Vicious water: Hecate Strait as depicted in “The Golden Spruce”

“The water in Rupert is boiling, rough water and that’s just by the dock… It’s vicious that water, just vicious.” — Pat Campbell

Before and since my 2015 R2AK = Race Towards Alaska, I’ve enjoyed reading novels and non-fiction that take place along the race route: the coasts of Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska.  While my favorite is still Ivan Doig’s “Sea Runners” (inspiration for our team name), the most recent good read was John Valliant’s “The Golden Spruce” in which the main character attempts to kayak from Prince Rupert across Hecate Strait to Haida Gwaii — in February.  The question of whether he perished in the process, or staged an accident and disappeared into the woods beyond Ketchikan is an intriguing one, but what caught my #R2AK-eye was the author’s description of the oceanography of Hecate Strait and Dixon Entrance.

…Hecate Strait is arguably the most dangerous body of water on the coast.  The strait is a malevolent weather factory; on a regular basis its unique combination of wind, tide, shoals, and shallows produces a kind of destructive synergy that has few parallels elsewhere in nature.  From the northeast come katabatic winds generated by cold air rushing down from the mountains and funnelling, wind-tunnel style, through the region’s many fjords, the largest of these being Portland Inlet, which empties into the strait 50 km north of Prince Rupert.  Winter storms, meanwhile are generally driven by Arctic low pressure systems born over Alaska, and they tend to manifest themselves as southerlies along the coast.  It is because of these winds that the weather buoy at the south end of Hecate Strait has registered waves over 30 meters high.  One of the things that makes the strait so dangerous is that these two opposing weather systems can occur simultaneously.  Thus, when a southwesterly sea storm, blowing at 80 – 160 km/hr collides, head-on, with a northesasterly katabatic wind blowing at similar strength, the result is a kind of atmospheric hammer-and-anvil effect.  Veteran North Coast kayakers tell stories of winds like this lifting 180 kg of boat and paddler completely out of the water and heaving them through the air.

NOAA chart showing Prince Rupert, Masset, and Ketchikan.

But this is only one ingredient in Hecate Strait’s chaos formula.  Tides are another; in this area they run to 7 meters, which means that twice each day vast quantities of water are being pumped in and out of the coast’s maze of inlets, fjords, and channels.  The transfer of such volumes in the open ocean is a relatively orderly process, but when it occurs within a confined area like Hecate Strait that is not only narrow but shallow, the effect is of a giant thumb being pressed over the end of an even larger garden hose.  The scientific name for this is the Venturi effect, and the result is dramatic increase in pressure and flow.  A third ingredient is a frightening thing called an overfall which occurs when wind and tide are moving rapidly in opposite directions.  Overfalls are steep, closely packed, unpredictable waves capable — even a modest height of 4-5 meters — of rolling a fishing boat an driving it into the sea bottom.  They can show up anywhere but their effects are intensified by sandbars and shoals like the one that extends for 30 km off the end of Rose Spit between Masset and Prince Rupert.  Under certain conditions, overfalls take the form of “blind rollers,” which are large, nearly vertical waves that roll without breaking; not only are these waves virtually silent, but under poor light conditions they are also invisible — until you are inside them.  If one then factors in the prevailing deep-sea swell that in winter surges eastward through Dixon Entrance at heights of 10-20 meters, and the fact that a large enough wave will expose the sea floor of Hecate Strait , the result is one of the most diabolically hostile environments that wind , sea, and land are capable of conjuring up.

 

Preparing the R2AK Hitia 17 for a race ’round Mercer Island

Tomorrow Manuoku — the Wharram Hitia 17′ that Thomas and I built for the 2015 Race to Alaska — will compete in the Sound Rower’s “Sausage Pull”.  I’ll be pedaling with Kevin Flick, trying to take 10-20 minute turns at keeping the Hitia going 7 kph or faster.  This will be a unique opportunity to see what sorts of speeds we can get over a multi-hour course when the boat is lightly loaded and free of the drag from its mast, sail, and rigging.  If we can maintain a 7-8 kph average, we should finish the 23 km course in 3-3.5 hours.

The full race course is 23 km long.
The full race course is 23 km long.

