2017 looks interesting

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.

Waiting for spring

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.

Lofrans X3 Windlass

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.

RTC 2016

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.

Kinetics goes cruising

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.


Scatchet Head scratcher

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.

Scatchet Head Jans Photo

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.

Snowbirds 2016

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.

Snowbird 2016 #4
A happy, relaxed crew getting things done is a beautiful site
Seattle sunshine
Too far left but the view was nice
The beautiful Grayling behind us, until they weren’t
Snowbird 2016
OK, I missed this nearly sunny moment!

RTC 2015

Our first Round the County is in the books. It was exactly what I had heard RTC’s could be. A little of everything and a bit rough. Overall we performed well for our first effort. There is a lot involved in this kind of race. It starts long before the race weekend. The crew eagerly took on assignments from boat prep, logistics to meal planning and shopping. I could not have done this without their help. In another way, I owe this race to my mother. She passed away just two weeks prior. We knew she nearing the end but the timing allowed me to go. I know she would have wanted me to do this. I thought of her often over the weekend. Fair winds and following seas mom.

Kinetics in the RTC 2015
Kinetics in the RTC 2015

There are a couple nice write ups of the race which I will link to and keep my comments here focused on our experiences and what we learned. There is one here and one here. The always excellent photos from Jan’s Marine Photography are here.

We did the transit up from Seattle to Anacortes, Cap Sante Marina on Friday the 6th. The weather was decent and we sailed most of the way on a broad reach with the new #1 up doing 10+ knots. We had a bit of an “oh crap” moment on the way into the marina though. Managed to snag a crab or shrimp pot and wrapped the prop. Lost reverse and had to limp in. Fortunately we were able to get Jim from Bottom Time Divers out to unwind it all. Thanks Jim! No damage and we had a green light for the weekend. The party seems to have moved to Anacortes as there were a lot of boats in the marina for the race. It is a nice marina and the Anacortes YC puts on a nice event too (although I never made it because of the boat issues).

Up early Saturday for the ride to Lydia Shoals. It was clear pretty quickly we were in for a wet and windy day. The forecast was for 20-30K out of the SE and that was what we got. While circling for the start (we were division 3 so part of the first group to go) a shackle pin worked out of one of the main sheet blocks on the boom. Great timing. I dove below and managed to find the right replacement shackle on my second try and we were back in business with 10 minutes to go. We hoisted the #3 and made for the start. We crossed the line a 5 minutes late. Oh well. We made it. The angles were wrong for the kite so we drove up to the first left turn around Orcas but by then we were seeing quite a few boats crashing and burning with kites up. The crew wasn’t volunteering to rig the kite and I don’t blame them. The waves were picking up and the boat was moving around a lot. The consequences of a screw up with the kite were going to be high so we decided the better plan was to ride it out with the #3 and live to fight on Sunday. As it was, we still saw speeds over 12 as we surfed off the backs of waves. The boat was a bit out of balance and required real concentration. We swapped out helmspeople a few times; going below to warm up. Yes, we have heat, comfy seats, and hot beverages down below. Continue reading “RTC 2015”

So long Summer

Summer is gone but the boat is back in action. We did one event in June, the 3-Bouy Fiasco. It pretty much was. We were looking good for a while and then sailed into a hole at West Point and got hammered by the current putting us out of the running. It was nice to get back out and the boat sailed very well with the newly finished bottom and repaired rudder. The helm was light to the touch and the boat just felt a little faster. It has to be after all the work right?

I’ve decided to finally commit to do a Round The County. Pretty excited about it. It has taken a long, long time to get the boat into the shape it needed to be to do this kind of race. There are still a few things left but the crew is leaning into it and helping me get things done that I would just not be able to do without them. We now have a nice second spin halyard, tether pad eyes in the cockpit, tested and rigged Life Sling, a new #1 genoa on order and a several other nice things on schedule for the race. I expect this to be a good learning experience as I’ve not been able to spend any time in the San Jauns since bringing the boat to Seattle almost 5 years ago. About friggin’ time.

Stay tuned for a nice write up with, hopefully, some nice pics. Here is one of the boat getting ready to go back in after the new bottom and rudder repair at CSR earlier in the year.

