At Friday’s annual Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA) meeting, our own Bruce Hedrick received the Jerry C. Bryant award for “the most outstanding contribution to the marine industry from someone within the marine industry.”
For those who know Bruce, this is certainly no surprise. But for those who may know Bruce only from his Briefs here on Sailish.com, let’s just say he’s the Northwest guy who’s done everything in the boating industry including owning stores, running a sail loft, editing a magazine and selling boats.
Most importantly, in addition to making a living in the marine industry, he’s always given back and is a tireless promoter of the boating lifestyle. He has served on the NMTA board and frequently makes himself available for helping promote events and clubs throughout the region.
And, by the way, he’s a helluva sailboat racer. And a keen cook. Above all, he’s a good friend willing to step in at a moment’s notice.
And you get to read his weather briefs here! (Start counting your lucky stars now.)
The weather is definitely getting more interesting the closer we get to the end of the year, the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter. Naturally, we’ll have a celebration of the Winter Solstice on the 21st at 1423 hrs because the days will start getting longer from that point on.
The weather charts for today offer a very interesting picture of what’s to come for the weekend. While today’s analysis shows a very impressive low-pressure system off our coast with a long cold front attached, it won’t have much effect on the central or south Sound. There are two reasons for this: the first is that persistent high-pressure system (1036MB) just east of the Cascades and the second is our coastal buffer zone which will once again have a deleterious effect on any frontal system as it hits the coast. That high-pressure system is the one that has been responsible for bringing us the coldest temperatures we have seen so far this Fall. Since it is on the other side of the mountains it creates an offshore flow that brings cold air from the interior of BC and forces it through the mountain passes into the Puget Sound area. This is going to slowly change.
If you look at the surface forecast chart for tomorrow morning you can see that front from today has already been significantly degraded and our guardian high-pressure system has been weakened to 1032MB and pushed to the southeast. This will open the door for that next frontal system to come ashore late Saturday and into Sunday morning. You will also notice that these low-pressure systems instead of being sent in a northerly path are now on a more northeasterly path. Eventually, this will become more east-northeasterly as the week goes on, allowing more moisture into our area.
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What effect will this have on the breeze for this weekend? The strongest breeze today(20-30 knots)will be the pre-frontal south-easterlies in the coastal waters and the eastern and western parts of the Strait of JdF. There will be a brief respite for those areas on Saturday morning and into mid-afternoon at which point the winds in advance of the next front will once again pick up in those same areas. The winds in the central and south Soundwill be 10-15 knots from the southeast on Saturday morning becoming lighter as the day goes on.
After midnight on Saturday, the pre-frontal breeze will pick up significantly along the north coast and the eastern part of the Straits as in 25-35 knots of southeasterly. This will ease as the front passes through late Sunday afternoon. The central Sound will see 10-15 knots of southeasterly easing around mid-afternoon while the south Sound will see generally lighter conditions all day.
The next front which will bring more lowland rain and mountain snow will start to show up on Tuesday.
Sometimes, Winter Vashon is a fast glorious circuit of the island back to warm drinks in Tacoma. Sometimes, it’s an excruciatingly slow process in dreary, cuttingly cold conditions. And sometimes, like last Saturday, it’s not so much a race as it is a great way to spend a day enjoying the bright sun while we still have it.
As Bruce Hedrick predicted last Friday, the early indications that this year’s Winter Vashon would be a fast race evaporated, leaving clear signs that it would be a slow Vashon. The Tacoma Yacht Club race committee made the obvious decision to shorten the course. The fleet sailed on a kind of southerly all day in blazing sunshine, connecting zephyrs wherever possible. Even the mighty Crossfire with her massive rig couldn’t find much air up high. They did find enough to win the race overall.
Photos by Jan Anderson. Click here to see the rest of her gallery. Click any photo to enlarge.
While tomorrow’s race won’t be quite as cold as some of the past Winter Vashon races, it will still be fairly cool out there so dress accordingly and don’t skimp on the warm beverages. The good news is that when the breeze does come up you should be on the downwind leg to the finish.
