Friday - May 22 - Annual Current Lesson (12 NM)

I spent a long, frustrating but ultimately successful Thursday upgrading some of Bolero's rigging. So I needed to go sailing today. I even left the cockpit cover off and let Bolero sport her new mainsail cover that Laura created.

It was another grand forecast for today with good winds and more sun. The tides, however, weren't quite as cooperative.

With a 10:05 low tide of -0.70 ft and an 18:19 high of +7.36 ft we were in for a pretty nice flood. But the wind was strong so I didn't worry that much about the tides or currents.

Actually the wind was strong enough in the bay that I rigged a strop around the mast (thanks Kristian) to attach the reef crinkle and set the first reef. This new system looks to work quite well although we shook out the reef right outside the channel.

You can see this make shift strop (I want to upgrade my line choice) as well as the new fixed gooseneck and cunningham in this photo. I have already adjusted the cunningham to give it more throw. It may also get a line upgrade when I have something better.

With ignorance and wind both quite strong I thought it would be a good idea to sail northwest and let Laura have a chance to experience the tide rips near Turn Island. They were in great form and it was good experience for Laura to work on holding a course as the tide rips worked to spin the boat.

It was all great fun right up until the wind completely died. Mostly because we were drifting into the lee of Turn Island. In any case we found ourselves without any wind, in the middle of the current run in San Juan channel at the peak flood current of 1.63 kts

This is a bit interesting as this is often the "bad" scenario that many boater use to justify an engines as a safety device. I tried a number of "sailing" things to try to extract ourselves from the center of the current but the wind just wasn't cooperating. We probably drifted a mile or so towards Canada when I finally broke out the new, trusty oar and pointed to the nearest shore and start leisurely rowing.

This is my typical approach, to get shallow where the current is not so strong. With little or no wind, no boat speed, and a flood tide I am not as concerned with running aground. In this case the wind started to pick up as we left the center of the current since the wind and the tide were in about the same direction. So I stowed the oar, rigged Bolero for very light air sailing and tacked little by little between Shaw Island and the main section of the current. Eventually the wind filled in and we sped off. All in all it was great fun. One of the reasons I sail in fact, trying to find ways to sail in different conditions.

We weren't completely out of the woods as we still had to cross San Juan channel to get back to Lopez, but we could head up and sail close hauled and then cross the channel perpendicular to the current. And that was what we were doing until we ran into a an Etchells 22. I just love sailboats that seem to be all sails, and the Etchells sure qualifies.

The Etchells is similar in size to Bolero but much lighter. And much faster. In a PHRF race she would owe a Shields around 40 seconds per mile. In todays light wind we held our own, although I don't think they were trying that hard.

We sailed together and chatted for a while. The owner was surprised to find out that Bolero's life started as an open raceboat (even though he hadn't heard of a Shields). Apparently he now "wants" one. I gave him Tim's name just in case.

The rest of the sail home was uneventful with another respectable mooring.