Imaginary Sailing

It seems that my current lot in life with respect to sailing is watching my old Bluenose Sloop sail in and out of Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island. I typically stop by the Bay Cafe and watch boats go in and out of our channel whenever I am in town.

My karma seems to put me there at the same time as the Bluenose. Sailing in an out of Fisherman Bay is a wonderful challenge for me. The typical wind is from the SW. And the wind usually picks up in the early afternoon. So a typical afternoon summer sail has me sailing out of the bay and through the channel downwind and against the current. And returning in the early evening against the wind with the current. Each of these presents their own difficulties and as I watch the old Bluenose sail in and out I can't help but wonder how Bolero will fare in these tasks. Here is a performance comparison between the Bluenose and Bolero.

The first challenge is getting out of the bay. Sailing downwind against the current is my least favorite way to sail. I much prefer to sail against the current on a point of sail that allows me to increase my apparent wind (head up) if the wind eases so I can maintain my headway. In addition there tends to be a wind shadow right at the point where the current is the strongest. Typically my plan has been to say shallow and outside of the main current keeping as much speed as possible and then crossing into the current and rounding up around the point on a broad reach. If I am unsuccessfully at beating the current (which doesn't happen that often), I spin around and sail back into the bay and try again. This approach shows some potential concerns and some optimism for Bolero.

First off the channel width at this location is about 175 ft. With the Bluenose it seemed pretty wide (about 8 boat lengths). Although Bolero is only 7 ft longer I still worry about the ability to spin her around in this narrow channel.

Second, the Bluenose is a pretty good light air boat with a sail are to displacement ratio of 26 with her Genoa. Bolero's standard headsail is her working jib with a sail area to displacement ratio of 21. There is definitely a light are Genoa in her future.

The one very nice thing about Bolero with respect to sailing in the Islands is her tall rig. Her mast is 10 ft higher than the Bluenose which should really help in some of the wind shadow areas of the San Juan's. Also, her heavier displacement could be an advantage in coasting through the shadow at the mouth of our channel.

Returning home is another story all together. Typically this means short fast tacks against the wind. For some reason, often late in the afternoon, that wind shadow on the way out becomes an acceleration on the way in. Here is a track from one of my afternoon sails last year in the Bluenose (the straight line is leaving, the zigzag line is returning)

So typically I am healed way over and short tacking between the shores. In the Bluenose, which only draws 3 2/3 ft I use most of the available water. Also, since she only displaced 2,000 lbs, I figure I could always find a way to float her off again if I needed to (which I did the one time ran aground).

Bolero draws 4 3/4 ft and adds at least 3000 lbs of displacement. I also imagine that she will take a bit longer to come around. So each tack will be shorter and less effective in gaining ground to windward. But... with her inside sheeting jib and her racing heritage she should point like the dickens. It wouldn't surprise me is she eliminate a tack or two from the Bluenose's track.

All in all I think that Bolero and I will do just fine. But as you can see, I have given it a bit of thought during these days of waiting.