Racing on other people’s boats

We have always said that racing is best done on other people’s boats – there is a lot of cost involved in racing – better sails, entry fees, broken bits – why do that yourself when you know other people crazy enough to subject themselves and their boat to that!?

This past weekend was the Schooner Cove Regatta – an approximately 42 mile race around Lasqueti Island – and what a race it was.  Snakes and Ladders is the only way to describe it!  I raced on Runaway Girl and Owen was out with Dilligaf – always fun to compete against each other and this race actually put us in the same division!

The day started with fluky winds that had us barely moving one moment and then flying along the next – only to be standing upright and running right out of the wind the next.  By the time we got to the bottom of Lasqueti, we were getting the feeling that this was going to be a challenging day.  Every other time we have done this race the wind has been from the Northwest – this year it was mostly from the Southeast – when it could make up its mind as to where it was actually coming from!

Rule number one in this race has always been to avoid the south end of Lasqueti like the plague unless you fancied driving straight into a windless hole – so we stayed well south of the Island, and then watched a fantastic band of wind fill in right along the shore.  As we wallowed our way between two bands of wind, we watched the “big boats”, who had started an hour later than us, race along the south shore – followed by the boats that had been lucky enough to not drive themselves so far from the wind that they couldn’t get back to it.  One by one boats passed us – leaving us frustrated and looking for wind.

We finally picked up a band of wind that had been filling in from the South and took off downwind on nice long jibes – we were about 3/4 of the way up the Island when we realised that all those boats that had passed us earlier were now parked in a big hole near the top of the Island.  Phew!  Pretty much the entire pack rounded the top of the island (and passed the halfway mark) at the same time.  And just like that the wind piped up and we were shooting upwind in 15 knots of wind – and then 12 – and then 10 – and then 8 – oh boy – here we go!

The pack split, the wind died and built, boats took weird flyers that weirdly worked and we inched our way south.  The day stretched out, our idea that dinner would be had at the docks was abandoned and the lasagna went into the oven.  The sun set, the day got cooler – still we plodded our way South.

The last 6 miles was the convergence point – the boats that had gone over to the Vancouver Island side started to meet up with the boats that had stayed on the Lasqueti side – we had hoped that all those Vancouver Island side boats were stuck in no wind but suddenly they were popping out on a track that would put them in front of us!  In a last desperate effort, and in the black of night, with about 3 miles to go, we threw up the Spinnaker – and passed one boat, and then another.  We watched one of the boats in our fleet take a strange flyer that drove then right out of the wind, and another boat decide they had had enough and fire up the engine.  We were getting excited.  The boat we couldn’t find was Dilligaf – we were all hoping they were well behind us.  Our skipper said “wouldn’t it make us crazy if they suddenly call in that they are five minutes out?”  when not two minutes later, they made a call to race committee to announce that they were five minutes out – how had they gotten ahead of us!?  There was some less than ladylike language going at that point!

We finally wound our way past a reef and narrowly missed a rock right at the finish and crossed the finish line.  And then the math started – how long ago had Dilligaf finished?  Did we beat them on correction?  Who else had crossed the line already?  Were the boats behind us far enough behind?  We were pretty sure that, after a day of starts and stops, we were first in our division and that was thankfully confirmed the next day!   Dilligaf took third in our division so we got them again!

It was a long day (14 hours racing) but so much fun and so challenging!

First Sail of the Season!

We made it off the dock – well initially, I made it off the dock!  This past weekend was the Thetis Island Regatta – an event that I have attended for (I think) 15 years now.  Even though my parents weren’t able to join us, I was still determined to make it to the regatta and to “race” our beast.

After a week of very long evenings, Owen had the hull in as ship-shape a condition as he could get her in (steel boat = rust spots = lots of work!), the galley was functional, if not complete, and we were ready to go.

As Owen was working Friday, I took the boat over to Thetis – my first ever solo trip!  I didn’t manage to sneak the sail out and I did get poured on (twice) but I didn’t hit anything, the boat didn’t have any problems and about an hour and a half after leaving our slip, I coasted up to the dock at Thetis Island – easy peasy!

I even managed to try out the new stove – the need for warming up led me to making hot chocolate as soon as I arrived, and then later, a batch of perfectly baked brownies were turned out from the new oven!  These proved to be too difficult to resist for the friends who turned up for a visit later Friday evening!

The Thetis Island Regatta is sort of the kick off to the Regatta season – though there are a couple of bigger races earlier in the year, Thetis Island brings out all types of racers – from the more competitive teams who do most every regatta of the year, to the people who bring their boat only out to this race more for the social aspect of the weekend, and the feeling that sailing season is finally beginning (that would be us!).

This year the we were actually granted enough wind to get around the entire way and to finish nearly 2 hours before the cut-off – but boy do we need a spinnaker – it was so sad to watch everyone sail past us on the first leg, and again on the last… maybe next year.

Much fun and socialising was had and some tequila might have been consumed and in no time at all it was late Sunday morning and the docks were emptying out.  After delaying our departure to avoid yet another rain shower, we headed home under blue skies, with the head sail giving the engine an assist.

headsail-home-from-thetis-1.jpg

All in all, the weekend was a wonderful success and it felt so good to get Solstice Tide out of her slip.

Next weekend is the Victoria Day long weekend and we will again get her out on the water – destination still to be determined…

Who are we?

For those that don’t already know us, allow me to introduce ourselves – I am Tara and my partner in crime is Owen.

The boat:  Solstice Tide is a 36′ Van De Stadt Seal which Owen bought as a hull about 15 years ago – her first trip at sea was aboard a BC Ferry! – he had previously completed a “rough in” of the interior, as well as building the mast and rigging the boat.   I have sailed with Owen for the past 5 1/2 years and we have been discussing this dream of cutting the dock lines for nearly as long.

We met sailing – we both race on other people’s boats and met doing Sunday racing in Nanaimo, BC and at longer distance Regattas – finally the Van Isle 360 in 2011 had us spending more time together and the rest is history.

owen and tara at swiftsure 2010  here we are hanging out on the docks at a Swiftsure Race about a year before we started dating (May, 2010)

I am a prairie girl – born and raised in Sherwood Park, Alberta – there is not a whole lot of sailing in Sherwood Park (or any for that matter).  I had my first taste of sailing on a lake in Alberta when my stepdad bought a 26′ MacGregor and then later a Tanzer – my experience there was limited to an afternoon or two over the course of the very short summers (and the long-lasting motion after the fact).  When my parents retired to Vancouver Island, I had the opportunity to get out and do some more sailing, and most importantly, got my first taste of racing – I was hooked!  About five years after they moved out, I followed and have been sailing ever since.

Owen is an Island boy, but grew up mostly on power boats.  He eventually bought his first sailboat and learned as he went.  He also joined the race world and that is where our worlds collided.

We have spent a lot of time out on Solstice Tide in the last 5 1/2 years (Queen Charlotte Islands, 2 trips to the San Juans, Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands, Princess Louisa Inlet and nearly every anchorage in the Gulf Islands) and intend to keep cruising her as we get ready to head for warmer climes.

Solstice Tide at Chatterbox Falls, Princess Louisa Inlet ….   and off the beach at Hot Springs Island, Queen Charlotte Islands

Our task for the next 4 years is to essentially redo the entire interior – first task the galley which is currently underway and to add a dodger and bimini for some sun protection.  The engine had a major overhaul last year (thanks to a blown head gasket) so we are crossing our fingers that all will be good in that department.

Okay – that was a long, boring, post – hopefully you now feel like you know a bit about us.