Smartest Sailor in the Cockpit

Smartest Sailor in the Cockpit

Like a lot of other people, I find the Internet can be the best of times and the worst. I can sit in front of my computer and in five minutes find some gem of information that truly improves my life. At other times, I get sucked into site after site and an hour later have to extract myself to realize I learned absolutely nothing. So, this “Smartest Sailor” post is simply me plucking out a few stories that I found interesting and that you might too. To qualify they have to be sailing related, Salish related and pass my completely subjective relevant/interesting/amusing/useful filter. If others find it worthwhile, I’ll keep doing it.


John Harrison Doucet

Sailor Electrocuted, A Warning to Us All

20-year-old sailor John Harrison Doucet of Gulfport, Mississippi was electrocuted when his J/22’s mast hit an overhead wire and his hand was on the trailer hitch. Story here. He had both legs amputated and is fighting for his life. This happened in Gulfport, but could easily have happened here in the Northwest. Next time down at your dry storage area, check for dangerous power lines. If there are any, make sure the yard operators are aware of the problem and do something about it.


Photo: Alethea Leddy, Port Angeles Whale Watch Co.

Humpback Rescue Team

Humpbacks save sea lion from orcas. In fact, they have quite a reputation for intervention. Chris Dunagan has the story here of a recent rescue in BC waters. Yes, that’s right, boatloads of whale watchers got to see a pod of humpbacks come to the rescue of a sea lion from a pod of transient orcas. While that’d be a great scene to see play out, it’s not something we’d want to be in the middle of!




Unguided Transatlantic

Everybody seems to want to send automated, high tech boats across the pond these days. Kaitlyn Dow, a high school junior in Waterford, Connecticut succeeded with a low-tech approach. She sent a 3′ essentially unguided boat with a dubious sailplan across pond to Ireland. Young Irish girl Méabh Ní Ghionnáin (don’t you just love that name even if you haven’t the foggiest how to pronounce it) of Galway, got word through the coasts Pubnet (my name for Ireland’s pub network, which, by the way, is far more efficient than the Internet) that the boat was coming and was on the lookout when it arrived. I think it’s remarkable that an unmanned, essentially unguided, boat can do a transatlantic. I also wonder what my feelings would be if I ran into it while taking my own boat transatlantic. Regardless, congratulations to Kaitlyn and Méabh for sending and receiving that little boat.


Suhaili during reconsctruction, it wasn’t all pretty.

Suhaili Relaunched, Ready to Race without Sextant

A couple weeks ago Sir Robin Knox-Johnston relaunched Suhaili, the 32-footer he sailed around the world nonstop in 1968. She’s in great shape, and by the sounds of it Knox-Johnston did much of the work with his own hands. His 312-day voyage to win the Golden Globe Challenge was the first nonstop trip of the kind and marks the beginning of what has culminated to this point in the Vendee Globe Race. A couple interesting things here. First, Sir Robin restored Suhaili to sail in the recreation of that Golden Globe Race. This new race requires 32-36′ full keel boats that were designed before 1988 and displace at least 6200 kg. Furthermore, while they’ll have electronic navigation tools onboard in case of emergency, they won’t be using them. Yes, Virginia, back to sextants. And there are 26 provisional entrants. One of those entrants is none other than Sir Robin, who at age 79 will be sailing Suhaili. If this ironman finishes, he’s a god. If he wins with that boat, he’s a god’s god. The idea of the race is just so out there it might draw a lot of attention.


Overdue Saltspring Sailor

Finally, Saltspring Island sailor Paul Lim is way overdue from Hawaii. He left Hilo August 1 with his Spencer 35 Watercolour bound for Victoria, BC, and had not been heard from as of September 30. The US Coast Guard searched an area between Hilo and Victoria with a C-130 aircraft to no avail. The USCG continues to search and asks that  anyone with information on the whereabouts of Mr. Lim or the Sailing Vessel Watercolour is asked to call the U.S. Coast Guard at 510-437-3701. USCG press release here, Vancouver Sun article here.


Bruce’s Brief for the Smith Island Race

Bruce’s Brief for the Smith Island Race

This is the start of SYC’s Tri-Island Series and it is once again going to be interesting. As you can see from the Saturday morning chart we have a weak ridge of high pressure that developed over the area today after a weak front passed through this morning. The rule for the Pacific Northwest is that the first day that ridge builds is going to be the best day for wind and sure enough, we’ll have small craft advisories in the Straits with the wind backing off after midnight. Since this isn’t a very strong high pressure system and it’s not very round you can expect it to be pushed around by the next low pressure system which shows up on the Sat PM chart. As the high shifts to the other side of the Cascades you can expect the northwesterly in the Sound become more northerly and northeasterly. This will cause that down slope compressional heating which brought us those record high temps earlier in the month.

What does this mean for the race? The tides really aren’t that bad as we’ll be starting in the weak flood of the day (.24knts in Admiralty) with the slack occurring at 1042 and going to the big ebb of the day which will help us get up the Sound, out of Admiralty and into the Straits.

TIDAL CURRENT for Admiralty Inlet

0942      .24           Flood

1042      Slack

1512      2.13        Ebb

1854      Slack

2200      1.8           Flood

0112      Slack

0442      2.23        Ebb

0854      Slack

1036      .56           Flood


The problem will be the light and variable winds in the morning which will persist until early afternoon with a northerly showing up at Pt. Townsend about noon and then working its way down the Sound by 1300-1400hrs. The key will be to make the most of the wind you have and then find the river of current that is running the strongest in the direction you want to go. When you can start to smell the pulp mill at Port Townsend, work to the west where there will be more wind and as you work up Marrowstone Island the port tack puffs will be lifts. You should still be in the ebb and from the Marrowstone Light it could be one long port tack all the way to Minor Island. If you find yourself on a course for the Pt. Partridge Light, or you find the true windspeed starting to drop, take a short hitch to the west to get back into what should be a building westerly, 15-20 knots by 1700 hrs which is the when the big boats should be at Smith Island.

Click on any image to enlarge.

The nice thing about running this race in spring is that the kelp hasn’t had time to reach any kind of length or become that keel grabbing forest that occurs in the late summer and early fall. Just remember, it can grow at a rate of 18” per day in ideal conditions. Regardless, give the west side of Smith plenty of room as there is a monster rock out there which is well marked on the charts and it is shallow with 3 and 4 fathom patches that are dotted with rocks.

The slack in Admiralty is at around 1900 hours which means you should have both flood tide and wind (8-12 knots) to take you back down the Sound. The reach from Smith Island back to Admiralty might include some two wheel reaching in 15-20 so make sure everyone is hiking hard and clipped in. If you can’t carry the kite, move the lead out to the rail and if you have a genoa staysail, get that up.

The run from Pt. Partridge back down Admiralty will probably be in a more northerly than northwesterly which will transition to a north-northeasterly as you get past Pt No Pt. The key on this leg will be to stay in the max flood and don’t get too far into corners. The breeze will probably stay out of the east-northest from Pt. No Pt back to the finish however you’ll want to have all eyes out of the boat and watching for holes as you get closer to Shilshole.

The big boats are projects to finish 0030 to 0200 hrs Sunday morning.

Ed. Note: Racers, be appreciative! Bruce can’t be on the race course this weekend and wrote this up anyway!