Sunday, August 12, 2012

Shaw Island Classic 2012-"Singlehanding? No, I Am Using Both Hands"

Last time I posted ( Friday In Friday Harbor ) I was in Friday Harbor to race in the Shaw Island Classic, a race from Friday Harbor around Shaw Island, either direction. This race is sponsored by San Juan Island Yacht Club and this is the 42nd edition of this race, the third for me.

Saturday I woke up early and hiked up to the Rocky Bay Cafe for one of their fantastic breakfasts. Then back to the boat to get ready. My start was not until 1215, so I had lots of time to rig the boat and kibitz with old friends and new acquaintances. I left the dock in plenty of time to get the sails raised and tweaked before my start.

It did not seem to be as crowded or as hectic in the starting area as I remembered. The line is set off the north end of Brown's Island. The wind had actually filled in at about 8 knots from the North. As the first start went off at 1200, the fleet split with half going counter clockwise and the other half going clockwise. About the same happened at my start. I decided to go counter clockwise as my detailed analysis determined  that that was the way to go. Yeah Right!

I started on the boat end of the line and had clear air soon after the start. It was a close reach that got wider as I closed on the entrance to Upright Channel. Soon I put up the spinnaker. As this fleet entered Upright Channel, the wind shifted to the south requiring a jibe. The wind also lightened and the run to the east end of Shaw Island became a game chasing puffs and trying to sail hot angles to keep the boat speed up. I closed with the previous class of boats.

I sailed with the spinnaker up Harney Channel to the halfway point near Blind Bay. Here the wind shut off and the boats that sailed the opposite direction were sailing towards us with spinnakers, classic convergence zone. The boats sailing toward us sailed right through the zone and we stopped.

As the group of boats I was sailing in drifted around, some friends on "Wild Rumpus" (Santa Cruz 27) noticed that I was alone ask "Are you sailing singlehanded?" And my smart alec answer was " No, I am using both hands!".

After about an hour of drifting around in the heat, some boats started escaping into the new wind near the western side of Blind Bay. One boat got a little close in and hit a rock real hard. I followed them over that direction almost hitting a rock I could see just below the surface. I had to tack around it after I saw it. Really scary!

The wind picked up to about 9 knots for the beat across West Sound and into Wasp Pass where it lightened. In Wasp Pass, the current was adverse requiring lots of tacks. I managed to close with many of the boats ahead. After clearing Wasp Pass, I reset the spinnaker for the reach to the finish. Near the finish, it appeared that the wind was coming forward, so I took the spinnaker down early. Perhaps a little too early as the wind lightened and I struggled to finish. As I motored into the docks, I started noticing a lot of the boats that went the opposite direction were already finished. I did not think much of my chances for a good placing.

I cleaned up the boat some and went to the club house for dinner and the awards. I was very tired and dehydrated. I drank lots of water and when I tried to use the utensils, my fingers cramped. Finally the awards were read and to my surprise, I got third place in my class! Cool! And someone ask "Were you sailing singlehanded?" and the announcer said " No, he was using both hands!".

San Juan Island Yacht Club puts on a great race and post race event. They are always friendly and seem happy to see me. The complete results are here: Shaw Island Classic 2012 Results

After the party, I finished cleaning up the boat and changing mainsails. I turned in early, but woke up early in the morning to be underway by 0551. The weather was sunny with light winds across the straits and building some as I arrived back in Puget Sound. I put up the mainsail to help boost the speed and I played the currents right. The entire delivery back only took 8 hours and 35 minutes. Pretty fast! Pretty hot and tiring too!

Through the Port Townsend Canal on Thursday.

 Point Wilson on Friday. Heading out to cross the straits in the fog.
 Port of Friday Harbor.
Friday Night concert at the port.
Sailing up Upright Channel with boats behind.
Sailing up Upright Channel with boats behind.
Sailing up Upright Channel with boats behind.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Harbor 8-10-2012

Today I am at Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands. So why am I here? And how did I get hear? The why is easy, the Shaw Island Classic is tomorrow. This is a sailboat race from Friday Harbor around Shaw Island. So now that I told you why I am here, I also have partially answered how I got here. The short answer is by sailboat!

I started this trip Thursday morning. After topping off the fuel tank, I was underway to Port Townsend by 0850. This was a fantastic day. The sun was out and it got quite warm. I motored the entire way to Port Townsend and since the current was against me for most of the way, I took the shortcut through the Port Townsend canal. I found moorage for the night at Boat Haven which is on the west end of town.

