Bruce’s Brief for January 6-7 and Duwamish Head Race

Bruce’s Brief for January 6-7 and Duwamish Head Race

And the word of the week is bombogenesis!, which is what happened to the East Coast this week resulting in hurricane force winds, lots of snow, all to be followed by record-setting cold temperatures. So what is bombogenesis? Very simply, this is a rapidly intensifying low-pressure system where the pressure drops at least 24mb over 24 hours. This system easily met the definition by dropping 59mb in 24 hours! I guess even though our weather is a little wet, we’ll take it compared to what they will have endured on the East Coast.

So how wet was it this last year? The record for rainfall in a year, as recorded at SeaTac since 1945, was 55.14 inches in 1950. In 1996 we had 50.67 inches and this year we had a measly 47.87 inches compared to a yearly average of 37.49 inches. What is interesting is that this last summer we also set a new record of 55 consecutive days without rain. This makes four consecutive years of over 44 inches of rain per year which I think we would prefer to the situation Cape Town finds itself in as it approaches “Day Zero” sometime this May. “Day Zero” is the day the taps go dry in Cape Town, the city simply runs out of water. Climate change? And Trump wants to cut funding to the National Weather Service? Kurt is kicking me to get back to my assignment for the day. (Ed. note, NO, he’s not. However, I see Trump’s reasoning: “If I fund the National Weather Service, all they’re going to do is come up with research and facts. I hate those things!”)

As we used to say at North U, one of the reasons why we enjoy sailboat racing is that no two races are ever the same. Except as I look back on last year, this is pretty damn close. Basically, there will be wind for the start and the run up to Duwamish, however, the wind will drop as you go north and then the Sound will glass off sometime around mid-afternoon. Last year Crossfire made it through the light air at Blakely Rock and Blake Island and got back into some wind and slammed the door on the fleet. The same thing could happen this year as there will be wind off the water and Crossfire has the rig to grab what there is up there.

As you can see from today’s surface analysis and from the GOES West Water Vapor picture, we have a dissipating low-pressure system moving through the area today. Pressure is already starting to rise and the wind is starting to clock around to the SW, a classic post-frontal pattern. Then you look at the Surface Forecast Chart for tomorrow and you see the problem, a huge gap in the gradient over the Pacific Northwest. Not all the models agree on this with some showing a nice south-southwesterly (8-10 knots) over the race course for the entire day. I’m not that optimistic. I think it is more likely that by the north end of Vashon things will start to get squirrely with big shifts and puffs from the SW. It will be important to sail the rhumb line from Three Tree to Alki and not sail too many extra miles chasing puffs. By Alki, have the drifter ready and don’t get too close to the beach. Remember also that with max ebb at 1300 hours and the fact that there will be lots of water coming out of the Duwamish, there could be a strong set to the west at the Duwamish mark. With the combination of very light air and anti-water at the mark, rounding could be challenging. The first boat around will have a huge advantage until they run out of wind again at Blakely Rock. From there to the finish will be a shifty bit of drag racing from hole to hole. The other bad news is that there will be no flood tide until early Sunday morning at 0512 hrs. Yes, the ebb will run from 0842 Saturday until 0512 Sunday.

Remember, the big Seattle Boat Show starts Friday, Jan 26th at CenturyLink Field. I’ll be working at the Information Booth both Friday and Saturday evening the first weekend, Sunday the 28th from 1000-1400, Monday the 29th from 1500-2000hrs, Tuesday the 30th from 1000-1500hrs, and Friday, Feb 2nd from 1600-2100hrs, so if you’re at the show please stop by and say hello.

