Saturday, February 25, 2012

James Depue Memorial Race, WSSA #1, Where Was Gale?

All week, forums and Facebook pages have been abuzz with speculation of the winds for todays James Depue Memorial Race at Port Madison. Early forecasts predicted winds of 5-15 knots while around the area winds were suppose to be strong. Then later in the week, the wind predictions started showing much more wind and by Friday, the forecast for Saturday was for:





Invitations were sent, RSVP recieved, but Gale did not show up for the party!

This race is the first race of the seven race WSSA(West Sound Sailing Association) series. It starts at Pt Monroe, heads south to the red nun buoy off Eagle Harbor and then crosses Puget Sound to the West Point buoy, to a club buoy at Pt Jefferson and return to finish at Pt Monroe. The total distance is 16.5 NM.

As said before, Gale did not materialize and at the start, the winds were about six knots. I timed the start poorly and was late and then got pinned at the flag end of the line. With a boat above us, I  could not tack to clear the buoy, so I had to jibe around onto port. We continued on port far enough to clear our air before tacking back to starboard. We were the last boat to start.

After finally clearing the line, we tacked close to the Bainbridge Island shore for current relief. A side benefit of the island shore was that the wind started lifting us toward the next mark. Some weather models had predicted that the winds could swing west and staying on that side was part of our game plan. We saw wind speeds as high as 11 knots, but mostly it was in the 7-9 knot range.

We started picking off boats and by the time we were crossing Murden Cove, we were in the lead along with "Dos"(Sierra 26). Near the first mark, we traded places with "Dos" as we worked through the wild shifts. We rounded the mark and set the spinnaker and started reaching across the sound. The wind dropped off and we had to sail close reaching angles to keep the boat moving. Also the wind was oscillating wildly. After a couple of jibes, the wind swung around to the NE and we set the jib. Several boats had closed with us while we were in the convergence zone, but once we got the jib up we started pulling ahead.

The current was still ebbing, and as we approached the West Point buoy on starboard tack, we were set toward the left and had to head high to avoid missing it. The race committee was on station and finished the race here. A few of the boats behind us were swept to the west of the buoy and had to tack to port to try to sail back upstream. "Dos" was the first to finish, we were second, but two boats that finished behind us probably saved their time on us by a few seconds. So, we were probably fourth in class and hopefully overall.

Overall, it was a great day on the water. The Puget Sound Convergence Zone kept the strong winds away and allowed the sun to shine the whole day. I had prepared some contigency plans in case the wind did blow, but fortunatly we did not have to implement them.

Thanks to the crew of Jim, Kathleen and Tom for staying focused and working hard at keeping the boat moving. Results are here when they are posted:

Here is our track for the day. The large westerly shifts combined with a few headers made for a strange appearing track on the windward leg.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cushman Trail From Gig Harbor To Point Defiance Park

Today, after the freezing fog thawed out, the day was sunny and nice. I heard about a group riding the Cushman Trail from Gig Harbor across the Narrows Bridge to Pt Defiance Park and return. Today seemed like a good day, since rain is predicted.

I drove to the Wollochet Drive exit and parked in the Kimmel Dr park and ride. I am not sure if it was legal to park there, but I did anyway. The trail starts right at the park and ride. The trail was originally a utilities service road that has been paved. It is quite ride, but like a lot of non-motorized use trails, people, bikes, skateboards and pets are all over the trail. This trail provides an easy five mile way to the Narrows Bridge and its non-motorized use lane.

This was the first time I have ridden across the bridge, I walked across it a couple of years ago. After crossing the bridge, I continued north to Point Defiance Park and rode the five mile loop road, returned to the Narrows Bridge and followed the Cushman Trail back to the truck. The total distance was 22 miles, less than the 30 miles I expected.

I may use this trail for future excursions to the Tacoma area. I was happy to see the Bike Lanes on the Tacoma streets, something we rarely see in Kitsap County. Using much of this route, it would be easy to access Ruston Way and the Downtown area. And heading south after crossing the bridge, I could catch the ferry to Anderson Island, another place I have never visited.

 Approaching the Narrows Bridge heading south.
 The lane provided on the bridge is quite wide and is made to accommodate bikes and pedestrians for travel in both directions.

 The view from the park was spectacular today.
 Approaching the Narrows Bridge from the Tacoma side.
See the lower sign? It indicates that all pets must be on leash! This was at the entrance of the Cushman Trail. While I was riding the Cushman Trail, I came upon a bicycle rider that had their dog running with them. The rider was all over the trail, so I slowed and hailed the rider("on your left") as I started passing. Just as I cleared the rider, the dog ran in front of me. I am sure that I did not use the appropriate avoidance techniques that the Bicycle Safety Course teaches, but I did avoid the dog. A crash with the dog could have hurt, I have had previous experience with this. This is why I am not a huge fan of multi-use trail systems, they are so "undisciplined".

