Sail Kinetics Summer Update: New Mainsail, Starlink Connection, and Radar Ready

July 13th 2024

Getting very close to heading out for 2 plus months of cruising this Summer. New mainsail from Ballard Sails on the boat; lots of food; Starlink to stay connected (have to work a bit); lots of maintenance done; I think I found a place for all the newish dinghy bits; new radar installed; I’m as ready as I can be.

I’ll attempt to post updates along the way and pictures of course. More pictures than words I think. I suspect anchorages are going to be crowded for a few more weeks. Hopefully there will be room for one more.

Spindrift Dinghy handling

After 10 years plus of using an inflatable dinghy the switch to a hard dinghy has meant a few adjustments to how I store it, stow it, and manage it under way. The Spindrift 10 is a fun combination of row boat, sailing dinghy, and outboard tender. Mine is a nesting version so it can be taken apart, flipped upside down, and nested together making it a small package that fits neatly on the foredeck.

I’ve now rowed it, sailed it and motored with it using the Torqeedo 3hp OB. So far, so good. I expected it to be different than the inflatable and it is. Getting in and out requires more care. It is not as forgiving of mishandling as my former a big rubber tubes of a dinghy, so driving it into the side of the mother ship is a bad idea. It will also get banged up when it goes to battle with an ugly dock. All expected. The reward is a dinghy that I can row and actually get someplace in. I can have fun with it as a sailboat! And, when needed, it moves along well with the little electric outboard.

Using the outboard on the Spindrift also highlighted the other big difference. Weight distribution matters. Moving to the center requires a tiller extension (I found one on Amazon that works). I get noticeably better performance from the OB doing that. With two people in the dinghy the extension wouldn’t be needed. The same challenge with weight distribution happens when rowing with a passenger . Whether the passenger is sitting in the bow or the stern, the balance of the dinghy is not ideal. We didn’t try two person rowing (side by side). That seemed like a friendship killer but it might work. If you have stuff to carry it could be used to balance the load.

The next big change was getting it on and off the mothership when towing is not prudent. The inflatable was always hoisted up by the towing bridle, bow first, and lowered onto the foredeck. This method is not really a good option with the Spindrift 10. The transom submerges and after lowering there is a good gallon or two of water to bail out. I also don’t like the idea of the hard dinghy swinging around in the wind which the inflatable often did. So I think the best option is to hoist it horizontally.

Spindrift 10 with hoisting rig alongside sailboat ready for bring aboard

With some gunnel protection (trying out some jumbo pool noodles) installed and a Dynema hoisting rig the Spindrift comes up and over the lifelines and onto the deck with just a little persuasion. I can set it down there and undo the 5 fasteners holding the two halves together. The halves are light enough (guessing 40-50lbs each half) to easily flip, stack, then tie them down. The oars, three piece mast, boom, dagger board and rudder also need to get put away.

If you want to watch a great YT video of a cruising couple, Sailing Yacht Florence, with a Spindrift 9 here is the link. I should thank them for this as it was very helpful in my deciding to buy this dinghy from the person that originally built this one. Here is a link to their WP page on the same.

Canada again and a dinghy change up

I’ve been ignoring this blog so here is a brief update for Spring of 2023. I made it to Canada last year. Explored parts of Desolation Sound for the first time over a three week cruise. Visited a few familiar places on the way up and some new ones as well. I typically avoid marinas but anchoring out in some locations proved difficult and it was easy to find dock space in early September. With solar power and a water maker I don’t really need to tie up but it is nice once in a while to not deal with anchoring.

I dragged anchor for the first time on a particularly windy night off Lopez Island. Completely due to my being rusty with calculating scope. Re-anchoring in 25-35 knots single handed in a dark, crowded anchorage, produced some adrenaline. The next day I realized my mistake determining water depth with a the depth sounder set to keel depth not waterline. I also decided that if someone anchors too close astern, removing the option of letting out more chain, it’s best to move before the weather deteriorates and the light fades.

The trip was nice overall and I enjoyed having a new paddleboard along to explore and get a little exercise. I tried stern tying for the first time, single handed, and found it doable in the right location and conditions.

One element I missed (again) in this type of cruising was the lack of sailing opportunities. There is often not enough wind, wrong direction, or the legs are too short. Consequently 75% of my miles were under power and some of them were towing an inflatable dinghy. The soft bottom dinghy design is very draggy so even in flat conditions, towing it results in reduced cruising speeds. Over a long day it adds up. They also perform poorly in other ways too. I use a 3HP electric OB or row it. The former is just okay and the latter is terrible.

So earlier this year the old inflatable went to a new home and I went in search of something else. I decided to try a hard dinghy. Ideally one that could be rowed, had a sail rig to play with when the big boat was at anchor, towed well and was driven easily with the small electric OB. I was told by friends to not go with anything smaller than 10ft for lots of obvious reasons. However, I don’t have davits on Kinetics so a 10ft dinghy has to be light weight and not cover the entire foredeck. The solution seems to be a nesting hard dinghy and those are mostly kit built.