 

Bruce’s Brief’s 1,2 and 3 Dec: TYC Winter Vashon

Bruce’s Brief’s 1,2 and 3 Dec: TYC Winter Vashon

As usual, there will be a great turnout for the start of the South Sound Series. Where else do we get a chance to race in rain, snow, and sometimes a pretty good breeze. Unfortunately, this year it’s looking like some breeze for the start then dropping off as we transition from a very rainy November to a dryish and coolish start of December. November is traditionally our wettest month and this year will be no exception as we are two inches ahead of our average rainfall for the month. The good news is that we’ve only had 42 inches of rain so far this year and the record is 55 inches set in 1950. The normal amount of rain for the year by the end of November is 32 inches.

As you can see from the charts we’ve got quite a mishmash of weather systems lurking off the coast and by Monday we’ll have the start of a fairly big high-pressure system starting to build over the area with a whopping low-pressure slamming the Aleutians, again.

While it is Thursday, the models are still divergent with the general consensus shifting towards some wind on Saturday morning from the south then gradually becoming lighter before it shifts to the north by around midnight. For racers, this will mean drag racing from puff to puff as you ride the tide up Colvos. While you may have 8-10 knots of southerly for the start, this will drop to five knots or less as the day goes on with plenty of dead spots in Colvos. The masthead Windex will give you some warning about where the next puff will be coming from. The boats with the tall rigs will make out as long as the trimmers are working hard. After you get around the top mark you’ll probably have a due southerly until it goes really light around mid-afternoon. As you beat towards Pt. Robinson, don’t get too close to Vashon and don’t stray too far to the east of the rhumb line. While on starboard if the puffs start to become lifts that will tell you to stay to the west just not too close to the Island.

The great thing about TYC is that if it gets too sticky in Colvos, they usually have the good sense to end the race at the top mark so make sure someone has the bino’s out and you’re checking the flags on the mark boat.

While the parties, both pre and post race, at TYC are legendary, remember that the first day the high-pressure ridge builds over the Northwest will result in the most wind from the North and if you’re delivering the boat back to Seattle on Sunday you could have 15-20 cold knots of wind right on the nose. If they finish you at the top mark and Seattle is your home port, head straight for the barn after you finish and juggle the cars later.

Good luck and have a great race.

 

 

Bruce’s Brief’s Nov 17, 18, & 19 and the Pineapple Express

Bruce’s Brief’s Nov 17, 18, & 19 and the Pineapple Express

No doubt, winter is here and is just getting started. The really interesting part of this weekend’s charts are the 500MB charts which show the jet stream undulating over the Pacific into the Aleutians, then back down to Hawaii before coming back into the Pacific Northwest, can you say Pineapple Express?

For those of you that decided to wait until this weekend to bring the boat back from Round the County, the best day was probably today, however, being mere mortals and having jobs may have prevented that. The next best day will be tomorrow, just get an early start and if you’re comfortable leaving early so you get to Deception Pass around 0830, that will be the tail of the ebb before slack at 0930. Then go down the inside to avoid what will be more wind and more lump in Admiralty Inlet. This will also get you south or north to Vancouver before 2100 hours when that next front will start manifesting itself over the area. By early Sunday morning expect Gale warnings for SE breeze (35-40 knots) off the coast and in the eastern Straits of JdF and southern part of the Strait of Georgia. The front will pass around noon with the wind moderating by mid-Sunday afternoon.

For those of you going cruising over the Thanksgiving Holiday, really pay attention to the weather as we are going to get pummeled by a series of fronts coming into the Pacific Northwest. Next Wednesday afternoon might be a good time to leave work early and go down to the boat to check the mooring lines and make sure all your chafe gear is in place.

Have a great weekend.

RTC Photo Finish Vids and Bruce’s Weather Brief for Saturday Night thru Monday and “Home Delivery”

If you’re up in the Islands then you are already feeling what’s coming tomorrow. Smith Island currently showing 28 with gusts to 32 from SE and the barometer is still dropping. So while there will be wind in the Straits, it still looks like the starting area could be a problem. Once you get just a little ways south you should be sailing into a building southeasterly where along the very bottom of the course you could see 15-25 with higher gusts. By the time you get to Davidson Rock it should back off to 15 from the SE and then steadily drop as you approach the finish. On the run north, there will tend to be more wind on the west side of the course.

