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.
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.
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
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.
0912 Max Flood 2.14 knts
1515 Max Ebb 1.66 knts
1537 Max Ebb 1.38 knts
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
1036 Max Flood 1.61 knts
1656 Max Ebb 1.61 knts
0900 Max Flood 1.5 knts
1630 Max Ebb 1.94 knts
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
Seems like everyone not already up in the Islands, is going to leave on Friday, which should work just fine. Tides will not be great however what wind there is will be from the SE.
As you can see from the surface charts there is a weak low-pressure system off the coast that is moving to the SE with an attached frontal system. This will dissipate on Friday and will result in unstable conditions for the Race over the weekend.
For delivery on Friday, if you’re leaving from Seattle, expect 10-15 knots from the SE which will lighten to 5-10 from the SE by noon or about the time you’ll be crossing the Straits. If your mast is short enough you can go up the inside and through the Swinomish Slough, just be careful of the shallow spots in the Slough.
Tides at Bush Point
0606 Max Flood 2.76 knts
1406 Max Ebb 1.57 knts
1918 Max Flood 1.35 knts
Tides at Rosario Straits
0712 Max Flood 2.06 knts
1430 Max Ebb 1.44 knts
1918 Max Flood .25 knts
Preliminary Race forecast
Who can forget two years ago when we had a downwind start and Crossfire made it from the starting line to Alden Point in 45 minutes. It won’t be that good this year but it will be similar. Remember to follow the SI’s and report your time at the Alden Point because from Alden Point to the finish could get very light and flukey.
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.
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.
1400 Max Ebb .39 knots
1942 Max Flood .52 knots
0748 Max Flood .98 knots
1412 Max Ebb .37 knots
2036 Max Flood .53 knots
0848 Max Flood .91 knots
1430 Max Ebb .33 knots
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.
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!
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.
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.
0948 Max Flood .97 knts
1424 Max Ebb .3 knts
1100 Max Flood 1.02 knts
1524 Max Ebb .27 knts
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.
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
1536 Max Flood .95 knots
0830 Max Ebb .44 knots
1224 Max Ebb .12 knots
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!
Our very interesting year of weather continues after a spectacularly beautiful week of true Indian Summer conditions. As we know, it simply isn’t going to last however there is really nothing major league bad in the offing. That, however, is the bad news.
As you can see from the charts, we have a cold front that is rapidly approaching the Pacific Northwest and will blow through the area tonight. The baro is dropping and we are already seeing rain off the north coast on the Doppler. The other feature to note is the incredibly strong high-pressure system (1040MB) off the coast. This will drive a strong onshore flow down the Straits after the cold front passes. Unfortunately, this will create a convergence zone over the Race Course area for tomorrow. As is typical for a post-frontal scenario, the isobars will ease over the Upper Sound and lower part of Admiralty Inlet and while it may be cranking in the Straits, 25-30 knots from the West, the westerly won’t get much past the Marrowstone Light. While there will be enough southerly in the Race area to get the race started, it will tend to get lighter from noon on. The key to this race will be to finish early.
Running the polars for Crossfire, they should finish just after 1300 hours in a dying south-southeasterly followed closely by the TP-52’s. The rest of fleet may struggle a bit as the breeze will continue to drop. Other projected times are:
Beneteau First 40.7 1609
Farr 1020 1719
The tides will actually be a help. For Admiralty Inlet off Bush Point.
1018 Max Ebb 2.74 knots
1612 Max Flood 1.75 knots
This will be another race that will drive tacticians and navigators crazy as they struggle to keep their vessels in the best wind. The key here will be to keep your head out of the boat and watch which way the smart people are going. For the most part, on the way up to Scatchet Head, simply aim at the mark and sail your polars.
From Scatchet Head to Foulweather Bluff, you will want to stay in the ebb tide and stay out of Skunk Bay where it can get light in a southerly. With any kind of luck, you’ll get around FWB near slack water. Remember that the flood starts first coming down the west side of the Sound and around Point No Point, so watch your COG and SOG. Again, if you’re beating after the mark, stay out of Skunk Bay, there’s a reason why it’s called that….
From Pt No Pt to the finish, have your barber-haulers and light air sheets rigged and ready and aim for the finish. Given a choice between going due east or down the Sound on the west side, stay to the west. Just don’t overstand the finish and keep yourself between your competition and the finish line.
Remember, all of this presumes a long course. The committee has two other options if it looks like it’s going to be really light.
The rest of the weekend really looks OK with the only really breezy conditions being in the Straits. While we’ll tend to have a southerly over the Sound on Saturday, this will shift to a northerly on Sunday. In other words, Stay in Edmonds, enjoy the post-race activities and the sail home on Sunday.
Take a peek also at the surface chart for 10 October. If you were impressed with the 1040MB High, you’ll love the 1043MB monster that’s projected. It also shows another weak cold front coming over us. None of these will produce much rain however it will be getting cooler in the evenings.