Doublehanded Lightship

The rain held off at the start, but lumpy waves greeted sailors once they reached the ocean. ©2011

This past weekend Temerity had her first outing in IYC’s iconic Double Handed Lightship race.  I was very lucky that Annika was home from college for Spring Break, and could crew!   It was to be a day of daddy-daughter bonding through shared suffering.

Annika and I went up to Alameda Friday afternoon, where we got the boat ready and reviewed spinnaker procedures.  We had a great pre-race dinner at Speisekammer (same place, different daughter since last week).    After a night spent on the boat listening to the rain on the deck, Saturday dawned to even more rain.

Our trip out to the starting area (off St.FYC) was a quick one on the building ebb, and we arrived over an hour early.   We messed around, reaching back and forth while avoiding (and marveling at) the 38 swimmers in the water and their chase boats, making their way from Alcatraz to St.FYC itself.   Seeing this lot made us feel a bit less crazy ourselves for being out there.     Ironically, we had so much time to kill we were late to our start by 9 minutes, as we lost track of time while pondering which jib to use.   The rain had stopped and the wind was blowing out of the South at about 10 kts.  Finally I called for the #3 though, which proved wise, as the wind picked up and veered after the start.

We had previously agreed that we would only set the spin if conditions were benign, and that our main goal for the day was to have a nice day on the water.    The waves outside the Gate grew much steeper, and were very short period — I timed them at 6 – 8 seconds at one point, and I guess they were about 8 feet high.    This was due to the massive ebb tide (estimated by one observer to be 8 kts)  running against the wind, which was now westerly and in the mid- to high-teens.  We pitched and slammed.   Annika started to feel sick, and we focussed on hanging on, glad to be clipped in with jacklines rigged.   One oddity of the day was that the Lightship buoy itself was to be found aboard a USCG  buoy tending ship, and we gave it a very wide berth.

Our track.  The image does not show the first third of the race as the GPS memory overflowed.

After finally gybing back towards the Gate,  I went below to fetch up some bottles of water.     We had both been drenched by waves breaking over the bow and were thirsty from the seawater in our mouths.  In the cabin I found that everything had gone flying, even though we had stowed well enough by Bay sailing standards.     The portable GPS plotter had gone ballistic, some heavy coffee mugs and other crockery  had smashed through the sliding plasitic door of the galley cupboard, breaking  it and themselves, and half a case of ginger beer was now in the bilge.   Fortunately there was no broken glass, and the rum was safe,  praise be.

The trip back was slow, again against the ebb, and we managed to get a good deal further towards the Potato Patch than I might have chosen initially.   Our low boatspeed while North of the channel  (we were sailing very deep angles)  and the quartering seas made for a great deal of banging of the boom and mainsheet tackle.   The wind and waves picked up again as we got closer to the bridge, and we were doubly glad to have not set the kite as we saw peak gusts of 30 kts TWS and boatspeed of up to 12.4 kts surfing down waves under full main and #3 alone.    After some final course diversions to avoid an enormous  container ship inbound for Oakland, the  Bay felt like a mill pond, and the sun was even coming out.  We finished at just a hair under six hours after our start time, near the bottom of the fleet, but we did finish, one of 22 boats out of 39 entries to do so.

So I guess we did OK in the larger sense.   We weren’t intimidated out of starting,  nothing important broke on the boat, and we avoided injuries  (such as a broken eye socket bone, a cracked rib, and a  dislocated finger as some other unlucky competitors suffered).    Rivals Nancy and Ay Caliente! declined  to start due to conditions or bagged it early, respectively.  (Green Buffalo and the other Wylecat did fine, though.)  And of course I am lucky any day I can go sailing with one of my girls!

Results are here.

NorCalSailing’s reports:  Part 1Part 2

1 Response to “Doublehanded Lightship”

  1. 1 Buck

    Sounds like a lot of work. Sorry to hear about the crockery 🙁

Leave a Reply