Saturday, June 29, 2013

Brownsville Race-Wearing The Big Target

Saturday was the last race of the seven race West Sound Sailing Association(WSSA) series. This race was at Brownsville and listed as the "Brownsville Race", no invitational or benefit or any other catchy phrase. This race starts at Brownsville, goes north to Mark "6 at Pt Bolin, to a temporary mark at University Point, and then returns to Brownsville. At Brownsville, the fleet is to continue for a second lap to Battle Pt, University Pt, and again to Brownsville where lap three begins. Lap three is the same as lap two. This course provides many ways to shorten the course in time for the post race party.

Through the week, the weather forecast was for sunny hot weather into the 80's. Along with that, came light variable winds to 5 knots. Note the variable part. Sailing in Port Orchard on a hot day often variable winds with many convergence zones. To make matters worse, I had been fighting a nasty head cold for three days and with the congestion, headache and hot weather, I really thought about staying home.

After about an hour delay, a light breeze filled in from the NE and the race was started. We got an OK start near the outboard end of the line and as soon as we could, we tacked for the Bainbridge Island shore. As we neared the shore, we tacked on the lee bow of our only competitor ahead of us at the time. We sailed into clear air and worked the right side of the course getting good shifts and favorable current. As we neared the first mark near Pt. Bolin, the wind had increased to around 5 knots. We rounded the mark first, had a great spinnaker set and headed toward the next mark at University Pt. But I could feel the target on my back and as we rounded Battle Pt, we could see trouble ahead. The wind had died ahead and we came to a stop and set the jib. Some other boats behind found good wind waaaay to the right and sailed around us. By the time we reached University Pt.. we had lost several places. We chased light variable winds back to the start/finish line and started lap 2.

Lap 2 started out well with better. steady winds. We passed a couple of boats, had a good bear away set at the Battle Pt,, jibed shortly after and headed toward University Pt. At first it looked like good winds all the way to the point, but it soon started evaporating again. This time we headed right and gained on boats ahead. We had a hectic take down and jibe around the mark and found ourselves in a better position. But like before, the winds were very spotty on the beat back to the finish. We passed another boat and then had two scream by us before the wind filled in and we passed one of the two boats that passed us and ran into a hole. We finally had a decent wind to the finish where the course was shortened to 11.4 mile.

This race was very tiring. With the warm temps, being ill and the light winds it was very trying. On the other hand, the competition was close and it was not raining. Since this race was the last race of the 7 race WSSA series, the overall winner of the series will be determined as well as the class winners. Results will be posted here: Brownsville Race and Overall Results

Thanks to my crew of Jim, Rainer and Kathleen for staying focused.

Now I think I will go downstairs to the home theater where it is cooler and relax, cool off and watch a movie!

Our route for the day. The red track is lap 1 and the green track is lap 2.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Blake Island Race, WSSA #6-It Does Not Get Much Better Than This!

Last Saturday was the Blake Island Race. It was the sixth race of the seven race WSSA(West Sound Sailing Association series. This race starts near Pt Herron, goes through through Rich Passage, around Blake Island(either direction), leaves Bainbridge Reef Buoy #4 to port and finishes off the Port Orchard marina. This race is sponsored by Bremerton Yacht Club and has a history of at least 40 years.

The weather forecast was really looking good. The temperature was predicted to climb into the upper 70's or low 80's and all the wind models indicated good winds in the low teens. One negative was that the current would be near slack at the start and would be ebbing against us when we sailed back into Rich Passage on the return.

At our 1045 start, the weather predictions were right on. It was sunny with warm temperatures and winds from the north at 10-12 knots. As we lined up for the start, I was a bit early and had to slow the boat. I was a bit slow at getting the boat up to speed, but we owned the pin end. A couple of boats snuck through below us. We sailed to weather of a string of port tack boats and tacked to port above them. We had clear air until one boat pinched up and went real slow. We had good speed, so we sailed under them and into clear air for the rest of the day.

As we beat up toward Rich Passage, we took a different approach than usual when the current is already ebbing strongly. We worked some toward the left side of the pass and then tacked to port when we could clear Pt Glover. When the current is ebbing fast, there is a boat trapping eddy at Pt Glover, but since the current was very light when we got there, the eddy did not exist, so we cut the corner and saved some distance to the next mark.

After Pt Glover we were able to reach up high enough to pass between Orchard Rocks and Bainbridge Island and then jib reached toward Blake Island. A small hole developed south of Beans Pt and we lost a little distance to the boats behind before we got into the good winds again. Fortunately, the boats behind also struggled in the hole.

As we neared Blake Island, we set the spinnaker and had a short run down the east side of Blake Island. At the southeast point we shifted back to the No.1 genoa when the wind came ahead and reached with favorable current along the south shore of Blake Island. After clearing the west end of the island, we were lifted up nicely to buoy No. 4. After rounding buoy No. 4, we had a decision to make. We often reach over to the south shore for current relief when the current is ebbing. But on this day, we entered the pass before the current was maximum. We elected to take the route back between Orchard Rocks and Bainbridge Island. After clearing the rocks, we jib reached to the now fully developed favorable back eddy at Pt Glover where we set the spinnaker. We headed across the current flow toward the Bainbridge Island shore where the wind got very light. A couple of boats caught up to us and tried the south shore and at first it looked like that might work for them. But the wind died for them too and they were soon drifting east. So, we stuck to the plan and stayed on the north shore. The wind died and then came ahead so we set the jib again and sailed slowly closehauled with favorable current. When we got into really shallow water, we had to tack away onto starboard tack and head away from shore. The current was still carrying us toward the outlet of the pass. The wind then filled in from the northwest and we got a huge lift and sailed away from the pass into the open waters of Port Orchard. The other boats were left in the still increasing ebb current with light winds.

