CYCE 22-Apr-2018 Crew 3.jpg

Trip Report    

Sail - Esther, Port of Edmonds Marina

An exciting day of racing, with four starts, three races, and only one DNF.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Racing started at 11 AM.  Winds were light from the North, and after the start we struggled upwind against them, and large ebbing current.  More on that in the Trip Report below.  Anyway, the wind was shifty after the first mark, and actually came more from the West out of Admiralty Inlet on the Starboard tack.  And as we made the second leg of the race, it dropped,
    and dropped,
    and dropped,
    and dropped, until there was virtually nothing to work with.  A hail from the Race Committee and we withdrew from the race with a DNF and motored back.  We then got ready for the next race, but light wind frustrated everyone, with no consistent direction.  But eventually the warm afternoon sun brought a Northerly/Northwesterly wind that built to a solid breeze, allowing two more races, of two laps each around the course, though too strong and from the wrong angles for spinnaker work.  After the racing the wind continued to build and made for a bouncy trip back to the marina and when lowering sails.  But, all in all, the brisk wind did come and make the racing fun.



The racing today was part of the CYC Edmonds' Frostbite Series, though there was little if any frostbite to be had.  This race day, the fourth in the series, was a "Buoy Race" day, which meant multiple races over a shorter course, rather than more dedicated upwind-downwind distance courses.  Of course, light wind can make any course long, and indeed, boring.  The crew today was Scott, John, and Robert, with your skipper and humble scribe, Carl.  After we gathered and had a safety orientation we rigged Esther for spinnaker flying and headed out to the Field of Honor, North of the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry and the Edmond's Underwater Park.  A triangular course was set for the day, with one mark about a mile or so, and more or less windward, of the start, a second mark out to the West, and the Start-Finish to the South.  There were five boats out including us. Now, the Ether crew is fairly new at this, and she's not exactly a modern racing machine, so I like to quote a local sailor who did the R2AK, Race to Alaska, "We're ever only going to be racing against ourselves."  We will keep trying to race better than our last race.  We were up against two Thunderbirds (T-birds), an Erickson 25 who was single handing, and a 36 footer, one of the "Second Start" boats, though today they only ran one start per race today. 

