another Canadian Navy vessel) at 0124 Sunday morning. We set the spinnaker and headed back toward Race Passage and the finish at Victoria.

The wind was very light, and we headed back out into the strait to ride the now favorable flood current. With the swells coming in off the ocean, trying to maintain speed was a chore. We sailed steep angles to try to keep the spinnaker filled. Finally at about 0900, the westerlies started to fill in. We still needed to be careful not to sail into a light patch. As the day heated up, the winds started rising. When it was blowing around 15 knots, we changed to the 1-1/2 once spinnaker. The winds increased more as we neared Race Passage. With the flooding current, we reached a speed over ground of 12 knots and a speed through the water of 9.7 knots.

After Race Passage, the winds started lightening as we neared the finish line at Victoria. We peeled the spinnaker to the 3/4 ounce. As we neared the finish, we started noticing a lot of faster boats from our class around us. we finished at about 1407. As soon as we arrived at the inspection dock, I jumped ship and caught the 1500 MV Coho to Port Angeles.

We had a great race. Even after a really slow start, we finished in a good time Sunday afternoon. And we also had a great placing! We placed 4th in our race out of 46 finishers and 2nd in class and division.

I enjoyed the race immensely and the crew on the boat were great people to sail with. Most of them will be sailing on the Van Isle 360 next week. Now I think I will go to bed and sleep in in the morning!
View from the MV Coho. The Swiftsure boats are moored in front of the Empress Hotel.

The great crew of "Sjora".

The course map for the various courses that make up the Swiftsure weekend. We raced the Cape Flattery race.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Miscellaneous Ramblings, "Or Whats The Point?"

As a retired person, I should be allowed to do odd things during my days that may seem pointless to some people. So, here are a few of my miscellaneous ramblings.

Yesterday, the weather was looking nasty, so what better time to go to the beach? Not some exotic beach, but an exposed point in North Kitsap. I also wanted to drive the reengined Bronco II for a longer trip to test it better. So I decided to drive north to Hansville and Point No Point. At Pt No Pt, I went for a walk on the beach. No, there were no sunbathing people drinking fancy drinks with umbrellas in them. In fact there were only two other people walking their dog. It was cool, but the wind was not strong. That was too bad, because I wanted to fly my stunt kite. As I left, it started raining. I drove the long way back, past Skunk Bay, Little Boston, Kingston and Poulsbo. The Bronco behaved well, but the temperature still fluctuates. Drove nearly 100 miles.

Today, I read in the paper about a tug that was at Bremerton for the Harbor Fest this weekend. It was built in 1944 as the ATA202 and later named USS Wampanoag. After the war, it was turned over to the Coast Guard and renamed Comanche (WMEC202). It is now owned by a group trying to restore it. It is on the Registry of Historic Ships. So, I drove to Manette, walked across the bridge and out to the breakwater to where the Comanche was moored. Unfortunately, no one was around and it was not open for tours. I would have liked to have gone aboard. Maybe Monday.

While on my walk, I did talk to a couple of people I knew and helped another with directions on how to get to Highway 101.

After walking back to the car at Manette, I decided to drive to Silverdale. The wind was really hooting, and it was a great day to fly the stunt kite. There is a grassy area at the waterfront park right next to the water. I set up my larger kite and flew for about an hour. The wind was so strong that I really had to brace to not be pulled over!

After I got home, the 180 degree thermostat and new transmission vacuum modulator arrived from Summit Racing. I changed them out and flushed the cooling system again. The shifting remained the same with the new modulator, but the temperature seems to be fluctuating less and the electric fan is keeping the temperature from spiking during stops.

So, there you have it, two days of nothing exciting, no fancy meals or exotic destinations. And now tonight, I am washing clothes and packing up my sailing gear. I am leaving the house at 0500 to drive to port Angeles to catch the first Coho run to Victoria. I am going to race on a boat in the Swiftsure Race from Victoria to the Pacific Ocean and back. The owner and his wife are letting me stay in their guest room again. The race starts Saturday morning and hopefully we will be finished before the last Coho run leaves Victoria on Sunday evening at 1900.

So there you have it, more pointless ramblings!
The lighthouse at Point No Point. It was built in 1878 and like a lot of lighthouses has been turned over to a group of citizens to maintain and show.
The new bridge is coming along nicely and should open this summer.
USS Comanche moored to the Bremerton Marina breakwater.
USS Comanche moored to the Bremerton Marina breakwater.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Port Orchard Invitational-WSSA No. 5

Saturdays race was the Port Orchard Yacht Club's Invitational race. It is the 5th race of the West Sound Sailing Association (WSSA) series of 7 races. This race started at Port Orchard Yacht Club and sailed north to a temporary turning mark at Battle Point and return to POYC. The distance is 16.4 NM.