With the strange wind direction, we jib reached until we neared the East Bremerton shore. We set the spinnaker, sailed in toward the Bremerton Marina, got a favorable current boost from Port Washington narrows, jibed and sailed direct to the finish at the Port Orchard marina where we finished first at approximately 14:10:30. It was a fast race!

Based on the times the other boats finished, it looked like one Division II boat escaped Rich Passage and finished close enough to us to save their time and win first overall. We could have second overall and first in class. This should move us ahead in points for the series and with one race left in the series, it puts us in a good position to possibly win the series. Results can be found here when they are posted: Blake Island Race Results

It was a fantastic day for a race and even the struggle through Rich Passage was a fun challenge. We had great boatspeed all day. Thanks to my crew of Jim, Walter and Ranier for all the great help at keeping the boat moving fast.

 Looking ahead as we sail along the East Bremerton shore towards the finish.
And looking back from the same place at Rich Passage with the rest of the fleet still stuck.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Pony Car Project-Hooray! The Light Is Out! Part 2

Several weeks ago, I smugly wrote a post about working on the Mustang and solving a problem with the Electronic Engine Control(EEC) system(The Pony Car Project Hooray The Light Is Out). The issue had to do with the Check Engine Light (CEL) on the dash that indicates an error with the engine. After writing that post, the  CEL would still illuminate after driving a few miles. Furthermore, when I ran a scan on the engine, I would get a Code 91. This indicates an error with the left side oxygen sensor. The oxygen sensor is a probe that goes in the exhaust pipe to measure the "quality" of the exhaust leaving the engine. The Mustang has two, one in each exhaust pipe. The oxygen sensors provide feedback to the computer that manages the fuel system to ensure that the engine is running properly, getting good economy and meeting proper pollution standards. But just because the scan indicated Code 91, it is always possible that some other error was causing the Code or once Code 91 was cleared than some other code could show up.

Today after I arrived home from Seattle, my order for Mustang parts arrived a day early. One of the items was a new oxygen sensor. I drove the Mustang up onto the ramps, crawled under the car and changed the sensor. It only took a few minutes. Then I went for a drive. And the CEL did not illuminate! I drove at least three times as far as I have been able to without the light coming on. After I got home, I ran another scan with the analyzer and I did not get Code 91. The only errors that showed up were "non fatal" codes that are related to equipment that is missing and not necessary for performance of the engine. Later in the evening I drove to Silverdale and back without the CEL light coming on. It seems to be running better and stronger too!

Maybe I have it fixed now!

 The faulty oxygen sensor. I do not know the brand, but was different than the Motorcraft item I bought. The various forums that talk about oxygen have recommended the Motorcraft ones.
Part of my Mustang parts order. The new oxygen sensor has already been installed. The fan is to replace the cracked one in the car. The metal parts don't look like much, but they are formed sheetmetal parts that rivet to the body and retain the plastic ground effect fairings. I also ordered new fog lights (to replace the missing ones), but they were back ordered and probably won't show up until the end of the month.

Bicycles Are Beasts Of Burden Too

In my household, everything has to work. There is no free ride...well maybe the cat doesn't have to work! My truck takes me camping and hauls larger loads. The Bronco excels in the snow and can also haul a lot of gear and with the roof rack works great for hauling the bicycles. The Mustang is a project and is fun to drive, but it also is used for shopping and hauled all of my monthly shopping items from Costco last week. My bicycles get into the act too. A couple are light and are fun to ride fast. The mountain bikes work really well off road. And a couple of the bicycles are set up for hauling loads including unsupported touring. I have toured thousands of miles and camped out many nights on one of them.  I even have a tandem bicycle to ride with friends, it doesn't have very many miles on it. As a single guy, there are times when I have to leave a vehicle or the boat somewhere and return home on one of the bicycles.
So today, I went to Seattle to buy some boat supplies. The place where I shop is at the north end of Lake Union near Gasworks Park. Seattle has a great bicycle path system that I can ride from the ferry terminal to the store with very little riding on the streets. So, I have become used to doing as much shopping as possible with one of my bicycles. It works really good. The cost for the ferry is about 1/3 the cost of taking a vehicle. I usually catch the 0720 ferry and can get to the store before they open at 0900. Usually I can get my shopping done, take the long way back over the Ballard Locks and back to the ferry terminal to catch the 1110 ferry and back to my house by 1230. The total distance is 25 miles.
So, why do I do this? It is cheaper, gives me some good exercise and is just fun to have the adventure of riding away from my home and being self sufficient! 
 Waiting at the Seattle Ferry dock waiting to board. This is actually a small load, on other trips I have carried a lot more boat stuff back from Seattle.
On the ferry approaching Bremerton. This bicycle was actually my "all weather" commuter bicycle when I worked.