The real question about getting heading for home on Sunday comes down “well, do you feel lucky?” If you’re trying to get back to Seattle and you think you can make it to Port Townsend before 1800 hours go ahead and roll the dice. The next blast of SE will fill in around midnight but you will still be in 15-25 knots on and off all the way back. After midnight expect 25+ from the SE. Regardless, I would probably park the boat at Orcas, enjoy the post-race party, and salute your fellow competitors. Plan to bring the boat down later, much later. Just check out the surface charts.

If you’re headed back to Vancouver, and you finish by 1300-1400, the key will be to be back at your slip in Vancouver before midnight. For the run north, you’ll have consistently 15-25 from the SE. After midnight expect it to build to 25-30 with higher gusts.

Contrary to what my friend Nigel says, the logs don’t sink below the surface after dark. So be careful out there.

Today’s Half – A Good Day’s Sail

As far as the racing went today, well, word it was a good day on the water with no rain. The results.

Our friends on Crossfire were quick to get out the following track.

Crossfire’s Track

The videos, by Malcolm MacNeil, show the duel to the finish between Crossfire and Glory. Crossfire just beat them across the line, But Glory won the day on corrected time in ORC. Over on the PHRF side, it was apparently a Moore kind of day with Moore 24s taking the top three spots in Division 5 with the top Moore, Bruzer, grabbing first in fleet. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in tomorrow’s blow. After all is said and done, I’ll be looking for material (stories, photos, vids) to post. Hit me. -KH

Bruce’s Brief 11, 12 &13 November, Round the County 2017

Bruce’s Brief 11, 12 &13 November, Round the County 2017

There’s a reason why Round the County (RTC) is one of the most popular races in the Pacific Northwest and this weekend will only continue to further that reputation. The course, in addition to being just beautiful, is always a challenge with interesting rivers of tidal current and winds that do their best to be unpredictable. As we get closer to the start the different models are not very much in agreement and it’s easy to see why, just check out the current surface analysis and then the forecast chart for tomorrow.

We currently have a weak, 1009 MB, low-pressure system off of the central Oregon coast trying to move inland. There is a deepening low-pressure system off of SE Alaska which is riding the jet stream (500MB chart) towards the Pacific Northwest and will start to impact us Sunday night and into next week. Delivery skippers heading south may want to park the boat after the race. If you’re headed north and back to Vancouver, be prepared for some breeze. I’ll update this on Sunday.

Tidal Currents

Peapod Rocks

0538      Slack

0912      Max Flood            2.14 knts

1255      Slack

1515      Max Ebb                 1.66 knts

1950      Slack

Turn Point

1252      Slack

1537      Max Ebb                 1.38 knts

2011      Slack

For Saturday that weak low-pressure system will be gone and we’ll have a pair of weak high-pressure systems inland slowing the approach of that low from SE Alaska. In addition, we’ll have a weak low-pressure trough off our coast ahead of that approaching cold front. So what does that mean for racing? Be prepared for just about anything. Since most of the time, we race in windward-leeward format, the reaching equipment is usually buried in the gear locker. Get out those barber haulers, snatch blocks and reaching sheets and make sure they are readily available along with the drifter. Those crews that trim and change gears aggressively will be the winners. While the forecast may be for small craft advisories on both Saturday and Sunday, the timing of the breeze is very much in question. Also, the wind will be from the southeast however where it will be is still a very big question.

Click to enlarge image:

For the start expect light air, downwind conditions with the wind building slightly as you get north of Lawrence Point on Orcas. From Lawrence to Patos you will essentially be dead downwind so you’ll be watching the gybe angles and your SOG with the flood tide. Also be aware of the limiting marks found in the SI’s. The really interesting part of the race will be from Patos to Turn Point as the southeasterly is going to have a hard time getting over Orcas and back to touching down in Boundary Pass. After 1300 hours you’ll at least have the tide with you. This is where the models are very divergent as to when the steadier breeze might fill in. One model has Crossfire finishing at around 1300 hrs while another has them in around 1430 hrs.

