October 3rd was the Foulweather Bluff Race sponsored by Edmonds Corinthian Yacht Club. For the second time, the course was reversed from the normal direction. It is a 26 mile race that starts just north of Edmonds,rounds the bell buoy off Scatchet Head, rounds the bell buoy off Foulweather Bluff, and back to the finish north of Edmonds. This year, the weather was forecast to be sunny and the winds were suppose to be northerly up to 15 knots.
I delivered the boat to Edmonds early on Friday and got a choice moorage spot at the visitors dock. I explored uptown and spent time kibitzing with old acquaintances and met a few new ones. Interesting how the sailors from outside my normal sailing area around Bremerton are so friendly.
Through friday night and into Saturday morning, it was clear that the wind forecast was not exactly accurate. The winds overnight built into northerly winds into the 20's. By morning, reports were coming in from the ferries that gusts to 30's were being observed. The sailors started getting nervous. As the race time approached, the Race Committee hoisted the AP postponement flag inside the harbor. They were concerned about trying to set and maintain a starting line as well as the safety of the participating yachts(a source of much discussion lately).
As the postponement continued, some boats packed up and headed downwind for home. Other boat owners decided it would not be a good day for racing and found more substantial boats to sail on. Their crews also looked for good rides on other boats. We tried to pick some up to sail with us, but nobody was interested in sailing on my boat. Their loss.
After about an hour and a half, the wind abated some and the race committee lowered the postponement flag and the remaining boats headed to the starting area. Leaving the harbor, it really was not too bad. The wind had dropped to the 15-20 knot range and with the sun out, it looked like it would be a great day.
We put up the #3 jib and with a full main, we started the race. We had a poor start, but shortly after the start, we found our selves in a great position and it wasn't long before we found ourselves in solid second place. The beat to Schachet Head was pretty straight forward until we got close to the buoy where the current was flowing rapidly to the left. We were good about not overstanding, but still had to crack off a little to round the buoy.
From Scatchet Head to the the Foulweather Bluff buoy it was a sloppy, wet beat with the ebbing current against the northerly wind. We submarined the boat a couple of times taking solid water over the cabin top. We had a GPS waypoint to steer to the Foulweather Bluff buoy and with the ebbing current, we thought we could make the buoy on one tack, but when we got to the Foulweather Bluff buoy, we were headed, ended up about 50 yards low and had to take two tacks before jibing around the buoy.
Rounding the buoy, we set the spinnaker for the run to the finish. We were efficient sailing low to Pt No Pt and escaping the adverse current. From Pt No Pt, we again used the GPS to judge the current and sail to a finish line waypoint. We pointed the boat low of the finish mark to account for the current. This allowed for the shortest distance to the finish. We cruised along at 8-9 knots passing some boats that started ahead of us and some faster boats that started behind us, passed us on the beat and somehow ran into trouble on the run. One boat in our class passed us on the run and we finished 3rd in our class.
It was a great day, very sunny and warm. At no time did the wind seem excessive. We sailed under great control the whole time. I was surprised at the number of boats that felt the need to reef. And I bet the skippers who bailed on racing are regretting their choice!
Thanks to my crew of Jim, Walter, Rainer and Kathleen for putting up with me.
Results can be found here: Foulweather Bluff Page
My cozy spot at Edmonds on Friday. One of the perks of being retired, getting underway early to arrive and get the prime spots.
The boats rafted up in the harbor.
The boats rafted up in the harbor.
Cruising past Pt No Pt.
Photo: S Nelsen
Our track for the day. We averaged 6.91 knots according to the nav computer.