Friday, September 14, 2018

SEPTEMBER 11, 2018; WORTH WAITING FOR


SEPTEMBER 11, 2018

WORTH WAITING FOR

 My first glimpse of the flag on the Crows Nest was sobering.  The flag hung limp with no hint of wind.  We got the boat ready and left the harbor with an easterly wind seeming to build out on the water and about a dozen boats out for the fun.  We called for course B4 and set the line, gave a 5 minute horn and set up for the start.
 
All boats converged on Blacks and rounded without incident and set up for the long slow sail to Gov.  It is difficult to keep boats moving downwind in 5-6 knot winds. Almost all boats stayed on the inside sailing straight for Gov.  On Pair A Dice, I thought I saw more wind outside and took the chance sailing away from the fleet trying to get to the elusive wind outside.  It seemed that as I approached the wind line, it was receding away from me.  As I watched from a distance, it appeared everyone was struggling in the light breeze and radioed the idea to shorten course and finish at Gov.  Many boats agreed and headed to the harbor after rounding Gov.  At Gov, Avatar was the first around (54:04), Pacific Spirit (54:49), Kicks (55:48), Nidaros (1:00:38). All times are elapsed.

It must have been 10 minutes after all of the boats had rounded before Pair A Dice rounded Gov. It was hard to tell since my Race QS track froze.  As we rounded Gov, I noticed a substantial current flowing to the west along shore with the kelp streaming westward.  All of the boats that stayed close to shore enjoyed this current, making my “flyer” searching for wind outside doubly wrong: less wind and less favorable current.

As we rounded Gov, it was great to be back hard on the wind which was building as the sun dipped over the horizon.  As it turned out there were about 5 boats that had not had enough sailing and wanted to continue to finish the whole course.  In the last bits of twilight, we were able to finish and collect our Mark.  The delightful sail back to start mark in the building Easterly was worth all of the light wind sailing we had endured. Some things are worth waiting for! At the Start mark It was Avatar first, Kicks, Nidaris and Sailing Pair A Dice.

TAKING A FLYER:

It is usually not wise to take a flyer.  Pair A Dice’s performance on this night exemplified this. The wind did not materialize like I thought it would and we did not fare well. Taking a Flyer can work well or fail miserably.  It is always a gamble, sometimes you just have to roll the dice!

COORDINATING CREW:

Some of us are having difficulty getting crew for our Tuesday night sails.  If we can all turn on our radios to 69 when we get to the boats in the harbor, boats that need crew can communicate their needs. It is always fun and educating to sail on other boats.

I am looking forward to next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice

Thursday, September 6, 2018

SEPTEMBER 4, 2018: SKUNKED!


SEPTEMBER 4, 2018

SKUNKED!

My first sight of the harbor looked rather ominous.  The flag on the Crows Nest was showing a strong wind and the marine layer hanging over the water looked less than inviting.  We sorted out crew issues and exited the harbor with close to a dozen boats out already. With the wind blowing from 250 degrees (when we checked it), we set a buoy for the other end of the line and called for course W3.  We gave a 5-minute horn for a 6pm start and set up for our start.

On Pair a Dice we wanted to start on starboard tack start a little up the line from the pin end in pretty clear air.  Right after the start, as soon as we had clear air, we tacked over for the inside.  Many of the boats thought there was more wind outside and sailed outside and got stuck in very little wind.  On our inside tack, we noticed many headers and lifts and played them as well as we could.  Many of the boats sailed outside while we kept sailing further inside.  Finally we tacked over just below the lay line for wharf mark. As we approached the mark, the wind got very light and variable with headers and lifts making it difficult to round the mark.  Zoof (Islander 36) with PauL Tara was the first to make it around the mark with Pair A Dice hot on their heels.  Avatar rounded Wharf after us and was trying to close the gap with us.

