This weekend was full of thrill rides on Lake Michigan.
As you know, my motto is "No need to go looking for BFS, BFS will find you."
Well, I did not listen to my own advise and we went out for a quick little day sail on Sunday, winds sustained around 30, seas 6-8 foot, very steep and very close together. Your typical Lake Michigan chop.
Had a bit of a BFS moment couple weeks ago when i got my new winchers. Blowing up to 20 knots on lake erie. Scariest part was getting nerves to go out solo and docking with that crosswind. I saw the race boats heading out so i figured what the heck... I had my 110 jib with reefed main. Worked well close hulled but on a beam reach she was getting a little squirrelly surfing down waves. Winchers performed real well making winching much easier. Glad I wasn't on a long passage only a little daysail, I never was able to leave the helm. Glad I went out though because you only learn from real experience. Looked like those race boats had fun though with full canvas and spinnakers downwind! oooh wheee!
Hey Smack what’s the deal? Somebody on the East Coast drives over to the pump-out dock and you hail it as the next big BFS, and Montendo here in the West has a true BFS (see Santa Cruz Island Report) and nada, zip, nothing. What gives? The “anchorages” on the Channel Islands are nothing more than indentations on a rocky shore, exposed to all sorts of wind and a big drop off in depth so the only alternative is to anchor (uncomfortably) close to shore. Give our man some credit!
Raced on the Cal 40 last weekend. Not quite a BFS – winds in the mid twenties (true) and a flood current so the chop wasn’t very high. We topped out at 9.5kts mainly because the Cal needs waves to surf and merely pushes water around when it is flat. Lyons Imaging did their usual amazing photography so I’m able to post a little “boat porn”. The only BFS moment of the day was shortly after these photos were taken when we were a little slow in setting the new guy during a gybe. The old gal rolled twice to let us know that we had to get our timing down before the Rolex Big Boat Series at the StFYC next month. Speaking of which, do you still have travel plans to the West Coast in September?
Well, I think I could be the newbiest newbie of all, and I'm not sure what counts as BFS, but 19-23 knot wind, 6-8 foot seas in the Catalina channel in my opinion, rocks hard. We were in a Catalina 38. The skipper called it a lively bathtub with sails. I was at the helm for the first part of the crossing, nothing too special, 10-15 knot winds and calm seas on a broad reach. Just as soon as I went below to hit the head and handed the helm to my brother-in-law, things got fun. The wind picked up to a steady 19 knots with up to 23k gusts, and the blue started to dance. We trimmed up, heeled over and went balls out. The girls were below hanging on while I straddled the bow, looking down from the top of the rollers and getting soaked when we would hit the valley. I went almost completely under a few times. After that, I was completely hooked and will sail anything I can get my hands on. I just got my first boat and am REALLY excited to get her on the water and get wet.
A true BFS from Montenido (thanks for the heads up GeorgeB). Great story Mont and a good sumup of lessons learned. Thanks, dude...
Santa Cruz Island Report (long)
Hi all, well we made it back to port yesterday after launching Sunday morning. My wife begged off at the last minute, so it was just me and my 14 year-old twin boys. As we were heading dead into the wind from Channel Islands Marina, we motored over using the main only. The wind near the island was getting up near 20 knots so we decided to change destinations and go to the East end to a place called Smuggler's. Anchored several times before finding the right spot (inexperience).
Once on the hook, the boys jumped into the dinghy (11' inflatable, 8hp) and started buzzing around. I managed to kick a cleat bare-footed and had a badly discolored and swollen toe. Nice. We explored on shore where I found a new fender with rope, 3' long by about 1' diameter among the flotsam and jetsom. We had a very bumpy night and decided to make our original destination, Prisoner's Harbor in the morning.
The next morning the breeze was up a bit and I decided to pull anchor and head to our new spot as the boys slept. First mistake of many was not to check the weather report. I didn't want to wake the boys so I headed out. As I rounded the island and became less sheltered the wind started increasing. My second mistake was that in addition to towing the dinghy, I decided to tow the kayak. As I motored my way north the wind steadily increased as our hull speed decreased. As my speed dropped from 5+ knots to barely 1 knot, I knew that I had problems. One of them was that part of my head sail was catching wind and coming unfurled. No way to fix that so I tried raising the main, thinking that I would tack out to the east, and then west toward my destination. It was apparent very quickly that this was not a good idea. Wind was now clocking on my meter at 25+ knots. Recognizing that I was in a bit of trouble I turned around and headed downwind and back to my original spot. Man was I glad to be back in the lee of the island
The rest of the trip went well, but the morning that we were to leave it was once again howling at 20+ knots on what would be a beam reach. I switched out my 150 genoa to a regular jib before pulling the anchor. By the time we left, it had calmed to about 15 knots. I was still a little spooked by the day before so I started out with the main only, reefed at the first position. We motored the whole way back and still made 6-7 knots.
I know this is long and I appreciate anybody who has stuck around this long. Normally, I can sail in these winds. 20+ is starting to get interesting, but no problem. I guess that towing the dinghy and kayak complicated things, and having my sons sleeping made it a bit more sketchy for me. One thing is that when I sail in conditions such as these, I always learn something. My main lessons would be the obvious - ALWAYS check the weather, always secure the kayak (and maybe the dinghy), always have a plan "B" and "C" just in case.
Overall, a great trip. The boys never really knew that I was sh#tting bricks for a moment there. Next time out will be easier and better managed. BTW, got some great pics from the boys up in the bosun's seat.