After getting the boat settled in, I hiked to Downtown. First stop , William James Bookseller for some reading material, then onto the Maritime Center to look at some boats being built. Then back to Boat Haven with a side trip to the Town Dock. I was tempted at Waterfront Pizza, but I did not stop for even one slice.

This morning, my alarm went off at 0500 (yes! 0500!) and I was underway at 0525. The current was only going to be ebbing for a short time before the flood would occur. I motored past Pt Wilson and about two miles later, the fog settled in. Visibility stayed at about ¼ mile until I entered San Juan Channel.. I did not see anything during the crossing. From the nav computer, I knew there were other boats around and I also knew where I was. This is the first time in 37 years of crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca that I have not seen Smith Island at least a little!

I arrived at Friday Harbor around 1030 and found my reserved slip. The staff was very helpful and glad to see me again. After cleaning up the boat and a short nap, I went up town to all my favorite destinations. I walked up to the large grocery store near the airport. Most visitors do not know about this store and stop at Kings in downtown Friday Harbor. I also checked in at my favorite breakfast cafĂ©, Rocky Bay, to see what time they open. Later I need to go up to San Juan Island Yacht Club to receive my race packet. I did not bring a bicycle with me on this trip. Usually I bring a bicycle and ride to Roche Harbor and down the West Side of San Juan Island. Oh well, next time!
Race Tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Why Do I Blog?

This post asks a very fundamental question, "Why Do I Blog?". Really, I don't have to blog. It takes time that I should be using for other things. I am not a great writer and it is sometimes frustrating trying to get my thoughts across. In a previous post, Who Reads Your Blog?, I discussed how I could obtain statistics on how many people were reading my blog and where in the world the readers are from. In another previous post, Where Do You Blog? , I provided any potential reader with insight into my home office.

But what about my Blog? How did I get started? What is my subject material? Why do I do this? And is it worth the effort?

I started blogging about four years ago. I knew about blogs and followed a few. I started following some Blogs by retirees that I knew from work. Two in particular were living in the Southwest in the winter and traveling to other parts of the country during the summer. I found it interesting to be able to see through their Blogs what their activities were and where they were travelling in other parts of the country. After a couple of years, these people stopped travelling as much, stopped blogging as much and pretty much post their information on Facebook. I miss their Blogs.

I found out how easy it was to start a Blog and soon had mine up and running. I Blogged about sailing adventures, bicycle trips, hiking, camping and more mundane things like snowfall. I think that I tend to write "newsy" posts about what I am doing and less about social ills and politic rants. Even though I tend to write more about my sailboat racing, my Blog is not dedicated to a specific subject.

But why? I guess I thought people might be interested in what I was doing. Especially after my retirement 3-1/2 years ago. There might be some ego involved in that. I started providing a post sailboat race description with a chart of the boats track and a description of what did or did not work for us during the race. Initially other racers commented on these posts, but as time went on, readership went down and other sailors on the docks continued complaining that I was not sharing any information with them. Strange! I wrote some daily reports about things like "it was a nice day so I went for a long bicycle ride". One smart aleck commented that "is that what you retirees do, get up, look outside and go for a ride each day?" When I was repowering my Ford Bronco, I posted pictures and write ups of my progress, much to the dismay of a few people who insisted my blog was a "sailing blog". Can't please everyone. One thing I have never done is changed my style for others.

So back to the question of why? I find that a lot of my writings are a way of reminding myself of what I did. I find myself going back to posts I wrote about previous races so that I can study what I did and what our track was and how I can plan for a future race on the same course. If I am using the blog as a journal, than maybe I should be journaling instead of blogging. Really, I doubt if there are really many people who follow my blog anyway. And I "share" my blog on Facebook, so most of my friends read it and comment there when I throw it onto my Timeline. I suspect very few follow my Blog as a blog.

Some of the blogs that I follow seemed to have a great following. Why is that? Maybe it is the wit of the writer? Or the sarcasm? Or the social/political ranting? It seems strange to me that people make a whole career out of blogging. I don't think I could do that, there are too many other things to do than spend time blogging continuously. It might be time to shutdown "Dan's Blog"!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Down The Sound Race- Epic Run To Gig Harbor, Slow Beat To Shilshole

This weekend was the Down The Sound Race. This is a two day event sponsored by Sloop Tavern Yacht Club. It is the second race of the three race Triple Crown Series for singlehanded/ doublehanded racers. The format for this race is a Saturday start at Shilshole Marina with a finish at Gig Harbor, party at Arabella's Landing and race back to Shilshole on Sunday. This is a pursuit race where the slowest rating boat starts at 0900. The faster boats all start afterwards based on their handicap time allowance. My start was at 10:07:16 each day. If I pass any boats ahead, than I have saved my time and placed ahead of them.

