Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sail #30: Poker Face

BHYC's annual poker rally.  Always a good time.  Nice winds and a lot more relaxing than normal race conditions.   It was Allan MacL's birthday and his first mate surprised him by agreeing to go for a boat ride...only the second time in 15 years I can recall seeing her in the boat.  He had the winning hand that day!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sail #29: Saturday Race #4

10.1 nm, 5 knots per hour average speed, 1:57:22 elapsed time.

Sometimes...all you need is a little luck!

Going into the final races of the season, amongst Gaila, Wings and Exploits, our placings in the final races on Saturday and Wednesday determined who the weekend series and Wednesday night series winners would be.  We won the Saturday series last year because we showed up, and while we are proud to have our name on the plaque, we wanted to win it for our sailing.  Admittedly, given that the three fastest and best crews weren't around most of the summer, made a repeat championship possible.

Before the race I got to try out the new hammock that Daniel sent from the West Coast for my birthday.  It worked great and is going to be a fantastic addition to those hot days at anchor or long windless crossings in the Strait.

We sailed a great race and as luck would have were aided by Wings missing a mark and going off course.  We finished 2nd and more importantly, beat Wings and Gaila, which sealed our defense of the Saturday Series Championship.

After the race we noticed that one of our spreader bar lights were hanging by the wires.  Judy had actually noticed it right at the start of the race, but rather than have it as a distraction, she didn't say anything until we were back at dock.  Good idea Jude!

Alison M, being the lightest of the crew, agreed to go up the mast and repair the light.  She's the only one of our crew to be hoisted and she did a great job.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sail #28: Our End of Summer(side) Trip Home

52.6 nm, 5 knots per hour average speed, 11:06:46 elapsed time

Thursday was a non sail day highlighted by a 10 km walk along the Summerside boardwalk and a dinner theatre.  It was a beautiful day and it felt good to get out and get some physical exercise.  That evening we celebrated my birthday at the local dinner theatre which was fun.

We departed Summerside at 0800 on Friday for the 10 hour trip back to Barrachois Harbour.  Our timing was to leave 2 hours before low tide and have the rising tide push us down the Strait.  We estimated that we gained 0.5 – 1 knot most of the way.

The trip out of Summerside was difficult however, with huge swells right on our bows.  We were running the engine hard and after a couple of hours, Judy noticed a lot of black smoke.  We shut it down completely and continued under sail, which actually made the trip more comfortable.  About 5 hours into the trip the wind died so we motored sailed at 2200 rpms and made great progress and didn`t have any engine issues.

In the middle of the Strait, we were assaulted by the strangest hordes of flies and bugs.  Given that we were 8 miles for either shore we were at a loss to explain their presence.  The combination of a long day, dropping winds, extremely hot temperatures and insects created a few tense moments for us.  However, one of our local Skippers who I called earlier to ask about my engine called back to see how we were doing.  He was surprised that we had no wind since he was enjoying strong winds in Tatamagouche Bay.

Luckily, as we got closer to Malagash Point to winds picked up.  Our fellow Redwing was there to escort us in BHYC.  As we sailed along taking pictures of one another, Judy got on the radio and commented on what a pretty boat they had, to which they replied  so do you!

We made port at just over 10 hours.  Just before we docked I got a message from Mark that he was coming to the cottage to make supper so not to worry about getting anything! 

What a perfect end to a perfect trip.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sail #27: What a Sailing Day - “1 out of a 100”

37.5 nm, 5 knots per hour average speed, 8:16:18 elasped time

As we weaved our way out of Victoria Harbour, the winds were strong south-westerlies and the swell was running 4-5 feet so we opted to only run with a headsail.  Our theory was that if the conditions worsened, we could easily furl the headsail and avoid having to go on the deck to deal with the main.   Jude was also uncomfortable with the prospects of me bouncing around on deck trying to get the main up.

We were making 6 – 6.5 knots with the headsail only anyway so we weren't concerned about falling behind Silver Seas.  It turned out though that running with only a jib meant that our bow was constantly getting pushed into the water as we navigated through the swell.  Ever time the boat pitched into the swell, the anchor would swing up with the momentum of the bow coming out of the water. 

If figured if I left it, one of two things could happen.  One, the anchor dislodges from the hangers and punches a hole in the bow.  Not good.  Second, the anchor dislodges, misses the bow, but drops to the bottom and firmly fixes itself, while we're under sail.  Again, not good.  We turned back briefly off the swell so I could go forward and secure the anchor to the bow pulpit.  Better safe than sorry.

