After Swiftsure, this week certainly went by fast and now we’re racing again tomorrow. No wonder the Mrs isn’t exactly pleased. I guess I might be a bit behind on my lawn and garden maintenance program… I don’t know why however I think tomorrow on the water, any water, will still be a lot more fun than getting dirty in the garden.
Speaking of Swiftsure, last weekend was certainly proof that when there is little to no gradient just about anything can happen. This weekend in the Straits will be much different as we’ll have an onshore flow and as the ridge of high pressure builds on Sunday by the evening it will be really cranking from the west.
For the last of the Tri-Island Series, not so much. There will be wind, and there will be the sunshine so it will still be a great day on the water. Just don’t forget the sunblock before you leave the house! The other plus is the tides which will be favorable and there won’t be much of them.
Tidal Currents at West Point
1036 Max Flood .71 knots
1500 Max Ebb .17 knots
The first gun is supposed to be around 0900 hours however if you look at the surface charts you’ll notice the remains of a trough moving to the east and unfortunately that will leave a large gap in the pressure gradient. This will result in a light downslope, drainage breeze from the east in the morning. With some clearing and no gradient, this could be the perfect set-up for the Swihart Effect which says the northerly will start down the Sound once the flood tide gets rolling. If the clearing continues, look for the northerly to continue to build through the day.
As is typical for the Blake Island Race, you can pick your poison deciding which way you are going to go around the Island. In almost all cases it’s best to leave the Island to starboard especially when you have a flood tide. This is because of the ebb that continues to roll up Colvos and the back side of the Island. The flood may not get all the way to the bottom of the Island, however, there will be more wind on the east side of the Island.
If the breeze is northerly in the starting area, you’ll probably do a starboard set just don’t go west too long. Before the start watch the flag at the West Point lighthouse and if it’s showing any easterly at all plan a gybe to port to be at the West Point Buoy. If on port you’re aiming at Alki, hold that gybe until you get lifted to Spuds Fish and Chips, then gybe and aim at the Island. Just don’t get too close to the Island especially at the south end. See the picture. If you swing wide enough at the south end you’ll carry the northerly into the light zone. Just be ready to smoothly transition into what little breeze there will be on the backside of the Island. Headsail up, in the starboard groove, spinnaker down, all without changing course and hopefully without slowing much.
Since you’ll be swept along with the ebb up the backside of the Island, sail the favored tack, usually starboard and don’t get too close to the Island. By the same token don’t too far over to the Manchester shore as it will get light in there as well. Work your way up to Bainbridge Island since the current tends to set from west to east along that south shore. Once you get to Restoration hold on to port tack. If you are aimed at Four Mile Rock, just keep going right up to Magnolia Bluff. If you end up being headed below(east of) Four Mile, take a short hitch until you can once again be above Four Mile. Really watch your depth sounder coming into there as it gets very shallow, very quickly. If the breeze has built as you’ve come across you’ll want to do your tack change here going from the light #1 to the heavy #1going from port to starboard tack. You should be right under the Bluff and it will be puffy so the mainsheet/ traveler person is going to be working very hard to keep the boat on its feet.
Once you clear West Point hold on to starboard tack until you can lay the entrance to the Ship Canal. Of course, this also depends on where the finish line is located. You’d like to get close to the entrance so it will be easier to call the tack to the finish, finishing on starboard and probably in more breeze than the boats on the outside. There will also be a nice push from the current coming out of the Ship Canal.
Be safe, use lots of sunblock, and have a great time.