Wednesday - May 20 - Wet and Wild Trip to Parks Bay (13 NM)

Today's forecast was perfect. Southwest winds 10 to 15 kts and clear sunny skies. In addition the tides were quite benign without a significant low. But when I rowed out to the mooring I got that familar sensation of a more gusty and powerful wind than the forecast might indicate. I was tempted to gerry-rig a reef point (as I had removed my poor attempt from the winter) but a few lulls in the wind convinced me to set full sail. I trimmed everything tight and applied full backstay and set off.

With the nice southwest breeze leaving the Fisherman Bay was easy, 5 to 6 kts downwind easy.

My buddy Craig passed along the web cam photo as I was leaving the bay. Pretty easy sailing at this point.

I knew rowing out to Bolero that todays trip was to Parks Bay, a sweet little bay across from Friday Harbor on Shaw Island. It was a quiet and sometimes slow broad reach to the bay but once I got there the fun started. Typically the wind accelerates and clocks around to the Southeast so it is a beat into Parks Bay. Pretty easy for the most part although a few gusts allowed me to play the traveller to keep the heal under control.

Eventually the bay becomes sheltered and calm enough that I managed a few photos.

This is a sweet little bay with plenty of room for the few boats that choose to forgo the conveniences of the Friday Harbor marina but it did get a bit smaller with this bad boy anchored in the middle.

All this downwind sailing meant that I was going to have to pay the piper on the way home. But I much prefer upwind sailing. I love the feeling when a boat heels and digs in and the motion through the waves and even the spray over the bow. Good thing, cause I got a bit of it all.

One thing I kind of liked doing in the old Bluenose, was leaning over the side when she was heeled over to check out her keel and see how the bottom paint was holding up. Bolero is a bit harder to look over the side while still holding onto the tiller but I did manage a quick photo of the keel. Still looks good.

Anyway, back to my close reach ride home. The wind was in the mid teens (I checked the ferry winds when I got home) which meant that Bolero's apparent wind may have been about 19 kts. We averaged an easy 6 1/2 kts in the gusty winds which made for a spirited trip back to Fishermans Bay. Especially when the fetch opened up to Southwest from San Juan Channel. I quickly got the feel for playing the traveller during the puffs. This was an invigorating sail. The problem, and I knew it was coming, was getting back into Fishermans Bay.

Winds from the Southwest accelate through the bay and are particullary strong at the channel entrance and, of course, at our mooring.

There was no beauty in my upwind sailing in the strong gusty winds in the bay. My tacks were wide, I pinched excessively and I feathered and luffed the main at times. I did however stick the mooring pickup. It was probably took less than a minute from the time I left the cockpit to go forward till I had the jib down and secured and the main stowed.

What I learned most from this sail, is that I still don't trust Bolero. She is a much more powerful boat than my old Bluenose but she also has much greater stability (ballast / displacement ratio of 67%). The old Bluenose would heel quickly and burry her railing the water. I always kept the mainsheet in my hand when sailing her in strong winds. In contrast I have never put Bolero's rail in the water. I am still reacting as if I was sailing the Bluenose. When she responses to a puff by heeling, I am to quick in releasing the main.

The Shields is for more capable than I am at this point, as is easy to see from these photos.

More practice in high winds. Yep that's my penance. He-He