Monday, February 13, 2012

Toliva Shoal(not "Shoals") Race 2012-Release The Crazy Sailors!

It is February and once again the crazy sailors are released from the asylums and they make there way south to Olympia for the Toliva Shoal Race. This is the third race in the four race South Sound Series. It is a 37.4 NM distance race from Olympia to the Toliva Shoal buoy and return through Balch Pass and other narrow passages. Even though it is still winter, this race has a reputation for light winds and shortened courses. I enjoy this race even with sometimes cold, wet, windless conditions. I must be one of the crazy sailors!

My race started on Thursday when I got underway for Gig Harbor. The currents through the Narrows were only favorable early in the morning or in the afternoon. After a pleasant night at Gig Harbor, I got underway at 0445. I had good, favorable currents through the Narrows and as far as Johnson Point at the entrance to Dana Pass. I arrived at  Percival Landing in downtown Olympia at 0915. I was the first boat in on Friday. Boats arrived throughout the day until the harbor was packed. One of my clubmembers boat had arrived the previous day and the owner and I went out to lunch followed in the evening by a dinner at the Olympia Yacht Club.

Race day was cool and damp with winds at 8-10 knots. We had a good downwind start and stayed close to our competitors until Dofflemeyer Pt. when three leading boats pulled ahead. The wind dropped off at this point. Through Dana Pass, I stayed high and ran into adverse current. Our Speed Over Ground fell off dramatically and boats that went into the middle moved passed us. We did get some puffs coming out of Henderson Inlet and sailed close to Johnson Pt. Here, being close to the point seemed to be an advantage at we passed several boats farther out.

The wind picked up on the beat to Government Mark #3. We sailed close hauled and had good speed. We started closing on some of our competition ahead. At the mark, we got into a mess where a earlier starting cruising boat got into irons and tacked in front of a boat from the racing divisions forcing them to tack. For a while they blocked us from being able to tack around the mark. Finally an opening developed between them and the mark and we squeezed through.

The reach/run to the Toliva Shoal buoy was pretty straight forward and we gained some on the boats ahead. We rounded the mark and had a close reach past McNeil Island and through Balch Pass. The boats ahead seemed to stall some in Balch Pass and we closed up some more. Beating up Drayton Pass we again had good wind and great speed. We did have to maneuver around a raft of logs that a tug seemed to be towing in circles, strange!

As we rounded Devils Head, we had caught up with "Dulcinea"(J105). Even though they are not in the same class as us, it was a good indicator of our speed. We could see "The Boss" (J35) just ahead and getting closer. We hoped to be able to catch them before the finish. We set a spinnaker on a very close reach to Johnson Pt and started closing on "The Boss". Finally, they also set a spinnaker, wrapped it badly, sailed slower and then took the spinnaker down. Alas, we did not catch them as the committee shortened the course at Johnson Pt. We crossed the finish line at 1459. I was kind of surprised that the race was shortened. The boats that continued on to Olympia reported 10-12 knot winds all the way. I firmly believe that we (and probably the rest of the fleet) could probably have finished before dark and surely before the 18 hour time limit.

We finished fifth in our class out of five starters. Yes, last. But with one more race remaining in the South Sound Series and one throwout, we may still be able to maintain our second in class standing. The boat that was tied with us for first in the series("Melange", J35) did not start this race which helped our standing. I heard that a couple of boats did not race because their owners had been diagnosed with cancer and one had a heart attack. I hope the owner of "Melange" is OK. One other boat owner in our class was diagnosed with cancer and also did not race. I hope he is OK too.

After the finish at Johnson Point, we motorsailed to Gig Harbor where we had a car staged. The crew got off the boat and I motored home to Brownsville, arriving about 2200.

Thanks to my crew of Jim, Tom, Walter and Kathleen.

 Underway on Thursday.
 Sails resting in the boat.
 Sealions lounging on #6 buoy in Rich Passage.
Tied up in Olympia just behind the Coastal Messenger, a Missionary boat from Canada. They come down into Puget Sound in the winter to visit friends and supporters.
 Westsound sailors at the prerace party.
 The crowded Friday night prerace part at Olympia Yacht Club.
Dulcinea cruising along on what became the last leg of the course.

Some of the cruising class boats in a tight finish. "Koosah" in the forground.
Our course for the day. We went around Anderson Island in a counterclockwise direction.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ski Trip To Hurricane Ridge

With the nice weather we have been experiencing, Monday was a nice day to head to the mountains. I drove up to Hurricane Ridge early in the morning. It was interesting that it was actually warmer at the lodge than it was in Port Angeles, and the sky was clear.

