August 20 - Small Craft Advisory (11 NM)

We have been blessed, or cursed, with a series of high pressure systems in the Northwest. So sailing has been a bit light. But today's forecast was for 10 to 20 kt winds from the S rising to 15 to 25 kts and a small craft advisory. In other words, sailing weather.

We decided to head out about 3 pm and as usual stopped by the Bay Cafe to check the channel entrance current and wind. The flood current was screaming, but the flags at the mouth of the channel were dead still. Odd considering the forecast but we headed out to the boat just the same.

At the dock the wind had that menacing, shifty and gusty feel that has always caused me some concern. I thought about packing it in but we wanted to get more comfortable handling Bolero in higher winds so we rowed out and prepped the boat for high wind (tight backstay, halyards, cunningham and outhaul).

On of the interesting aspects of sailing out of Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island is that the wind at the mooring and in San Juan Channel can be quite fresh but at the mouth of the channel it can be very light. That combined with the traffic and the downwind exit means that I always carry full sail going out and often immediately wish I had a reef once outside the bay.

Today was actually a little different. We had strong wind in the channel and pesky traffic. I say pesky because we had a power boat who was too impatient to follow us when we were doing 4 kts so he passed us and then immediately slowed down as our speed quickly climbed to 5+ kts. This happens often and I just don't get it. If a power boat is in such hurry and they have all that power why not just speed off. But time and time again we get passed only to struggle to keep from running over the top of the impatient skipper. Fortunately today we had great wind and plenty of water so this was only moderately annoying.

As soon as we started heading up outside of the channel entrance we had way more wind than we needed or wanted carrying full sail with the wind forward of the beam. But the wind eased a little as we sailed towards the center of San Juan Channel so we tacked over onto a starboard tack and tucked in a reef. Now it was just fun sailing.

Of course since there was a small craft advisory Dick was out in his Flicka.

But pretty much no one else.

So we happily sailed around and Laura practiced her sailing skills. A couple of sails ago Laura sailed in and out of the bay for the first time. Everything went fine except for her return when she mistakenly pushed the helm the wrong direction during a tack at the smallest part of the mouth of the bay. Fortunately we had plenty of water but there were some anxious moments waiting for Bolero to come back up and into the wind. The problem for Laura was that she always sits on the high side so tacking had come to mean that you always push the tiller away from you. But sailing back into the channel it is often better to sit on the low side since the visibility is better and that is where she found out that you don't always push the tiller away from you.

So today I threw everything at her; high side, low side, jibes and quick tacks and she did great. In a challenging small craft advisory I might add.

(Hopefully this is the last season with the terrible above deck backstay tension blocks. Back to the old below deck version that I can tension from the cockpit)

But little by little the clouds rolled in and the sun disappeared. It got darker and just generally snotty so we decided to head in.

Off course the wind in the bay was rocking. We sailed smartly through the crowded moorage and up to our mooring at 5 to 6 kts and suck the landing with a perfect mooring pickup. Funny how when I have more time to think and plan the mooring pickup my failure rate goes up.

Go figure.

Aug 20 Tides - Friday Harbor

Aug 20 GPS Track

2009 Sailing Summary
Sailing Days-32 / 107 (30%)
Blissful Hours of Hand Steering - 2:14 hours & 99:37 hours for the season
Total Miles Under Sailed this Season - 364 NM