The strongest tides of the season coupled with a very small pressure gradient, ” only visible through an electron microscope”, combined to make the trip out to the Bank and back look like a long and unrewarding act of futility.
Any hope of a quick race were dashed by the very crisp and detailed Skippers Meeting summary in which both weather and tidal gurus both mentioned the words “Good Luck” multiple times during the briefing.
Saturdays start looked promising given about 8 knots of wind tending from the ESE and the last of an ebb sweeping the fleet over the line, in fact one had to be careful not to be swept over the line early.
It seemed doubtful MARTHA could make the dash to Race Rocks before the switch to flood, so we chose to play it safe and head S towards the US side of the strait,
As predicted the wind slowly evaporated as the morning wore on leaving much of the slower fleet trying to work some westing against the building flood.
Our plan, if necessary, was to creep up into the shallow water on the US side and if need be anchor if we could not stem the flood, fortunately MARTHA kept inching along so anchoring was not needed, but fetching the mark on the bank looked doubtful.
In time the flood relaxed and was followed with the ebb which greatly improved our CMG /SMG, before dark we switched the Jenny out for the working Jib to keep MARTHA snug through the nite.
As we approached Port Renfrew we entered an area of dense fog coupled with a rising breeze that eventually reached the 18 to 20 knot range.
The crew made quick and exciting work of a Fishermen strike and single reef in the Main while we avoided a close encounter with a inbound yacht, “about a boat length away” and then an inbound motor vessel.
Once snugged down steering and boat speed improved and we were off to the Mark.
As usual approaching the Swiftsure Bank around dawn, the wind became light and wouldn’t you know it, the Flood followed the Ebb slowing our progress, MARTHA not rounding the Mark until app. 1100 hrs.
Fortunately there was enough breeze to round and turn down wind, we headed for the Canadian shore where the subsequent Ebb would give way to a the building of the new flood.
As the morning gave way to afternoon, the flood and wind increased, steadily increasing boat speed though out the day.
At the end of the day MARTHA Crossed the finish line just after dark, upon arriving to the inspection dock we were met with warm smiles, a hot bowl of soup, first in division and a great feeling of satisfaction.
Congratulations to TATOOSH for first overall and a well sailed race!