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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Double-Handed Madness...

At the end of August is the annual running of the Northern Century.  This event starts in Anacortes, heads north to Point Roberts, then south around East Point, Turn Point and out to Hein Bank (near Victoria), then back to Anacortes.  The first year I did this race double-handed with Jerry on Schussboomer - it took us about 30 hours, we finished in 3rd and had to be driven home by our spouses!

This year Jan and I decided to do the race double-handed.  Prior to the race we spent a great deal of time re-rigging the boat for double-handed sailing.  We also did a practice run around the entire course with Ian & Joy to see if we were really ready to tackle the event by ourselves.

We had a conservative start and then immediately parked it up between Saddlebag & Huckleberry Islands in a dying breeze and an adverse current.  We (along with nearly everyone else) spent hours trying to get through the pass - some gave up and went west down Guemes Channel (never to be seen again), others went east of Saddlebag (and spent the night on their side in the mud flats).

Icon chasing the fleet down

Eventually around midnight after a couple of smaller boats had slipped through the pass we sailed back into the bay, raised our A0 and literally rammed the gate at top speed.  After some trying we managed to make it through while the rest of the fleet sat at anchor howling to the full moon.  We slowly (did I say slowly) headed up to Sinclair Island where Tantivy was anchored waiting for some wind.  While we were abeam of Tantivy the wind died and we drifted back in the current, nearly hitting Vendovi when Jan decided that we should put up our get-out-of-jail sail (otherwise known as our A0) and try to get back into open water.

Near miss with Vendovi Island
The wind started to build and we headed to the slot by Lummi Island, jibing the beach at 3:00am in the morning with Tantivy in tow. In the distance behind us we saw the lights of Son of Raven as they were swept by the current south of Sinclair. Sometime in the night the Raven passed us and at sunrise approaching Pt. Roberts we finally passed them.

As soon as we rounded Pt. Roberts we set our A2 and blasted off to East Point in a building breeze. Half way across the Strait I chickened out and snuffed the kite and went back to a headsail as I didn't want to crash and lose our hard fought lead over the Raven.

After rounding East Point we tucked in a reef and reached across to Turn Point - alternatively being overpowered and then underpowered as the brisk NW wind tumbled over the Gulf Islands.  After rounding Turn Point we hoisted our A1 and kept it up until the finish off Anacortes.  Apart from parking it up for about an hour at Hein Bank and being attached by flies, we horizoned everyone else and had a great finish after 21 hours of sailing.  In the end the Raven corrected over us by about 12 minutes, leaving us in 2nd place in our division and overall out of 18 boats - not to bad a run and one that we will have to try next year!

The Motley Crew of N100 Racers