Sunday, April 02, 2006

We went in a 40 nautical mile race yesterday. It was quite the experience. We had a poor start, the winds were really light and Cat's-Paw does not respond really well in light air so at the start I was dead on the line at the right time, but the wind died and could not make the bouy but had to tack to get across the line. The wind picked up and we started passing people like gang busters, mostly smaller boats whom we should have been ahead of, then we went around as island and ran into the dreaded tide.
My goodness, I have never experience anything like that. For at least three hours we tried to get out of the tidal push. All the other boats were in it as well and you could see people sailing along, sails trimmed beautifully in about a 5 knot wind and they were going backwards. It was very frustrating. We were carried 2 nm across Haro Strait towards the tip of an island, twice we tacked to get away from some rocks. There was a bouy marking the rocks and it became our nemisis, we HAD to get past it, finally at dusk we left it in our wake. While we were caught in the tide we saw one boat that was turned 180 degrees and shoot out of that tidal rip backwards. We actually did 3, count them 3. 360's in one spot, man talk about feeling powerless.
This is one of our fellow racers caught in the tide. He is sailing at about 5 knots but with no forward progress.
While we were being tossed around we saw some sea lions,they are huge sleek creatures and I am sure they were fishing in the tidal front. They make the most unique grunting sounds when they are vocalizing. After dark we were sailing along, under a new moon, with clouds partially obscuring it, and stars peaking out here and there, our navigation lights gave a weird greenish glow to the bottom part of our jib and you here these noises. Thank heavens I had seen and heard the sea lions in the light because I would have been wondering in the dark. A little further along all of a sudden I heard this explosive release of air ppuuuffff, and then again, dahl porpoises were riding our bow wave. I went up to have a look and along the edge of the boat in the water I saw luminescense. The whole night was a gorgeous experience.
We finished the race about 1:30 A.M. We didn't finish last, which was what I was worried about, we may have in the handicap system, but I don't know that yet!!!! The guy at the weather briefing on Friday night was predicting 30 knots, and I am sure if they had materialised our boat would have done better. We had to do some sailing straight downwind and I was at the helm and I know we lost some ground. It was dark, our windex (that I just put up at peril to life and limb) got stuck so we had to guess wind direction from our flag, and we haven't down that much downwind sailing. I think we will have to go out and practise, a ancidental gybe didn't help either, that was more than a little disconcerting in the dark.
All in all I am really glad we went in the race, the night sailing was fantastic and it was nice to get to meet some of the racers. P.S. If you are interested in the race results, in the kind of boats that participated and their handicaps and how they did you could visit our yacht club's web site at We were in the Patos Island Race. The guy said the results should be up sometime today, April 2, 2006.
Notice this guy's fancy, smancy sails, kevlar, I believe, he went really fast.