Smack, do you still want to hear about the DHF? Unlike Heatwave’s experience, DHF was the opposite of a BFS for us. David Sevais’ multi part write up on SA is an excellent recounting of what happened to them. For us, the two noteworthy parts were the start and the battle to get around Pt. Bonita fighting an adverse current, the “washing machine” (a.k.a. rip current), and a complete lack of wind, Oh, and throw in 30 to 40 boats with no steerage and close proximity to the rocks.
Looking back, the weather forecasts were pretty accurate for DHF. I’d been tracking the forecasts since the previous Monday and they (mostly) showed the 5kt component for race day. They also were predicting the 20 – 30kts for overnight, but were also forecasting an easing on Sunday (that never showed up). For most of the preceding week, there were Small Craft and Gale warnings for the Gulf of the Farallones. I think that when the forecaster reviewed his model, he detuned the upper wind speed predictions. After all, who’d believe a forecast that read wind speeds from 5 to 40 knots in the Gulf on Saturday. Anyways, we interpreted the winds to be a repeat of DHLS two weeks before. The lull in wind Friday night through most of the day on Saturday had a calming effect on the sea state where we had a few waves above 10-15’ feet, but were so long in period that we actually sailed beam to them for a short while across the Potato Patch without a problem.
In light of what happened to the DHF, The OYRA Duxbury Reef race was cancelled last weekend do to a lack of wind and a flood tide which would have duplicated the Farallones conditions. And I think someone must have seen or heard about the congestion of boats off of Pt. Bonita and deemed that it was potentially hazardous (now that everybody knows where the secret eddy lies.
I don’t think that the wind and waves were too much to handle on the return leg. Heatwave just had an extraordinary bit of bad luck having their keel fall off. It was the suddenness of going from exhilarating to treading water that is giving us time to pause and rethink our safety processes.
On a lighter note, summer is upon us and the schedule is filling up quickly, the first (1&2) and last (29&30) weekends are open for us in August as is mid-July. We may sail down to Monterey in September. Let me know your thoughts