JULY 30, 2013
Another night with great wind, and this time from the South-west, between 10-15 knots. After missing out on last weeks sail and barbecue, I was really looking forward to this night!
We decided on course 2, with a start at 6:15. On Pair-A-Dice we decided on a port tack start at the pin end, while Diver Down and Pacific Spirit started on Starboard and headed outside. Homer, on his C&C 25, stayed on port and nearly sailed to the layline before tacking over on starboard to head toward Wharf mark. On Pair a dice, we were trying to play the middle of the course, tacking whenever we detected a header. Iris had sailed, like Homer, staying on port tack until the layline out to wharf mark. As we aproached the layline to Wharf, Iris was already charging toward the mark on starboard tack, leaving us no option but to lee-bow her. It was quite a surprise to see Diver Down rounding Wharf with Homer following shortly after. Aeolian also had a comfortable lead on us at wharf. We were approaching Wharf pinching to make it, when Pacific Spirit came in on port just before the mark. Rather than duck our stern, they opted to tack over early, but couldn't quite clear the mark and had to turn around at the mark in order to round it correctly.
It was quite a progression toward Mile, with Diver Down and Homer way out in front, followed by Aeolian, Pair A Dice and Iris, then Pacific Spirit. For some reason, we were able to slowly close the gap between Aeolian and as we rounded Mile, Aeolian was just ahead of us with Iris right behind us. As we all marched toward GOV, we were able to roll Aeolian to windward. There was something happening that couldn't be explained by superior (?) sail and boat handling. We rounded Gov well behind Diver Down and Homer and comfortably ahead of Aeolian. Iris was sailing nicely and was keeping right up with us.
As the race ended, Diver Down was way out in front of most of us with Homer close behind. Pairadice was third with Iris right behind.
As we congregated at the yacht club for the barbecue, we were all talking story. It was only then that we found out why we were able to pass Aeolian so easily. They had been attacked by a kelp monster. Mark said it was more like an island he was dragging behind him! We on Pair A Dice could sympathize with their predicament, having experienced this same phonomenon a month or so ago. It was great to see some of the crew from Pacific Spirit at the barbecue.
It was really interesting on this night that the two leading boats took completely different courses. Diver down going outside and Homer going completely inside, so the middle of the course didn't work out for Pair A Dice on this particular night.
Another lesson that all of us are learning is the importance of avoiding the heavy kelp strands we have in Monterey bay. It is incumbent on the foredeck crew to aprise the skipper of kelp in the water. When telling the skipper about kelp, don't just say "kelp ahead". Say something like: "we have kelp ahead, come up 5 degrees" or whatever course to steer through the kelp. The foredeck has a much better perspective and should be the "eyes" for the skipper who can't see as well from his perspective. Be particularly on the lookout for kelp when there has been a big swell running, which tends to tear kelp from it's anchor and send it floating.
If you do get ensnared in kelp, Fred Molnar swears that spinning a quick 360 will clear the kelp. This may be a quicker maneuver on a Santana 22 (Freds boat) than on a heavier keel boat, but should be considered as an option to clear kelp. Frequently we will use a boat hook to snag kelp caught by the rudder. Obviously, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure!
I am looking forward to next Tuesday. See you out there!