Sunday will be quite a different story as that low gets closer to the race course. This shouldn’t be a gear busting thrash to Davidson Rock however you could see puffs to 20 knots from SE the closer you get to Davidson. Unfortunately, the problem may be the starting line and where the committee decides to set it. You may recall in 2015 that after a wild Saturday, the Sunday start was set in a real hole and a number of contenders were unable to even make the start line. Those that made it had a nice beat in a southeasterly after they got past Lime Kiln Point.

Tidal Currents Sunday

Haro Strait

0812      Slack

1036      Max Flood            1.61 knts

1315      Slack

1656      Max Ebb                 1.61 knts

2242      Slack

Rosario Strait

0900      Max Flood            1.5 knts

1300      Slack

1630      Max Ebb                 1.94 knts

2048      Slack

In addition to the challenge of getting away from the starting line, you’ll also be sailing into a building flood tide until you get past False Bay. Keep track of COG and SOG until you are solidly into the current that’s going your way. Ideally, you’d like to finish before 1300 hrs. The current GRIB files have Crossfire finishing just after noon. Think about starting with the headsail in the port groove so you’d hoist the next headsail while on starboard tack, then do a short hitch to port away from the Island to drop the old headsail.

Besides getting all the reach gear ready make sure safety comes first. Have a great weekend and if you’ve got AIS please leave it on for the race so I can armchair race along with you! Thanks

 

Bruce’s Brief November 3 – Snow!

The view this morning is looking to the north at the San Juan Islands and to the northwest at Vancouver Island, Victoria and the Malahat Pass, all of which have a dusting of SNOW! So for those of you getting ready to head out for a weekend on the water, dress appropriately because it is COLD! This should also serve as a reminder for those getting ready for Round the County next weekend to dig out the long johns, pocket warmers, foot warmers, safety harnesses and tethers. The really long range forecast (and probably NOT very accurate) shows a cranking onshore flow for that weekend. Hint, tomorrow looks like a great day to run the boat north and don’t just go part way, start very early and do it in one day because Sunday the breeze will be from the north and cold.

As you look at the charts today you can see why we got the snow with a high in southern BC and a low off our coast. As these systems shift to the east this will bring us light air Saturday becoming southerly in the late afternoon. On Sunday we’ll be under the influence of the backside of the low which will bring us a northerly, not too strong but very cool.

The 7 November chart shows a 984MB low combining with a 988MB low and coming right towards the Pacific Northwest but stalling off our coast as the coastal buffer zone kicks in. We’ll be watching this as some of you have been asking about weather for doing the delivery north starting Thursday or Friday. We’ll provide a Wednesday update for deliveries and the Race forecast on Friday.

If you have any specific questions about the Race, please get those to me by Thursday night and I’ll do my best to get them answered.

Also, Kurt did a great job with the survey he sent out and it obviously hit a nerve because he got a pretty large number of replies. Take some time to review the results and if it inspires you to post comments on the blog or send them directly to Kurt, feel free. It’s all good.

Be safe and enjoy the weekend!

Bruce’s Briefs, 27, 28, & 29 October Plus Grand Prix Regatta

Bruce’s Briefs, 27, 28, & 29 October Plus Grand Prix Regatta

For a while this week it was looking like Grand Prix might, once again, be a total washout. Luckily, the weather changes and while Saturday looks pretty grim, today looks like the best breeze and Sunday might have some breeze by early to mid-afternoon. In other words, win all the races you can today as that may be all races you’re going to have.

There won’t be much tidal action this weekend so that’s good when the breeze is going to be light.