The surface chart for today shows a low-pressure system off our coast heading off to the southeast. This will make the coast sometime this evening after which an offshore flow will develop over the central and western Strait of JdF. Over the eastern end of the Strait and the rest of the Salish Sea, this will become a northerly flow with the area in the central part of Admiralty Inlet seeing the strongest northerly maybe in the 15-20 knot range. It will take a while for this to fill down the Sound and into the race area.
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Typically this pattern will result in a light (4-8 knot) northerly in Colvos. Following the nice southerly we’ve got today, this will keep the ebb going in Colvos for tomorrow which will help get you up to the top mark. There will be rivers of stronger current in Colvos and those will tend to be in the center of Colvos Passage. You will really want to watch your COG and SOG as well as the other boats in order to find the axis of the current. Since it is a reverse start there will also be rewards for those who can keep their air clear and not fall into any of the dead zones on either shore.
Hopefully the northerly will fill to the north end of Vashon by around noon. This should be in the 10-12 knot range and I do mean northerly, not northwesterly so you’ll probably set up to sail the port gybe to Pt Robinson. This will also coincide with the start of the ebb so if you run into anti-water gybe back to the west, just don’t sail too close to Vashon and gybe back when you can make Pt Robinson.
From Robinson south to the finish you will want to stay off the Vashon shore because it will be light in there so even if you have to sail in some ebb, it’s better to stay out in the breeze. Unlike the spring and summer Vashon races, the wind you have at Pt Robinson will probably hold all the way to the finish.
Wow! It was a fantastic day for fall sailing in the Sound as Gig Harbor Yacht Club hosted its annual LeMans Race on November 17th. Boats started at anchor in Gig Harbor with sails down and the crew below decks. When the start gun went off, crews’ raced on deck to pull up anchor and set sails. The 14-mile race course this year started in the harbor and ran up Colvos passage to Olalla and back to a finish line in the Harbor. Often run in light air or cold and rain, this year’s race enjoyed a trifecta of relatively warm air, cloudless skies and a strong steady northerly breeze. Winds in the Harbor were 8-10 kts. and in Colvos Passage the breeze was steady from the north at 12-16+ kts.
Twenty three boats raced in two classes in a reverse order start 10 minutes apart. With a good breeze the smaller boats were quickly off their anchorages in the north end of the harbor, many just on a spinnaker. They were well down the harbor by the time the class one boats pulled anchor. Just outside the entrance on the harbor in a wind shadow, velocity dropped to 4-5 knots and the fleet bunched up momentarily. Leaders took a port tack away from Gig Harbor to towards Vashon Island to catch the strong breeze coming down Colvos Passage. Others quickly followed. In fresh air, it was now a beat north to Ollala in strengthening wind and chop. Many boats elected to reef or change headsails to handle the wind conditions.
In Class 1, zero rated J-160, Jam skippered by Bill Fox, took an early lead. Jam was first around the turn mark at Olalla. Less than two minutes behind them was a J-133, Constellation skippered by Ron Holbrook. In close pursuit was the John Leitzinger’s Aerodyne 38, Kahuna and Jon Knudson’s J/N 42, Korina Korina. Beating neck and neck towards the mark was a J120, Felicita and a J-35, Grace-E. Four minutes behind them a Choate 37, Asylum and IMX 38, Gardyloo played dance partners around the mark.
Jammin, a J-80, skippered by Tom Mitchell, was the first class 2 boat around the turn mark. He was closely followed by Jamie Storkman’s newly refurbished Thunderbird Fandango. Rounding the turn mark boats eased sails, pushed sprits out and popped their chutes for a sleigh ride back to Gig Harbor in a 15 kt. breeze.
Back through the harbor entrance boats headed to the finish line requiring a short beat up Gig Harbor. The first boats to cross the line were Jam in Class 1 and Jammin in Class 2. On corrected time placement honors for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place go respectively in Class 1 to Korina, Kahuna and Constellation and in Class 2 to Fandango, Jammin and Chuck Queen’s Tartan 30 Gypsy Queen. –Tom Gray
The sailing gods must have had a meeting and decided that this year’s CYC-Seattle Turkey Bowl, sailed this past weekend, was going to be spectacular. I can hear them having a chuckle: “Let’s see if we can send everyone home really sore and tired. And while we’re at it, let’s see if they wore warm enough clothes.”
