Day 7. Wednesday, June 7 Port Hardy to Winter Harbour
Seems like everyone got enough sleep, and we were all up by 7:15 and had breakfast, coffee, and enough time to prep the boat for the next leg. The prop worked fine to take us to the start, at which time we shut it off and drifted on the rising breeze until the gun.
We got away well in the midst of the TP52s and other Div 1 boats, and soon stretched out a lead in the light air.
Which proceeded to build for the next two hours, at which time Jam and a couple of other heavy-weather boats passed us. However, it was three hours to the bar where the ? River runs into the sound, and by the time we got there the wind had died again and the tide was against us. So we tacked back and forth trying to get along the north end of the bar, which is the usual route. 65 Red Roses took a flyer and went up the south side and seemed to bog down.
Jam managed to stay just outside the turbulent water and inside the heavy tidal flow, and sailed straight through. The rest of us tacked and tacked again (Swiftsure racers, think of the pileup getting through Race Rocks in light winds and adverse tide) until we finally got through. Most of us kept going along the north shore, then tacked south against a westerly breeze. Jam went farthest out. More on that later.
So we basically got on starboard tack and headed south along the shore for several hours. Then the wind eased off, and we all had to tack out away from shore to where Jam had been merrily steaming along in heavier winds.
We managed to break away from the rest of the fleet, except for 65 Red Roses, which crept along the shore and beat all the rest except us.
Once we rounded Cape Whatever, it was spinnaker up, sunscreen on, and we spent the afternoon and early evening pulling away from the fleet and catching up to Jam.
We had a marvellous afternoon, jibing back and forth to catch the best winds. We never did catch Jam, but the crew is really coming together as a team and learning to trust each other. We finished at 9:15 and motored into Winter Harbour. Red Roses might save her time on us, leaving us at third, our best result so far. The crew is tired and happy. The roadies have harrowing stories of the 45 km of logging road it took to get here, but they made it with all tires and windshields intact. UltraMan’s support truck blew two tires on the trip, but we suspect they were driving rather fast.
Rather basic facilities here; one bathroom on the pier, an outhouse with a flush toilet and posters of Pacific Fish on the walls. No sinks, mirrors, etc. There’s another shack at the other end of the campsite with washing machines and showers. And that’s it.
Day 8 Saturday, June 8, Layover Winter Harbour
Patched the luff of the #4 jib and the divers on the crew scrubbed the bottom. Other than that, everyone got a lot of resting in. Tomorrow is the big day.
Day 9 Sunday, June 9 Winter Harbour to Uclulet
Not Our Day
The race started out with a rising wind on the nose, and continued like that until Monday morning. There was a deep swell about five feet or more high rolling in from a storm somewhere out in the Pacific, plus rising waves from the south brought in by the local wind, which caused a confusion impossible to avoid. At times the boat would pitch over a wave and come down with a Slam! and almost stop dead. Top this motion off with pelting rain and up to 30 knots of wind, and you had a pretty deadly night.
We were on watches, 4 hours off, then 8 hours on, which gave every one time to sleep, and most of us did. Exhaustion makes a fine soporific. Most of the crew were either outright seasick or at least queasy. Not a wonderful night.
Day 10. Monday, June 10 Winter Harbour to Uclulet Continued
More Like Our Day
I came off my 12-4 am sleep to find the wind had dropped to almost nothing. For the next 12 hours we banged around, the boat looking like the local laundry shop with damp clothing strewn everywhere to dry. The local winds had disappeared, leaving nothing but the big rollers, which were fortunately behind us, because that was the only force pushing us to Uclulet. For a long time we were running the “drifter,” a very light jib that is controlled by holding the aft rope in your hand, and feeling where the wind is. That small tug, plus the push of the rollers, got us less than 10 miles in 10 hours.
It is to the credit of our crew that we kept racing throughout, changing sails, tacking, reeling and gybing whenever needed to keep the boat going its fastest.
Then the promised northwest wind filled in, and we had a great romp to the finish, running up to 11 knots down the faces of the rollers. Not enough to catch Jam and Red Roses, who had racked up enough lead during the night that we couldn’t catch them. Hoping as usual that we saved our time on the boats behind.
138 nautical miles, 36 hours. Max velocity 11 knots. Min velocity, 0 knots. (This isn’t too bad; at least we never went backwards)
Day 11 Tuesday, June 11 Layover in Uclulet
Lay Days are just what they sound like, but you don’t get much time to lie around. Laundry, food prep, and boat maintenance use up a lot of the day. We used the #4 jib for the first time and it needs a luff line replaced. Think of replacing the drawstring in a hoodie with a line 5 metres long. But we do have two guitars and a fiddle in the motor home, so we’re hoping for a shindig later on. If anyone has the energy.