Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Winter Vashon Race-Were're Back!

Saturday was the Winter Vashon Race. This was the first time I had raced Great White in about nine months when I fell and broke my hip. Although some people made light of my injury and even compared my fracture to that of a dogs, it was a long time of unsuccessful recovery that resulted in another surgery to replace my hip joint with an artificial one. Although I am on my feet again, my leg is weak and I feel a bit unsteady at times.

My race weekend started early in the week with a lot of boat prep and work. Just like me, Great White was stiff and out of shape after setting for so long. Even sail bag zippers were stuck! Even though the diver had cleaned the bottom, the knotmeter impeller was fouled and I had some serious cleaning to do to it. I got underway early Friday morning at about 0645. It was a nice delivery to Tacoma Yacht Club and I found my usual place at the dock. As the day went on, more boats arrived and by early evening, the transient moorage was filled. I went for a long walk to Pt Defiance. In the evening, Tacoma Yacht Club provided a nice evening and social time. 

The Winter Vashon Race is a race from Tacoma Yacht Club around Vashon and Maury Islands to finish at Tacoma Yacht Club. For only the second time in history, the race committee decided to send everyone counterclockwise around the islands. Furthermore, they also experimented with setting two "virtual" marks at the north end of Vashon Island to serve as a shorten course gate and a turning mark. These virtual marks were GPS waypoints that I inputted into the GPS. No floating marks or boat were used.

This year, our class was the largest class with mostly 69-75 seconds/mile rated boats but also included several larger, faster rated boats. The total rating spread was 24 seconds/mile from the fastest to the slowest rating boat. A strange class break.

Our start was about 0920. We got a good start, but was soon covered by a larger boat in a faster class. We soon wiggled free and had a spinnaker reach toward Pt Robinson. The winds were light as predicted. We tried to stay in the middle and stayed away from Poverty Bay and potential bankruptcy We tried following a finger of wind on the north side of Pt Robinson, but it soon became apperant that it was better in the middle. The wind built to about 12 knots as we ran north along the Vashon Island shore.

As we neared the north end of Vashon Island, we had to leave the first "virtual" mark to starboard. This was no problem and we were well to the left of it. The next "virtual" mark was a turning mark that we had to "round" and head south into Colvos Pass. My concerns about boats all over the sound rounding what they thought was the correct invisible mark were unfounded as several boats all tried to occupy the same place on the water as if there was a floating mark.

We started the beat south down Colvos Pass. By now the wind was a solid 15 knots. I ussually despise sailing south in Colvos Pass because of the usual adverse current. Even though the current was not slack, it was not moving very fast and we had a great beat. We had good speed and passed a few boats as well as staying ahead of all the boats behind except for one that got around us at Dalco Pass when we were adamant about staying close to Vashon Island and they stayed farther out in the middle. The wind got light during the last couple of miles across Dalco Pass. As it was three J35's including us finished within a few minutes of each other. We finished at 1608, still in daylight.

After cleaning up the boat, I got underway and was home by 2130. I was exhausted after a long day on the water. Since I am a driving/main trimming freak, my arms and shoulders were sore from the lack of use. Fortunately time in my home gym doing resistance training is bringing me back into shape.

Our placing was 8th out of the 14 boats. Not a great place, but still ahead of a number of boats. The run was our worst leg. 

My crew of Walter, Tom, Ranier and Tim put up with my relearning process and kept me out of trouble. Thanks! 

Results can be found here:

And pictures by Jan( even though we are only partially shown in one) can be found here:

 After Fridays early delivery to Tacoma Yacht Club, I had my usual spot at the dock.
 The first half of the race was grey and drizzly with light winds until we reached the north end of Vashon Island.
Our track for the day. We started off of Tacoma Yacht Club at Pt Defiance and rounded Vashon/Maury Island counterclockwise. The turning mark at the north end of the island was a "virtual" mark that was a GPS waypoint. We rounded in a crowd of boats that all arrived at the same place at the same time.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What A Long Strange Trip This Has Been, And It Is Not Over Yet! -Part 2

It has been about seven weeks since my last post when I told about going to Overlake Hospital in Bellevue for a total hip replacement(THR). Since I am now writing about the surgery, I can say that I survived and the outcome was good.

