Day 3 found our racers gearing up for a wild ride on what’s known as “the windy reach.” The back of the fleet crawled out of the southerly surge and the front of the fleet grew with the faster, sportier boats, previously becalmed, closing the gap on the original three leaders in reported 25-30 kt winds. JouJou is still splitting the difference between Riff Rider to the north and Crinan II to the south. It will be interesting to see the effect of latitude. Double Espresso is one of those surfing machines now caught up to the three leaders with Nightmare and Passages very close behind. Rainbow, the sole multihull, is holding his own and Kyntanna is throwing her size around surging to the south. The remainder are roughly clustered together, but still moving at a clip. We have reports of sea sickness, astronaut eating, and only a little carnage so far, a boom vang and a couple of autopilots, not too bad overall. The sailors are settling in to sailing, as the winds continue.
Sunday saw a thinning of sorts. Riff Rider, who went West with very little southing picked up the synoptic breeze first and largely escaped what would become the slow zone. Fast on his stern were JouJou, and Crinan II, who, both a little more south, managed to mostly escape the southerly surge and with over ground speeds from 7 – 11 kts, the three surged ahead of those less fortunate.
Meanwhile, LIBRA, delayed due to autopilot issues, decided to drop out and the sea had it’s way with Mouton Noir and Elizabeth Ann, who both retired to the shores with equipment issues. We are down to 16.
The rest of this sixteen not rocketing in the synoptics, doddled about in that southerly surge, napping, cursing, trading grey poupon, reflecting on strategy, napping again, cursing again, waiting…
As the night fell, mother nature took pity on them and reached her fingers down to tickle the boats, one by one, and poked each in the direction of the finish. The breeze started picking up, as did speed, and boat by boat, the fleet started moving past the surge into solid northwesterlies. Right now it looks like good breeze all the way. Will it hold?
Starting day was perfect, at least until it wasn’t. Clear sky, warm, great breeze, nice ebb – what more could you want? Well, maybe for the wind to keep blowing so we all could get in front of the “southerly surge”. Didn’t happen. Dolfin lost wind at 2245 and sailed a remarkable 14 miles toward Hanalei by noon the next day. What do you do with no wind? Well you sleep. I awoke from a nap at noon and there was Iris stealthly sailing by. Now we have some wind and a race within a race.
All photos on this post from SSS members Christine and Jonathan.
More to follow soon on http://norcalsailing.com
Mike Cunningham on Jacqueline
Philippe Jamotte on Double Espresso
Greg Saramite on Libra
John Woodworth on Owl
Greg Ashby on Nightmare
Carliane on Kyntanna
Chris Case on FUGU
Above: FUGU, Charlie Casey on Riff Rider, and Kyntanna
Below at the start line:
Bill Meanley on Dolfin, Lee Johnson on Morning Star and Mike Cunningham on Jacqueline
00:15 Sunday 6/24 – So it looks like the southerly surge that weather gurus were worried about has hit the fleet, with tracking report speeds dropping to 1kt and less. In the weather briefing provided by Skip Allan, at the skippers meeting, our fearless 19 were warned of this impending doom. Go west, he said. Here’s a quick why. So there is a Pacific high way offshore. There is a lower pressure system sitting over the central valley of California. Beyond the low pressure system are the Sierra Mountains. In the upper atmosphere, air can get pushed towards these mountains and some can’t get over them, it cools off, then wants to sink. As a result of this sinking air, a north/south troph associated with the low pressure system (actually, sitting between the low pressure system and the Pacific High) is pushed back westward off the coast. Exactly when this would happen, and exactly how far west was unclear. Light southerly wind lies to the east of the troph, light northerly winds occur to the west, and no winds in the middle. Guess where our buglighters are. 🙁 The no winds in the middle could last for a couple of days, so we’ll see. Stay tuned.
At this time Libra is still in port, and Mouton Noir is returning to shore, reportedly possibly due to some equipment issues. There may be additional news from check ins, we’ll post any updates. Have a good night, and know the racers will likely at least have a peaceful night too, if they relax and enjoy the calm. It is lovely out there when it is calm.
Bill Meanley is sailing out the Gate tomorrow for a little practice leaving the bay. He says that in San Diego there aren’t the currents experienced in the San Francisco Bay and local sailors have a real advantage getting out.
Bill says he plans to refine his strategy this time. What is the strategy? “Go faster.”
Leaving Catalina we had an ideal weather window so we just kept going, arriving in Pillar Point Harbor 6pm Thursday, just 50 hours (and 36 gal of diesel) from Catalina. Cold starry nights, whales, dolphins, other floaty things with fins, flat calm mostly – hope Lee is as lucky on Morning Star. We could have done without the military helicopter in the Channel Islands harassing us without telling us why or responding to our call on 16 or that hard, clanky thing we hit halfway across Monterey Bay (couldn’t see it but sure heard it), but otherwise the trip couldn’t have been nicer.
The plan is to leave Monday morning for the final leg to the Bay, after visiting with our daughter who lives in San Jose. Can’t believe we are this close after over 400 easy (lucky) miles under Dolfin’s keel.
Here is Bill Meanley upon arrival in Hanalei Bay, 2016. He is currently sailing up the coast with his wife.
Follow Dolfin up the coast. Here is her track @ https://share.garmin.com/share/BILLMEANLEY
password is SHTP