As we got about halfway to Blacks, the wind started dying and one by one boats started retiring.  Usually wind will develop to get us out of this predicament, but with the heavy marine layer it did not happen tonight!  Finally we could see the hopelessness of completing the course and retired along with the other boats.  We got skunked with no wind!

WHERE IS THE WIND?

Right at the start, someone on Pair A Dice said there was more wind inside.  It sure looked that way from the appearance of the water.  The prediction was that there would be more westerly current inside.  We did not properly anticipate the shiftiness of the wind.  We were getting 20-30 degree shifts inside, but continued on inside as far as we could.  Gauging by the angle the outside boats were sailing versus our angle inside, we were generally getting lifted  in comparison.

  Why was there more wind inside?  We all know that fog and marine layers have more wind at the edges.  As it turns out on this night, the marine layer ended just offshore and was creating the wind that we enjoyed.

PLAYING HEADERS AND LIFTS:

We certainly had our share of headers and lifts on this night.  If the wind is oscillating back and forth and you are getting ready for a tack, wait for the next header.  Sail into it a little, then tack. A header on one tack is a lift on the other tack.  If you are even lifted 5 degrees, you can create a tremendous lead over someone that sails on in the header.
 
By observing  other boats courses and how it relates to YOUR course, you can tell who is getting headed and who is getting lifted.  If your angles are at right angles to each other, you are equal.  Watch for angles that are not right angles to each other to see who is being lifted and who is being headed.

Hopefully, next Tuesday will have enough wind to finish the course.

Barry Keeler

Sailing Pair A Dice

Thursday, August 30, 2018

AUGUST 28, 2018: STEADY BREEZE


August 28, 2018

STEADY BREEZE

Checking Predict Wind in the morning, I was not encouraged since it predicted very light winds from about 7pm into the evening.  When I got to the harbor just after 5, the northwesterly was still blowing steadily.  We left the harbor and there were over 12 boats out, we set the line and called for course W3.  We gave a 5 minute horn for a 6pm start in the steady 10 knot breeze.

On Pair A Dice, we set up for a starboard tack start, anywhere on the line that would give us free air.  We accomplished this, but had about 5 boats following us a little to windward.  We slowly pinched up and eventually forced all boats to tack over.  We all know that it is best to tack over to port tack earlier, but on this night the waves were not impeding our progress and since the wind was a little more south (220 degrees) than normal, we did not think the boats inside would get as much lift as usual. 

We finally tacked over toward Wharf mark and found we were a little above the layline for the mark.  At the wharf mark rounding it was Avatar, followed by Patricia J, Perfect 36 with Pair a Dice right on 36’s stern.  On the long run to Blacks, Pair A Dice pulled to windward of Perfect 36 and closed a little of the gap that Avatar and Patricia J had created ahead of us.
 
At the finish, Avatar was first with Patricia J following.  Perfect 36 (49:05), Pair A Dice (50:10), Kicks (52:50), Aeolian (55:18) and Pacific Spirit (56:21).  All times are elapsed and the course was 3.23 miles.  For some reason the track for Avatar and Patricia J stopped so I could not record the time.  It should also be noted that Pacific Spirit went out of their way to help a Hobie sailor that had capsized. I need to emphasize that you must have Race QS operating to be counted.  If phone batteries run low, you can get an adapter to keep your phone charged through your cigarette lighter plug.

IMPEDING A FOLLOWING BOAT:

There is a trick that all match racers and team racers know.  When a boat is following close behind, either to windward or leeward with the possibility of passing you, you can pretty much stop them by travelling up on the main.  While this will slow your boat down a little, the disturbed wind you give the other boat will slow them dramatically and they will have to tack rather than pass you.

ASSISTING OTHER BOATERS:

Kudos to Pacific Spirit for helping the Hobie that had flipped.  In my many years of Hobie catting I have been flipped many time.  Righting a Hobie 16 single handed is not difficult with enough wind.  This Hobie was an 18, which is a little larger making it very difficult to right especially with wind lightening.  Thanks to Pacific Spirit for helping him out.