I was scheduled for surgery at 1330. I got there early, checked in and was prepped for the surgery. By 1230, the surgery time slipped to 1430. That time was kept and I was wheeled into the surgery room where the anesthesiologist took control and I was soon in la-la land. He later ask what I remembered because I was babbling during his initial work. I remember nothing.

Hours later, I woke in the recovery room. Just like the surgery in March, waking up was easy and I did not feel groggy. Since I had a spinal injection, my legs were numb. But it did not seem long before my feeling was back and they prepped me to go to my room. Since it was nearly 1930, the recovery room staff ordered me some dinner for when I got to my room.

Got to my room amidst a flurry of activity of getting everything set up and everyone briefed and acquainted. Fortunately these rooms for joint replacement patients are singles with lots of room around the bed. I had dinner and had a sleepless night.

In the morning, there is no rest allowed. After breakfast I was out of bed, dressed and by 1000, I was on my crutches and heading down the hall to group physical therapy. It was funny, my leg length had shrunk by nearly 3/4 inch. Now with the new joint, I had gotten my leg length back. So walking with crutches, I kept turning left into the wall. After about 50 feet, I got the hang of it and could walk straight.

The second day was more of the same: get dressed, walk around the halls on crutches, group rehab, testing by occupational therapists, visit by the discharge coordinator to arrange home health service and finally discharge from the hospital. My sister picked me up and took me to my parents home in Silverdale. After three nights, I was delivered to my own home.

The recovery from the hip replacement was so much easier than the hip pinning. From the beginning, I have been allowed to put weight on the leg as much as I could tolerate. I only used crutches and after two weeks, I was down to one crutch. and a couple weeks later I was down to a cane. I was driving after about three weeks and going to church and shopping after the first week. For the first five weeks, physical therapy arrived at my home to give me exercises. She said that I was a lot more motivated than most of her patients. The only issue I had was that my lower leg, especially my ankle was painful and my ankle and shin was cramping making it hard to sleep at night. The surgeon was not too concerned, but as the pain increased, I went to my own doctor last Friday. Nothing was determined to be wrong and sure enough, the pain has gone away and I am now able to sleep all night. I am getting the best sleep I have had in over seven months.

At seven weeks, I am still using the cane. It gives me stability so I don't limp. I don't lean on it or put much pressure on it at all. The PT person told me that even though I can walk without the cane, since I am limping, I need the cane. Even so, I have been walking a lot and put in a 2-1/4 mile circuit. And I can make the 1/2 mile round trip to the mailbox without a cane, but it is tiring and I do limp some. I can defiantly tell that my muscle tone is not what it used to be seven months ago. Hopefully I will be back to all my normal activities soon! 

My new hip. It is made out of various types of unobtanium materials: alloys of titanium, steel as well as some ceramic and plastic parts. The implant in the femur and the cup in the pelvis are "grow in" style. The bone is shaped with cutters and rasps and the metal parts hammered in with an interference fit. The implant is coated with another rough metal that the bone will adhere to.
The surgeon did say that after he could access the joint and removed the screws,  he pried on the fracture zone with his chisel and could detect movement. That was probably why I could not walk on it for six months. I did not realize until I had this surgery how bad I felt with the unhealed fracture.

The incision on my thigh. The incision is eight inches long. The doctor said that he had to make it a bit longer than normal to allow enough room to remove the screws. It was nice to have the staples removed at two weeks. I also still have the two inch scar from the March hip pinning surgery.
Here are the screws that held my fractured hip together for six months. Also made out of some fancy material.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What A Long Strange Trip This Has Been, And It Is Not Over Yet!

