It was incredibly nice today. Maybe it just seemed awesome after record rains stopped long enough to let the sun shine all day long. Finally was able to hoist the new Ballard Sails drifter to see how it looks. Should be a game changer for us on those light air days when we have trouble getting the big Nordic moving.
I wouldn’t say Scatchet Head was my favorite race based on the first two attempts. This second time around it rained. Of course it did. We’re having the wettest, coldest winter in decades here the PNW.
Other than the rain, and a confusing start, the downwind run to Widbey was uneventful. We kept pace, meaning we sailed to our rating or better. The last couple of miles not so much, which was entirely on me. We should have gybed west to stay in the wind like most everyone else had done. Our inside drop of the kite went well and we elected to keep the #1 up for the return trip to Shilshole.
However, the wind speed kept building and building until we were well into the 20’s, gusting to 30, and risking the health of the #1. Being a bit light on crew we had trouble furling and decided to duck into Kingston to try and get it rolled up. Unfortunately things did not go well and we ended up not being able to complete the task. With the rain and the wind, and our growing realization of being dead last in class, we decided to tuck in under the dodger and sail home on the main.
Next race we will be ready with all the “first race of the season” problems sorted out. At least we didn’t break anything this year! That’s an improvement over last year.
UPDATE: Sorry to say the email settings for the site were messed up and many who might have tried to get in contact may not have been able to. I’ve added a contact page so people can email about any interest in crew opps. It should also solve the spam problems.
We are looking to introduce new members to our group of regular crew. The Kinetics crew has been evolving over the past few years and is going through a transition. The focus continues to be on distance racing where the boat is most suitable. Kinetics provides a strong, reliable, even comfortable way to enjoy the sport (we have heat and two heads!). We take the racing seriously while keeping the real goal for being out on the water in mind. Enjoying the experience is a key part of that and team harmony is very important.
If you are new or experienced and are looking for serious but fun sailing team that will be racing in most of the key races of every year register here and post a comment or ping the admin for details on what the plans are for the coming couple of years.
Let’s hope sailing remains a place to focus on the good things in life. I know I need a place like that. Getting more and more projects done for this year. The plan is to do more cruising in between the racing. This image was taken in January and it looks so inviting. You can’t tell it is about 34 degrees. Won’t be long before the new dodger is ready, a new drifter arrives and the bottom paint is refreshed. March is the official start of the sailing season for Kinetics.
Did the Seattle Boat Show of course. My visits the past couple years are very focused. I make a direct course for the vendors I need to see. The show felt like a near duplicate of last year though. Garmin had a new chart plotter with dedicated physical controls. After using a hybrid Raymarine unit for a while I’m thinking touch screen is not all that useful in the cockpit of a sailboat under difficult conditions. Down below they are fine but in cold, wet, pitching seas kind of weather, they don’t really work very well. At least not for me.
I’m starting to think about needing a new anchor windlass. The one I have works but is wearing out and a poor fit for the boat. This one looked like a better solution but I couldn’t get anyone to talk to me. They were more interested in selling someone lights. I wasn’t buying anyway.
I spent some of my boat show time looking at new boats. I think boat designers and builders are getting smarter in some designs. I saw quite a few nice features that actually contributed to efficiency, safety or performance. It might have just been my choice in boats but it was nice to see these things happening. I loved hanging around on the Farr 60 Pilothouse that Swiftsure Yachts had at the dock. It was fun to hear everyone coming on board say “wow”. Way too much boat for most people but for world cruising, if you can afford the upkeep, it would be a fine way to go.
This year’s Round the County was another amazing mix of weather, action and lessons learned. It was a challenging year for everyone to get ready as work and personal pressures just wouldn’t let up. A number of upgrades to running rigging and engine work got done just in time despite the hectic schedules. An easy delivery up to Anacortes on Friday included a few hours of sailing, which was nice.