ASSISTING A PERSON IN THE WATER:

We had a person fall into the water while docking their boat on Q dock.  This presents a problem.  What is the best way to get a person out of the water and onto a dock or an inflatable?   We were fortunate to have Mike Gross show us the way.  I had always heard that you should have the person cross their arms or the rescuer cross their arms so that with the “swimmer” facing the dock, as you pull them out, their body rotates and they end up sitting on the dock.  This may work for a child in the water, but when you consider that any adult is going to weigh in excess of 200 pound when drenched, most of us would not be able to pull them onto the dock.  The proper technique is to give the person in the water something to hold onto with their hands to keep their head above water and to assist in lifting their weight, then reach down and grab them by the belt or knee to get the rest of their body on deck.  Once you get them high enough, you can roll them onto the dock.

Looking forward to next Tuesday!

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice

Friday, August 24, 2018

AUGUST 21, 2018 COLD AUGUST NIGHT


August 21, 2018

COLD AUGUST NIGHT

I was at the harbor all day working on my boat and as the afternoon progressed, the wind seemed to be increasing.  I was really thinking that we would have to change the jib from 155 to 135 with this much wind.  As 5pm arrived, the wind seemed to dissipate and we opted to stay with the 155.  As we left the harbor, there seemed to be 10-12 knot winds steadily from the Northwest.   There were already 6-7 boats out and 3 other boats following us.  We set the mark relatively square to the wind, called course W2 and gave a 5 minute horn.

After calling such a long, ambitious course, my heart sank as the 5 minute countdown started and the wind seemed to dissipate from 10 knots down to 7.5 knots.  Pair a Dice set up for a starboard tack start at the red buoy end of the line and was a little late for the start.  One by one, each boat found they were not making much headway against the waves which were right on our bow.  With these waves we just weren’t able to build up speed.  We all tacked over to take the waves on the beam rather than the bow.  Avatar, Patricia J and Pacific Spirit were the first around Wharf, then off to Mile.  On the way to Mile Pair A Dice closed much of the gap between Pacific Spirit and Patricia J.  Pair A Dice camped right on the stern corner of Pacific Spirit on the way to Gov and the run to the finish mark.
 
At the finish, it was Avatar (55:20), Patricia J (56:25), Pacific Spirit (57:42, Pair A Dice (58:00), Perfect 36 (59:44), Kicks (1:01:29), Aeolian (1:02:20) and Rosie (1:04:11). All times are elapsed and course length was 3.93 miles.

ROUNDING MARKS:

In the last several weeks, some of us have had trouble rounding some marks.  The problems can involve such issues as claiming inside overlap, taking advantage of it, getting headed at the last moment and not being able to round the mark.  We have all been in these predicaments.  Getting into a predicament is one thing, knowing how to efficiently get out of it is another thing completely. 
Always keep in mind that you MUST be on your layline to the mark.  If you must pinch to make the mark, this will be compounded by other boats rounding ahead of you.  There may be headers and even currents working against your efforts to round the mark.  If in claiming inside overlap, you must pinch to make the mark, keep in mind if your jib gets back-winded, it will not only slow you even more but may make it impossible to control your boat.  Once your boat goes through the eye of the wind and your jib is back-winded, you no longer have inside overlap rights and must yield to other boats.  In order to avoid losing control when sailing in close quarters in situations like this, your crew must loosen the jib the moment you pass through the eye of the wind to prevent sideways movement.

What about that nasty header that stops you dead in your tracks with the mark right on your bow?  This is very frustrating and we have all been there!  The problem often is caused by trying to estimate the layline from too far away and hoping, praying and willing a lift to get you around the mark. The collective willing of everyone on the boat will not allow you to sail directly into the wind!  To compound this issue, there are often boats close at hand to prevent you from doing what you want to do: tack, jibe or anything to get out of your predicament.  In these situations, quick, decisive action can frequently help your situation.  It is no time for analysis paralysis.

