Race 11 Day 3 – Reflections

It’s taken a couple of days to traverse Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan De Fuca as we depart Seattle.

Between the training exercises and inevitable practice man-overboard, there is time to chat and think about our stopover. Certainly, in the early hours of 2nd May when there is almost no wind and the sea is a millpond; reflections of many sorts.

A shorter stop than may have been anticipated, but for our crew, lots were done on board and around the city. Sights have been seen, and maintenance is done. Ready for the race down the West Coast. It was great to bump into some of the guests from Fisheries Supply on the Marlow sail day again as we departed and see their boat helping with the marshalling of the parade of sail.

I had visited them a couple of days earlier, just after the to one of the largest chandleries I’ve ever been in but then to tour the warehouse and the recent automation was impressive. Really interesting to see and a very memorable day for me. I, of course, took the opportunity to get a few bits and pieces including a Tylaska spike.

Onto the start – a well lined up fleet for the Le Mans and we were off. We were set and moving in a fraction over a minute and a half. Our tactics were in place then a wind change, the fleet started popping open spinnakers and our white sail plan rapidly changed, and Code 1 was flown as we achieved our windward position. Quite a stunning sight, all the boats within a short distance flying a mix of Code 1 and Code 2 spinnakers. The wind built a little but well within limits. Only a few hours in and without warning or flogging, the Code 1 head tears almost all the way across and then down the leach to within a few metres of the clew. All hands called up and we recovered the sail in one piece from the port side. Bundled down below, then it was up with Code 3, and on we went. I see a large sail repair ahead of us and reminders of my Leg 2 and time spent below, memories and reflections again.

Since then, we have stayed windward and pushed hard. We’ve rolled the dice and crossed our fingers. Wind holes let me play with the sextant, then upwind and a steady gunwales-in-the-water heel on both tacks as weather systems come through. In some ways heel is easier than rocking when you are cooking – you know where things are going to stay. While I have been lucky throughout the race and not been seasick (yet), some of the crew are finding time below quite difficult but this is settling now we are 4 days into the race proper, 7 from leaving.