Saturday’s departure was dark and damp as we joined the parade of boats making their way to Lydia shoals for the start of the clockwise trip around the islands to Roche Harbor. By the time we started at 8:40 the wind was cranking so the #3 was a good call. We short tacked our way south with everyone else, making good time, until we hit the current. Here we got pushed back more than I would have liked. I need to think about this spot and understand the best way through for next time. We lost a lot of distance here to boats that seemed to slip through.
Then it was off around the south end of Lopez. We mistook Bird Rock for a rounding mark and while we had more wind out in the channel, we also ended up in steep chop sooner than the boats that went inside the rock. We made up some distance, but in the end I think we lost some time here getting beaten back by the waves, which were coming over the bow back to the mast frequently for a good 30 minutes. By the time we had better conditions and a wind angle suitable for the A3 the wind had started to drop. In fact, it shut down like someone turned off the fan. We struggled with few dozen other boats until 3pm when I called it quits knowing we would never make the finish even if the wind returned. Typical RTC.
There were the usual nice arrangements in Roche. Party, friends, power, water, everything you need. They do a good job here. A gorgeous sunset arrived to end the day. The crew enjoyed a nice evening after a delayed meal prepared by the captain that underestimated how long it takes to cook things in a small oven!
Sunday was a completely different race. The day started sunny and dry for one thing. The wind was still very light and with the current pushing boats over the line we had a hilarious double general recall. Eventually, we started in good position by staying in clear air behind the pack and taking what little clean air there was. We headed off to port and away from a hole that had landed on the boat end of the start line.
The spinnaker run to Turn Point off Stuart Island was brilliant and memorable, albeit somewhat nerve racking (see video clip above, thanks to Tim for the GoPro). The faster boats, including the TP52’s, eventually ran us down and by the time we reached Stuart Island it was a mix of fast and slow boats, about 75 of them, gybing in and around each other. I finally couldn’t stomach it any longer and gybed out of the traffic jam. That turned out to be a good move as a number of boats got stuck in holes and current and had a hard time getting around Turn Point.
After Turn Point the wind slowly began to build in phases. We eventually changed out the #1 for the #3 as it built to 22-25K apparent. For a while we were close reaching under the #1 like a freight train, staying in a band of wind watching boats north and south drop behind. We were gaining back some time quickly with boat speeds in 8-10K range.
After the halfway point at Alden Point, Patos Island we came up into the wind and it was close hauled most all the way to the finish. We had a wild ride along the cliffs before Lawrence Point on Orcas Island with Here and Now and another boat in very gusty conditions. Amazing scenery that I had very little time to admire.
We finished a little after 4pm just behind our sail maker, who had a tough day. He is usually way ahead of us. We felt good on the whole having kept up with, or bested, some very good sailors on some dedicated racing boats. For us that’s almost as good as a win. Almost.
Just thinking about this trip again is relaxing. After several long years of not being able to get away for more than a couple of days at time I finally was able to take a real vacation. It took a bit of prep and the boat had to be shifted from race to cruise mode. I took off solo early on a Friday morning for the long motor north to meet friends in Echo Bay on Sucia Island. No chance to sail as the wind was light or always on the nose, of course. Pulled into Echo Bay and dropped the big delta anchor after a bit of discussion with nearby friends on how these things work! Right, I’m not the most knowledgeable when it comes to anchoring. Doing it solo ups the pressure a bit but all went well and that was the start of a long week of de-stressing. The weather was great. Some wind, warm days, cool nights, sunny almost every day and not all that crowed despite it being the last week before Labor Day.
We hiked Sucia’s trails and I dropped a couple crab pots but had limited success. Enough for one meal though. Time to head off to Stuart Island. Of course this turns out to be the one day the wind is howling. Lots of excitement in the channel that morning and my friends on their borrowed M/V ended up in a rescue of a few kayakers mid channel between Sucia and Orcas. I had my own problems having flipped my dinghy in the steep waves and 25 knots winds. Had to motor all the way to Orcas before I could get it sorted out. Next time I won’t tow a dinghy in conditions like that!