Those gods succeeded. With winds in the high teens on Saturday and into the low teens on Sunday, the race committee could run race after race. And they did. Seven class raced, and eleven races were sailed, except in the Tasar class which only participated on Saturday. The physical nature of each of these boats, and the hiking demands of boats like the Laser and Aero, meant some very sore bodies. The temperatures weren’t all that bad, reaching into the 50s, and the sun was spectacular, but the wind chill tested everyone’s gear and more that a few of us came back to the dock not even in the neighborhood of toasty.
It’s easy to forget what we can have here in the Pacific Northwest. The weekend’s snowcapped mountains, sparkly blue waters, fresh northerly and a contingent of organizers, volunteers and parents made this an event to remember for a long time to come, and a poster-event for future Seattle dinghy events. It’s not always like this, but it can be!
The event also served as the Laser 22 Districts. Thanks to a coordinated effort between kids, coaches and parents the Laser Radial fleet saw 24 entries and the Laser 4.7 class saw three boats. The 4.7 is following the European lead and becoming a popular alternative in the U.S. for kids transitioning out of Optis. There was also a healthy and competitive fleet of a dozen Standard rigs. In the Standard fleet Matthew Stranaghan of Canada overcame the early lead of Brian Ledbetter to win comfortably. Amongst the Radials, Kit Stoll and Owen Timms picked up their rivalry with Stoll coming out on top this time. In the 4.7s, the brothers Cruz and Chase Custodinho were one and two with Delfino Li coming in third.
For me, the quote of the day came from one youngster to another – “Bye – See you at Frigid Digit!” referring to the Seattle Laser Fleet’s big January regatta to be held on the same waters.
In the very competitive RS Aero class, Dan Falk won a hard fought battle over Dalton Bergan and Carl Buchan, ahead of Bergan by a single point. Finishes were very close and the fleet often very tightly packed.
Matts Elf and Brent Campbell won the 505 class, Jacob Posner dominated the Opti class with straight bullets and Jonathon and Libby McKee won Saturday in the Tasars. Jonathan came out on Sunday and sailed in the RS Aero fleet.
Many of you pick up on Sean Trew’s great still photo and video work via his Facebook feed. But those of you who don’t “do” Facebook shouldn’t be deprived of the great pleasure it is to see that work. And besides, who doesn’t want to see drone footage of a racecourse? With his permission, here are some of Sean’s videos from RTC:
It’s not the same as last weekend but it’s close, with some notable differences. The primary one being that there will be more wind in the central and south Sound on Saturday than in the north Sound and San Juan Islands. Sunday, it will be light just about everywhere with some fog in the usual places.
As you can see from the surface charts for today and tomorrow, we are transitioning from a weak onshore flow following a weak frontal passage earlier today to an offshore flow later today and into tomorrow. This will result in a strong offshore flow through the Straits of JdF with Small Craft Advisories in place for the northern coastal waters, the Straits, and the northern inland waters. This will ease over the course of the day tomorrow with winds becoming light over the entire Salish Sea on Sunday. Both days should have some sun so don’t forget that sunblock before you leave the house.
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For the central and south Sound, we could see 20 knots of northerly tomorrow morning and into the early afternoon. This will ease to 15 knots by mid to late afternoon. The reason for this is that 1042 MB high sitting over central BC that is feeding into a weak and amorphous 1025 MB hight sitting off of our coast. Both of these highs will weaken over the weekend and ease the gradient, reducing the offshore flow. This, combined with a relatively static jet stream, will keep any of those impressive low-pressure systems from getting into our area and bringing some much-needed rain to the valleys and snow to the mountains. More importantly, these highs won’t allow any rain into California to help the firemen.
