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GREYHAWK's Sailing Adventures

September 2009


September 25, 2009

Photo by Mike Leavitt
Heeling a bit in north winds of 20+ knots gusting to 27+ on a cold September morning in Maine.

Maine Rocks Shorthanded Race 2009

September 18 to 20, 2009

Photo by Peter McCrea on PANACEA

Tim's version of events:

At the last minute, Wendy agreed to sail the Maine Rocks Shorthanded Race with me this past weekend, after I was unable to find any other available crew (she didn't want me to attempt the race single-handed). We made arrangements for Bennett to stay with a neighbor for the weekend, put the dog in a kennell, and drove over to the boat in Boothbay Harbor on Thursday evening. Friday, we sailed up to Rockland -- a great sail with good following winds -- and attended the pre-race gathering and skipper's meeting.

The race started at around 10:00 on Saturday, with 5 boats in the double-handed class and 7 single-handers. The winds were blowing out of the NNW at 15 to 20 knots with higher gusts (25 to 30?). The line was long, with port tack at the pin end being strongly favored. Unfortunately, the start boat's horn wasn't working very well and his radio was weak and the messages were garbled, so you had to rely on the flags alone, which were rather hard to see from the pin end! But we got off to an OK start, rounded the weather mark and headed out of Rockland Harbor and down Penobscot Bay.

A couple of the double-handed boats were brave enough to pop a chute in these conditions, but we were too chicken. It took us a while to figure out that wing-and-wing with the jib poled out was the way to go. We really need to do something to improve our pole set-up and handling, because as it is now it's such a chore (to the point that we avoid doing it when we really should). Down by Matinicus Island, the wind went more west and settled down a bit, so we set our chute tacked to the bow and took off. Rounding South Breaker, we moved the tack of the chute from the bow to our pole, so that we could sail deeper towards Matinicus Rock.

Rounding Matinicus Rock, we doused the chute, and set off with the genoa on the other gybe heading towards Mount Desert Rock. We thought the wind angle was too far forward to carry the chute, but later on on the leg, we set the chute tacked to the bow again, and were carrying it OK at apparent wind angles of about 75 to 80 degrees (pretty good, we thought, for mis-using a symmetrical kite!), staying on the rhumb line. We got some lines messed up on the first attempt at this set, so had to drop the sail into the cockpit while we sorted them out, and then hoisted again, and were bare-headed for the interim. By this time some of the slower rated boats at the back of the fleet had caught up to us (they had been able to carry their spinnakers all the way), which was rather discouraging, and we had a heck of time trying to pull back ahead of them.

We doused the spinnaker again when we got to Mount Desert Rock (now after dark), rolled out the genoa, sailed around the rock cutting as close as we dared, in hot pursuit of several other boats, and set off on the beat back to Matinicus Rock (all on one tack). Finally we were back in our element and we had the boat dialed in pretty well. Wendy is just incredible at driving the boat to windward! It looked like some of the other boats were not able to sail high enough to stay on the rhumb line, which was good for us! We were back and forth with Jim Coughlin on Mainstay all night long (and into the morning). Approaching Matinicus Rock again, I realized that I must have made an error in entering a waypoint into the GPS, as we were almost a mile south of the rock (and we could have sailed the higher course, too). We hardened up and got lifted to a course of almost 300, but then the wind would die, so we would tack back towards the islands, back (we thought) into more wind, and hopefully into less adverse tidal current. So we worked our way up the east side. Coughlin was to our west, but came back on starboard tack and we had to duck him, but stayed on port and sailed up the middle, as by this time we expected the tide to have changed. Our position was such that we were able to foot off a bit to head for Monroe while Coughlin now to our east would have to sail a bit higher. He was close on our transom rounding Monroe, but then he wasn't able to sail as high as we were rounding Owl's Head. We almost got lifted all the way to the breakwater, but ended up making two quick tacks to cross the line. Coughlin apparently didn't get the lift that we did, so was a few minutes later in crossing the line.

We got the motor started (a bit of a question mark given how cold it was), dropped the sails and made our way to our mooring to retrieve our dinghy before heading in to hand in our Mark Rounding card. Doug was still on his boat cleaning up when we got to the mooring, so we handed in our card there and never made it back to the club. We had a 12-hour commute ahead of us to get back home (8 hours in the boat, 4 hours driving), and wanted to get started right away. So we motored back out of the harbor and down Owl's Head Bay, taking the shortest possible route back to Boothbay Harbor. The wind was on the nose (and much stronger than had been forecast) almost the entire way back, and we had an adverse tide much of the way, too, which made the boat delivery slow and tedious. Wendy caught up some on her sleep though, and drove the whole way home to Keene.

The winds started strong and never totally died, the sky was clear and the sun bright, the air cold and crisp. The moon was new and the dome of stars overhead was truly spectacular. Overall, it was a great weekend!

Wendy's version (from a note sent to her step mother):

Hi Patricia,

Tim is still getting used to being back at work, he would rather be sailing. This past weekend I ended up crewing the double handed "Rocks Race" (Rockland harbor, Matinicus Rock, rounding Mount Desert Rock, back to Matinicus Rock, back to Rockland harbor, 112 miles) with Tim, because he could not find other crew. When Tim called me Thursday at 2:15 he was so adamant about doing the race he told me he was going single handed! Bennett & I both did not want him to do it single handed (not sure he is ready, nice wife), so I said I would do it. Three hours later Bennett was at our friends next door for three nights, Tahoe was in the Kennel, we were packed and in the car traveling to Harborfields. I was thinking what am I doing? I thought I was going to have a nice quiet weekend throwing pottery and doing some chores. Instead: Friday- sail the boat to Rockland, broad reach, good wind, waves 4-6 ft. Saturday- race starts at 10:00, with boats that are veteran Bermuda 1-2 racers -- and the boats looked it too! We crossed the line with a reefed main, 17 knots(?) gusts to 25?, we had a good start (3rd across?) even though the committee boat's horn didn't work well and watching the starting flags was a joke for us... "does that flag mean 4 minutes or 1?!". As we left Rockland harbor the spinnakers were going up, I looked at Tim and suggested "I don't think so!" -- thankfully he agreed. After awhile the Single-handed racers caught us, who started 5 minutes later, but we were still ahead of some of the DH racers. Later, after rounding Matinicus Rock we did raise the spinnaker by attaching it to the bow, this worked well, and we were able to hold our own against some the others. The rest of the race went pretty smoothly. After rounding Mount Desert Rock we stayed close to a boat that rated 99 to our 123. I found it interesting, when the wind lightened to 5? knots we would pull ahead, but when the wind picked up he would pull ahead. This happened 3-4 times during the night. It was a beat up to Rockland and we were able to point much higher, thus we crossed the finish line several minutes ahead of him, but then that boat was in the SH division! At this point we don't know how we did, except we do know we did not come in 1, 2, or 3. Hopefully somewhere in the middle. After we crossed the line at 8:19, we picked up our rowboat, Brancher, turned in our rounding card and motored to Harborfields with a headwind of 20 knots on Sunday. Arriving at the neighbor's at 8:30pm to pick up Bennett. What a weekend! Well, this turned out to be a longer story than I expected, I'll send a copy to Dad & Tim. I'm sure Tim will make adjustments as I'm pretty tired and it was a blur... Wendy

Labor Day Sail

September 5, 2009

photo by Jeff Fongemie on SEAGRASS