One thing that I like to do is always tack over on the lay-line just outside the 3 boat length zone.  This allows a close approximation of the lay-line.   Keep in mind if you enter the zone and must tack within the zone, you must yield to other boats (you have given up your rights claimed by being the first in the zone with inside overlap).  In these situations, Starboard versus tack rules prevail for right of way.  Tacking outside of the 3 boat zone prevents this predicament.

OTHER REGATTAS:
The first of the fall score series is this Sunday.  These are always fun regattas with several days to compete and improve your sailing and racing skills even more.

NEXT TUESDAY IS THE LAST TUESDAY OF THE MONTH AND BARBECUE AT SCYC.  ALWAYS A FUN EVENT.  PLEASE BRING YOUR FAVORITE GRILLING FOOD.  THE BAR WILL BE OPEN!

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice  

Thursday, August 16, 2018

AUGUST 14, 2018: TORTURED BY LIGHT WIND


August 14, 2108

TORTURED BY LIGHT WIND

As usual I checked Predict wind in the morning and the forecast was for light northwesterly winds in the evening.  I was surprised to see the Crow’s Nest flag showing an Easterly when I came to the harbor.  It was not until we were leaving the harbor that the northwest wind was apparent on the outside.  We set the red mark on the outside of the start mark to keep everyone in the northwest wind.  We called for W5: Start, Wharf, Start and gave a 5minute horn.

In the 5 minute countdown, I was horrified to see the northwest wind die as all of the boats did their best to cross the line with light wind and waves on the bow.  On Pair A Dice, I doggedly thought the Northwest wind was the place to be until well into the race.   Finally, it dawned on us that the boats that were doing well were sailing inside using the building Easterly.  We inched the boat around and used the waves to the best of our ability to get inside where the wind was.  Finally we got to the wind and sailed up toward Wharf.  It seemed too good to be true.  We went from last to first place in one slick move, but the race was not over BY A LONG SHOT!  Just as we approached wharf mark, the wind died and all of the other boats rounded ahead of us.  Ah the vagaries of fickle, inconsistent wind!

All of the boats that rounded ahead of us made a rhumb line run straight back to Start mark.  We thought there was more wind outside and sailed deeper into the wind before tacking over toward the start mark.  We passed several boats on our way, but at the finish it was KICKS! (1:40:46), Pacific Spirit (1:44:55), Avatar (1:45:25) Pair A Dice (1:46;22) and Rosie (1:49:45).  All times were elapsed and  the length of the course was 2.68 miles.  Congratulations to KICKS for another excellent night of sailing!
VIEW FROM THE WINNER KICKS! THANKS DAN  FOR THE PIC!

It was a night that we were tortured by light winds, but it was a beautiful night on the water.  Would you rather be bobbing on the water or sitting at home watching TV?

USING SAILS TO STEER THE BOAT:

This night was a real test of seamanship with the light variable winds.  Often we did not have enough movement to steer the boat, so we had to use the sails to steer the boat.  Think of the mast as a fulcrum.  On one side you have the main sail and the other side of the fulcrum you have the Jib.
 With light wind blowing from the port side of the boat, if you want to turn the boat to starboard, tighten up the jib and release the main and the boat will turn that way.  If you want to turn the boat to port, tighten the mainsheet and loosen the jib.  I have a 155 jib on my boat so in light winds if I needed to turn to port (in this situation), I need to furl the headsail at least partially to accomplish this.  
LEARNING IN ADVERSE CONDITIONS:

Imagine that every time you go sailing, there was perfect 10-15 knot breeze from a consistent direction with no shifts in wind. It sounds like sailing heaven!  If conditions were always perfect, what would you learn?  Probably not much!  Kudos to all of the boats that stuck it out to the end.  These challenging nights are the most educational and will invariably improve your sailing skills.

See you next Tuesday.