For comparison, here are some full- and half-race mean speeds from previous Sausage Pulls attained by local Michael Lampi in various pedal boats over the years.  The range is 7.7-11.1 kph and the mean is 9.8 kph.

screenshot-2016-10-07-09-34-29

I’m hoping Kevin and I can get close to the 7.7 kph and that Matt is able to top the 11.1 kph!  Either way, I expect we’ll learn a lot about our boats and set a personal best in these boats to try in future years.

For further comparison, here are the mean speeds for 24-hour world record distances set in human-powered boats.

screenshot-2016-10-07-09-23-51

It’s noteworthy that Michael’s full-race (~2 hour) speeds are right up there with Greg’s 24-hour world record speed.  All these numbers can be further examined in this Google spreadsheet of human-powered boat performance data.

When Thomas and I circumnavigated Mercer Island as part of our 2015 R2AK training, our boat Manuoku was fully loaded and had a sailing rig.  As I recall it was pretty calm that night.  The iSailGPS screengrabs show that our speed was 4-6 kph for much of the time.

In contrast, I attained speeds of 6-8 kph during speed tests earlier this week, comparing performance of the Rick Willoughby custom propeller and an APC propeller of comparable diameter.  The rig was still up (I’m going to pedal/sail to the start of the race tonight), but with the boat was much more lightly loaded than in 2015 (much less gear/water, and only 1 person aboard).   Overall, the speed results were surprisingly pretty similar between the two props, despite the fact that the APC was not snugly fit to the shaft at all (need a bushing and a locking nut as the non-locking one I used fell off sometime during the tests!).

The start and finish line is Mt. Baker Park beach!

screenshot-2016-10-07-08-44-28

 

 

 

Capsize & recovery of a Wharram Hitia 17: Race to Alaska (R2AK) training

The added leverage seems to help bring the up-going hull further and ultimately through vertical.

A recent capsize talk and demonstration by Richard Woods at the 2016 Wooden Boat Festival inspired me to finally upload a long video my son, Liam, made of Thomas and me successfully righting a turtled Wharram catamaran.  As part of our training & preparation for the 2015 Race to Alaska, we intentionally capsized our modified Hitia 17 pedal-sail boat in Lake Washington (Seattle).

The video could have been edited to be more succinct (Liam was just beginning with iMovie), but for the connoisseur, the grueling details may be appreciated.  If not, or in case you’re interested in a specific topic or stage of the exercise, here’s a:

Table of contents

  • Getting the boat from the Sail Sand Point storage yard
  • 01:48 Packing gear at the top of the boat ramp
  • 08:22 Thomas tour of items stored in port hull
  • 09:00 Scott tour of items stored in starboard hull
  • 11:45 Discussion of righting line placement
  • 12:50 Getting into dry suits
  • 13:30 Putting boat in Lake Washington
  • 14:00 Pedal-sailing to the capsize location
  • 16:00 First attempts to capsize
  • 17:30 Re-thinking how to cause the capsize
  • 19:00 Re-positioning under pedal power
  • 20:00 Second attempts to capsize
  • 20:45 Capsize!
  • 22:40 Both Scott and Thomas back aboard (overturned tramp), organizing lines [immersion time was about 2 minutes]
  • 24:15 Recovery attempt 1
  • 24:50 Recovery fail 1: slipped off keel and fell into water
  • 25:30 Recovery attempt 2
  • 26:30 Recovery fail 2: not enough leverage at middle of keel
  • 26:55 Opening hatch on port main hull?
  • 27:00 Re-thinking strategy
  • Successful recovery (takes 2-3 minutes)
    • 27:30 Standing on bow
    • 27:55-28:05 Rapidly venting air as water enters hull
    • 29:00 More venting as bow quickly sinks and upper hull starts to rise from water
    • 29:15 We move back towards center of keel from the bow (gaining leverage)
    • 29:33 Trampoline is vertical
    • 29:38 Boat is back upright (with cabin coaming ~20-30 cm above water line, rail in/near water line)
  • 29:50 Reboarding on the hull that’s lower in the water
  • Pumping/bailing out begins [lasts at least 4 minutes]
    • 30:05 Thomas starts pumping with hand bilge pump while Scott cleans lines and gets bailer and bucket
    • 31:10 Using bucket to empty port hull while sailing to beach
    • 32:20 Using bailer and bilge pump now
  • 33:45 Back on the beach (with “dry” bilge)
  • 34:00 Shoreside thoughts

Looking at these time stamps (and recognizing that Liam may have edited out some portions of the continuous footage) it looks like the righting process could be reduced to about 2-3 minutes with practice.  We were immersed for about 2 minutes and we spent at least 4 (maybe 10?) minutes pumping/bailing the flooded hull dry.

Here are some frame-grabs:

A key question is whether it’s better to remove weight from the up-going hull, or add weight to the down-going hull (by flooding it).  Would it be worth it to stay immersed much longer, open up the hatch on the hull to be lifted, and remove all heavy gear from it (if that can be done without inadvertently adding weight in the form of flooding water!)?

Things we could do differently next time:

  • Try capsizing using a halyard (thereby leveraging the mast like a gin pole)
  • Try recovering with one person on the other’s shoulders
  • Try water bags and dual righting lines
  • Try using the mast or a pole for righting (e.g. like a gin pole)
  • Try flooding a hull by standing on stern, rather than bow (and also flooding further/faster by having both sailors stand on bow, or in a bow loop)

Questions

  • Is it worth it (or even possible) to put enough flotation at the mast head to prevent turtling?
  • Is it helpful to remove rigging (e.g by freeing snotters and halyard) and/or to “lower” the sail (lashing to tramp, for example?)
  • Is single-handed righting? Possible?
  • What if both hatches are open during capsize?  Does water flow in/out of hulls such that it could be righted in any downflooded initial condition (e.g. breaking waves fill both hulls, then flip boat?  Or is an air vent in each hull side needed?

 

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Audio report #2 from R2AK 2016: whales, hypothermia, sleep deprivation, & other yarns

With good cell phone reception and more fickle, light winds off of Prince Rupert, Thomas called in from the final phase of his #R2AK 2016 adventure and spun some yarns.  Each excerpt embedded below offers a glimpse into the Nature of the wilder half of the Race to Alaska — from Cape Caution north to Ketchikan, along the northern coast of British Columbia, Canada.

Bumping bottom at Elliott Island

Around 21:00 on Tue July 12, Thomas anchored in a narrow bay on the southeast side of Elliott Island (in Arthur Passage, just south of Prince Rupert).  Wind and tide combined to cause his centerboard to touch the bottom.  Here’s the story of how he escaped!

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 02.54.07

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Skeena current anchoring SNAFU

Earlier that afternoon (Tue 7/12), Thomas stopped at the north end of Gibson Island in Telegraph Passage after exiting the north end of the amazingly long Grenville Channel.  This area is influenced by the outflow of the Skeena River and strong tides.  Leaving Gibson he started drifting southwards at 1-2 knots back towards Grenville over the shallow region charted as Bloxham Flat.  He quickly deployed his anchor to stop the backwards progress and this is the story of cascading crisis that ensued!

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 02.45.34 Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 02.46.08

At the time, Thomas wondered if “bad spirits” were at work in this fiasco.  Together, we wondered if this area was fatefully close to the location of the first deadly ordeal suffered by the original Sea Runners (our #R2AK team’s namesake and Ivan Doig’s fictional depiction of 4 Scandinavians escaping by native canoe from a Russian fur outpost in Sitka and paddling to Astoria).  Having spent 4 days weathering a storm and eating ducks on the northern shores of Haida Gwaii (after crossing Dixon Entrance, then known as Kaigani Strait), they sailed “across the [Hecate] strait and once more into a scatter of shoreline islands.”  This was likely the Philip, Prescott, and Porcher Island groups.  They then paddled southward for 4 days, before arising to the jolt of seeing a canoe on the beach when theirs was hidden in the spruce forest.  It was there — as they paddled furiously away from Wennberg’s successful smashing of the bow of the native’s canoe — that their leader and navigator Melander took a took a rifle ball to the back of his head.  So, depending on how far they paddled each day, the region of bad juju for Sea Runners may be anywhere from the north end of Grenville to Bella Bella…

Close encounters with marine mammals

Thomas talks about being eyed by a humpbacks, spotting dozens of humpbacks and minkes before entering Grenville Channel, and bumping into Pacific White-sided dolphins (aka Lags) south of Cape Caution.

Lags in Johnstone Strait (screen grab from a video Thomas posted to Facebook)
Lags in Johnstone Strait (screen grab from this video Thomas posted to Facebook)

Thoughts on the Seascape 18 as a Race to Alaska boat

Thomas notes top speeds during the Race, as well as performance changes before and during the Race.  He also describes of a couple of broaches — one in Johnstone Strait and one in Squally Channel — and some of the difficulties he had propelling the Seascape 18 under pedal power.

Sleep deprivations

Thomas contemplates how little sleep he’s gotten during the first couple weeks of his R2AK 2016, and how he’s dealt with being on the helm for 16-18 hours per day.

Two slightly hypothermic experiences

Thomas talks about how he warmed back up after getting wet in an unexpected deluge and running out of energy as he jibed continuously for 6 hours in Grenville Channel.

Audio report #1 from Team Sea Runners in R2AK 2016

Thomas just called in a report (for Tues June 28, 2016) and I recorded it via speaker phone.  Hear about his day of light-wind sailing among other Racers, his plans for the night, food and water status, VHF/traffic considerations, and more.

The recording is about 16 minutes long, including come conversation with me towards the latter half.  He also texted this photo to accompany the recording.

Seascape 18 nightime R2AK cockpit
Seascape 18 nightime R2AK cockpit

Comparing R2AK 2015 to 2016

Tonight I enjoyed giving a talk to the San Juan Sailing club about the Race to Alaska.  It was great to meet John Manning of Team Why Not (registered for the full 2016 race), to see Nick Wainwright and get a truck-top tour of his recently completed Angus Expedition rowboat (build for the full 2016 race), and to finally get a chance to commiserate with Nigel Oswald (of Team Turn Point Designs in the 2015 race).

As part of my preparation for giving the talk I updated the Google spreadsheet of full race registered teams that I began prior to the 2015 race.  It was interesting to see a few differences emerging between the 2015 and 2016 races: fewer purpose-builds and (mysteriously) way fewer catamarans; 3x the 2015 # of women; high boat diversity — SUP to 32 foot cat; about the same average team size, but hardly any 2-person teams. Check out the new tables near the end of the talk!

I also included a bit more detail about the qualifier and our experience of the full race.  There’s still wind and boat data to analyze, video to edit, and trip log to share (more soon in an imminent day-by-day blog post), but for now the talk presents some new looks at the fleet’s tracks and some of my favorite photos.

R2AK 2015 spreadsheet: build, budget, boats, schedules, gear, and more

For those contemplating a bid in the 2016 (or future?) Race to Alaska, this massive R2AK-2015 spreadsheet that Thomas and I used to plan & track our efforts may be of interest —

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1t5spS_5ld0tbjBB6lB5PXIoXguSFPu9CjJGx7cbRFeI/edit#gid=130418852

One of my favorite parts are the “collaborators” tab which lets you sort through the full race teams in lots of ways.  Here’s an extract sorted by progress, including those that finished as well as those that didn’t finish but made some degree of progress to the north of Victoria.

Place Time Last point north First Last Team Boat type Boat model
days
1 5.0 Ketchikan Al Hughes Elsie Piddock Trimaran F25c
2 8.2 Ketchikan Wayne Gorrie MOB Mentality Trimaran 28′ Farrier SR “Mail order bride”
3 8.2 Ketchikan John Denny Por Favor Monohull Hobie 33′
4 Ketchikan Trip Burd Free Burd Catamaran Arc 22 catamaran
5 Ketchikan Matt Sornson Kohara Catamaran 29′ ?
6 Ketchikan Dan Blanchard Un-cruise Trimaran F-32
7 11.6  Ketchikan Graham Henry Soggy Beavers OC6 Advantage Outrigger
8  Ketchikan Phil Wampold Mau Catamaran Nacra 5.7
9  Ketchikan Al Lubkowski Blackfish Trimaran F-27
10 Ketchikan Jeremy Lucke Grin Monohull Etchell 22
11 Ketchikan Roger Mann Discovery Trimaran Hobie Islander
12 Ketchikan Bill Gifford Excellent Adventure Monohull Montgomery 17′
13 Ketchikan Patrick Buntain Boatyard Boys Monohull 17’ Swamspcott Dory
14  Ketchikan Mike Higgins Mike’s Kayak Kayak 17 foot yellow Prijon Kodiak
15  28?  Ketchikan Quill Goldman Barefoot Wooden Boats Oar & sail boat Tad Roberts custom
16  14? Bella Bella John Strathman John Canoe 19′ Easyrider w/outrigger
17 13.0 Broughtons Michael Dougherty Puffin Catamaran Wharram Tiki 21
18 13.0 Telegraph Cove Thomas Nielsen Sea Runners Catamaran Hitia 17
19 Kelsey Bay Nels Strandberg Broderna Trimaran F-24(25?) w/ Viking oars
20 Otter Bay Piper Dunlap Hexagram 59 Catamaran Hobie Miracle 20′
21 N Seymour Narrows Stephen Marcoe Golden Oldies Catamaran 38′ Crowther super Shockwave “Nice Pair”
22  9? S Seymour Narrows Heather Drugge Coastal Express Monohull Mirror 16′
23 Parksville Chris Adams Super Friends Monohull San Juan 21
24 Nanaimo Phil Wilmer Y Triamoto Trimaran Multi 23, mini ORMA 60 Van Peteghem Laurent
25 Vancouver George Corbett Seawolf Foiling trimaran 17′ Seawolf
26 Gibbons Brandon Davis Turn Point Design Catamaran Turn Point 24 (carbon fiber/nomex)
27 Active Pass Todd Bryan Real Thing Trimaran L-7 “Firefly” (Multi Marine, Michael Leneman)
28 Vancouver Joe Bersch Pure & Wild Proa Bieker Proa

I also like the beach cat comparison tabs, our different food tabs, the many lists, our training logs, and of course our ~2-month build of the main part of the boat (less the rig) —

Build day Time Line  Event
Tiki Tuesday — 9/23/2014 Decide to enter race with Scott Veirs
10/1/2014 Plans ordered from JWD
10/1/2014 Calculated cost of aluminum parts
10/1/2014 Emailed Wayne at Down-Home Woods for wood spar quote got a no-quote response
10/2/2014 JWD processing plan order
10/4/2014 Completed kayak speed test
10/8/2014 JWD H17 plans received
10/11/2014 Great cabin mocked up
1 Tue 10/14 Build started with the ceremony of the long tables & the death of a flagon of Pyrat (Thanks to our helpers Tim King and Erik Hvalsoe)
2 Wed 10/15 T drafts and cuts out bulkheads and hull side panels
3 Thu 10/16 T cuts out stem, stern, rudder, lashing backing plates
4 Fri 10/17 S cuts out butt blocks; T glues up hull sides with butt blocks
5 Sun 10/19 am: Thomas rips stringers, keel; late eve: Thomas staples outer scarfed stringers to hulls; S&T glue scarfed keels
6 Mon 10/20 T&S test mirage drive. T maintains 4-5 kph while chatting on phone. Hulls zip tied and stood up with bulkheads in place.
7 Tue 10/21 T,S,&K align and glue hull B
8 Thu 10/23 T&S align and glue hull A
9 10/27/2014 Keel fillets, End foaming, aft storage locker and diagonals added
10 11/1/2014 Decks made and undersides coated. First spar mock up glued up.
11 11/3/2014 Glued in bunk stringers on hulls and at bulkheads
12 11/4/2014 Glued on cabin sides
13 11/5/2014 Kennewick/paper day
14 11/6/2014 Made bunk cross-stringers, sanded holds
15 11/7/2014 Fitting bunks, painting holds, filling holes and coating bunks.
16 11/8/2014 Glued on decks and fixed bunk boards (with Kevin after Kenmore ride/dip)
17 11/9/2014 Cleaned up fillets, made and fit cabin side stringers and aft coaming pieces
18 11/10/2014 Glued in cabin side stringers and aft coaming pieces; trimmed decks
19 11/11/2014 Make deck and coaming pieces. broke rear seat B loose (do we need glass tape at stress points?)
20 11/12/2014 Coat cabin deck pieces/sand decks/make rudder and handle doublers
21 11/13/2014 Glue up coaming to cabin deck
22 11/14/2014 Fillet underside of coaming. Later glue cabin deck to cabin
23 11/15/2014 Sand decks/cabins, flip to sand hulls, fair stem/stern, shape keel
24 11/16/2014 T&S stay up late to glass cabin ends & rudders
25 11/17/2014 T&S glass decks
26 Tue 11/18 T glasses cabin sides during day; T&S sand hulls, glass 1st side of hulls
27 Wed 11/19 S fills 1st side hulls and rudder weave w/epoxy coat #2
28 Th 11/20 T & S sand and glass 2nd side of hulls; discuss lash pads & doublers; fill 2nd side rudders
29 Fri 11/21 T trims hull glass; S cleans up stringer for fillet, forms doublers & pads
30 Sat 11/22 S buys hardware for pads; T&S glue pads, kevlar bow, carbon fiber skeg, fillet stringer, glass keel.
31 Sun 11/23 First assembly!
32 Mon 11/24 Launch, paddle/mirage drive/flip/right/bail. We got it wet in 42 days (42×6 hours = 252hrs!)

 

 

R2AK 2015 talk at Sail Sandpoint

Last night Thomas and I gave a talk about the Race to Alaska at Sail Sandpoint.  It was a great crowd, including some of our co-conspirators: Matt Johnson, Eric Hvalsoe, and Tim King.  If you’re interested in some background on the 2015 rules/route, a few slide shows of our build, gear, training, and race experience, as well as a distillation of the 2015 results — here is an on-line version of the presentation —

Hawaiian double canoe talk May 17 at Center for Wooden Boats

What it’s all about.

Calling all R2AK racers and fans — especially Team Pure and Wild (the proa innovators)!  Don’t miss our wise advisor, Kiko Johnston-Kitazawa, as he spins yarns regarding “Wa`akaulua, the Hawaiian Double Canoe” at the Center for Wooden Boats (South Lake Union location).  Kiko will talk at 5pm on Sunday May 17 (2015) in the Boathouse.  He also plans to have his Pahi 26 with a Hawaiian sprits’l rig moored alongside for tours and maybe a post-talk sail adventure.

When he is not guiding sailing adventures or talks in the National Parks on the Island of HawKii, Kiko visits Seattle where he is renovating and sailing a Wharram Pahi 26′ double canoe and giving advice to Team Sea Runners as they prepare to compete in the June 5th, “Race to Alaska“.  In addition to discussing the history of Hawaiian sailors he will review the current role of these designs in the Pacific Northwest.

Kiko has spent most of his life sailing, building boats and exploring Hawaii’s Big Island. Growing up in Hilo as the son of a surfboard and outrigger canoe builder, Kiko had his first sailboat at age 14 and a captain’s license at age 18.  He has sailed from Hawaii to California, Washington, and Canada several times.

“Captain Kiko” studied seamanship and navigation under Captain David B.K. Lyman and Captain Norman Pi‘ianaia as well as apprenticing with boat builders on the mainland.   He is a graduate of Bates Boat Building Program in Tacoma who now builds double-hulled canoes, leads sailing tours, and teaches canoe building.

Everytime I talk with Kiko I learn something new about sailing and boats.  His knowledge of maritime history  is encyclopedic.  He’s especially knowledgeable about Pacific, Polynesian, and Hawaiian cultural history, but what impresses me the most is the diversity of boat designs, innovators, and good precedents he is able to hold in his mind.

If you can make it there in person, I guarantee that Kiko will spin you some amazing yarns and field most any question you can think up.  If you can’t make it, here are a couple of videos — ones that either Kiko recommended and I found compelling, or ones of Kiko practicing his art in Hawaii.

The Manu Kai was the inspiration for Hobie catamarans in the mid-20th-century.

Watch Kiko steer his double-canoe into a typical Hawaiian bay.

18 hour trial on Lake WA: nighttime circumnavigation of Mercer Island

As Team Sea Runners prepares to run back to the sea (or at least lake) again, it seems a good time to reflect back on our first lake trial, providing an account of the adventure and some performance data.  Starting on February 22, 2015, in the mid-evening from Sail Sand Point, we pedal-sailed for almost 18 hours around Lake Washington.  Along the way we circumnavigated Mercer Island, were startled by the sounds of mid-night maelstroms, and met a misty, frosty dawn by securing our craft to “the shish-kebob stick” off of St. Edwards Park.

From a R2AK training perspective, we learned a lot.  First, don’t put the 2:1 90-degree drive on backwards, unless you want a really high cadence for very little propulsion!  Second, with the right tools you can fix such problems on the beach.  Third, don’t drop nuts on a cobble beach if you plan on seeing them again.  Thanks to some help from Mike and Enzo, Thomas got Matt’s pedal drive (2:1 Mitrpak, carbon-fiber sleeved bent shaft, and carbon-fiber prop) working well.  Our sail rig was the 13~m2 crab claw on the A-frame windsurfer mast raked forward about 20 degrees.

We also got a good sense of what it’s like to pedal on a watch schedule through the night.  Pedaling for a couple hours is doable, especially with water and snack food handy.  Observing the shoreline takes away some of the monotony, but we can now report that the Mercer Island population uniformly watches big bright screens on Sunday nights, in stark contrast to the residents of Lake Union who commonly exhibit postprandial coital activity.  While Nature may provide us with entertainment aplenty along the BC coast, bringing some music or books on tape may boost morale during the R2AK if we run into multiple no-wind days.

Mother Nature did provide us with some wonderful experiences.  It’s always amazing to night sail on Lake Washington — alone even in the summer months as the metropolis sleeps around you — but on this longer voyage we were privileged to witness two new phenomena.  Around 2 in the morning as we tacked north from the 520 bridge we kept sensing dark patches of water ahead — as if a localized gust were approaching, riffling the darkened waters.  As our range closed to a couple hundred meters, the patches would emit an intense sizzling noise and slowly disappear.  Eventually we resolved they must be enormous flocks of sleeping birds, but we heard no calls and never got close enough to identify the species.  Another treat was sailing through sea smoke in the pre-dawn as a chill northerly wind swept over the Lake and us off St. Edwards Park.  With ice forming on the deck it was other-worldly to ghost through the broken trunks and skeletal branches of the numerous trees that have fallen into the Lake from the Park.  Ethereal forms seemed to rise from the Lake and drift through the dim arboreal hulks, like pirate wraiths patrolling the shoreline

Wind data

The overall wind situation was a light northerly breeze.  As we set out from Sail Sand Point at around 17:15 and pedal sailed south to Seward Park (reaching it around 20:30), the northerly was blowing, but quickly decreasing from ~15 km/hr.  The breeze was steady at ~<10 km/hr from midnight (through when the sea smoke was most active) until about 9 a.m.  After that it slowed until we got off the water just before noon.

150221_520-wind 150221_I90-wind

150222_520-wind150222_I90-wind

Performance data

This gentle, fairly steady northerly led to an opportunity to compare our downwind and upwind mean speeds.  The screengrabs from iSailGPS show downwind speeds of 6-8 km/hr, while upwind legs typically have speeds of 4-6 km/hr.  North of the bridge, where Scott pedal sailed through many tacks, the boat speed peaks near 8-10 km/hr — mostly during pedaled close or beam reaches.

Below are some results from GPSar:

TN: 6.24 kph, 7.7 km — Downwind SSP to 520
SV: 6.1 kph, 4.7km, 46min — Downwind 520-I90
TN: 4.4 kph, 3.5km, 47min — Downwind (but weakening wind) to S Mercer
SV: 4.1 kph, 4.1km, 58min — In lee of Mercer and upwind up east side
SV: 5.1 kph, 16.2km, 3:12 pedal-tacking — Upwind
SV: 3.6 kph, 2.3km, 37min upwind pedal  – Upwind
TN: 2.9 kph, 1.9km, 28 min upwind pedal – Upwind
TN: 4.3kph, 9.9km, 2:17 downwind pedal – Downwind
SV: 4.9 kph, 4.2km, 52min pedal-sail — Across wind

Overall: 4.17 kph, 62km, 13:26 (sements missing)
VMG=6.68/3:13= 2.1 kph during tacking phase
Max: 7.0 kph sustained over 1.4km on a beam reach

2015-02-21-gpsar