Monday, May 28, 2012

SYSCO Spring Series, Race 4, May 24, 2012

This was a race where we had a great start, but no finish. Above is a picture of us leading the pack at anchor. We had a good start on starboard close hauled by the mark side of the start. The course was "W", S - 1 - 4 - 1 - F. We were with the leaders at the start, but in order to go to the channel and gain the current advantage we tacked to port, but realized that we might be able to make the mark on starboard. We had passed the mark going to the RC earlier. It was up close to Goose Island in front of Tomahawk Bay Marina. When everyone arrived at the location of the mark, the mark was absent. Everyone agreed to go to 2 for the new 1 mark. So off everyone went to 2. The closer we got to 2, the lighter the wind. The wind lightened so much we dropped anchor. Thus the above picture. Eventually Poncho came by with the "N" flag signifying abandonment of the race. That was it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Race 3, SYSCO Spring Series, May 17, 2012
The crew this week was Bill O. and Chuck H.

There was some excitement before the race. I hit a boat dead on just 3 inches from its stern. We were both at fault. I was being a typical racer and cutting a line just behind a boat crossing in front of me. I was on starboard tack and using every bit of my right-of-way. The other boat was motoring and had his main up on port tack. I was going to clear nicely if, he had maintained his speed. But he stopped right in front of me. Just then a gust came and we started to round up, which was just the wrong thing to do. Bonk. Aventura received a small scratch on the bow and the Catalina 22 received a dent on her stern. We came around to check on the Catalina. The captain was just as chagrined as I was for the encounter. Talking with him later, I asked him why he stopped right in front of me. He said he was picking up a hat he had lost and was looking down and not paying attention to where he was. (Sounds familair, last week with the traveller event.)

The start of the race was also exciting. The race course was S-2-RS-2-RS-F. The "RS" means to leave the "R" mark to starboard. We had not caught that subtlety until we say the leading boats round the mark to starboard in the race. We also remembered seeing La Dolce Vita round the mark before the race leaving it to starboard and did not think anything of it, then. As I was saying, we wanted to start the race on a starboard tack near the mark end of the start line. This end was near the channel and since the wind was coming out of the northwest, this would give us the most favored start. We lined up on the mark close hauled starboard tack. Then two boats lined upwind of us for the mark. Since I was leeward boat and I was just making the mark I did not give them room to make the mark. They had to go-around to start. I did not make any friends on that move, but we did get a good start. We rounded the first windward mark first in our fleet, again. But had edged the mark too close to the wind that we ended in irons, which took all our lead away trying to get back steerage and start downwind again. We got the whisker pole up in nice fashion on this leg. We watched the lead boats take the first downwind mark to starboard. That's when the light dawned on us that we should, too. As mentioned previously, we had not noticed the "S"s on the course board. We stayed in the channel and made the second upwind mark in good order, only to have problems with the whisker pool. Ojibwe and Estrella del Mar were getting ahead of us. We rounded the last downwind mark third and maintained that standing at the finish. One tactic I used this race was watch what Upstart did. She stayed up close to the Washington shore after round 2, the windward mark. This allowed her to use the slackened current to give her better speed downwind over the ground. We played that game, too and it did help us a bit. I am going to watch Bill S. more often. He has been racing on the river for 40 years.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Practice May 10, 2012

We actually went to Buoy 18. Just the netbook decided to go to sleep at the end of this track. Bill O., Bill S., and myself were sailing. We set just the head sail to begin with. This brought us to an over the water speed of 6 knots. About half way to 18, the wind died a little. It normally does the closer you get to the I-205 bridge. We raised the main while running with the wind until we could not raise it any more. We turned into the wind briefly and raised it the rest of the way.

After turning back to running with the wind, that's when it happenned. Bill O. and I were setting the traveller when the main did a jibe. The boom was on the port side jibing to the starboard side. Both our heads were down adjusting the traveller when it jibed. Since I was at the helm, I was not paying attention to my duties. It hit Bill O. on top of his head and he almost went overboard. He had enough sense to grab the stanchion and life line. He stopped dangling from that at about the level of the toe rail outside the lifelines. I went over to haul him back aboard. Initially I could not grab him securely enough. That's when I saw his life preserver with the safety harness shackles and grabbed that. I hauled him back aboard with much relief. We checked his head. There was not a bump or bruise. He did not even get wet. We were lucky and all realised it.

We rounded 18. We ran close hauled back tacking about 6 times. Nothing else happened out of the ordinary.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

SYSCO Spring Series, Thursdays, May 3, 2012
The race course was listed as S-1-4-1-3-F. The committee boat was set up south of buoy 14 as the finish. Poncho set a starting mark out south of the committee boat. The winds were up to 14 knots at the start of the race. We had a good start, crossing the start line about 10 seconds after the horn. Our plan was to stay in the channel and use its current to push us to the windward mark. The mark was placed up into North Channel upstream from the Tomahawk Island wing dam.