We had a perfect reach across the Strait to Cape Tormentine, NB.  As we turned back towards Summerside, we raised the main and headed towards the Confederation Bridge (affectionately refered to as the Flink...fixed link).  As we neared the bridge Judy was worried that our line wasn't going to allow us to cross under the bridge at the highest point.  It wasn't until we were right up to it that she realized that it was over 150 feet in the air and we could have pretty much crossed anywhere along the 10 mile span.
What an impressive feeling to cross under the fixed link.  Driving over it is pretty neat, but you really don't appreciate the structure until you are directly underneath it, looking up.

The winds dropped off as we made our way into Sevenmile Bay and up to the lighthouse at Fernwood Point.  As we motored sailed into Summerside several boats from the Summerside Yacht Club were heading out for their Wednesday night race.

After a long day on the water we had a quiet evening.  As the Skipper for Silver Seas noted however, “we got to enjoy a perfect sailing day – THAT was 1 out of 100 days”. 

I think he was right!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sail #26: Dear Ed: Cruising to Victoria-by-the-Sea

23.6 nm, 5 knots per hour average speed, 4:36:52 elapsed time

Judy had given me a Kobo e-reader for my birthday the week before, despite the fact that my birthday wasn't until the 18th. She was pretty excited about it and couldn't wait to give it to me, since it was the perfect sailing companion. I loaded it up with 120 or so books before we left, which would more than accommodate any reading urge I'd have over our 5 days on the water.

As it turned out, I was so impressed with the Kobo that I suggested that Jude and I walk off our “Canadian breakfast” from Linda's Cafe on a trip to Chapters in Charlottetown and get her one too. Just as we walked into the bookstore my phone rang. The crew of Silver Seas were planning to head out to Victoria-by-the-Sea at 1100 (in 15 minutes). We made the 3 km walk back in record time and quickly prepared the boat for our sail to Victoria.

We motored-sailed out of Hillsborough Bay and rounded St. Peter's Island. The sky looked like we could get some weather so we put on our rain gear and settled in. Just past Canoe Cove the winds picked up so we unfurled the jib and set the sails. We cruised straight up the Argyle Shore and into the approach for Victoria-by-the-Sea in beautifully steady winds, and averaged 6 – 6.5 knots.

The entrance to Victoria Harbour is a narrow, twisting channel that requires close attention. As we rounded the wharf, Silver Seas was tied to a fishing boat and Vince the Harbour Master was waiting to catch our lines (which we forget to put out). I later found out that the advantage of being tied to a fishing boat was that we didn't need to worry about adjusting dock lines for the rise and falling tides. We simply went up and down with the fishing boat. Besides, there was a bit of adventure in climbing up a wharf ladder off a fishing boat. The $20, taxes in dockage was nice too.

Jude had prepared a “tin foil dinner” of buffalo meat from Meadowbrook Farms for supper that evening. As we waited for it to cook, we ferried ourselves across to Silver Seas in the tender for happy hour. After supper we walked up to the Victoria Playhouse for a one man play, Letters from Wingfield Farms. It was a very entertaining show and a great way to cap off a very full day.

I woke early Wednesday morning to the sound of fishermen heading out. I was told the night before that the boat we were tied to wasn't fishing that day, but I poked my head out of the hatch anyway. Silver Seas was being quietly pulled off the fishing boat to the dock before their crew were even on deck. I thought it was pretty cool that the fishermen would be that accommodating and thoughtful to a bunch of sailboaters. Good on yah!

Later that morning the ladies and I went to the local chocolate shop for breakfast. While we were there Rod Beattie, the star of the Wingfield show drove up for his morning coffee. Of course we all clapped, to which he responded, “that was the longest curtain call I've ever received”.

At 1100 we boarded the boats and headed to Summerside.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sail #25: Cruising...Finally!

35 nm, approximately 6 hours

We've had a busy August aboard Exploits with a busy racing schedule and our repeated attempts to go cruising while we were on vacation.  An unfortunate turn of events for Silver Sea which delayed their trip to PEI allowed us to join them for a Sunday departure after the Amet Island Race. 

Winds were light and on our back as we made our way out of Tatamagouche Bay at noon.  What little wind there was completely disappeared by the time we were at the mid point of our first leg.  I did fill the canvas shower bag while under sail and hoisted it up the spinnaker halyard so Jude and I could enjoy a "cool" shower.

We decided to motor sail for a couple of hours until we found a very nice breeze in Hillsborough Bay.  We cruised into Charlottetown at a comfortable 6 knots under sail, arriving at the QuarterMaster Marina at just after 1800.   Skipper Greg from Silver Sea poured me a shot of rum which was a mix of Black Strap and Amber, as we toasted our arrival.  Aftre we got settled, we opted to dine out at Gahan's Brew Pub, a favorite of Daniel's when he was here.

