Saturday 08/26/06
Crew: Seth, Megan, Bob & RW
Current: flood 0659, ebb 1305 Ram Island
Start: 1135 hours
Wind: E to SE 10 to 15 kts
Distance: 12 nm

As we motored out from Spicers in a northeast twelve-knot breeze, we noticed the weather mark placed on the south side of the channel across from Ram Island, registerying with the forecast shift SE. Although overcast with a possibility of showers the radar report from Backus showed our location in the middle between patterns passing to the north and offshore to the south. The RC set up just southwest of North Dumpling and posted a three-lap windward/leeward at 94 degrees and 2 nm. Considering the forecast, I thought a better w/l start would have been nearer the old MRMSA “X”. Here we made mistake #1 in not heading up and taking a site on the mark location. Our strategy was to start to windward in clear air close to the RC as possible taking starboard to the Connecticut shore and tack along the shore as necessary for current avoidance.

We started as planned, but made mistake #2 when both Jolly Mon & Watercolors tacked to port and we decided to cover. I reasoned that if the mark was indeed to the south side as it had appeared, why cross the channel twice, instead short tack along the Fishers’ side as Jolly Mon must have had in mind. Abeam Flat Hammock we made our #3 critical mistake; split from Watercolors and covered Jolly Mon on a port tack towards West Harbor till we could just skim the entrance can. Back on starboard nearing Can “1″ now able to see the mark, I realized we had seriously overstood and the hitch towards West Harbor was totally unnecessary as the mark was on the Ram Island side of the channel just short of R”20″.

So we bore off for the mark, where we had good bearaway set and at the first opportunity switched to the long jibe making good time to the leeward mark in a mid-teen breeze with the current. With the wind now clocking, a tack to starboard after the rounding took us to the Connecticut shore short of Ram Island where one port tack & two close ’speed’ ducks of Gremlin & Hooligan got us to the layline for a similar set & jibe. Our rounding found us mixing it up with a couple CG Colgate 26’s with Merrythought rounding tight on our starboard stern quarter. The spinnaker reach was similar to the last yet in a bit more traffic, especially the company of the Coast Guard Colgates.

On our last rounding of the windward mark, the current now in ebb, I extended out towards North Dumpling a bit, and we were able to lay the windward mark on one long starboard tack with some current assistance. We rounded with a minor hourglass that Bob quickly shook out by grabbing the leach and had a great spinnaker reach/run to the finish in company with the last of the Colgates.

There were 56 boats in the entire fleet. We overstood the windward mark on every beat though the first time around was a big deficit. I tend to overstand in these big fleets as the small boat we are often gassed badly at the windward mark coming in on port for a short layline where we also may encounter serious ducks. Had we not covered Jolly Mon up along Flat Hammock, and stuck with Watercolors instead we would have finished fourth. Oh well, a so-so finish may quell the talk about sniff-boat and our rating.

Though we did not finish well (6th out of 8), it was a great day of sailing; excellent work by Seth, Megan & Bob and lot of fun in the 12 to 14 not breeze.

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