It’s early Monday morning after racing Round the County and the wind has been blowing like snot since about 1 a.m. I’m back at Shilshole aboard Cambria, now, which is double tied, but still some of the big gust are pretty noticeable. It’s all good though. The boat is warm and I’m able to sit and think through a fun weekend on the water.
For the two day lap around the San Juan Islands, I sailed aboard Arrow, a 1970’s vintage Carter Offshore 37 that is owned by my friends Mike and Maurissa. Mike runs a great race and we had a good group of sailors aboard, six total.
As happens, our start on Saturday went a little askew — we were being aggressive and the always well-sailed Santa Cruz 27 Wild Rumpus seemed to come out of nowhere and forced us to tack away. It was at that moment I got a hell of an override on my winch that took a precious minute to clear and by the time we circled back we were probably four minutes behind the rest of the fleet — which actually ended up helping us throughout the day.
We’d scan the many boats in front of us, seeing what was working and what wasn’t. In doing so, we slowly clawed our way back through the fleet. The race started to the north this year and we had the current with us up Rosario Strait and then it turned pretty much as we rounded Patos, so we had it again down and around Stuart Island.
The finish on day one was interesting. We got into Speiden Channel with a firehose of a current driving us back into the Strait. I think the strategy was to sneak in under Battleship Island, but we were taking advantage of puffs, driving forward where we could. For a few minutes we had a little boat speed, but were going backwards over ground. Our track carved a nice circle, then the wind picked up considerably and we had a roaring finish in the dark with the committee boat frantically trying to identify boats outside of Roche Harbor.
Sunday’s start south of Mosquito Pass was good. The wind was supposed to build, but we hanked on the #1 for the current conditions and had a decent start. Shortly after the start the wind started to climb and we began losing a little boat speed owing to being laid over. Go to the #2 or #3? As those deliberations were going on, the spinnaker, lashed to the leeward rail for future use, was swept overboard and we went from racing sailboat to Purse Seiner in seconds. We got the thing back on board but managed to put a rip in in it for our efforts (the radar pole support also took a hit and needed an immediate fix). A sail change to the #3 was done and we spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon bashing our way down the outside of San Juan Island into a decent flood. Then it started to rain. Lovely.
After we rounded the south end of Lopez we had had a nice spinnaker run. (Mike does have a number of sails aboard — the #1 is brand new and his 2nd Spinnaker dates back to the early 70’s.)
As daylight faded we spotted the yellow buoy we needed to round with the finish line being between it and a house on Deer Point. We were aiming for the buoy with a number of other boats when a frantic call from the race committee came over the VHF that the buoy had broken loose and a new finish line was announced between the house and Lydia Shoals. GYBE! Which we did, almost gracefully, and we squeaked past another boat that had over-committed to the yellow, now wayward, buoy.
The trip back in the dark was done with sheets of rain and building wind. We might as well have had buckets of water thrown at us. Which is why, hours later when I got back into Seattle and on Cambria, it was so nice that the diesel stove had been running all day.
In the end, Round the County 2017 had its share of challenges (don’t they all?!), but what a fun boat to sail on! Preliminary results have Arrow going from 10th out of 19 on Saturday to 6th out of 19 for the two days combined. It was a good weekend of racing.
Check out the full results here.