It all started on Mar 11th. Those that follow my blog might remember the circumstances. I went to Woodinville with a rented UHaul car dolly to get a "free" 1990 Ford Bronco II. It would not run and the owner was frustrated and just wanted to get rid of it. I loaded it on the dolly and was checking the tie downs when I tripped over the tongue of the dolly and fell on the pavement. Because of the fall, I broke my hip.
The cars previous owner took me to the Bellevue Group Health Urgent Care. They confirmed the fracture in my femur and scheduled me for surgery within a couple of hours. The surgeon elected to perform a "hip pinning" operation where after setting the displaced fracture, he would put screws through the fracture to hold it together. He wanted to do this instead of replacing the joint because I am "young" and active and would do better with my own hip joint. There were some risks that it would not heal properly or the blood supply could be disrupted resulting in the femur head dying. As early as two months after surgery, the surgeon told me that the xrays were "concerning" to him. The fracture zone appeared to be collapsing, the screws were pushed out into my thigh and I had lost nearly 3/4 inch of leg length. I also had trouble putting weight on it. After a couple more months and more degradation, we mutually decided to proceed with a hip replacement. 
So today, my journey takes me here for a total hip replacement surgery. This will be my home for a couple of nights and then my sister will take me to my parents home for a couple of days. I am not really looking forward to this. But hopefully this will relieve the pain and discomfort that I have and hopefully  I can walk soon without a crutch. My legs should once more be the same length. Most of what I read and here from others leads me to believe that I should be back on my feet soon and that I should be able to resume my usual activities.
 The saga continues!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bonneville World of Speed

I have always wanted to go to Bonneville Salts Flats to watch cars trying to set world speed records. My friend Jim suggested that we go this year for Speed Week that is run the first part of August. Two things happened to cancel those plans. First, I fell and broke my hip in March. With the slow recovery, I did not think I could be in shape to go. Then the lake bed did not dry out enough and Speed Week was rescheduled for the end of September. About a month ago, Jim said that another speed event event was happening September 6th to 9th and he was able to reserve a hotel room. Did I want to go? I am still on one crutch and was apprehensive about the 850 mile drive each way and all the walking we would do, but I was antsy to get out and do something this summer, so sure, I would go. This event is a smaller meet called the World of Speed and sponsored by the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association. It is a smaller affair with about 175 cars and motorcycles instead of the nearly 500 at Speed Week.

We left late in the evening on Thursday and after driving all night, arrived in Wendover Utah on Friday afternoon. After checking in to the hotel, we headed out to the salt flats. I was under the impression that it was a somewhat long drive to the salt flats, but it was only a few miles. We wandered through the pits and checked out the layout of the course. It was fun to look at the various cars that were trying to set records or just find out how fast they can go. Some records are less than 100 mph or can be as high as 400 mph. It all depends what class your vehicle fits in. 

Racing started saturday morning. We drove down the course to just beyond the three mile mark. This is where most of the cars were achieving their fastest speeds. We set up a canopy to provide shade, had chairs to sit in and the car radio tuned to continuous coverage of who was racing and what their speeds were. 

The whole race course is immense. The course is 8 miles long. You cannot see the start and could usually see a racer after they passed the two mile markers and that was with binoculars. The racing was intense. The speeds of some cars went as high as 419 MPH. It was hard to focus when they flew by us. There were accidents. A few cars spun out and one spun and flip causing a long delay to clean up the debris. A couple of motorcycle riders were injured on the short course. For four days, we set on the salt and watched cars go by, it never got old!

Our hotel was in Wendover, Utah. But there was no place to eat there. So we would drive up the street about 1/2 mile, cross a white line o the street and find ourselves in West Wendover Nevada. The only restaurants were in the Casinos where we usually grazed on the buffets. 

We headed home on Wednesday and after another full day of driving, we arrived home late Wednesday evening. We are already starting to plan for next year. 

 Northern Nevada is pretty desolate.
 Driving down the hill toward West Wendover, you can see the Bonneville Salt flats in the distance and see how massive they are.
We have arrived.
Turbinator II being serviced in the pits.
 Turbinator II. It holds the record of 458 MPH for wheel driven turbine powered vehicles.
 A steam powered streamliner. Unfortunately, they spun and flipped on their first run.
 This attractive A class streamliner ran over 300 MPH and set a new record.
 Joint Venture is a Unlimited Diesel Truck. It has a V16 Detroit Diesel engine with four turbo chargers as well as two super chargers and puts out more than 4000 HP.
 Joint Venture is an Unlimited Diesel Truck. It holds records of  228.8 MPH. When it would make its run, the first thing we could see was a big plume of black smoke.
 This is a streamliner, side car, motorcycle. It is taken apart while going through technical inspection. This motorcycle was previously owned by a co-worker who set several records.
 The drivers meeting.
 The salt would stick to the tires and pack under the fender wells. We brought a lot of it home.
 A roadster getting ready for a tow back to the pits following a run.
 Challenger II being hauled back to the pits after a first run of 390 MPH. The next day they qualified for a new record at 419 MPH. Unfortunately, they could not back it up the following day. This car was built by the legendary Mickey Thompson in 1968. It made one run and because of adverse conditions, did not run again and was put into storage. A few years ago(after Mickeys death), his son Danny brought it out of storage, updated it and replaced the two iron Ford engines with two big fuel injected hemi racing engines that put out about 2000 HP each. Including the three runs this year at World of Speed, this car has only made five runs down the course, since 1968.
 Challenger II in the pits.
  Challenger II in the pits
Challenger II on the trailer heading home.
 Our spectator camp at about mile 3-1/2.  
 Each morning and evening, we drove across a rough patch of  flooded potholes and standing water. This is not just salt water, this is concentrated brine.
 Brigham Young University brought a electric streamliner that set a record of 204 MPH.
 Another roadster heading to the pits after a run.
 The spectator area near the timing slip trailer. It was pretty lonely out there sometimes.
 Got Salt was a streamliner that ran over 300 MPH but did not set any records.