We woke the next morning to the sound of a pile driver constructing a new water front convention facility next to the marina.  After 2 hours the pile driving stopped minutes before a group of cadets fired off 15 canon shots to celebrate the changing of the Lieutenant Govenor of PEI.  Judy and the ladies from Silver Sea spent the morning exploring Charlottetown while Skipper Greg and I caught up on some reading and relaxing dockside.  It was Acadian Day in Charlottetown so we were entertained by some french Canadian folk music and dancing.

That after the ladies joined Jude and I aboard Exploits and we made our way out into Hillsborough Bay to enjoy an aftr on the hook swimming, followed by cocktails on deck.  As our drink and mix supply diminished, we debated the likeihood of having Greg bring us addition supplies, opting instead to make our way back to the marina.

Judy and I enjoyed a wonderful meal of BBQ'ed beef tenderloin from Meadowbrook Farms, complete with a fresh salad.  We finished off with a great hot chilli chocolate bar for dessert.  It was the first time I used our new Sea-be-que on the boat.  It worked great!

It rained hard through the night and woke to steady showers on Tuesday.  Given the forecast of high winds in the Strait we opted to delay our 0900 scheduled departure west and monitor the weather.  Plan is to get to Victoria tonight or wait until the morning and head for Summerside.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sail #24: Amet Island Race

25 nm, 4 knots per hour, 6:52:41 elapsed time

This is a special race for me (see last year's post) so we never want to miss it.  It is longest and most difficult of our club races and it always presents a challenge of variable winds and conditions.  This year was no exception.

Another light wind day, which wasn't in our favour.  However, after a bit of trouble at the start (we got tangled up with Bella Rosa), we made our way efficently out past Jollimore's where the wind improved.  We stayed on our lines and seemed to be able to work our way up wind as well as any of the other boats.  We lost a little ground on the down wind leg, but finished 3rd out of 8.  Because of the light winds 4 of the baots had to leave the race early in order to get in before the falling tide.  That has to be a disappointment after over 6 hours on the water.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sail #23: Sand Dollars for Mackerel

16.4 nm, 2 knots per hour (including time at anchor), 7:53:11 elapsed time

Another absolutely spectacular day.  Jude and I made our way out to Saddle Island with the dingy.  Of course we didn't start out with the dingy, or Jude's bathing suit, book, or glasses...which meant I had to swim off the boat to the cottage.  Gotta love a change of plans!

It was a great decision tho.  We rowed into the sand beach at Saddle which is absolutely fantastic...and as it turns out full of sand dollars.  While we were there, we ran into a former high school classmate of mine and her husband who had been fishing mackerel.  Sheila asked if we'd like some since they had "lots".   They had a live well on their power boat which had over 20 fish swimming around in it.  We took a couple of supper which turned out to be wonderful.

A really special day which started out being something totally different.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sail #22: ZUMBA on the Water

8.8 nm, 4 knots pre hour, 2:09:49 elapsed time

Kelly a ZUMBA instructor from New Glasgow and Nathan her CA husband paddled in the Race Down the River war canoe races to raise money for the local hospitals.  Now, you'd think that a boat load of fitness freaks would blow the CA's right out of their pocket protectors.  Wrong....which meant we couldn't pass on the opportunity to take Nathan and Kelly out on the water and have them each tells us about their day.

Admittedly, there was a little bit of teasing, but for the most part, we just enjoyed a really nice few hours on the water.  Given that Nathan and Kelly have 3 very active little girls, we're hoping they enjoyed the break too!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sail #21: Saturday Race #3

8.4 nm, 2 knots per hour average speed (yes 2 knots), 3:41:38 elapsed time

We knew this was going to be painful, we just didn't know how much.  Extremely light winds don't work in our favour at all.  Add to that, getting blocked out on the start line and put in irons and having to endure several hours of crtew fighting on another boat...well...this wasn't our best race.

We finished 5th out of 10.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sail #20: MUN Cross Country Sets Sail

10.2 nm, 3 knots per hour average speed, 3:53:20 elapsed time

Amazing how much attention we get when we have 2 former members of the MUN cross country team on board.  Rebecca and Allison joined Jude and and I for an absolutely perfect sailboat day.  We made our way out the Bay and anchored just in front of the cottage for a swim.  It wasn't long before Alan MacL tied up beside us in his motor boat.  I noted that the two young guys aboard Alan's boat took a sudden interest in Exploits...or was it in cross country running...maybe it was the crew!