• Light Ship Pounding


    Photo Courtesy of www.norcalsailing.com

    It all started like any other race day, only it didn't. see getting up at 6 am for a local race isn't the norm and neither is the 20 knots and pissing rain on the way to the boat. but the south bay didn't look so bad and off i went to run up the east bay to the club. it was at hwy 80 interchange that i looked over at the wind sock on the shite plant and saw what i'd expected...straight flying angry flag. then the berkeley shoals looking almost calm and serene. we all know the look "aww it aint that bad out there, it's flat and smooth" but then you know you just saw the angry sock and you shake that false sense of security. 80 at golden gate fields should have been a big fat warning sign of the day to come, kind of like that little kid swinging the banjo like a train crossing warning sign from the rope bridge as the boys start their canoe trip in deliverance (wait, let me make this very clear...no one squealed and no sodomy occured), but the overturned big rig sprawled across three lanes grinding the highway to a halt for 20 minutes was more annoying and nerve racking than anything. oh well i thought, i'm not making the 7-7:15 boat call. quick call on the cell to carbontech "stuck in traffic, be there as quick as possible" and the answer was "no worries, i'm a little behind too".


    Photo Courtesy of www.norcalsailing.com

    Pull into the club and it's pretty much raining 90 degrees, down to the end of the lot and there's carbontech just jumping out of his ride. in the time it takes him to trot 20 feet for a dock buggy and back i can see his jeans are already soaked. half considering turning back towards the club and using the shower to change i think better of it as wee're behind already and just park it, grab my gear and run for the boat. emptying the buggy and climbing aboard i'm now dripping wet and thinking "yeah this is fun". ct grabs the sails we aren't going to use while i put on three layers of tops, 2 of bottoms and my wife's gill top (unlike my musto, it has a hood which i thought prudent. and the color goes well with my eyes). ct comes back right about the time i'm putting on my harness and i say "so let's hit it and i'll rig while we go" and he says "cool but let's get the jack lines on first" so i get the main going while he grabs the jack lines and before you know it we've rigged the whole boat not really thinking about much beyond the wet and a reef with the number 4. a quick run to the head (which is no longer quick with all that gear on) and we are off the dock at 8:15...uh oh. with a 9:15 start we are now pretty sure we're late, but hoping that the massive ebb and big breeze helps us pull off a miracle. needless to say, even though we made blunt in record time, the breeze shifts 90 and dies leaving us to shake a reef, change to a 3 and tack for the start almost making alcatraz as our class goes off. "well it's a long race ct..." i say kicking myself for not kicking myself into gear quicker back at the dock. now comes the bonehead move of the day; (which i would usually never admit, but ballard will have the hardest laugh about this and when he laughs i laugh because he's funny...) in all the wet, early, windy and then lateness, i did not read the si's. so when we crossed the line at ggyc in a strong onshore flood, we agreed to crack off for deep ebb and get back in the game. out in the channel and abeam of st fancy our radio pipes up with "umm...guys? the starting line is off saint francis". well it looks like i picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue!!! so to add to our spotting the guys almost 30 minutes, we spot them a little more and head back in to that onshore flood because, you know, it was so much fun the first time around.


    Photo Courtesy of www.norcalsailing.com

    So finally crossing the line, we head back for the deep water and the river flow. some crazy tide lines in some not so normal places and a close eye on the gps tells us we've got the right idea. not much more than 4's on the speedo but the geeper goes from 6 to 9, cross one line and drop to 7 then up to 9, 10, 11, 12. at 12 sog we're almost to bonita and the swell goes from steep and short period to steep, short period and majorly confused from three directions. our speedo is saying 3.5 but we're still doing 10 over ground. there's porpoise everywhere and while the sun isn't shining, at least it's no longer raining and the reef and 4 aren't needed... honestly it's comfortable dh 3 weather. we tack away from the north side looking for more push as we notice three express, a tri, and an unidentified big boat heading back in. starboard tack is a lot more unstable than port and we get knocked by a couple breaking sets. we're halfway to the bucket when the rc comes on the radio to report the coast guard buoy tender is parked at the mark performing maintenance to make repairs and to give them a wide birth. i kept asking ct how he was feeling and every time he said he was good, and knowing his resume for the ocean i'm calm as a cucumber. but the lumps from all directions just don't stop and with about 5 miles left to the mark, he says "i think we'll turn around now". being as far behind as we were, wanting to use this as more of a shakedown for our future dh stuff, and being that it's his boat i'm not disagreeing. so we turned tail, headed for the north side and started back. this gave us a good opportunity to discuss our work list for the systems that need to change, the parts we need to fabricate, the safety gear, provisions and food choices, and everything else we will do in prep for next years race. back inside the gate, we popped the kite and the beers and had a great sail back.


    Damage to the crew on Elise

    While not the ideal day for what we really wanted to do, we accomplished a lot of things i don't think we would have had we sailed the whole course and in the end we were both pretty happy with what we did get out of it.
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    This article was originally published in forum thread: Double Handed Lightship started by Ballard Sailor View original post