We did not round the windward mark first. Estralla del Mar did. Our first tack was too soon. We were doing great speed and then tacked to starboard. It shows in the track above that this was not the wisest move. We over estimated the current carry the first time. We had a full crew again. So Chuck was foredeck. He had problems with our whisker pool and it seemed to take forever to get it set. Bill O. even went up there to help. Chuck needs to spend some time with the pole and make friends with it. We will practice it this Thursday when there is no race. On the first downwind leg, we stayed closer to the Oregon side thinking the current would be less and we could get better speed than those boats that stayed in the channel. We were behind Estrella by about six boat lengths by the time we rounded the mark. The mark is the eastern most end of the track.

The second upwind leg we again stayed in the channel taking advantage of the deep water current. The wind was dying now. We still had the head sail furled to 100%. We rounded the mark still a bit behind Estrella but we had made up some in this leg. The first tack after the mark was too soon, from observation of the OpenCPN plot. We stayed in the channel again as long as we could. Then we tacked to the mark. The wind was dying even more as we rounded the mark. The second downwind leg was just a problematic as the first. Chuck really has to make friends with that whisker pole. We crossed the channel as best we could. At times the wind headed us and we could make upstream more. After crossing the channel, we were able to turn into a beam reach to the mark. Poncho was sitting at the mark with the course shortening flag and we were able to finish second. We were also the last boat to finish in our fleet as the wind continued to die. Two boats finished out of 5 that started.

Friday, April 27, 2012

SYSCO Spring Series, Thursdays, Fleet 6 (B)

The winds were 10 knots from the Southwest. We started on the fifth race. The course was 14-T-14-T-14. This allowed the race committee to shorten the race to 14-T-14. Our fleet is 8 boats:

  1. Trigger, skippered by Jerry Armstron, Ericson 23 Mk I
  2. KA-SL, Gary Whitney, Catalina 28
  3. Capella, Phil Johnson, Catalina 25
  4. Solla Sollew, Mary Hartel, Ericson Mk I
  5. Aventura, Ken Stephens, San Juan 28
  6. La Dolce Vita, Scott Stevenson, Hunter 30
  7. Estrella Del Mar, Michael Nance, Cal 2-29
  8. Aljibe, Jim Foster, US Yatch 27

We had an average start. We ran the mark before the race to figure out the timing, but when we set up for the race, I ended up missing a tack, coming about and had to do a 360 which made is a little later than we planned. But at least we did not go over early. We had planned to take the port tack down river by the mark, 14. We ended up too much out in the channel and had to turn to starboard tack to cross the start. We then tacked to port back down river and got out into the channel. We stayed on that tack until the mark was just forward of the beam and then tacked to starboard. This gave us the right of way to the mark. We made sure we did not tack early and have to do a couple of quick tacks. Some time running down stream we noticed the jib had wrinkles and went to trim the halyard. This is where we (I) screwed up. Instead of locking the main halyard and taking it off the winch on top of the cabin, we ran the jib halyard to the starboard jib winch. We tightened the halyard only to discover it overran itself and tied a knot. We were coming up to the windward mark at this time and chose to wait until we rounded the mark to free the halyard and winch since we did not really need the winch due to the point of sail we were going to take. We rounded the windward mark first. Then I gave the helm to Bill O. and started working with Chuck to free the jib halyard. We ran the line to the port cabin top winch and started with brut force to free the line. It worked, but Chuck pointed out that the port cabin winch was now loose on the cabin top. I noticed later that there were now spider cracks in the cabin. This looks like it might be a major repair. It flashed on me today that we could have locked the main halyard and taken it off the starboard cabin top winch and used that to trim the jib halyard. That's what is is laid out to do. duh. We decided not to set the whisker pole and just run with a broad reach. Meanwhile Estrella had set her pole and took off. You can see the general slowness in the first part of the downwind leg. Results are not up, yet. Will post when they are up.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Race Committee Duties for April 24, 2012
Aventura did race committee duties for the Tuesday races. Collecting enough people to do the work was almost easier than getting a crew for racing. Mike N., Jerry A., Bill S., Warren D., Scott S. and Bill O. all volunteered. We had one crew member who volunteered but did not make it in time to get on the boat, Chuck H. The above is the track for the evening. I have been trying to get a track for over a year using my netbook and OpenCPN. I finally got one. I shall be adding them to these posts for this season.

We were told to go to the North River Mark, "N". We made it on station a little after 6:00 PM. We tried to raise Poncho, but were not able to. We spotted them trying to place the Upper River Mark, "U". It would not set because of the high water and current. They did set X and A marks. They then requestd us to move to 14 because the wind was light and shifting between south and east. That is the loop track above. We no sooner got to 14 than Poncho told us to go back to N. We anchored 100 yards off the Washington shore at 45 degrees 36 minutes N and 122 degrees 36 minutes W. The starting mark was placed 400 feet WSW of us.