So where are we in terms of rain? As of today, we’ve had .84 inches of rain compared to an average of 3.19 inches. For the year, we’ve had 25.07 inches compared to an average 28.76 inches for this date. Then there was last year where we’d had 37.81 inches by this time! Unfortunately, not much is going to change. Even though by Wednesday we’ll have another weak front approaching the coast, when it hits the coastal buffer zone, it will be significantly degraded. So I wouldn’t get those ski’s out quite yet, I would just keep enjoying the boat for a while longer.
As always, check the VHF station reports and track the barometric pressure gradient reports before you leave the dock, develop your own forecast, and keep an eye on what’s going on around you.
It’s very exciting to welcome CSR Marine as a Sailish.com sponsor. Over the last couple of years I’ve come to rely on their insights into the racing, new boat and marine industry scenes. The quality of their work is top notch, and their commitment to the sport unwavering as evidenced by their sponsorship of this site. Click on their logo anytime to visit csrmarine.com. If your company would like to sponsor sailish.com, or you want to contribute as an individual sailor, please click here to visit the Patreon site. If you have any questions or concerns about the process, please click here to email me.
In the meantime, I’m happy to share a promo video from the CSR web site:
For many of us, Round the County (RTC) race in the San Juans is the best of times and the worst of times, with one day having breeze and the next, none. Or, doing well one day and not the next. This year, the wind gods (Bruce Hedrick among them) decided on a relatively light two-day northerly for the race this past weekend.
It was a clockwise year, and the fleet had good breeze heading south after the start. After Davidson Rock things became challenging, with the boats that headed inshore seemingly doing the best. Of course short-tacking the shore to the finish kept crews busy. On day two, the boats that kept close to shore after Turn Point found some good breeze and were able to escape quicker than those who kept off shore. A freighter forced that decision on a few, and in fact keeping clear of commercial traffic this year was one of the points of emphasis from the organizers.
The finish turned out to a parkup off Lydia Shoal, where much of the race was won or lost. The results show Hamachi winning the ORC division just ahead of Dark Star with the TP 52s, for once, back in the pack. Class winners in PHRF included Recon, 65 Red Roses, Vitesse, Sir Isaac, Here and Now and Saltheart Foamfollower.
One of the great things about Round the County is the variety of boats that compete – and win! Remember the schooner Martha? This year there’s another schooner to talk about, Sir Isaac, John and Ann Bailey’s Chuck Burns designed 49-footer which won Division 3.
The first thing to know about Sir Isaac is that she spent 10 years in a major rebuild. John and Ann sailed the boat for a few years before deciding to do the extensive work that would be needed to make her the cruising machine they wanted. From 2006-2016 Sir Isaac lived in one end of a building and the Bailey’s in another. They wanted to be close, after all they were doing all the work themselves! It would be no small job on the 1984 cold-molded boat.
The work including cutting the deck off (with a Sawzall, no less), replacing the deck, cabin and cockpit, glassing the cockpit, gutting and rebuilding the interior and re-glassing the hull. There was extensive vacuum bagging involved, and John Bailey credits “mentor” Russell Brown with advising throughout the process. The Baileys have plans to do some serious sailing in the years to come, including considering a race to Hawaii in 2020. So they built in additional tankage.
The second thing to know about the Baileys and Sir Isaac is that they “LOVE” their boat and the Salish sailing scene. “Everybody treats us nicely,” John reports. If the name John Bailey, associated with PNW sailing, sounds familiar, it is. John’s mother, Jo Bailey, co-authored the wonderfulGunkholing in the San Juansbook that goes cruising with me every time I head north. Sadly, Jo Bailey died about a year ago.
While a schooner rig is fairly daunting for a racing crew, the way it breaks up sail area makes a good choice for shorthanded cruising. The Baileys find it an easy rig to handle. The boat certainly has strong and weak points. This year’s light air reaching was very good for Sir Isaac, thought the beat up the west side of San Juan Island was not. The crew kept all those sails (including that marvelous “fisherman” hanging between the masts) going up and down and the the boat pointed away from the holes while John Bailey focused on boat speed. At the finish line parking lot, Bailey picked what was probably the best route – outside the Peapods, but not getting too wide before riding a wind line to the finish.
Photos by Jan Anderson, except where noted. Click any to enlarge.