Crew: Brian, Megan, Seth & RW
Course: 1, Around Fishers Island (ccw) Race length: 16.0 nm
Winds: SWW (avg 195 dg), 4 to 12 kts (avg 8.6) Average Boat speed: 3.9 kts
Barometer: 30.02, Temp: 68 to 73 F Current: ebb 10:24 Ram Island
On a beautiful cloudless morning, we arrived at the Watch Hill YC starting area southeast side of Noyes Rock in plenty of time to assess the situation and discuss strategy. The beginning of the ebb was running late which had hoped to take advantage of. Yet for one reason or another, there were a number delays & a false start before our class finally got underway at 1124, thirty-four minutes later than posted.
For current avoidance, we intended on favoring the Connecticut side of the sound as much as possible to a turning point somewhere between Horseshoe & Vixen Ledge. With the cool air temperature and lack of clouds, we hoped there would be enough heating over land to produce a sea breeze. I had planned to start near the committee boat clear air, yet had difficulty positioning ourselves in light air. As it was, we followed Wild Angel & Pursuit down the line towards the pin at the gun; Salud crossed at the committee boat end while Street Machine struggled to the line. I never saw Streak; maybe they were a no-show?
The wind was still northwest as forecast, so rather than tack for the CT shore we followed the larger boats out to the edge of the channel, chickened out and tacked back to the north. Following our tack, the wind began to shift (sea breeze) to the southwest, allowing us to closely follow our strategy to Ram Island. This worked well for us and kept pace with Salud farther offshore in greater current. Though a good distance to our north, Street Machine (San Juan 24) was slowly over hauling us in lighter air and less current. At Eel Grass, had we bore off to avoid the rocks rather than tacking we might maintained our pacing with Salud a bit longer. Beyond Eel Grass, Street Machine tacked and crossed us. We forged ahead, weathered Gates Island and tacked short of the Ram Island shore.
The close stretch along Ram Islandâ€™s shore and the port tack inside the reef to Groton Long Point worked out well for us. It appeared Street Machine ventured too far out into the channel where I last saw them struggling in the current. From Ram Island I noticed a couple of boats venture across from Groton Long Point towards Fishers and wondered howâ€™d theyâ€™d fair in the two plus knot current. The tack along the eastern shore of Groton Long Point boosted by the eddy was beneficial as well. Though our tack back to the west off the point may have farther south than optimal. Had we tacked sooner, or bore off between the GLP 22 & 24 buoys and Horseshoe we may have gained some. Instead, I chose the more direct path to our tack for Race Point.
On the 3.6 mile leg to Race Point we fought the urge to bear off until assured. We observed two or three boats along Fisher Islands western shore, but they too far away to identify. Abeam Silver Eel we prepared to be spit out the Race and began cracking off. Passing the Point, we continued out through the chop for two or three minutes prior to bearing off to set the spinnaker. Our hour and twelve minute, 6.7 mile run down the backside of the island was uneventful, the crew taking turns with the chores, Seth steering so each of us could grab some refreshment & a bite to eat. Shortly after the jibe about half down, Brian scooped a load of seaweed off the rudder with the boat hook, leading us to wonder what may have been on the keel. One of days Iâ€™ll make us a true kelp stick.
Fully prepared prior to rounding the MOA ( spinnaker pole down to three feet, fraculator off, backstay on & main trimmed for upwind), we had a great spinnaker reach up Lordâ€™s Pass with Megan trimming. Hoisting the genoa at the top of the pass we hardened up along buoys C7 and C9 for westing clear of the current prior to bearing off on a reach to the finish.
Following the finish we had a brisk and enjoyable sail through the Mystic River back channel to Noank with Brian steering. It was too late for the drive down to Watch Hill for the party, so may have to wait a few days to find out the results. It was a great day of sailing.
Link to Chart
RW & Seth
Brian, Megan & Seth