West Wendover on the Nevada side of the border is a glitzy casino town. Wendover on the Utah side of the borders had hotels and not much more.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Blake Island Race 2014- Pre Race Analysis

So, by now, I am sure that most of the readers are sick of my pre race analysis of the West Sound Series Races. Frankly, I am getting somewhat tired of doing them too. But hang in there, this is for the Blake Island Race, we are almost done with the series. If this info is of no use to you, then you don't have to read it. This race has been one of my more favorite races and by writing a "What would Dan do?" post, it helps me keep my head in the event.

Saturday is 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 is calling for sunny warm weather, but winds of only about 5 knots or less. The direction in one model is variable, but others indicate NNW shifting to NW later in the day. The currents are somewhat favorable with a nice ebb most of the day turning slack at the East End of Rich Passage at about 1500. And to make things interesting, Seattle Yacht Club is also running their Blake Island race at the same time!

Here is what I would do. At the start, based on the weather, I would make a start at the pin end of the line and tack to port as soon as possible. This should get me into favorable ebb current as well as what should be the favored tack. Approaching Rich Pass, I try to head toward marker R10 in the stronger current without sailing too close to Bainbridge Island and into the back eddy along the shore. With a NNW wind, it may be possible to sail through straight through the pass. Whatever the case, I would give Pt Glover a wide berth to avoid the back eddy along that shore. From there, I would tend toward the north side of the pass if the wind cooperates and head through the pass between Orchard Rocks and Bainbridge Island. Exiting the pass, I would be careful not to get caught in the back eddy east of Beals Pt. From here, it could be a nice reach or run to the NE point of Blake Island. Since the current could still be flowing strongly out of Colvos Pass, I would jibe into the shallow bay along the east shore of Blake Island for current avoidance. After working along the shore, I would head around the SE point of Blake Island, giving it a wide enough berth to avoid the nasty rocks. After clear of the point, I would parallel the shore riding the west flowing current.

ALTERNATE TACTICS: Since this race allows the racers to round the island in either direction, some people try the counterclockwise rounding. Frankly I have only seen this work once maybe twice. The tactics are a lot like the Rich Passage Ramble Race. With the light winds predicted, you should sail a low course toward Southworth to avoid the current. As you near the shore, you should find a nice backeddy. Sailing on east, you can find the north flowing current which will help you flow past Blake Island. This is ussually a flyer in this race and I have only seen it work when the wind died and boats on the east side of Blake Island could not sail south through the current.

Back to how I would do it. Ok, you have cleared the SE point of Blake Island and sailing west with the current. The wind could be very light hear and ahead. I might give some more distance with the island to avoid the back eddy around the moorage field, but head up if possible to cut the west point close and get into new wind. The course to buoy R4 could be a beat. When you reach R4 a decision needs to be made. If it is much before 1500, the current could still be ebbing and I would sail toward the south shore. If it is flooding, I would sail north of orchard rocks. From Rich Pass, it should be a straight course to the finish at the Port Orchard Marina. I would probably stay more toward the east and stronger current. I would also be cautious of a large whirlpool combined with no wind just to the south of the pass entrance. Many of these races have been won and lost there.

There it is, my opinion. Take it or leave it, but what ever you do, have a great race!

The current predictions for the West and East entrances of Rich Passage.