Friday 10-27

1048      Slack

1400      Max Ebb                 .39 knots

1706      Slack

1942      Max Flood            .52 knots

Saturday 10-28

0748      Max Flood            .98 knots

1142      Slack

1412      Max Ebb                 .37 knots

1754      Slack

2036      Max Flood            .53 knots

Sunday 10-29

0848      Max Flood            .91 knots

1236      Slack

1430      Max Ebb                 .33 knots

1842      Slack

2200      Max Flood            .60 knots

 

Looking at the surface charts you can’t help but notice the strong offshore flow coming from the 1034MB high-pressure system situated to the northeast of us. This is generating easterly winds through the Gorge, the mountain passes, and the Straits. In the central Sound, this will cause 5-10 knots of northerly with occasional shifts to the northeast. Tacticians will have fun with that today depending on where the RC sends you. The puffs will tend to be more northeasterly the more you are to the east side of the Sound and as the day goes on, there will be less wind over the entire area and especially on the east side of the Sound.

Saturday looks like a great day for powerboating with temperatures approaching 70° and 0 to 3 knots of breeze from all over the compass. The Husky game is early for once so we should all be back in time to watch that.

Right now Sunday looks like it could be very light in the morning with a weak northerly filling down the Sound by early to mid-afternoon. As you can see from the charts there simply won’t be much gradient over the area after today. Remember, however, that this could also result in a very nice thermally induced northerly, so keep your fingers crossed.

The chart for Tuesday, the 30th, is interesting just because of the monster low-pressure systems we have lurking out in the Pacific. Note the words “hurricane force” and “rapidly intensifying”, eventually one of those is going to find its way into our area.

Wear your sunblock, have fun and enjoy the weekend.

Bruce’s Weather Brief 21,22, & 23 Oct

Bruce’s Weather Brief 21,22, & 23 Oct

Gee, can you guess fall is really here? Yet even after the driest summer ever, we are still over 8” of rain ahead for the year and we have the wettest months ahead of us. Needless to say, it is going to be very interesting.

A quick look at the charts shows a weak trough of low-pressure off the coast today with three more low-pressure systems lined up for the weekend. The interesting part is that for the central Sound, Saturday is going to be very different from Sunday. The Saturday morning chart shows a warm front off the coast with 50-knots forecast for the northern coast of Oregon and the southern coast of Washington. The postfrontal area shows a very strong onshore flow with winds consistently over 30 knots. If you thought the surf along the coast this week (19-21’) was impressive, just wait. This is reinforced by the jet stream which is coming directly across the Pacific and right into the Pacific Northwest. The folks flying back from Hawaii will really benefit from the 100-knot tailwinds. If it was only a little further south it would be bringing much-needed rain into the wine country of northern California.

The result of all this for boaters is that the eastern end of the Straits of Juan de Fuca will be fairly wild on Saturday with gale warnings in place until early Saturday evening for SE winds of 30-40 knots with higher gusts. By late Saturday night, the postfrontal wind will kick-in with 25-30 knots of westerly in the same area of the Straits.

For the central and south Puget Sound, Saturday will be fairly benign until the postfrontal flow starts coming through the Chehalis gap in the early evening Saturday. By Saturday evening expect 15-25 knots of southwesterly over the area. By Sunday morning this will ease over the south Sound however you can expect 15-20 knots of southerly over the central Sound to last most of the day.

This will be a great weekend to break out the extra winter mooring lines and chafe gear as well trade phone numbers with your slip mate in case of mooring emergencies. While I am definitely in favor of winter cruising, Saturday morning would be a great time to take the roller furling jib down and get it to the sailmaker. Leaving those roller furling jibs up in the winter is just asking for trouble. When you do decide to go cruising, just use the number 3 or number 4 headsail, easy to rig, easy to stow.

Be sure to take a look at the chart for 24 Oct as once again we are expected have a fairly strong high-pressure system over the area which will be a welcome respite from the rain this weekend. Then, look to the west and check out that MONSTER 947MB low-pressure in the Aleutians which could impact our weather by next weekend!

Be safe and have a great weekend.