The Saturday start was awesome! The winds were up to as high as 18 knots. Setting a spinnaker alone on a J35 can be intimidating, but I pulled it off by starting high on the line and heading straight downwind to blanket the 1-1/2 oz chute behind the main until it was fully hoisted.

I headed off in pursuit of the boats in my class that all started ahead of me. I soon passed "Last Tuesday" (Schock 35) by staying low out of the current on the reach to West Point. After west point, I pulled the pole back and ran deep. I expected to jibe to clear Restoration Pt, but the wind came forward a little and I easily cleared the point. I also expected to jibe to clear Blake Island, but again the wind came ahead again allowing me to sail down the eastern shore of Blake Island out of the north flowing current of Colvos Pass. In fact I had a nice back eddy that boosted my speed over ground.

Finally at Pt Southworth, I jibed to port and angled to the Vashon island shore. Here the wind piped up to as high as 23 knots that I observed. The boat was holding speeds in the high eights and once I hit 9.5 knots. "Anomaly"(Santa Cruz 50) reported washing their cabin windows in a few of the stronger gusts. I jibed several time to stay on the east shore and then gambled near Pt Richmond and went down the middle of Dalco Pass. That was a bad move as "Last Tuesday" almost passed me. I had to jibe and reach up to hold down my position ahead of him. I finished second. The well sailed, popular boat "Norn" (Santa Cruz 27) finished ahead of me as I expected as he started ahead of me and his forte is downwind sailing.

The party at Arrabella's was great! Excellent catered dinner. The reports the next morning were that everyone found their way back to their boats even if they don't remember how!

The Sunday morning start was the opposite of Saturdays. The wind was very light from the south and with the strong north flowing current, starting was tricky with many boats over the line early. I motored high of the line. And drifted across the line. I evidently cleared the line by 4 seconds with 0 knots of boat speed and a couple knots of speed over ground.

The fleet worked the north flowing current around Pt Richmond where what little wind their was evaporated. What little wind there was was different from the top of the mast to the water. The masted indicators were reading a wind direction 180 degrees different from the cassette tape hanging from the shrouds. The temperature was in the low 90's this day and with little wind, it was hard to concentrate.

Finally the wind did fill from the north and got as high as 12 knots. The wind stayed consistent as far as Blake Island where a few holes developed. The hot setup seemed to be to tack close to the east shore. Those that venture farther to the east were stuck in a windless zone. I worked through a few holes and found wind along the Bainbridge Island shore. I cut inside the Restoration Pt buoy and gained on "Panic" (J105) and found a good breeze on the long tack to Magnolia Bluff. There I worked the shallow sections along the bluff for current relief from the now flooding current and to get some starboard tack lifts. I passed a couple more boats at West Point, struggled around the point in the adverse current and finished the race at 1703 with 10 knots of northerly wind. I was first boat in the Singlehanded class to finish and may have been the only one. I knew of two boats that dropped out and another was stuck in the hole east of Blake Island.

Thanks to Sloop Tavern Yacht Club for another great Down The Sound Race. And thanks to Arrabella's Landing for accommodating all the boats and providing a nice facility for the dinner. Like last year, this race was challenging. Saturdays fast run to Gig Harbor will be something to remember! The summer races for me are more for fun, so I bring out my older Quantum "B" sails. They still seem fast.

Results when they are posted can be found here: Sloop Tavern's Website

Next race is the Shaw Island classic at Friday Harbor next weekend. I always like visitin Friday Harbor and San Juan Island Yacht club puts on a great event.

Before the start. The white boat is "Norn". It started about 28 minutes ahead of me. With the fast running conditions on Saturday, he was probably sailing about as fast as me. I could not catch him.
Running fast down Colvos Pass.

Running fast down Colvos Pass.
The Sunday morning calm at Arrabella's Landing.

My track for the weekend. The red track is the route Down The Sound. The blue track  is the return on Sunday(Up The Sound?).

Video after the Day 1 start. It was a tight reach to West Point.
Video while running down Colvos Pass. I saw winds to 23 knots and speeds to 9.5 knots.

Sailing back up Colvos Pass on Sunday. The wind had built to 12 knots for a little while.