There has not been a lot of recent snow, so even though there was a lot of accumulation of snow on the ground, it was very icy. I skied out the road toward Hurricane Hill and went over the small hill at the end of the road. After descending the far side, I determined that it was two icy to continue. So I returned across the side hill called "Steep and Icy". That was not the smartest thing to do as it was indeed VERY ICY. I had a hard time keeping the edges cutting into the slope. I returned to the lodge, ate lunch and returned home early. It was a nice day to be in the mountains and the first day this year of skiing, if you don't count the two days of skiing that I did during our small snowfall a couple weeks ago.

 Hurricane Hill
 This is where I turned around, the snow was extremely icy here.

Looking toward Victoria and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
 From the lodge, the view of the mountains was great.
This information sign is usually totally buried in snow.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What's A Superbowl?

I think this bowl is pretty SUPER. A crystal bowl I won in sailboat racing quite a few years ago.

Today is a big event in US culture. It is Superbowl Sunday! An epic battle between the top two professional football teams. This year the two teams are the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. Obviously two East Coast teams. It was interesting, this morning at church, the pastor ask who wanted the Giants to win. About a dozen people put up there hands and cheered. Then the pastor ask who was rooting for the Patriots. Again, about a dozen people responded. Brad C showed his support for the team he wanted to win by wearing a Patriot's jersey with Tom Brady's number. Then pastor ask who did not care. The rest of the congregation cheered! I think most people look at the day as a chance to have a party.

I did not have any Superbowl Party to go to, so I decided to go for a good bicycle ride. We have been experiencing warm, sunny, late Winter weather. So instead of watching the pregame show that started at noon. I rode north to Keyport, south on Central Valley Road,  east on Paulson Road to Brownsville where I stopped at the Marina and kibitzed with some of my sailing acquaintances. By the time I got home I had logged 22 miles and was home just as the game was starting.

And just to prove that I am not a total un-American heathen, I fired up the big screen and surround sound(with the sound set to "Super Stadium") in the home theater and am watching the game. The game has been good up to halftime and the commercials have been funny. The halftime with Madonna has just started.

I may have to leave and start dinner soon. Since the weather is so nice, I am going to grill marinated chicken breasts and red potato's. Go Patriots!

Reserved bicycle parking at the boat.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Seattle Boat Show-Jan 25

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I went to the Seattle Boat Show again this year on Wednesday. As usual, the show is held at the Century Link Event Center(aka "The Clink") and the in-the-water portion was held at the south end of Lake Union at Chandlers Cove. I only went to the Clink. There were boats at Chandlers Cove that I wanted to look at and the at Clink were all the vendors for the "stuff" that I wanted to look at.

This year a vendor left me a ticket at "will call". So after catching the 0945 ferry from Bremerton, I was in the door of the show a few minutes after the 1100 opening. I wandered around, talked to some people I know and checked out some products that I was interested in.

One vendor (who I have sailed with) builds and markets a cool device that allows data from your boats instruments to be transmitted wirelessly to "i"devices(phone, pad, touch) and with the apps available to navigate and evaluate performance from on deck. Very cool!

After a quick trip through the show, I headed back to the ferry dock to head home. I did take a side trip to Ivar's for the best fish and chips in the world!

 Most of the boats in the "Clink" were powerboats. And large ones too!
Andy S hard at work at his booth.

Snowmageddon 2012

This is old news. The Pacific Northwest had a snow storm the third week of January. For at least a week, the weather forecasters predicted a massive snowfall. It started in some areas, like Seattle on the weekend, but did not start snowing here until early Tuesday morning. It snowed about four inches at my house. Other areas of Puget Sound had more snow, mainly south of Tacoma.

I ventured out with the Bronco and found that it really was not bad. I had no problem with traction in four wheel drive. Toward afternoon, I got out the skinny skis and skied down to Illahee State Park. There really was not enough snow.

A ice storm was predicted for Wednesday, but again it really never materialized where I live. But I did have another 1-1/2 inches of snow and again I went driving and had no problem getting around. Friday, the melt started and by Saturday afternoon, the roads were clear of snow. I skied again and this time the snow was a little better.

Being a bit cynical, I really did not think this was much of a storm. The people that got hit the worst were the people to the south that did get hit with the ice storm. This left a lot of people without power for as much as a week.

Now I can comment with the "I remember when". But I do remember massive snowfalls like 1996 when I had 28 inches of snow in two days. I actually felt trapped in the house. I could not get the car DOWN my steep driveway and if I could, the roads were not plowed. Then when the rains started, the saturated snow collapsed buildings. And 1990 when strong north winds brought about 12 inches of snow and sub freezing temperature. My parents were out of power for a week and were cold!  I could go on, but I won't. This little snowfall closed schools, the Shipyard and had the media telling people all day that we were paralyzed. Hmm!

 My cat seemed to like the snow as much as I do.
 Port of Brownsville had a few inches of snow.
 Want to go sailing?