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A DIce

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

AUGUST 7, 2018: SHOW UP AND PAY ATTENTION


August 7, 2018

SHOW UP AND PAY ATTENTION

The prediction for the evening from Predict Wind was that the wind would decrease through the evening.   It seems Predict Wind does not know about the Santa Cruz Eddie that generates our Easterly breezes.  When I got to the harbor, the wind was from the East; but would it hold?  As we left the harbor, there were almost a dozen boats out with more following us out.  It seemed that the wind was from the East with more wind outside so I called for Bravo 3: Start, Blacks, Mile, finish.  We set a line that was square with the wind to the start mark.

On Pair A Dice, we decided to start at the Start mark for an easy rounding of Blacks.  With the light breeze that was blowing, making this decision early and sticking with it seemed to be the thing to do.  We had a fairly good start right at the pin right behind Perfect 36.  We did not notice all of the boats spread out along the start line with some starting right at the red buoy end of the line.  As all 16 boats marched toward Blacks, we could see that some boats had quite a lead on us rounding the mark.

We all rounded Blacks and started reaching toward Mile.  We were all taking the swell on the nose which slowed all of us down.  Sailing through light and heavier areas of wind seemed to compress the fleet as we approached mile. Once we all rounded Mile it was another reach back to the start mark, this time with all boats trying to surf the meager swell to our advantage.
NICE SHOT OF PAD AND PERFECT 36 (THANK YOU TODD)




At the finish, Patricia J (32:40), Nidaros II (35:55), Pacific Spirit (36:31), Kicks (36:45), Pair a Dice (37:53), Perfect 36 (37:56), Avatar (39:15) and Aeolian (39:42).  The distance of the course was 2.72 miles.
THE TUESDAY NIGHT CREW AT THE CROWS NEST

PAYING ATTENTION TO CONDITIONS:

It did not occur to me till after the race, that boats that payed attention to changing conditions garnered a significant advantage. After the 5 minute horn was blown, the wind actually shifted 30 degrees giving the red ball end of the line a significant advantage.  When you are astute enough to recognize changes in conditions that you can take advantage of, by all means take it!

To determine which end of the line is the favored end, turn your boat head to wind on the line.  At this point, the end of the line your boat is pointing toward is the favored end.  The degree that your boat is pointed away from square to the line in this test indicates how much advantage you will have at the end of the line your boat is pointing.  With a 30 degree shift from square to the line, and a lengthy line, starting at the favored end is like starting with a huge, yet fair head start.

WAVES:

Tonight was a big lesson also on how to take waves on both the bow (on the way to Mile) and on the stern (on the way to start/finish).  Waves on the bow can be fresh, wind chop waves which can stop the boat repeatedly or gentle ocean swells like tonight.  I find that it is best to experiment with different tactics to see which works best in current conditions.  Whether taking the swells straight on the bow or cracking off to taking them at a slight angle are options.  Also, you should never come off the top of a wave and crash straight down the back of a wave.  I find hitting the trough off the back of the wave can also slow your boat down.  It is best to come off the top and take the back of the wave at an angle to prevent slamming into the trough.  Find what works best for your boat and follow that tactic. 

With waves on the stern, every boat has different polars.  This means every boat has a different optimal wind angle when sailing down wind.  If you can find the right angle of wind to catch more waves, it can yield a significant advantage.

When thinking of waves, keep in mind how many you are dealing with.  I am sure that in the distance between Blacks and Mile there were probably over 1000 waves we all went through.  Learning how to lessen their impedance or accentuating their assistance, depending on direction traveled can yield huge advantages.  When you mix the different wave types and different wind speeds and angles, the combined variability is as diverse as different snowflakes.  No two days or conditions are ever the same!

BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTER:

My favorite regatta of the whole year is coming up this Sunday August 12.  This is a very fun event that benefits this worthwhile cause.  It is a reverse PHRF start, meaning the slow boats start first.  Every boat has their own start so there is no crowded line to deal with.  After the short race, there is a party with trophies, meal and a band playing.  The band is Island Breeze and they are AWESOME.  There is also a silent auction and raffle ticket prizes awarded.  It is not too late to sign up for this fun event.

