On a day when it snowed, sleeted, and rained much of the day, three of us showed up for Thursday women’s racing. We passed on racing and instead took out a Sonar together just to get some time on the water. Wind was West, flag was green but rather dark, with some vigorous gusts.
The track shows us leaving the mooring, sailing up the length of the basin on a single starboard tack, sailing along the Mass Ave bridge on porket, coming back, and then doing another half lap before getting the boat on the mooring by the posted time for keelboats to be in.
Here’s a shot from our Sonar on the mooring as our ferry arrived at the end of the day.
“Why is the title last minute?” I asked Stacy. “I don’t know, because we were doing everything at the last minute. We were late getting out on the water and then we had to be in…” Huh. Her perception, having more energy than me, was that I was just managing to get things done at the last minute. I was maybe dragging a bit and arriving at the dock not quite put together for sailing. Anyway, we did at the last minute, or last hour anyway, take out Sonar hull 1 for a short lap under green flag. I put camera on the boom and shot video. Here’s a link to a short clip.
My first WR of the year! I skipped last week as I wasn’t feeling well and the weather was unpleasant. Today was great. Flag was yellow, wind was gusty and shifting between SW and S. Six of us showed up to race in keel Mercuries. Pam and I were going to sail together but then we had two people relatively new that kind of needed to be paired with someone more experienced. I sailed with Annie.
The first race was comical as I mistook the pin for the leeward mark, rounded it and crossed in front of Pam and Trina, mystified at my strategy but happy to take the lead and go on to win the race.
The right side seemed to work best upwind. Once I tried the left and then met disaster tacking inside the zone. I didn’t have the boat speed on the left to win the mark easily. Pam was calling starboard on me and I decided to duck and then cross Molly. I tacked, but before I could accelerate enough Molly pushed her bow above my stern and then had to luff above close-hauled. I did two circles. Recently I’ve been rewatching the 2017 TP52 Super Series on youtube and that move totally would have worked in the TP52s. Not in Cape Code Mercuries though. I needed to sail just a tiny bit farther before tacking to ensure that Molly would stay below me.
Annie had experience in college sailing but had typically crewed rather than skippered. She was interested in skippering but the gusty wind today was intimidating and I ended up skippering all races. As soon as racing was over though, she took the tiller and we had a nice practice.
Wednesdays in the past have had co-able keelboat racing. The co-able part I think is that anyone is invited but people with disabilities are particularly invited. I sailed a time or two with Mike, who was on the dock this afternoon and happy to sail on a Sonar even if there wasn’t racing. The two of us sailed Sonar hull 1, flag was yellow, wind was ESE.
Yellow flag is great in CBI keelboats these days. Dockstaff generally requires keelboats to reef under red flag, so yellow is the strong wind with a full rig. We sailed two laps to the Mass Ave bridge and back, Mike let me helm the first lap and I turned it over to him for the second. Absolutely pleasant sailing.
We sailed from about 5 to 6 pm. We both had plans to be back by 6:30 for a talk by Niko on sail trim. That was excellent as well. He had located lots of great images and diagrams illustrating what to pay attention to when thinking about sail shape.
I sailed on another chilly gray day, today though with a new gadget, a waterproof camera. First photos and video I took were all worthless (don’t worry, good photos and video will come) but I took some GPS data and made this plot showing me covering most of the basin,
It’s a start, hm? I’ll work on this and hopefully improve on it over the summer. Unlikely I’ll pose any threat to Virtual Eye, but it would be fun to try some of their techniques. I think the plot shows my first lap up and down the basin. It starts at the squiggly mess at the dock. I think the little loop on the way back was me doing a MOB drill to pick up a piece of trash in the water. It was potato chip bag or something.
So sailing was quiet and easy. Flag was green the whole time I was out. MIT history is showing steady winds of 8 mph with gusts over 20 although I don’t remember anything like that. I would have guessed steady winds at 5 with gusts to 12. From my track it looks like the wind direction was ESE. I sailed a keel Mercury, just because Kate and Pam were bringing one in just as I was about to go out. The most fun of the day was seeing a fleet of Frosty dinghies racing out of MIT. Cutest most adorable boats ever.
Update: a little more work on my plotting program:
Stacy and I got to the dock 11ish, about as early as we could manage on a Saturday, to take advantage of wind forecast to be a little better earlier in the day before calming down in the afternoon. Flag was yellow when we arrived with wind W 8 mph with nice long gusts over 20. It was those gusts that were forecast to fade by 1 pm or so. Air temp was 40, forecast to rise only a bit under mostly cloudy sky. And yes, I took the camera and put it Stacy’s hands!
