Category Archives: racing

With racing on the horizon, it’s time to pull out the safety card

Looking out the window on the plane home to Alaska, Porter catches my eye while thumbing through the contents in the seat pocket in front of him. I don’t say a word, yet I’m curious as to what he finds interesting. Within seconds he pulls the safety card out onto his lap, holds it up and says, “I’ve gotta read this, Dad. You know how much I love safety.” Shaking my head in laughter, I can only agree. What a sailor.

Alaska, just wow.

A bit later he turns to me again and, still on the safety thing, starts up a conversation about PFDs. He tells me that he wears his all the time on the dock and on the boat, and that I wear mine in the dark or in bad weather. True enough.

Then, when our chat extends into harnesses, tethers and night sailing, I slowly realize he’s recalling a discussion he listened to my dad and I have the day before in Seattle. I tell ya, the boy doesn’t let anything get by, and he knows safety is always a priority on our boat and others. Lately, it has been about others.

Being in Seattle last weekend for the boat show was a whirlwind of presentations, work meetings and catching up with many dear friends. (Sorry to those I missed!) But it was also a chance for me to work on issues related to two big sailing events I’m participating in this summer: the 750-mile Race to Alaska (R2AK), and the 333-mile freshwater classic, Chicago to Mackinac Race.

Each race presents a unique set of challenges with navigation, weather, crew and the boat, yet the principles of seamanship and safety remain the same — keep the water out of the boat, keep the people in the boat, and don’t hit anything.

Skippering the Mac with my dad alongside, and Jill and my siblings also aboard, means that I’ve got a crew of seven to account for and a boat to equip with adequate gear, knowledge and experience. With my dad in town for the show, we sat down and went through a number of items that we need to get done, made lists and even got to cross some things off those lists. Safety was given top priority and we made some key decisions at Fisheries Supply. The first of which was easy — buy the Standard Horizon HX870 as a supplement to our onboard radios.

Continue reading With racing on the horizon, it’s time to pull out the safety card

The peaks & valleys of adventure aboard Yahtzee on the Oregon Offshore Race

Yahtzee finding her stride on the North Pacific Ocean
Yahtzee finding her stride on the North Pacific Ocean

Two hundred and eighty nautical miles. Three days and two nights. Seven crew. Nothing but sailing. The 2016 Oregon Offshore Race aboard Yahtzee was an absolute blast!

But just like many things in life and sailing, the race had its distinct ups and downs, swings in emotion, and peaks and valleys. The winds and seas changed as we tacked north and then sailed downwind towards the finish. Boatspeed was key, and it took a competent and alert crew to make the boat go fast in all conditions.

Aboard for the race we had my dad, Russ, our buddy Mark (who raced Swiftsure with us last year) and our friend Cliff. None of us had done the Oregon Offshore before, and we were all in for a grand adventure — peaks, valleys and all. Here they are.

Yahtzee's track from Astoria, OR to Victoria, BC
Yahtzee’s track from Astoria, OR to Victoria, BC

THE VALLEYS 

I’ll start with a couple valleys, because after sailing and racing on the ocean, every sailor coming off a boat immediately has their own tale to tell of calamity — many of which get told for the rest of their lives. Also, there were far more peaks than valleys.

A current affair: With a 7 a.m. start time set on the Columbia River Bar, we were up early at 3:30 a.m. and off the dock at 4 for the long motor out of the river. We were greeted with a little bit of a northwesterly breeze as boats jockeyed for position along the start line between red buoy #2 and the committee boat. Due to the ebbing current and decreasing wind I wanted to have us right on the line for the gun and we were on port tack sailing well as the race began. It was a good start. Continue reading The peaks & valleys of adventure aboard Yahtzee on the Oregon Offshore Race

UPDATE: On the homestretch towards Victoria!

UPDATE (Saturday, 1045): Just as predicted, the breeze finally shifted to the west yesterday afternoon and the Oregon Offshore fleet has enjoyed reaching and downwind  sailing conditions ever since. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a familiar homestretch for many, and the boats have been finishing in Victoria Harbour since early this morning with the TP52 Kinetic V taking line honors.