If I don’t see you at the regatta, I will see you next Tuesday!

Barry L Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice

Thursday, August 2, 2018

JULY 31, 2018; THE BEGINNING OF THE END?


JULY 31, 2018

THE BEGINNING OF THE END?

Predict wind was indicating the wind was going to die as the evening progressed.  There was a fine Easterly breeze blowing as we left the harbor. As usual for a barbecue night, we had close to 20 boats out for the fun.   We quickly set the mark for the line and called course B4.  Thanks to Doug on Avatar for pointing out that there was a Coastguard cutter hanging on Gov.  We took his suggestion and called the course as B4 but substituting Wharf for Gov.  We blew the 5 minute horn and set up for the start.

On Pair A Dice, we decided to try to start at the start buoy on starboard.  A risky move considering that it would be a popular start.  As was expected, many boats had the same idea and we got off to a bad start in second row with several boats in front feeding us bad air.  As the season progresses it is amazing, as everyone’s abilities improve, how all boats seem to merge at marks at the same time.  This night was a good example as we had 4 boats rounding Blacks at the same time.  It seems everyone was screaming “ROOM AT THE MARK!”.

After rounding Blacks, we had a long slog to Wharf mark. Would the wind hold or die on us?  I observed all of the SC27s sail way inside with their Spinnakers and wondered how they would fair at the Wharf rounding.  It did not take long as, once again, we all seemed to be rounding Wharf at the same time with many calls for “ROOM AT THE MARK”.

The wind held through the long beat back to start.  Fred was the helmsman on Pair A Dice and he did an excellent job calling the headers and lifts as we passed several boats on the way to the start mark.
At the finish the first over the line was Tusitala (56:45), Avatar (59:30), Patricia J (1:00:57), Pair A Dice (1:05:39) Pacific Spirit (1:06:25), Perfect 36 (1:08:30) and Makani (1:16:00).  All times are elapsed. The course length was 3.20 miles.


THE BEGINNING OF THE END?

I have always tried to do all I can to improve everyone’s sailing ability.  If I learn something, I will always share it through this blog.  If everyone becomes a better sailor, I must improve also to win races.

I was talking to an experienced sailor once and told him how our fleet has grown.  He stated: “it never fails, when you try to improve everyone’s abilities, you build fleets and participation.  EXCESSIVE COMPETITIVE SPIRIT KILLS FLEETS!”.  What is excessive competitive spirit? Certainly bragging about a win is one example of excessive competitive spirit.  We all enjoy winning but winning graciously is a trait we all should try to employ.

  Another example of excessive competitive spirit is not abiding by the rules of sailing.  We have many novice sailors in our group that are trying to learn (and follow) the rules of sailing for our races.    As our abilities improve and more boats round marks at the same time, we MUST follow the rules.  If a boat has inside overlap at the 3 boat zone, give them ROOM.  If multiple boats are overlapped, you may need to give a LOT of room for all of the overlapped boats to get around the mark.  In order to prevent miss-haps, it is good for the boat that is achieving inside overlap to announce (loudly) at the 3 boat zone that you have overlap and will need mark room.
  
We have many in our group that play by the rules, taking turns if they bump a mark and giving appropriate room at the mark.  Can we all please play by the rules for our Tuesday night “fun sails”?  Nothing discourages participation more than the sound and feel of crunching fiberglass.  Many of us are having a blast and learning more about sailing, THIS is the intent of Tuesday Night sailing.  My greatest fear is that excessive competitive spirit in our group will crush our fleet.  By some of our actions, are we actually causing the beginning of the end?

Please use race QS in order to be counted for the race.  If you are not running this app, you are not being counted.

Barry Keeler
Sailing Pair A Dice