The first race was one lap around the course, from start to the North windward, then to the Westward "downwind" mark, to the finish.  Now, I put the "downwind" in quotes because in the beautiful and geologically fascinating Puget Sound, geography can greatly affect the wind direction.  And today was no exception, as we will learn, Grasshoppers.  The wind started light flukey, and the skipper was rusty getting his strategery in place for the start.  We ended up on port tack (why oh why do I always seem to do that???!), so we basically let the fleet head off on Starboard and lost about three minutes trying to cross the start.  We eventually got going, and actually were doing kind of OK, close hauled on port tack toward the mark, but then found the wind lightening as we got closer to shore, the shore getting shallower as we got closer to shore (naturally), the ebbing current slowing us, and stealing more water from beneath our keel.  So we tacked, into the predominant waves from the West, which erased any head start we had by port tacking across the start three minutes after everyone else, who, though on starboard, was now in deeper water and clearer air.  But we kept on, ready to learn new lessons.  Getting to the windward mark, which had mostly been a close haul from the start, we watched the two T-birds ahead getting their chutes up.  Or, more to the point, attempting to get them up.  The lead T-bird did get theirs hoisted, but couldn't seem to fill it, and the second T-bird, well, they "went shrimping" with their chute, dragging it in the water a time or two before hoisting.  We didn't have to time to see what happened exactly, but we would learn that shortly after they both doused their wayward chutes and kept on under jennys alone.  And as we would learn, for good reason, not poor seamanship.  But too busy to observe, we headed for the windward mark, and tacked, excited to pop our chute and try to catch up to the quarry ahead.  Alas, the skipper misjudged the mark rounding, AAAANNNNDDDD, we touched it, breaking the Racing Rules of Sailing number 52.1, or is it 31? We are sailors of honorable intention, so proceeded to do our 720 penalty turns.   Upon more careful review of the race rules and instructions  (always helpful to read ahead of time), in the warm confines of home, I learned we really only needed to do a 360 penalty.  Oh well, live and learn.  We then reset to hoist, after having to drop the pole and make a mess on foredeck.  "Hoist away, lads!" the skipper bellowed, and hoist we did.  But, here is the lesson learned a little late: if the hot boats ahead of you can't get their spinnakers up, and not just one but TWO of them set the example for you, you might watch and try to figure out WHY.  And the WHY in this case was the geography again playing tricks on you.  Though we tacked and technically barred away, the wind from Admiralty Inlet put us on another close haul to the "downwind" mark, which was really just another close reach mark now.  After futzing with the spinnaker and not able to sail close hauled with it (imagine that!) we dropped it and furled out the headsail again on a close haul.  We made for the Westerly mark and tried to ready the spinnaker for what would surely be a downwind run from the next mark.  Alas, the other boats were finished, the wind was dying, and the Committee Boat (CB) hailed us and asked if we'd accept a DNF to get the next race started.  We did the honorable thing, took our lumps with our coffee, and motored back to the start area. The  CB started a new sequence, and the wind died, and died, and died.  All the boats were bouncing around, more caught be waves and current than buy and wind.  Windexes spun at the top of masts, sails flogged and backed, waves pushed bows against their skipper's wishes.  When the "go" horn blew, we all just bounced around, struggling to get to the mark.  The big 36 had been on a good course, almost, but then was swept back across and past the "pin" end, so slowly slide away to the West, hardly under rudder control it seemed.  Minutes ticked by, frustration grew, boats slipped away to the West from the starting area.  But after what might have been 10 or 15 minutes after the start, the class Sunday afternoon thermal wind from the North started to fill in, and who was ready and waiting for it?  US!  We grabbed on like a drowning swimmer to a Newfoundland dog and let it haul us across the start!  And everyone else was bobbing, waiting for the fill to hit them!  Ha!  We even shouted to the CB and they replied with what sounded like "this is your start Esther!"  But a few minutes later we heard a series of short toots and it seemed there had been a recall or restart. Dang, we'd been denied.  Oh well, back to the start, get in sequence, get tangled up on port tack again, let almost everyone get ahead, and fall in behind.  But at least it was fast, so fast they had us do two laps, from start to windward to "other windward" to finish, with a lather-rinse-repeat.  We may have been at the back, but at least we could see the other boats and nip at their heels.  Race 2, solid Fifth (or maybe Fourth if the big 36 is not in our class?  We'll have to wait till they post the results).  After that, one more race, this time one lap from windward to "other windward" to finish, then back to the windward and straight to the finish.  Though this time one of the T-birds and the Erickson 25 did not join us.  Found out later the T-bird had a crew who needed to get home, and not sure what happened with the Erickson.  Might have had some sail issues, as he was single handing.  But we were off with a solid third in the start and poured it on.  Alas, this course wouldn't require the spinnaker either, but then again, it was getting to be 15 knots or so probably.  We made a good show of it, having to get all the rail meet on one side just to keep her flat. Even put a little furl in the headsail and dropped the traveler.  A short dash around and a solid third (or maybe second? One can hope.)  After three hours or so of racing we headed back to the barn to put Esther to bed and review the day.  A good time was had by all, and we all learned some good things to help us race against ourselves next time.  Thanks specifically to Scott and Robert for solid foredeck work with the spinnaker, and to John for excellent countdown timing.  Everyone did well with trimming, tactics, and morale. It was fun to work as a team, and once the wind filled in, the sailing was brisk and refreshing.  A great day on the water, yet again.  I, for one, really look forward to the next time.

A scurvy crew indeed: Scott, Robert, Carl, and John.

Esther crew.


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Carl Harrington
Carl Harrington says:
Apr 27, 2018 08:06 AM

And as a follow-up, our final scoring was: Race 1: DNF, Race 2: Second, and Race 3: First! That puts us in Second for the day's series, and holding Second in the overall Frostbite Series. Great job, crew!