Here is the currents predictions for about 1330 based on a low of -1.2 FT.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Royal City Race Wars

WARNING! This blog post only contains motorsports related info. There is no sailing, hiking, or cycling stuff here partially because I cannot participate in these activities anyway. 

If any of you watched the first Fast and Furious movie, you may have noticed the scene where the characters went to an event called "Race Wars". This was a day of drag racing at an abandoned airfield in the desert. The Royal City Race Wars is patterned a lot like the Fast and Furious Race Wars. 

So where is Royal City? It is a small farming town in eastern Washington. A friend and I left Port Orchard early Saturday morning and headed east on I90. After a stop for breakfast at the summit, we continued east. Immediately after crossing the Columbia River at Vantage, we exited right and drove about 11 miles up to a high plateau to a small air strip about  5 miles west of Royal City. This air strip was just that, a small paved strip sandwiched between a county road and a paved parking area for farm equipment. Evidently, the crop duster airplanes use this small strip.

At the airstrip, a local car club sets up a day of 1/4 mile drag racing. This is totally a "race what you brought" style of racing. It more resembled legal street racing. For $30, you race the car you drove to the event, and as many times as you want to get lined up and staged. The amount of different cars was amazing. There was a lot of imported "tuners", Mustangs, Corvettes(including a couple 2014 Stingrays), trucks, motorcycles, a few older muscle cars, a couple of extremely fast Jeep Grand Cherokees and even  a surprisingly quick Ford Flex. Some cars were highly modified and a lot were stock daily drivers. There was probably close to 450 vehicles racing.

This racing was totally unsanctioned and without rules. There was no helmets, harnesses or roll cages required. A lot of the cars carried someone in the passenger seat and in the back seat. I was a bit concerned about the safety, but it was a accident free day. The starts were run with a tree until it broke later in the day and then starts were conducted by hand waves. The spectator area is just a paved area where we parked and could watch from next to the strip, only separated by the return road. Bring your own chair!

The modified "tuners" were surprisingly quick. Often a Honda civic would line up along side a Mustang Cobra and blow the doors off the Mustang. The Cherokees would routinely beat the Corvettes. There was some grudge racing going on too. Everyone seemed to have a good time. It was just good clean fun!

After the event was winding down, we headed home. After a stop for gas and dinner, I arrived home at 2230.
 Car lined up in the return road for their next run.
 The spectator area was next to the strip.
 Two tuners closely racing down the strip.
A tuner racing against a Mustang. This Honda Civic was very fast and likely beat this Mustang.

Two tuners racing.
A couple of Mustangs
A couple more Mustangs

Friday, May 16, 2014

Port Orchard Invitational-WSSA No. 5 -Pre Race Analysis

Saturday is the Port Orchard Invitational Race. It was the fifth race of the seven race West Sound Sailing Association(WSSA) series. This race starts at the Port Orchard Yacht Club, sails north up Port Orchard to a temporary buoy and back for a distance of 16.4NM.

The weather forecast is for a chance of showers. The wind was predicted to be at 5-6 Knots from the south and shifting toward the SW by mid day and toward NW in the evening.

This race almost always offers several challenges, especially when the winds are light. The current will be ebbing at the start and should help the fleet progress north, but the ebbing current actually flows south north of Illahee State Park. I have often received some current relief by sailing close to the left shore from the "Tennis Courts" until past the point just south of Illahee State Park. From there to University Point, it becomes a task of staying in the strongest wind. From University Point to Battle Pt, often the winds get lighter and variable. University Pt is often a bad place to be near and in the absence of consistent wind, some puffs can often be found near Fletcher Bay.  Depending on the time of day, current boost or relief can still be found along the Bainbridge Island shore.

After the rounding at the mark at Battle Pt, many of the same rules exist only in reverse. Stay clear of University point and then work the west shore for current assist and a lift as the wind changes more westerly. After the Illahee town dock, it is best to work out toward the middle of the waterway, looking for the flood current coming in through Rich Passage. From there to the finish, the current should be favorable by staying in the middle or slightly left. Finding wind is the most important task on this leg!