Aboard Yahtzee, we had a great night with the spinnaker up and rounded Cape Flattery just after sunup. The spinnaker is still flying and the sun is breaking through the clouds as we get to the central Strait — the finish is near!

The boys taking a walk on deck in their harness on Friday morning.
The boys taking a walk on deck in their harnesses on Friday morning.

UPDATE (Friday, 1100): After a tricky, current laden start yesterday, the Oregon Offshore fleet beat its way northward in 0 to 10 knots of northwesterly wind. Those fortunate enough to make it towards shore were rewarded and those who were swept westward in the wicked ebb (including us aboard Yahtzee) had to fight to make miles northward. Once clear of the current we started making miles, though, and a gorgeous day and night of sailing ensued.

On Friday we’re all still clawing our way north towards Cape Flattery. Fortunately, we’ve got breeze and sunshine and are enjoying the ride! Follow the tracker here.

A gorgeous end to our first day of racing.
A gorgeous end to our first day of racing.
Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 4.28.57 AM
We’ve had glorious weather in Astoria to get ready for the race north.

UPDATE: It’s 4:50 and we’re working our way out to the start line at the mouth of the Columbia River. We’ve got a northwest breeze of about 10 knots, which is predicted to diminish later this morning.  Continue reading UPDATE: On the homestretch towards Victoria!

Off we go down the coast to the mighty Columbia

I’ve recently come to realize that I’m not great about sharing Yahtzee’s future plans on the blog. It’s not purposeful. I guess I just enjoy living it first and writing about it later, rather than sharing what I think might happen months or even years down the way — that seems like a lot of pressure.

But I’ll break ever so slightly from that largely unintended tradition and offer a glimpse into what we’re doing at the moment and what we’ve got “planned” for the next month or so.

We’ve long been intrigued by the cruising offered in the Columbia River and have wanted to participate in the Oregon Offshore International Yacht Race, which takes place every May from Astoria, Oregon to Victoria, British Columbia. So back in the latter days of fall, we decided that we’d start looking for a weather window in late March to get us out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and down the coast to the Columbia River. We had a family trip to Florida scheduled for February and the weather is not notoriously great for a hop down the coast then anyway, so we figured the end of March would allow for a better chance at getting south. Also, our insurance company decided that being out on the coast on or after April 1 was a good date, too:)

Sailing under beautiful sunshine in the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Sailing under beautiful sunshine in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Continue reading Off we go down the coast to the mighty Columbia

Riding a gale across the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Porter watching the waves as we sailed north across the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Porter watching the waves as we sailed north across the Strait of Juan de Fuca

As big, frothing green and white waves passed under and behind Yahtzee, we’d pause and then surf down them with a hoot and holler from the crew. “10.9 knots on that one!” Jill gushed with a smile from the helm. Followed by a shout from Porter, “Mommy, you’re surfing!”

We were about an hour out of Port Townsend and a forecasted gale was delivering on the promise of a stellar sleigh ride northward across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. And from beginning to end, the trip brought a lot of positives for our crew.

Continue reading Riding a gale across the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Race Your House fun aboard Yahtzee

Paul, Porter, Andy, Cliff (in the stern) and Mike working hard and having fun
Paul, Porter, Andy, Cliff (in the stern) and Mike working hard and having fun

Dinghies swung from davits, grills hung on push pits and wind generators whirred as area live-aboards took to the Puget Sound on Sunday to decide who’s got the fastest “house.”

Put on by the the Sloop Tavern Yacht Club in Ballard, Race Your House is an annual, light-hearted event aimed to get live-aboard sailors out of their slips and onto the race course. It’s a sailing event that we always look forward to and after missing out on the fun last year, we were excited to have Yahtzee back on the start line for Sunday’s race.

Joining Yahtzee’s crew of Andy, Jill, Porter and Magnus, we had our friends Emily, Paul, Cliff and Mike (and son Logan) aboard for the race. As is the custom on many boats, laughter is served up in large doses along with a few libations.

Porter was very excited to be back out racing again
Porter was very excited to be back out racing again

The forecast for Sunday’s race called for overcast skies with light and variable winds, which isn’t the best for getting hefty houses around a 9.25-mile race course. But enough breeze filled in to get 32 of the competing boats around the buoys. Continue reading Race Your House fun aboard Yahtzee