Bruce’s Briefs 13, 14, and 15 Oct 2017, CYC’s Big Boat PSSC

Bruce’s Briefs 13, 14, and 15 Oct 2017, CYC’s Big Boat PSSC

Get out and enjoy the weekend! Beautiful day today and it looks like it will hold for the weekend. Perhaps the most interesting feature this week is Hurricane Ophelia as it continues to build with some models showing the British Isles taking a direct hit.

Ophelia

Then there’s the tornado outside of Portland turning over some small planes. The great thing about the weather is that it’s never boring.

Today’s chart shows a setup most Vic-Maui, Pacific Cup, and TransPac sailors dream about; a nice and round 1041 MB high-pressure system with almost perfect spacing in the isobars. The only problem is that weak low-pressure system sitting over the Pacific Northwest. This will result in some atmospheric instability and generally light conditions over the Salish Sea.

For PSSC this will mean a pretty nice southerly over the Shilshole area and about 8-15 knots until late in the afternoon when the breeze will start to drop and shift more to the southeast. Sunday the breeze will fill in from the north at about 8-10 knots and should hold for the day. All in all, pretty perfect conditions for a regatta.

The tides will cooperate as well which will make the racing very interesting. These are the tidal currents at West Point.

Saturday

0948      Max Flood            .97 knts

1254      Slack

1424      Max Ebb                 .3 knts

1748      Slack

Sunday

0536      Slack

1100      Max Flood            1.02 knts

1348      Slack

1524      Max Ebb                 .27 knts

1854      Slack

With the southerly and a flood tide for the start of racing on Saturday you can expect a southeasterly shift along the shore north of Meadow Point and along the breakwater off of Shilshole. Even with a flood tide, there will still be an advantage to going left off the start line and minimizing the number of tacks to the weather mark. Chances are it will also pay to do a starboard pole set at the weather mark and hold that until you start to get lifted as you sail north. After the bottom mark, the direction you go will depend on how far to the west the mark is, where your competition goes and how far the wind is to south or south-west. If the mark is way to the west than you may not be able to go far enough to the east to get back into the south-easterly. If this is the case then it’s back to basic’s, stay between your competition and the finish. On the run north be sure to have someone check the flags on the committee boat and see which end of the line is favored and if one side of the course is favored.

The northerly on Sunday will make things even trickier as there may still be a slight north-easterly component in the morning. If the sky is clear over the downtown area and it can heat up sooner, this will bring the wind around to northwest sooner. Again, keep your head out of the boat and watch which way the smart guys are going.

Good luck and have a great weekend.

 

 

Bruce’s Brief for PSSC Small Boats – check out the double ebb Sunday!

Bruce’s Brief for PSSC Small Boats – check out the double ebb Sunday!

For the CYC’s Small Boat Series off of Shilshole, it doesn’t look much better on Saturday when you’ll have light and variable breeze. Sunday, however, looks MUCH better with 15-20 knots of northerly in the morning and then dropping off to 5-10 knots of northerly in the afternoon.

Tides will be more interesting for the Shilshole venue especially on Sunday. And no, that is not a typo on Sunday with ebbs back to back.

0742      Max Ebb                 .47 knots

1242      Slack

1536      Max Flood            .95 knots

1806      Slack

 

Sunday

0830      Max Ebb                 .44 knots

1224      Max Ebb                 .12 knots

1342      Slack

1618      Max Flood            .87 knots

 

The tactics for Saturday and Sunday will be highly dependent on where the start line is set. On Sunday if the RC is closer to the breakwater, in the morning think of Thursday evening racing in the summer. On Sunday afternoon think of morning racing in the summer, in other words, more of a slight northeasterly component.

Have a great weekend

 

Ed. Note, Thanks Bruce for thinking of us “little guys.” It looks like a solid turnout with a dozen J/24s, 11 Lasers, 11 RS Aeros, 7 Moore 24s, 4 Stars and a few other classes as well. Here’s to a competitive racing, even if it is a bit light!