Here's a brief (I know it seems long) account of "NANCY'S" 2011 BAMA Doublehanded Farallones Race. I
think it would be fair to say that Gordie and I had a great time. I
also think it would be fair to say we had a tough time.
Prior to the
Start we decided to hang around the Start Line since it was apparent
those boats back in the normal staging area weren't going to get
started against the unusual Flood and light SW wind. So we motor-sailed around in front of the SfFYC looking for some ebb. We found it right along the seawall - in about 15 feet or less of water - 20 feet off the rock wall. The ebb band was only about 25 feet wide, but it was there. Where in the heck did that massive Flood come from on a day when Max Ebb was an hour after our Start? With
all the runoff from the recent storms we figured it would be slam bam
and out the Gate!
So, since the SIs allowed, we "dip Started" and
headed back for the seawall. We
worked our way up to about the "H" beam West of the SfFYC when what
little wind there was began to peter out so we jumped off toward the
middle. We manage to really "Start" by getting swept out past "X" and we on our way! Like
the other boats that got away, we worked our way out, crossing those
current lines and sort of hopping from patch of wind to patch of wind. Our goal was to get over to the Yellow Bluff area where we thought we'd find both wind and ebb. But
Yellow Bluff was not to be.
We began to feel stronger and stronger ebb
as we got to the center, but that ebb began pushing us back toward the
S. Tower. As the wind increased a little, we were able to sail toward
the middle of the bridge and passed under it almost exactly an hour
after we Started! On the outer side, the wind filled in and we continued sailing toward the Marin shoreline. We
were making 9+ knots over the bottom, and about 3 through the water.
There were only about 10 or 12 boats that made it away from the
Starting area. At
the bridge we looked back and saw the bay filled with sagging chutes
around the Starting area, but we were at the Bridge!
increased steadily - as it was supposed to have been all morning - and
we "hit" the Marin side West of Pt. Diablo - a little bit West of our
Yellow Bluff goal. We
wanted to exit at Pt. Bonita, so made a few tacks to stay over on the
North side and to stay in what we thought was the strongest Ebb. We were making
11+ knots over the bottom and 6 or so through the water.
we stayed N. and passed the first set of channel markers about half a
mile North. It was messy, wet, and we found quite a few square waves. I managed to find more than Gordie when I was steering the boat. I'm
sure on one of the them the whole boat must have been out of the water
since we just dropped straight down and we felt the concussion over the
full boat's length. Our
speed over the bottom was good, even though the square backsides slowed
us to almost a stop when we hit one.
We steered our way through the
mess, edging further North as we went out and passed the Lightbucket
about a mile to the North. The apparent wind picked up and we began to see 28+ gusts, with the wind being something like 25 consistently. There were more than few 30+ anemometer readings though. After
passing the Lightbucket, things began to settle down a little, but the
wind waves increased and we "blew" through wind wave after wind wave. During
periods when the wind dropped to the low 20s knots, we thought we were
going slow, but even then were making 7 +/- knots over the bottom.
we approached the Island, we stayed North since we didn't want any
"island" issues, which turned out to be providential for us. Laying the Island on one tack is unusual, but that's what we did. At
the Island we finally began to crack off at little at a time.
telling Gordie about my BAMA race with Nick Sands on his Saber 402
"Escapade" -- about the roller furling line that parted on his boat
just about the time we were halfway past the North side of the Island
in similar conditions, when Gordie and I heard a loud "Bang!" on our
boat and saw something fly off the bow. The sail dropped about 3 or 4 feet. Holy
crap! Remember, we only have one sail.
