Posted by: yachtanomaly | August 24, 2016

August 21st- Wind

From the captain

We had motored and sailed when possible up the inside to the tip of Vancouver Island without seeing anything over 15 knots of wind, usually much less. This despite numerous Strong Wind Warnings and Gale Warnings from Environment Canada. We motored and sailed around the notorious Cape Scott with winds 6 – 10 knots. We sailed around Cape Cook on the notorious Brooks Peninsula with 14 knots peak. At the same time our anemometer read 14 knots, abreast and only 1/2 mile off of the Solander Island weather station, it was reporting 23 knots. But they have built it high up on a cone shaped island, ridge effects are known to accelerate the wind field by 50 or even 100%. The peak gust we experienced on the West Coast was 18 knots.

Back through the Juan De Fuca straits, after a quiet night at Echo Bay on Sucia Island (well, as quiet as one might hope with 80+ boats in the anchorage) the dawn brought tapping halyards and a bit of rocking. Waves were working up the bay and some unfortunate power boats were rolling badly. Predict Wind had said light from the north shifting to east, Environment Canada has said light increasing to the usual Strong Wind Warnings from the NW. (But)The wind appeared to be from the south, and rising.

We were at the head of the bay, after the morning lattes (mochas- I don’t drink lattes!) we upped anchor and set sail, dodging the anchored boats on the way out in very shifty winds between about 5 and 15 knots. The Rosario Straits looked uniformly whitcapped, and when we got into open water I took a reef in the main (This is disputed by the editor who is fairly sure there was at least one reef in the sail from the outset). We were close reaching south east in a building south wind. Only a few minutes later I took the second reef, wind was above 20 knots true and 28 apparent, the GPS indicating a ground speed of 9.5 knots assisted by the ebb. The waves were only perhaps 3 or 4 feet, but very shortly spaced, no doubt due to the 3 knot current running against the wind. It continued to build to about 28-30 with gusts to the high 30’s, we were taking quite a bit of spray over the bow and slamming on some of the waves. I headed up towards the north east shore of Orcas Island, thinking that being a windward shore, it would be a bit calmer there – but the wind seemed to descend down that steep slope and slam the water, turning it gusty and shifty but not much less. In the gusts spray was picked up and driven across the water like smoke, suggesting they were 40 knots or so.

This would have been a great time for the 3rd reef: on Anomaly, there is no jib to strike to reduce sail, so the reefs on the main are quite deep, the 3rd would reduce the area to a mere 300 sq ft. I did not have the lines rigged for the 3rd reef though, we have rarely needed it and the system to do it is not well refined. A couple of power boats turned back, a sailboat was motoring back and forth in the lee of Orcas with an overturned dinghy in tow. Another sailboat approached with a roller furling jib half unrolled and shredded. We were overpowered and starting to get wet and decided to tack for the lee of the island as well.

The wind descending the hill left a very narrow strip of calm water, it is deep right to the shore and there was relatively flat water only four or five boat lengths from the shore. I pulled the main down, and put two reefs in the mizzen (which had been at full hoist) and we hove to for a little while. In the process of striking the main, I had started the engine and in just a few minutes got an “Engine Temperature High “ warning, and so had shut it down again. Now hove to in the relative calm, I investigated this and found that some time during the wet sail, the flapper on the exhaust had become stuck, preventing the exhaust and cooling water from exiting freely. I had been idling the engine when it overheated and there wasn’t enough exhaust flow to unstick it. I revved the engine a bit and it opened, fixing that problem.

A couple of other sailboats came by motoring with sails furled and headed into the straits, it appeared to be calming some and they continued on. So we motored out too, with no main and two reefs in the mizzen. The wind had calmed to the mid twenties, and perhaps the tide had slowed a little as well, by half way across towards Sinclair Island I was thinking the second reef in the main would be fine, by the time we got to Sinclair it was down to the mid teens and I set the main with one reef. Looking back towards Orcas there were hardly any whitecaps. Towards the south, it still looked windy and the sea still white.

The wind remained in the SSE, so we tacked down Padilla Bay and around the east side of Guemes Island, right to Cap Sante. A number of boats were anchored in Fidalgo Bay, one was unattended and had dragged right into the marina channel, a 100 yards off the rocks.

Jon, captain, Bamfiled

Captain Jon on the boardwalk at Bamfield


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