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Monday, February 19, 2018

Winter Shaw Race 2018 (almost)

Winter Shaw Race 2018
Written by Count Enrico Ferrari, owner of Jah Mon

The mighty Jah Mon, a Catalina 42, set out for Orcas Island on a Friday.  We had a nice delivery and docked at West Sound Marina on Orcas in the San Juans prior to the race.  After a nice peaceful evening on the dock we awoke to heavy rain and light winds.

We got the boat ready and picked up crew at the ferry landing so then we were 5 total.
Within 50’ of departing the dock the coupling between the transmission and the prop shaft popped off and we had to go sail power instantly.  Not a dangerous situation as the wind was only 6-8k but we all decided to fight the good racing fight on the water another day and start back to Anacortes, ~20 miles distant.

The winds were predicted to blow pretty strong (25-40k) and they started coming in around 11:00 with puffs to 30k in Lopez Sound.  We figured the winds would be stronger ahead so took advantage of Decatur Island and put in a double reef on the main and furled the headsail down to half.  (From a 115% to a 70ish% size).  That was a good move.

Rosario Strait was blowing and heaving about.  We saw wind in the high 30ks with 6-7’ waves.  The boat was solid and moving over the ground from 6-11k depending on the surfing.  We ducked behind Fildalgo Island ASAP but had to come out into Guemes Channel to get home.  We found 48k of apparent wind and our downwind boat speed was 6-9 SOG at that point.  If we claim over 50k  of wind, I think it is justified.

We had been calling Cap Sante Marina about the weather at the entrance and kept getting reports of 8-10k of wind.  Seemed wrong but it gave us hope to sailing into a slip.   Doing that docking without a motor in the 35k we were mostly in all day was not really a good idea.
We took the main down in the shelter of Cap Sante Rock and then started in to the marina while looking at winds over 30k in the bay just outside the breakwater.  The main issue was we would have to get through a small opening going straight up wind for about 50’.  The first effort almost took us into the breakwater which thankfully was not touched by us.  We turned around back into Fildalgo Bay and took a different approach which involved more boat speed and using the momentum of our 30,000 lbs. 

I will tell you it was a near run thing!  We just cleared the opening by 2’ and were able to easily sail down the fairway to a slip but judged the turn wrong and had to tack back.  There was another option of a slip to pull into so we did, and just barely were able to stop the boat without damage.  Everyone on the crew did something to contribute to our success!

We might not have won the race but we all won a great adventure that few would want to repeat.  It was intense!

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