Stacy pleaded for a boat with a keel after I had subjected her to a centerboard Mercury last week. We took an Ideal 18, her favorite last year. I’m not sure this Ideal had even been sailed this year as a number of lines were unrigged. I organized things to my satisfaction and we were out the cut.
Traffic on the river was pretty light, there was mainsail class with a sole boat, the odd Duck boat, a small fleet of MIT Fireflys out, and then some crew shells that demanded the closest lookout. The race coach hailed us to point out yellow marks on the Mass Ave bridge that marked the racing lanes. I’m sorry I didn’t think to take a photo of them because it took us a few minutes to locate them. They are vertical yellow stripes way up on the pedestrian railing on top of the bridge. Good information to know, that if you see the shells speeding up river toward you, you can check the lane marks on the bridge and make your best guess about dodging out of their way.
Good start 15
After one lap up to the Mass Ave bridge and back, we went through a tack and found the jib clew luffing freely in the wind. Oh, no, not again, I thought, remembering last year the time the jib came lose from the traveler. The traveler looked okay this time though, it looked like a problem with the clew shackle. I put the boat in safety position and turned over the helm so I could investigate more. The shackle had come open and was bent but didn’t seem actually broken. Back to the helm for a tack away from the island, safety position on port now, helm back to Stacy, and forward again to attempt to fix things. I was able to straighten the bent shackle with my fingers. By now we had caught the eye of the dock staff and they were out in a skiff to help. They stabilized us a bit and I managed to corral the jib and reattach it. All was good.
Stacy was insisting she was good for another lap up the river and back even though she was getting a bit cold. We went, she got colder. This time as we got back downriver, some Tiller Club racers were coming out in Sonars to practice for match racing tomorrow. They looked great, maneuvering close to each other and sailing well.
Two more random pics:
More notes, added the next day:
This was Ideal hull 2, sail 13. I want to do a better job this year of recording hull and sail numbers. Enough data would start to be useful. Other than the jib clew shackle problem, the boat sailed well. Completing the rigging before going out, the reefing line had a little… hernia? You know, where the rope core pushes out through the braid? With a hard pull, I pulled it past the shiv at the end of the boom and it seems like it should be okay there. The jib on this boat looked new. It doesn’t have a window in it, which frustrated Stacy a bit. I would ask her about traffic and she would have trouble checking.
New for me today was new contact lenses. I said all last year that I was going to get contacts and I never did. It was great to have them today. I also had sunglasses with me, but didn’t wear them. It was cloudy, early in the season, and I was only going to be out for a little while, and anyway, I sailed all last year and other years wearing only clear prescription glasses. Mistake. Today my eyes are tired. Lesson: always wear sunglasses.
I was happy to participate in Tiller Club today and especially happy to be on the race control boat rather than on one of the Mercs. Wind was dark red flag and the CBI anemometer seems to have been blown offline. MIT was recording gusts over 30 mph and I tell ya the wind was mostly gusts. I helped Robin with RC. We had five boats racing. There were a couple of capsizes and a run-aground during the day, but wow I admire those sailors that raced today. They were amazing.
I was obsessed with figuring out the wind. I’m impressed with some of the sailing commentators I listen to on the internet, how well some of them understand the wind and can explain and anticipate it, and I’d love to be able to do as well. From the simple hourly forecast chart of the National Weather Service, I expected these strong winds to start WSW and veer W over the day. It turned out more complex. The wind started more strongly SW and ended up WNW, thus veering more than I expected. It was also oscillating a bit. Not a lot, but noticeably, and definitely enough for some racers to make gains and losses on the shifts. From the committee boat sometimes we could see racers making the mistake. “Oh, they’re going too far to that side” Robin or I would say.
It’s so much harder when you’re actually sailing, racing, though. I know I’m always so busy with everything and don’t have the luxury to just sit and watch the wind. It’s also much harder when you’re on a boat that is sailing all over the place as opposed to sitting at anchor at one spot and pointing mostly in the same direction.
Also by the forecast I expected the sun to come out and the strong gusts to moderate a bit in the afternoon after racing. I hoped it would be nice for a little pleasure sail. That didn’t happen. It stayed overcast and the wind held the whitecaps across the river. So what did I do? Sail anyway of course! I was prepared to go out by myself on a reefed Merc but Trina showed up on the dock and was interested in a sail. I switched plans to grab us a Rhodes 19 that someone was just bringing in. I thought it would surely be easier and drier than a Mercury. Well, it was still a handful, even reefed, and still cold wet sailing. But Trina and I sailed a lap up to the Mass Ave bridge and back so we could say we sailed today. I was glad we did. It’s good to sail, good to challenge the strong wind and cold spray.