Stuart Island was very nice. Spent a few days here. We hiked out to Turn Point and the lighthouse there twice. Great exercise and interesting story behind the people that managed that lighthouse over the years. The view across to Canada was beautiful. Looking forward to seeing it again in a few weeks when we go round the county in the RTC for 2016.
My friends needed to return to Seattle so I headed south to meet up with another friend with a new place on Orcas Island. Dropped anchor in Deer Harbor for a few nights. Another wonderful place. This friend knew where the crab was and we scored big! Still pulling them out of the freezer. Here I spotted a perfect little retirement island. Just need a bit more cash and hope it is up for sale when the time is right. Fawn Island
As with all vacations it seemed a bit too short. I could have stayed another few weeks! It was great to be using the boat the way I had intended when I first bought it. It is a lot of boat for one person but it is manageable if you’re smart about it. I was finally able to sail, under single reef, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the return home. A close reach at about 8-9 knots in 2-3 seas and 25K winds. Lumpy but nice to be sailing for a change. Of course it didn’t last long. Wind died and then swung around on the nose for the rest of the way. Typical Puget Sound. Can’t wait to do it again.
OK that didn’t go as planned. The weather was somewhere between great and wowza. Started out blowing in the teens and low 20s under cloudy skies at the start, which was nice. No rain made it even better. We were late to the line but given this was a long race I wasn’t too worried about the 15 seconds. It kept us out of the frenzy. We hit the line moving well with the #3 up on starboard on a broad reach. It was gong to be a 13 mile run downwind to Whidbey Island under some pretty decent conditions. Except things didn’t go as planned. The photo below from Jan’s Pics tells the beginning of the tale. A bit short on crew and new people in new positions with the breeze up and things went wrong quickly. Right after this photo the kite wrapped the headstay and eventually rolled up with the #3 for a real puzzler that took us nearly all of the run to Scatchet Head to sort out.
I was nearly certain we were truly screwed until one final desperate attempt managed to get the two sails untangled and allowed us to drop the kite. We had only a short distance to go so we just bagged the kite and sailed under the #3. We were happy to just still be in the race after that.
The ride home was a blast with the wind building to 30+ over the deck and plenty of sustained gusts to 40. About halfway home the 3/16″ stainless steel cable outhaul parted with a bang. Fortunately everyone responded to my “duck” command and the cable didn’t make contact with any flesh. We dropped the main, wrapped and taped the cable and rehoisted to the first reef and were off and beating to weather again. Guess that was the boat’s way of telling us we should have reefed a bit sooner.
Despite all the delays and problems we didn’t finish dead last! Broken but not out. Overall, another day of learning for everyone and some more things to sort out on the boat. The kite will be getting a new banding solution from Ballard Sails so hopefully our hoists will be better and the new outhaul should be good for another 30 years.
Finally! The rain lets up. We had a nice day on the water in decent conditions for a February. A strong front had moved through the night before with rain and 40 knot winds so it was all about the timing the next morning. The front had moved through fast so were left with a dying breeze of 5 – 10 knots but it was enough to get off a shortened course race under some chilly, cloudy skies. But it was dry, and that’s good enough.
We had a great start thanks to some nice crew work. We struggled a bit to get the big Nordic 44 moving in the light air and we’re still learning the trim on the new #1. It was a good day to let everyone work the boat and figure things out so that is what we did. There were two downwind legs so the foredeck crew got a work out. In hindsight I should have put the #1 up with the swivel so we could have roller furled it between legs. Lesson learned.
There just was’t quite enough wind for the boat to do well and the shorter courses are tough as we lose time in the tacks. However, it was fun and good practice. We even got to do a penalty turn after fouling a starboard tacker at a windward mark. Another lesson. Always something new and good experience for everyone I think. Here are a few snaps from the day.
The PNW is getting hammered by one storm after another so it must be time to put up the lights and wait for more reasonable weather.