Kinetics 2015 splash at CSR, Seattle
Kinetics 2015 splash at CSR, Seattle

Always something

It seems like every year something (at least it seems that way to me) big comes up to take me or the boat out of commission. Last year is was personal/family stuff which continues to make life a bit complicated but I’ve found solutions. However, the boat needed new bottom paint and it was time to strip it clean so it was more than the usual haul, paint and splash job. I put some work into finding the right yard for this effort and settled on CSR right here in Seattle. Lots of reasons, too many to list.

So far so good. With help from a couple of my loyal crew we get the boat through the small Lock on Monday morning with me only making a fool of myself once. After getting things sorted I leave the boat in CSR’s hands. A few days later I get the call I was dreading. The bottom is blistered worse than expected. After seeing some photos I have a friend go check it out. Sure enough it makes no sense to spend good money putting a lot of work into stripping and painting over them. Time to decide between the peel job I was hoping to avoid or simply slapping more paint on. The amazing thing is I’m getting used to this stuff. The worst part of it is knowing the peel job will keep the boat out of the water for two months!

I looked at many factors and came up with a ‘yes’ on doing the peel job. Better now than later and I can’t live with a lumpy bottom. Who wants that?

So we’re a few weeks in and counting. If all goes well the boat could be back in the water sometime later in May. We shall see. I’ll miss Blakely Rock and Race to the Straits 2015. Damn. Sorry guys.

CSR peel underway
CSR peel underway

Down the Sound

A bit late in posting this udpate. Hey, it’s Summer and lot’s going on. As expected this was a drifter for the most part. Like the Race to the Straights this is an over night race. Race one is south to Gig Harbor from Shilshole and race two is back to Shilshole on Sunday. As always in the Sound tides and terrain played a part with the light winds teasing people to go this way and that. The start on Saturday was exciting as there were thunderstorms in the area and we got pelted by some heavy but short down pours. My enthusiastic crew mate for this race, Steve, was so confident in the weather he didn’t bring any waterproof gear. Oops. A dash down below for some extra foulies and we stayed dry albeit a touch too warm. The breeze was very light and it was a downwind start so up went the A2 on a nice angle for us. We were pretty much right on the rhumb line for the west side of Vashon Island. Steve and I were watching the 3 J-105’s sail away from us (as they always do downwind) when out of blue sky a bolt of lightning dropped down to the water right in the middle of them. That was way too close and later we heard from their crew that yes, it was. We hit the halfway mark and noted our time as a bit after 1pm. We were actually doing well by having stayed right on the rhumb line because at the end of the day no one actually finished in time and we placed a decent 4th in class behind 4, fast, light air boats. We were the turtle in a race with hares that day.

Steve at the helm
Steve at the helm while I trim

Sunday promised more of the same. Light air, downwind start. However, the angle was bad for the A2 so we had to hoist the heavy #2 jib on the furler. Not the best option but it was my best guess for later in the day. We finally turned the corner and got the A2 up as we headed north. The wind was very, very light. We got good at keeping the big A2 up in about 5 knots apparent. It’s not easy I can tell you. Gybing is nearly impossible and we had to actually drop it a couple times just to be able to gybe. Then the most bizarre thing happened. A line of swimmers in a race across the channel between Vashon and the peninsula ended up cutting us off. We had limited steerage and a bit of current pushing us into them and really no safe way to avoid them. This was a first! I finally decided I had no choice but to start the engine and motor for a few seconds back to the south to avoid endangering any of the swimmers. I made sure I did not advance our position and hoped my fellow competitors would understand. I’m pretty sure this is covered under one of the rules but it’s a bit unclear to me so I self reported to the committee after we finished in case any one took issue.

Unfortunately that put us just far enough behind to get caught when the wind died. A number of those that made it past the swimmers escaped into a building breeze that would eventually reach us about 2 hours later. The afternoon sail from then on was actually really nice. We saw winds over the deck in the low to mid 20’s. Wish I had committed to the new #3 as we would have done a lot better with it up but the furling rig was already on so there was no going back at that point. While we reeled in a lot of boats outside our class we just didn’t have enough time to overcome the “swimmers block” despite nailing the lay line to the finish from over a mile out in a strong current. We did that!

New #3 in GPX
New #3 we should have had up on Sunday afternoon

Overall, nice event. Sloop Tavern does a great job putting on events and knows how to run a race. I’m not a fan of light air racing. Never have, never will but in the PNW that’s what you get this time of year more often than not.