Rich J. runs the races. He organized the flag operators, the spotters, and the recorders. We had two people on the bow as the mark was up river from us spotting the starts and signalling any boats that started early. Rich ran "Auto" which keeps the timing for the races and flags. It's an ordered chaos running the races. Two people run the flags up and down. They alternate the fleet flags with the preporatory flag. Two are recorders. One spots the boats the other writes the times down.

Rich ended up shortening all fleets except the A fleet races. As with the fickleness of the winds early in the evening did not give us much time for the race. We did not start the first race until 7:20 PM, which gave us only one hour before sundown. Originally the racers were sent for two laps either around X or A and back around N. This allowed us to shorten the race at N or just one lap.

Neat experience doing the Race Committee. I look forward to doing it again. Next time I will engage the engine when Jerry is pulling up the anchor.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Practice 4/12/2012 This is just a post on practicing. We, Bill O. and I broke in a new crew, Bill S., member this Thursday. The weather was great for practicing, calm to 8 knots. We got underway about 5:45 and sailed to 6:45. This was enough time to give Bill S. a flavor of tacking the boat. Bill O. took to running the cockpit while I, at the helm, tried to stay off the sheets. I even succeeded once or twice. Nice sail up to 14 and back. There were only a few other boats out as it was threatening to rain. We spotted a rain cloud heading toward us about 20 to 7 so we headed in. It started sprinkling on us when we got back to the slip. We tentatively scheduled training on the 19th, but we were rained out. Just did not want to go out there and get wet unless it is an actual race day.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Frostbite Regatta, Spring 2012

I asked a few fellows to crew on this race, but only Bill Ormond showed up. We had not actually sailed two handed in a very long time. So this cruise was a learning experience for the both of us.

We left the dock at 1100 hours the first warning was suppose to be at 1200 hours. This was suppose to give us time to practice tacking. It did. Tacking was miserable, but by the end of the day, we were doing better. With a crew of three, I have the luxury of being only concerned with the helm. But with two, I am needed to free the windward sheet and trail the leeward sheet when Bill gets ready for it. Meanwhile I also have to maintain course. This was sort of like juggling and riding a unicycle at the same time. This is a learned experience.

The races were C-A-B-C because of the east wind. At about 8 knots the wind was great. Aventura was a delight in these winds. My first inclination was to short tack up the shallow Oregon side of the river. I discussed this with Bill who seemed willing. We started late being way out of position when our pennant came up. I had not started up-river since last year and did not have a good idea of how long it would take to get to the start line. We tried to start on a starboard tack close to the committee boat, but ended up at the mark and tacked back to port to get over the starting line. The current was doing about 2 knots. The two races we ran seemed very similar and I don't remember which one "Serenity Now" made us come about to avoid contact. We were on starboard. They were on port, but they did not tack until very late. We were just unsure whether they would or not and Bill gave me the warning to tack. Either race, this would not have made any difference on the out comes.

After short tacking for a while on the first race, we both decided to just do the long tacks. We both had not been on the boat in a long time and each coming about was a learning experience. We discovered that the mounting ring for the whiskey/spinnaker poles should not be at Bill's belly button level, because this is where the head sail's sheets cross the mast. The knots at the end of the sheets would catch on this ring and make tacking even more of a maneauver that lost ground.

The first windward mark making we underestimated the current again and had to do two extra tacks to make it around the mark. We missed it by 1/2 a boat length. The second time we gave ourselves much more space to make the mark and did not have to do the last giggle to make the mark.

The second time at the mark one boat tried to call mark room, but she was not overlapped and ended up falling off and trying to go to windward of us. I yelled back to her that she was not overlapped at the 3 boat length zone and thus was not entitled to mark room. Sometimes it pays to know the rules.

Both races we set the whisker pole to the port. They were fast runs due to the current and wind. We rounded the leeward mark just fine and came to a port tack to get back to the finish. Fishing boats are great obstructions. We tacked around a few and had to come up to the finish mark on port tack. On the first race we were not going to make the mark on the final port tack but were very close. I headed up and heard the call or "Over". Never did completely go over the finish line. We fell back and continued on our port tack.

The second race finish was with some other boats. We did have to dodge some anchored fishing boats. There were two other boats finishing with us on starboard tacks. Just at the end to add to the finish, I headed up to cross the line a little earlier than I would have staying on the lay line.

The only regret with this race is sometime during the race my Burgee halyard gave way and I lost my SYSCO burgee and the pulley that was secured to the spreader. Neither of us had seen it go overboard. We would not have gone after it anyway. That's the way with old boats. There is always something.