 This is the current at approximately 0930.
  This is the current at approximately 1329. 
This is the current at approximately 1700.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Healing Grind Continues

I have finally reached a milestone in my recovery from a broken hip. On Friday, a friend drove me to the Bellevue Medical Center for an appointment with the surgeon. Since we were nervous about the traffic backup through Renton, we left the house early. We got to the medical center nearly an hour early. I thought we would probably have to wait, but in a couple of minutes, I was called to xray. And a few minutes after xray, I was called to an examining room. The doctor showed up about 15 minutes later. We actually were done and left at about the time that my appointment was scheduled for.

When the doctor arrived, he pulled the xray up on the computer screen and told me that the healing of the break was "concerning" to him. He proceeded to tell and show me what he was concerned about. First, the xrays showed that the screws were loose. They did not back out, but he explained that the bone at the break had shrunk or compressed. This pushed the screw heads away from the bone. I had thought I had been feeling this earlier in the week when I was doing my exercises. I was feeling a sharp pain in the side of my thigh just below the incision.The PT person could not feel anything. The surgeon went on to explain that I could have irritation from the screws, but he would not remove them for at least 6 to 12 months.

Second, the surgeon went on to explain that since the bone had compressed, now my right leg is shorter. Great! He could not offer an explanation why the bone was missing. He was concerned about how well it had knitted together or not. I ask if this was a sign of the bone dying because of inadequate blood flow. He said that the image from the xray appeared that the density looked good an he did not think that necrosis was occurring. We talked some about bionic joints, but settled on another xray in four weeks followed by a phonecon. 

Third, the surgeon wants me to add weight bearing to the leg. For the next two weeks, he wants me to put 50% of the normal load and after that what I can tolerate. I also ask if I could drive now. He said yes! FREEDOM!

This visit left me worried. I envision perfection a lot and I envisioned that the break would cleanly heal. Instead I have a bone fracture that collapsed and left me with a shorter leg. I can't really feel any length difference and I have not noticed any pain with putting weight on that leg. But it definitely feels strange with my foot flat on the ground for the first time in over 7 weeks. I still will be using the crutches for the foreseeable future. The doctor also surprised me by telling me not to go to PT at the clinic until after we get the next xray. The home health PT person was discontinuing their services because I would be mobile enough to go to the clinic. Almost appears like he is expecting to replace the joint.

So I feel my future is sorta grim. If the doctor does not like the next xray, he may call for a bionic joint. That would probably not be as bad as what I have gone through already, but it will take up more time. Even if the current repair works, I am still going to be unable to do much for probably most of the summer. I was suppose to crew on a boat in July at Whidbey Island Race Week. That is in jeopardy as I don't think I will be healed enough to go. Another friend wants to go to Bonneville Speed week in August. I may be able to do that as that is just a bunch of standing and walking. I don't know if or when I will be able to ride a bicycle. With unequal leg lengths, it makes the fit of the bicycle wrong. I don't know if I can hike in the mountains or ski in the winter. Even mundane stuff like mowing my yard is not getting done. It is getting long and I guess I need to hire someone. 

The grind continues.

The xray showing the screws and uneven leg lengths.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Race To The Straits May 3 and 4- Pre Race Analysis

This weekend was the annual Race To The Straits. This is a two day race from Shilshole Marina north of Seattle to Port Townsend on Saturday and return on Sunday. This race is for doublehanded(two people) and singlehanded(one person). Another unique part of this race is that the handicaps are applied at the start with the slowest boats starting before 0800 and the fastest boats starting nearly three hours later. In a perfect world, all the boats should be finishing at the same time. This year, there is a record numbers of entries of 132 last time I checked.

This is a hard race to predict. With boats starting over a period of a few hours, early starting boats sail in much different conditions then later starting boats. The boats that benefit on the first day often are hindered the second day.

So, first I will review the currents. The currents the first day are basically ebbing until early afternoon. The early starting boats will see more benefit from this current with many more hours of sailing with the current than the later starting boats. If the wind cooperates, most of the boats should be past the Double Bluff buoy before the flood current starts. By later afternoon, the current should be flooding strongly and boats still on the course will need to find current relief.

 Currents in Admiralty Inlet for May 3

On the second day, the ebb current will be against the fleet most of the day until early afternoon. The first boats to start will sail the most time against the current. The ebb current velocity will continue to increase until mid day. Boats should have a plan for current relief. After rounding the Double Bluff buoy, the fleet could still be fighting ebb current, but by early afternoon, the current should change to flood for the rest of the day.
Currents in Admiralty Inlet for May 4

As I write this on Thursday night, here is what the predictions indicate. On Saturday, it looks like the winds may start out light at Shilshole from the south-SSE. The winds appear to increase to about 10 knots through the day a the fleet heads north. The winds north of Marrowstone Island appear lighter throughout the day.

On Sunday, the winds start out at about 15 knots from the SSE. They are predicted to stay somewhat steady down Admiralty Inlet. Near the finish the winds could start getting lighter at 10 knots.

With the winds from the southerly direction, I would probably head down the rhumb line toward Double Bluff. I would keep an look out for increasing or decreasing winds both ahead and behind. As I near Pt No Pt, I would check my drift toward the west from the current and head more east. Rounding Double Bluff buoy, I would plan my approach carefully. Many boats get set to the west at the buoy and either find themselves being swept past, perform a panic jibe or even hit the buoy. After Double Bluff, I would sail toward Marrowstone Pt, but at the first sign of the current changing to flood, I would head toward Marrowstone Island and look for current relief along the east shore. After Marrowstone Pt, I would be tempted to head high of the finish buoy to get out of the current, but I would be careful to avoid a dead wind zone along the north shore of Marrowstone Island.Approaching the finish is usually tricky and I would keep my options open.

The return leg on Sunday will require a gut check to do well. First it will be a beat toward Marrowstone Pt. I would probably make a few hitches toward Marrowstone Island so that I could approach the point close to the west in a strong backeddy. Assuming the wind is strong enough I would short tack close to the east end of the point in 15 feet of water(or less). It will probably takes a few tacks to get around and it will be crowded with a lot of earlier starting boat also struggling to get around the point. Once around, I would short tack along the shore staying out of the ebbing river not far off shore. Care needs to be taken not to run aground as there is a flat shelf that extends quite aways from the shore. As I approach the south end of Marrowstone Island, the ebb should be reducing and at some point, I will tack for Double Bluff. I will probably be short of the buoy and will tack close to shore for current relief. After Double Bluff, I would tack toward the Kitsap shore and short tack around Pt No Pt and along the shore until the current is mostly slack. At some point, I might tack toward the King County shore south of Pt Wells and work up that shore to the finish. The current should be favorable by now.

So there it is! I have probably said a lot more than I should. I have enjoyed this race and raced the first one and every other one except for 2006 and this year, everytime singlehanded. The organization is great and I have watched it grow every year in both quantity of boats and quality of organization. Hope everyone has a good time.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Poulsbo Invitational Race 4-26-2014 Pre Race Analysis

Saturday is the Poulsbo Invitational Race. This is the 4th race in the seven race West Sound Sailing Association(WSSA) series. This race starts just north of Battle Point and with a south wind it heads to a temporary buoy near University Point, then north to the #6 navigational mark near Pt Bolin and then follows the shoreline to a finish off of Poulsbo Yacht Club in Liberty Bay. This course is 9.6 miles. In case of a north wind, the race is run first to #6 mark, University Pt and then PYC for a distance of 11 miles. Furthermore, this race can be shortened at the University Pt buoy or Mark #6.

The wind predictions for this race are fairly consistent at 5-9 SSW in the morning rising to 7-12 S in the early afternoon. The current will be flooding during most if not all of the race. 

With the start line set north of Battle Pt, it is possible that there may be a port tack lift close to shore north of Battle Pt. If the line is set to allow it, a starboard tack start would be my preference. I would continue toward Bainbridge Island and look for the header to tack to port on. I probably would have checked for it before the start. Once on port, I would carry a long port tack course toward Brownsville where I would expect a header. After I sail into the header, I would tack to starboard and look for the small  lifts as the  wind puffs off the land. The University Pt mark is usually set to the west of the point and the wind is very fluky around the mark. I would approach the mark from the east. 

After rounding the mark, I would probably do a bear away spinnaker set and sail NE to clear the point and get into clear and hopefully stronger air. As long as the wind is consistent, the run to Mark #6 should be a straight rhumb line course. The course will be into a flooding current, so I would be observant of the wind conditions and consider sailing higher toward the east for current relief if the wind lightens. 