The winds were forecast to be light from the SW, switching to the NW later in the afternoon with a possibility of rain during the day. At the start, the winds were very light SE and it was raining. Even though it was raining, the temperature was warm.

I got a good start near the boat end end reached up toward the docks north of the yacht club. Dulcinea(J105) followed me and we both soon found ourselves in trouble with the wind shifting ahead. So, down with the spinnaker, up with the jib and fend off from the dock I was drifting into! The boats farther to the left got the new NW winds sooner and I found myself in last. BUT, wait, there was a few puffs off to the right near the Port Orchard marins. So I headed that way with a Div II boat "Aldebaran"(Cat 30). Sure enough, with a couple of knots of wind I got up to speed and when I met with Dulcinea again, I was ahead after they had been ahead in the new wind.

The wind increased to about five knots. I worked the right side of the course near Annapolis and gained on "Tantalus"(Express 37) and started sailing through the Division II boats that started five minutes ahead. I beat up the South Kitsap shore looking for the strongest ebb current. Near Waterman, the wind came farther east and I found I could crack off a little onto a close reach, then a beam reach and then up with the spinnaker. After sailing past Illahee, the wind came well aft toward the south. And sure enough, the wind ahead started dying. I had been well ahead of the entire fleet, and they started catching up.

At one point, the wind started coming ahead and I put the jib up again and took down the spinnaker. I thought "this is it, the convergence zone has found me and the wind will shift to the NW". But no, the wind stayed very light and some of the boats behind caught up and "Tantalus" passed me. After another boat caught up and insulted my crew("hey, get your lazy foredeck to set the spinnaker, you are getting passed by Tantalus"), I got the spinnaker set once more.

The wind was spotty, and I sailed the boat at very steep angles to keep moving. The wind rarely got past two knots. By the time I got past University Point, I had moved ahead of the fleet once again. But since I am the fastest rated boat, I have to place well ahead of the slower boats behind to correct on them.

I continued working downwind along the Bainbridge Island shore and as I closed with the Battle Point mark, I could see that the Race Committee was going to shorten the course, finish the race and put us out of our misery!

I finished far enough ahead of "Dulcinea" to correct on them. But "Jerry Rig"(Buchan 37), a division II boat probably corrected on me by a minute securing the overall win.

Even though the winds were agonizingly light all day, it was really a fun day for a race. I stayed really focused on my boat speed all day and was happy with the overall performance of the boat.

Results(when they are completed) can be found here:

Very light winds near the finish. Photo Credit: Steve N.

At the finish, taking down the spinnaker. Photo Credit: Steve N.
The track for the day. Lots of tack near Port Orchard, lots of jibes near the Battle Point finish.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Quick Trip To Victoria BC.

Last weekend I took a quick trip to Victoria BC. I traveled on the 0820 MV Coho from Port Angeles on Saturday morning, spend the night and returned on the 1030 MV Coho run from Victoria. I did not do any shopping, sightseeing or take in any of the other attractions. I was there on somewhat of a business trip. I did sail on a boat during a practice session to get ready for future excursions.

The MV Coho in Port Angeles. This is the first time I have ever taken the Coho to Victoria. Almost every other time has been by private boat. For a vessel built in 1959 and in continuous operation, I thought it was clean, in great condition with a friendly efficient crew. Probably better than our Washington State Ferries.....

Entering Victoria Harbor with the Empress Hotel in the background. I always like this view when I come in on a boat. For the Swiftsure Race, the boats raft up in front of the Empress. It always seems fun to boat into the downtown of a major city. Most of the sailboat masts in this photo were boats that had competed in the Oregon Offshore Race from Astoria to Victoria. They had been finishing during the previous 24 hours, three were still at sea but within sight of Victoria and one was dismasted when a whale jumped onboard. They retired and returned to Astoria.

The boat I sailed on during the Saturday practice session.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Singlehanded Dip Pole Jibe

I posted this previously on another social media site. But here it is for my followers.

This is a Singlehanded Dip-pole spinnaker jibe during the Race To The Straits, May 8, 2011.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Race To The Straits May 7 and 8.

Two great boating events occur each year on the first weekend of May. One is the opening day of boating season. This event has been happening for many years and includes boat parades through Montlake Cut, crew races and a lot of pomp and circumstance.