Late in 2022 I found a Spindrift 10 for sale and grabbed it. Unbolts into two halves that nest making it a compact, an easy to store, 5ft x 4ft-2in package on the foredeck. I found a YT video of a cruising couple with a Spindrift 9 and they seem to love it. It sails fairly well but I haven’t had much time to use it yet. Same for rowing. Still need to try out the outboard on it. There are a few things I want to customize to make it easy to manage as the new tender for Kinetics but it should be fun figuring it all out. Below is a friend taking it for a maiden sail.

2021 a year of change

With the world gripped in a second year of a pandemic there was no escaping the changes to daily life this rained down on everyone in 2021. I’m fortunate in many ways that I only have first world problems to manage. I did very little sailing in 2021 mostly because there wasn’t anywhere I could go; that I wanted to go might be more accurate.

I decided that with borders closed and local cruising grounds often overrun by boaters with limited options, 2021 was a good time to finally tackle a long overdue refit of the mast. It turned out that I was not alone.

This mast project turned out to be the most difficult and problematic one I’ve done yet. What went wrong? Almost everything. It’s hard to relive it by retelling. From contributing to a failed personal relationship, to thousands in extra costs because of pandemic supplier delays, bad weather, rushed work, competing mast projects, a back injury, and more, this one is now #1 on my list of Murphy’s What Can Go Wrong Will.

The mast is now finally back in the boat but not without a fair amount of pain and suffering (of the first world kind). While the rigging was being stripped off the mast to allow it to be painted we discovered a few issues that needed attention. This lead to my deciding to replace the standing rigging to fix the issues and get onto the newest version of the rod fittings. Unfortunately this resulted in an unforeseen 8 week delay waiting for parts to come from Europe. Add $2,000 for mast storage to the yard bill. The company I hired to paint the mast had quality control issues and mast had to be painted twice. By now La Nina is in full swing and the weather is just plain awful but my boat got its Christmas present. I started the project in September thinking it would take two weeks. Ha.

It will be another month or two into 2022 before the rest of the rigging can be completed as the weather is still awful. However, the mast looks great and is corrosion free and should out live me. The masthead has been redone with a new light, repositioned wind sensor and remounted VHF antenna. There is all new wiring and a spiffy new combo steaming light and deck light combo. The boom also got a lot of attention with a focus on a reworked gooseneck. Overall, things are looking good and like all projects gone bad, they don’t look quite so bad once you get it all buttoned up. Maybe 2022 will be a bit nicer for everyone.

Port Ludlow 2020

Fortunately boating/cruising is one of the things we can safely do in the year of COVID-19. This is actually our second trip of the summer. We spent the 4th of July watching homeowner fireworks in Liberty Bay near Poulsbo, WA. It was a good first outing of the year. Because the Canadian boarder is closed, and likely to remain so for the cruising season, we’re going to keep it local this year. The trip to Port Ludlow in early August was a great 3 day weekend. We anchored out away from the cluster of other boats, only moving in closer on Monday after most everyone cleared out. We dinghy’d in to take advantage of the abundant number of walking trails in and around the harbor. Everyone was good about wearing masks and we “masked up” whenever we met someone on a trail. This is a popular stop of cruisers for a reason. Just far enough away from Seattle to feel rural and it offers lots of quiet on shore hiking, kayaking around the harbor in protected waters and a fuel dock if you need to top off. Need to take more pics next time.

There were more powerboats than sail here this weekend
Looking towards the marina from across the harbor
Some nice homes along the shore
A short pan of the back of the harbor. May video skills need work!

Cruising with love

This past summer I had the pleasure of spending two weeks sharing the PNW cruising grounds with someone very special. It was a truly memorable experience for both of us. Despite it being about the wettest two weeks in September we made the most of our time in both the San Juan Islands and the Southern Gulf Islands. We sat out the rainy, windy days, at anchor reading, cooking, or playing cribbage. I should say, me getting tromped at cribbage but having fun all the same. We visited a few of my favorite places and some new ones where we found many places uncrowded. With it being past the start of most school sessions, and Fall on its way, the crowds were definitely thinned. Next year maybe we’ll get a bit further out to see some new territory; Desolation Sound or maybe Barkley Sound. Here are a few pictures.

Reid Harbor, Stuart Island
James Bay, Prevost Island
Ganges, Salt Spring Island

Round The County 2019

This is #5 for Kinetics. Not our best result. In fact, it might be the lowest overall result for us despite making almost no mistakes. The winds were very light both days and that’s not good for the Nordic 44. We pushed hard all day. On Sunday we made so many sail changes we lost count. We exchanged places with Sir Issac a few times and thought we might finally finish ahead but they slipped past on the final beat home to the finish into Lydia Shoal. Those with a longer history might have a different perspective but for me the winds have continued to be lighter every year with more and more shutdowns along the course. This plays well for the lighter boats that accelerate more quickly from a dead stop and carry feather light kites.