At Mark #6, I would be careful not to get swept into the mark by the current, get the spinnaker down smartly and sail as high as possible toward Pt Bolin. In the past we have often been able to clear Pt Bolin without tacking. I would be aware of the shoals south of Pt Bolin. Fortunately, they are somewhat flat. Reaching toward Keyport, I would be ready to reset the spinnaker as soon as the wind comes aft enough. I would toward Keyport and stay near the left shore. After the Navy Base, I would work hard at sailing high to clear Lemolo Pt. The wind will be puffy and light here and will come forward. Work up in the puffs and don't let yourself get pushed down toward or behind Lemolo Pt. The final push toward the finish is pretty straight forward, stay in the center or slightly left of the channel until past Virginia Pt. And if the winds cooperate, sail straight toward the  finish at the Poulsbo Yacht Club docks. 

Be prepared for anything!
 The current at Agate Pass during race day.
Here is our track from this race in 2013. We did win our class that day, but placed down in the overall standings. Given the predictions for Saturday, I would expect this track to be a good template for the race. Conditions in 2013 were a lot like the predictions for this year. The 2013 report can be found here: Poulsbo Invitational 2013

Friday, April 11, 2014

Rich Passage Ramble Race-April 12-Pre Race Analysis

Saturday is the annual Rich Passage Ramble Race sponsored by West Sound Corinthian Yacht Club and is Race #3 of the seven race West Sound Sailing Association Series. This race is a race from the Port Orchard Marinas through Rich Passage, around Blake Island and Bainbridge Reef Buoy #4, leaving both to port. From buoy #4, the race continues again through Rich Passage to the finish at Port Orchard Marina. Along the race, competitors experience strong currents, protruding land masses and speeding ferries.

I like this race for it's technical challenges. This year it looks like it could be a great race. As I write this on Friday morning, the various weather models are predicting North to Northeast winds of from 5 to 12 knots. The currents are actually favorable both outgoing and incoming through Rich Passage. Or they are favorable if the winds cooperate. If the winds do not wake up early enough Saturday morning and the competitors cannot get to Rich Passage soon enough, the racers may find themselves sailing against a flood current.

The first warning is at 1000 with the Cruising Boats starting first followed by PHRF 2 and PHRF 1. If the winds are up as predicted, the best track is down the middle of Port Orchard staying in the stronger ebb current. Expect a easterly push off Bremerton from the current flowing out of Port Washington Narrows. If the winds are still trying to fill in, it may be necessary to work one shore over another, probably the east shore. If all goes well, the racers should approach before Rich Passage during the last of the ebb.

In Rich Passage, work the middle of the pass and stay in the rougher water. Don't get greedy and cut the corner at Pt Glover too close, there can be a substantial adverse back eddy there. After Pt Glover,  if the wind stays favorable, steer toward the R6 buoy again staying in the ebb. If things slow down and the flood starts, a course to work over to the right toward Manchester Park might work and keep you out of the current. 

If the wind stays from the north, it should be a reach towards Blake Island. Again, don't get too greedy and go close to the shore. The wind can get very light. Fortunately, by now the current should have changed and be slack or nearly slack. If the winds are very light, I have had some success at a very gutsy move of sailing towards Southworth and riding a north flowing current out of Colvos Pass. If you do go close to Blake Island, be aware of the rock filled shallows at the SE corner of Blake Island. Many boats have located these rocks the hard way.

Once clear of Blake Island, it should be a beat along the east shore. If the wind are light, a beat along the east shore could be prudent. Watch for rivers of favorable current. Rounding the NE point of Blake Island, be aware of the shallows. The course to R4 should be a reach. If the winds are light, be careful to not get swept on the wrong side of the mark. From R4, I would ride the current between Orchard Rocks and Bainbridge Island, around Pt Glover and out the pass staying in the middle in the stronger current.

From Rich Passage to the finish, the fastest course should be down the middle of Port Orchard to the finish. Be careful to stay clear of Pt Herron and the flooding current.

There you go! No secrets or magic, just my analysis. Take it or leave it! Have a great race.

 The currents in Rich Passage and SW of Blake Island.

This is our track from the 2012 Rich Passage Ramble. The wind was a good northerly all day at 10-12 knots. Other than the jibe we did SW of Blake Island, this is a good template for the race. Also, the current was still ebbing in Rich Passage that caused us to work the edges harder than would be necessary for this years race.