At first we thought the halyard
had broken and the wind pressure on the slides was keeping the sail up,
but then we saw the main halyard stretching up at a sharp angle from
the forward bullet block guide on the cabin top. The
turning block at the base of the mast had blown up. A piece landed in
the cockpit, but the large parts missed us on the way by. The
boom was on the port side, the same side as the halyard and was holding
the halyard more or less against the mast, but if we jibed the halyard
been at a straight angle from that bullet block to the masthead, which
was angled back 3 or so feet from plumb due to the tension on the rig. More Holy Crap! Hang
in there little bullet block. You were never designed to be a turning
block for the sail, especially for a Wyliecat-size sail in 28+ knots
I went below, grabbed some line and a sail tie, hooked onto
the jackline, and then went forward to see what I could do. Gordie eased the halyard a little so I had some slack. I rigged a line around the halyard and the deck fitting, but could only drag the halyard part way back down to the mast step. Gordie
continued to steer and when we were around the backside of the Island,
came forward and we both pulled on the "tackle system" and managed to
get the halyard down to more or less where it should have been if the
"real" turning block had been there.
Then we went back to the cockpit
and tried raising the sail back up. We managed to get it most of the
way, but the halyard "running" through three loops of rope created lots
of friction and we couldn't get the sail all the way back up. I
think we lost 10 to 15 minutes in the process, but time flies when
you're having fun bouncing around on the pointy end of a boat hanging
on with one hand and tying/pulling with the other. Did I mention the constant green water wash as
each swell hit the bow? The period was about 10 seconds per swell. Six
hits per minute!
Once we got the boat moving again and jibed onto Port
and were reaching away from the Island I went back forward to secure
things, but it was clear we weren't going to improve on what we'd done A snatch block would have been handy, but we didn't have one, so labored on with what we had. Putting
the Cunningham on full helped with sail shape, and we tensioned the
topping lift to hold the boom up and give the leech a little better
The ride in was exhilarating, even with the jury rig! Gordie's
better at catching waves than I am, but seeing the knot meter hit 16+
as we surged along the swells, no matter which of us was steering was
exciting. Gordie managed to get the boat up and going more often than I did, but I had a few good rides. We
decided to just sail up the middle, so aimed at the Lightbucket, then
for the N. side of the channel after we passed the pilot station.
"Wait for the top of the swell, and then point the bow down." "Wait for the top of the swell . . . ." "No, wait, the next one looks like the 'big' one ." The
boat's remarkable; we didn't bury the bow once, even on the largest
swells, even at 18 knots. Nothing's more pleasing than the roar as 3
tons of boat surges off the top of the swell
and you're looking at a solid wall of green at the bottom. Luckily the
knotmeter and GPS were in our line of steering sight. Tom Wylie
designed one hell of a boat!
We surfed along a few hundred yards North
of the channel markers, aiming for the N. Tower. We even managed to catch a few swells inside Land's End. We
passed under the Bridge about mid-span, sailed another quarter mile,
The jibe was successful and the jury rigged halyard managed
it okay. We had our fingers crossed. We called in and aimed right at the GGYC pin. We were wet, weary, and wonderfully happy. The
gun went off and we knew we were official.
We had heard "Shaman" call in
ahead of us and knew it was possible for us to beat Steve on time, but
weren't sure we had done that. Obviously we'd been watching "Green Buffalo" since around the Lightbucket and knew where they were. We
knew we were ahead of the other boats in our division, but we also knew
there were Moore's ahead of us since at least one close to us had
gotten his chute up and disappeared in a rooster tail of spray. And, indeed, 5 of them beat us. I think the only other mono hull to beat us was the Schumacher quarter tonner "Summertime Dream" that we'd been playing tag most of the day. Even if we hadn't had the halyard excitement at the Island most of the Moore's would have beaten us. On the way out Gordie
commented it looked like a "Moore Day" and it certainly was!
Especially with their chutes up on the way back in.
Then we hit 30+
knot headwinds on the way back to Sausalito. Life just isn't fair! It was as wet sailing into Richardson Bay as it was out near the Island. All that's left of the halyard block is the base shackle. I'll replace it with the strongest metal block I can find! Don't want that to happen again for sure, especially in the middle of the ocean with 8 foot swells and 25+ knot winds!
Thanks to the BAMA Race Committee for putting on a great race. It is certainly one to be remembered.
Pat Broderick & Gordie Nash