The other great event that occurs on this weekend has a shorter tradition then opening day. In 2002, Sloop Tavern Yacht Club of Seattle started the Race To The Straits. This is a two day race from Shilshole Marina to Port Townsend and after a nights stay, race back to Shilshole. Each day of the race is 30nm. The rules for this race is that all boats shall be sailed singlehanded(one person) or doublehanded(two people). The class breakdown was further refined for flying sails or non-flying sails as well as a Jack and Jill category. I raced singlehanded with flying sails(spinnaker). This year there was about 100 entries making it one of the larger regattas in Puget Sound. Boats are also started in reverse order, where the handicap is applied at start. The first start for the slowest rated boat is at about 0752, I started at 0929. The reverse start is unusual in a sailboat race, but makes the race more interesting. There are no signals from the committee boat to warn you of the impending start. You need to know your starting time and keep track of how much time to the start. Also with the reverse start, any boat that you pass, you have beaten. Any boat that starts behind you then passes you has beaten you!

This year had a breezy weather forecast of 15-25 knots from the SW with the wind switching to the NW in the afternoon. I was a bit apprehensive about flying the spinnaker alone in 25 knots of wind. But fortunately by the I started, the wind had lulled to about 13 knots. I set the heavy spinnaker and had a great downwind run. I sailed straight downwind and worked toward the right to avoid issues with the current at Double Bluff possibly setting me to the left. The most wind I remember on the run was about 22 knots and a boat speed of 9.6 knots through the water. There were four other J35's racing doublehanded. I managed to stay ahead of all of them except "Fast Feather II" who sliped by me at the Double Bluff mark.

As I neared Double Bluff, I could see the Puget Sound convergence zone at work. The south wind was dying and a light north wind was filling in with rain. I got to work and got the spinnaker down and a jib up just as I entered the new north wind. I managed to pass the buoy about 25 yard away by sailing so far right on the downwind leg.

A lot of boats were head up toward Whidbey Island on a nice lift. But it also took them out of the favorable ebb current. I opted to foot of a little and get back into current. It seemed to pay off as I passed a lot of boats. The rest of the beat was an exercise in trying to keep in favorable current and good winds. The new wind was only about seven knots. I managed to pass a lot of boats on the beat and when I reached Marrowstone Point, I noticed the fleet had split with a few boats heading directly toward the finish and a lot of boats getting flushed toward the straits with very little wind. I choose to sail out of the river and toward the finish line. It worked OK, and I passed a lot of boats, but the wind filled in again and some of the boats made out really well. When I finished, I noticed that one of my competitors finished ahead of me. So, I got second for the day on Saturday. There is still the combined score from both Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday dawned with clear skies and no rain. Did I tell you that it rained almost all night? The mood on the dock was subdued, partially from the partying the night before but also from the weather forecast which did not predict much wind. But when we got to the starting area, the wind was puffing to about ten knots. I got a good start and headed toward Marrowstone Pt where the current was ebbing at about three knots. I stayed close to the point and got around. I then headed closer toward the island looking for current relief. The wind was reachy and I had a spirited luffing duel with "Tantivy"(J109) and a sister ship, "Fast Feather II". As I got toward the end of the island, I found myself almost alone as most of the other boats had headed across Admralty Inlet. I jibed and had a nice reach toward Double Bluff. As I closed with double Bluff, the winds got lighter, but there was a back eddy helping out.

I got passed the Double Bluff buoy and headed toward the Hansville shore where I jibed to port and sailed close along the shore to Point No Point. I passed a number of boats farther offshore in the adverse current. I jibed around Point No Point and joined the parade down the Kitsap shoreline. Near Apple Tree Point, the wind appeared to be dying ahead and a group of boats started heading across the sound. But wait! The boats near Kingston appeared to be beating into a new wind. I headed that direction and put up a jib. After a mile, the wind came aft again and I put the spinnaker up again. It was a nice reach and as it built, I was able to head low enough to finish without jibing. I finished in the first fife teen boats and did not see any of the singlehanded boats ahead or around me.

This was another great Race To The Straits. The sunny weather of Sunday made up for the rain on Saturday. Even though boat days had their share of fluky winds, it was actually more consistent than some of the past years.

Results(when they are posted) can be found here:

"Fast Feather II". A boat like mine. I past him not long after this picture was taken.

Heading from Double Bluff toward the Hansville shore.

The parade down the Kitsap shore.

The parade down the Kitsap shore.

"Uff Da" a Moore 24 just before the sunday finish.

My track for Saturday.

My track for Sunday.