Still, when it’s not pouring down rain, the scenery is great. The stop over in Roche where we rent a nice house, cook great food, sit around the fireplace, and relax, also makes for great memories.

Photo by Jan’s Marine – janpix

Race Your House 2019

Another year, another RYH event with Sloop Tavern Yacht Club here in Seattle. We used this year’s race as a practice and warm up for the upcoming Round the County race in the San Juan Islands the following weekend. It was good we did. There is always that familiarization that that needs to take place after not being on the boat for a few months. Conditions were quite nice for November in the Northwest. The course took us across the Sound, and there the wind died, and at that mark and we made a tactical error. I should say, I did, which cost us time and let our competition get by us. The wind went from North to East in that rounding and having an A2 running kite up was not the best plan. We recovered and put the A2 up later in the leg more towards the East side before another upwind leg and final downwind leg to the finish. We managed to eek out a 2nd in class on rating. Fun day, and the competition in our class was good.

Thanks Gary
Thanks Dave

2019 Half gone…

I’m positive 7 months have never seemed to go so quickly before. However, looking back on the first half of 2019 a lot happened and the majority of it was very good. Kinetics and crew participated in some good racing and we enjoyed the company of some new crew, making new friends in the process. We had to skip a couple of favorite races when schedules proved difficult but quality is preferred over quantity. Here are a few pictures (not enough, sorry) from some of these adventures. More to come later in the year as we look forward to some cruising and of course Round the County in November.

Evening approach to weather mark from the rail
The beat out from the start
WVYC post race
Drifter we didn’t finish…but it was a nice run while it lasted
Crew enjoying the fine weather on the way to Pt. Robinson

RTC 2018 One to remember

Every year Round the County delivers one of the best racing experiences in the Pacific Northwest. The weather in November almost guarantees some challenging conditions. Combine that with the amazing geography of the San Juan Islands and you have all the ingredients for some great fun sorting out tactics and strategy. This year the weather was dominated by mild, light wind conditions so knowing when and where to stay out of the current was the key to doing well. It also generally favored the lighter boats that accelerate quickly in light, puffy conditions. On Kinetics we had some new and veteran crew ready to do our best with the mighty beast.

Jan’s Marine Photo from Saturday’s leg of the RTC 2018

We failed to stay out of the current enough on Saturday fearing a lack of wind under the lee of Lopez Island after a late start. That put us way down in our division 3 which was dominated by the J105’s that day. The wind was a bit too light to get the big Nordic 44 moving well. On the plus side, we finished and the weather was really nice with sailing in water with almost no chop or swell of any kind.

After an excellent start on Sunday, hitting line within seconds of the horn, we sailed out to Turn Point on Stuart Island where the entire fleet went about trying to find the best way around in an adverse current and light wind. Ultimately  it was decided to short tack around the point. Others went way outside in what looked like a visit to Canada. Amazingly, the cross border people did OK and for the boat Sir Issac, it was a brilliant move putting them way out front. That boat has a lot of sail area!

The next few hours of the day were spent struggling to stay out of wind holes that seemed to land on us from out of nowhere. A lot of boats went south after Waldron Island and others stayed out in the channel. There was current in the channel and without enough wind to keep us moving we fell behind. Soon it was looking bleak for us. We went from good to awful. But maybe not as bad as the ones that got 5 horns from the container ship!

However, never give up in a sailboat race as you never know what the winds have in store. As we approached the turn around the east end of Orcas Island the wind started to build and we were soon gybing downwind with the A2 at a decent pace. We picked off a few boats in the process. The big surprise was when we passed the Peapods and saw the majority of the fleet parked up short of the finish in zero wind! Kinetics was riding a wall of wind, at times 15 knots or more, right down to them. It was hard to believe. I had trouble figuring out what they were all doing as boats were trying to get to the finish line from the north and the south but almost no one was going right at the line. Time Bandit came up to us from astern and was soon really the only boat close. Time Bandit being a very successful team from many previous races was probably wondering why we were in their way!

We hooked up with them, letting them go below to lead the gybe in (although I grumbled a bit about the timing). The two of us rode the wind right up to about 100 feet short of the line where the wind died. Our momentum carried us across the line in front of what I suspect were some very surprised crews. Unbelievable finish. Lucky? I guess so but we worked hard to get to that spot that got us over the line and we had our own bad luck on the way there. Some days it goes your way.

Many thanks to my crew this year who persevered and helped make this RTC one of the most memorable. Thanks, Ann, Dave, Jeff, Jenn, Mike, Sara and Tim. Below are links to more photos.

A fun new addition to my post is Jeff’s YouTube 360 video with our start and finish. Use your mouse to view the action in any direction!

Dave’s photos:

My photos from Sunday: