Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Bad Luck Be Gone. Racing with WAGS.

Back in the slips at RQYS
Women on board a ship bring bad luck.  A naked woman on board will calm the sea, hence the naked figureheads on large sailing ships.  So go the old sea farers' myths.

I might have banished a bit of bad luck during the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron's WAGS (Wednesday Afternoons Go Sailing) race this afternoon.  

On the spur of the moment we accepted Glenn's invitation to crew for him aboard his Bavaria, Simpatico.  So along with Glenn and Roel, another one of our neighbours at RQYS, we headed out into Moreton Bay, with about 20 to 25 knots of wind for the WAGS race.  Glenn seemed to think that having a crew of 3 cruisers with experience crossing the Pacific was a bonus.   We had to confess that we  sometimes stayed on the same tack for weeks and would have barnacles growing only on the leeward side because of the constant heeling.   This was also my very first race.  

Our start was not perfect but not too bad; just 15 seconds after our official start time.  Flying the genoa and mainsail, we were moving along nicely between 7 and 8 knots.  Glenn's racing skills are complemented by his calm and confident manner making it a truly enjoyable experience for his crew.  It's been a perfect sailing day.

As far as racing tactics go, well I don't want to give away any secrets, but we laughed at old myths as Simpatico crossed the line first in the monohul division.   And no one on board had to get naked!  Glenn jokes that his crew stuck to what they learned while crossing the Pacific.  The long tack.  It really paid off this time with a convincing win and a couple of bottles of wine to celebrate!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Relative Calm on Moreton Bay

It's relatively calm here in Manly Harbour, Queensland today.  Maybe some white caps on Moreton Bay, 20-30 knot southerlies, bright blue sky.  Yesterday afternoon was a completely different story.  It was around 4:30pm, just as the boats participating in the RQYS WAGS race were coming back into the harbour.

I took this picture in light rain with my phone camera.
Look closely, you can see people standing in the water beside the keel.
The storm came across from the west pretty suddenly.  Tied up to our slip in the marina, I raced to get the portholes and hatches closed before we were pelted with rain that sounded more like hail.  Before I knew it our wind instruments registered 48 knots.  

Bristol Rose was healing over so far that the locker doors flew open and pots, plates, books, bottles, and anything not secured on the starboard side flew to the port side.  I thought of the damage done to boats during a hurricane that came through White Rocks Marina on the Chesapeake Bay and all I could do was hope "please let our neighbour's boat lines hold her so she doesn't come down on top of us".

The lines held and the storm passed leaving everyone in a state of shock.  As we all compared notes, we heard that someone registered 60 knots in the marina and the Coast Guard registered 70 knots at the entrance to the harbour.  

The big casualty was BlackJack Too, a 40ft racing boat.  She was one of the last to make it to the entrance and not having a big engine, the wind pushed her towards the rock wall.  Luckily, the tide was at its lowest and she stuck in the mud before reaching the rocks.  At high tide during the night the crew were able to float her off and back into her slip a few boats along from us.  To look at her this morning you'd never know anything had happened.