Saturday, June 6, 2015

Blake Island Race, WSSA #6-Sunny Warm Weather But Light Winds!

Today 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 initially looking good. A high pressure zone was parked over the NW for the weekend with possibly record temps developing. The temperature was predicted to climb into the upper 70's or mid 80's but all the wind models indicated winds of less then 6-7 knots. But the winds never really developed as predicted. The current would be near ebbing at the start and could be flooding with us when we sailed back into Rich Passage on the return.

At the start, the winds were very light out of the north. I attempted a starboard start at the pin end. The wind headed us just before the start and we started about halfway down the line. When we were clear of the line we tacked to port. What little wind there was oscillated between NW and NE. We got closer to the Waterman shore and a little more wind and stronger ebbing current. We tacked to starboard for a while and then back to port for our entrance into Rich Passage. We had a strong header and tacked back into stronger ebb current along the Bainbridge Island shore. Another tack and we headed to Pt Glover. There a boat got in our way trying to pinch around the point or something. They slowed us and them down, so we tacked away and when we tacked back, we were ahead of them buy staying out of the Pt Glover back eddy. We had a nice beat between Orchard Rocks and Bainbridge Island and out of Rich Pass.

We had a close reach to Blake Island staying close to the Blake Island north shore avoiding some adverse current. We rounded the east point, set the spinnaker and sailed close to the east shore of Blake Island to avoid the strong current flowing north out of Colvos Pass. We gained on the boats behind and almost made it around the SE point of the island before the wind shut off and we started drifting backwards. We reached offshore found some wind and managed to get around the SE point into the west bound current. By now a lot of boats had gained on us and some passed us. Mainly the current carried us west until we cleared the west end of Blake Island where we headed up into new wind and sailed toward buoy #4.

Just before we got to buoy #4, we set the spinnaker. After rounding the buoy, we jibed and headed toward the south shore of Rich Pass. We worked in favorable current to Pt Glover. The winds were very variable. We jibed toward the Bainbridge shore and found some favorable current to Pt White. At Pt White, we could see some new wind coming out of the north. So we headed up high past the stern of another boat on the opposite tack, got into the new wind and left several boats behind.

From there to the finish, the wind built to 5-7 knots and we had a good run to the finish where we finished third at 1548. Following the race, Bremerton Yacht Club put on a social event at the Port Orchard Marina.  

This race was challenging with the light variable winds and the higher temperatures. But the crew kept focused and we sailed well through some of the difficult sections. Thanks to the crew of Jim, Tim and Rainer.

Results, when they are posted can be found here:

 Rainer trimming the spinnaker.
And if you did not notice before, there is Mt Ranier in the background.
Our track for the day. Our outbound and inbound tracks crossed several times.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Race To Alaska-R2AK

Today I drove with a friend to Port Townsend to check out the participants in the first Race To Alaska (R2AK). This is a 750 mile race from Pt Townsend Wa to Ketchikan, AK. It is for non motorized  craft(sail, row, paddle, pedal). The rules are simple: set your own pace, no outside assistance or resupply, re provision or repair on your own. The award for the first boat to reach Ketchikan is $10000. Second place is a set of steak knives.

It was interesting to see the various concepts that people thought would work. Some boats were open with no provisions to escape the weather. Others were larger with nice accommodations. Some boats placed most emphasis on sailing with minimal rowing or pedaling capabilities. Some placed more importance on rowing or paddling. It will be interesting to see what concept prevails. I would think that a small, fast, light boat that will move well under sail as well as under human power would be the real ticket. The BC coast has it's share of unsettled conditions: wind, no wind, strong currents, cooler weather, cold water, rain. All this can present a challenge to any team not prepared to endure.

The race starts tomorrow morning at 0500 with the first leg to Victoria. There is a class for boats that only want to go as far as Victoria. This leg is also a qualifier for the complete race. I would assume that the qualifying criteria would be that boats need to arrive in Victoria by 1700 on June 5. The boats restart at 1200 on June 7 and race non stop to Ketchikan. 

For more info and access to a tracker see:

 Lots of activity and gear on the floats.
 I believe that these two are just sailing in the first day event to Victoria. The boat on the right is a 11 foot Scamp.
 This is an interesting proa purpose built in Seattle. The ama always stays to weather and instead of tacking, they "shunt" where the swaps ends and the sail is moved from one end to the other. The rudder on the first end is raised and the rudder on the second end is inserted.  The boat is totally double ended and can go either direction.  Hard to describe and visualize. For the windless days, they have a removable pedal powered propeller system. A lot has been written about this boat and a lot of thought has gone into it. This is my favorite right now.
 A small Whamaran catamaran cruising around the harbor with a pedal/propeller arrangement.
 This was the stern of a large Chrowder 38 catamaran. Evidently, the plan is to put two people on the stern rowing on a sliding seat with oars. They were still assembling the brackets with sheet rock screws.
 An interesting addition on the stern of a Farrier F25C trimaran. For two people peddling, but with oscillating vanes instead of a propeller., 
 This is a made for the purpose monohull. Interesting design with an open transom, integral leeboards, twin rudders, trapezes and a movable sliding seat beam hor hiking or rowing.
 This little outrigger was sailed by a single lady intending to go all the way to Ketchikan. Don't know where or how she was planning on storing her gear. Her back up to sails was oars.
 Many of the boats tucked into the Pt Hudson Marina.
 This appeared to be one of the solo entries.
 Interesting beach cat that had a well thought out navigation pod and a pedal/propellor systm just forward of the mast.
This is a Mirror 16 foot sailboat. They actually were a well set up program. They could sleep in the bottom of the boat. They also had lots of experience cruising the British Columbia coast in Mirror 11 foot dinghies! They did not think they would win, but my money is on them that they will finish.