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OYRA Drakes Bay Race and flare practice

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  • OYRA Drakes Bay Race and flare practice

    OYRA's annual races to Drakes Bay and back take place on Saturday August 24th and Sunday August 25th.

    Who's in?

    I realize it can be crowded when most of our boats were not designed for everybody to sleep at the same time. For example Ahi sails with 8 but only sleeps 6 without double stacking or putting people on deck. Our solution has been to buddy up with a short handed boat and share resources. Find a short handed boat and offer to share your goodies or cook them breakfast in exchange for rafting and use of some of their empty bunks! Pre-arrange and do a pot luck, it has worked well for us. We moved the race back to August in the hopes that it is not nuking up there like last year.

    Hopefully none of us will ever need to use the distress flares we are required to carry, but how many of us have practiced setting them off? Can you do it without reading the label (it'll be dark) and when things have already gone sideways?

    How do you get rid of the damned things once they expire and are no longer part of your required inventory?

    I have contacted the USCG and got their permission for our fleet to hold a flare practice session Saturday evening in Drakes Bay. Details to follow for those entered in the race. It will be in the local notice to mariners and we will need to check in and out with the USCG command center to make sure we don't trigger a response but they are very supportive of the idea.

    I don't suggest that you use any in-date flares, and you need to still have your required inventory should you get inspected at CYC on Sunday, but most of us have expired ordinance just waiting for the chance to be used. It's fun and educational!

    I look forward to seeing you there.

  • #2
    Whee! I have 4 big 1000' parachute flares that just lapsed last month. Let's just not set the boat on fire or re-enact the end to 'dead calm'--read the directions!

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    • #3
      I can't make it, but I have some top-shelf expired flares you guys can play with. Who want's em?

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      • #4
        I have (only) one extra bunk - no v-berths or quarterberths in the modest J/92. Also, 8/25 is our anniversary and for some baffling reason, Connie doesn't want to spend it racing back from Drake's Bay.

        Check with Dan Willey though - he should be able to sleep an army and provide mints on the pillows.

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        • #5
          Baotes, rumm, sailores and flaers. Whatte coulde posibel o wronge?

          Eddite: *goe#, notte ;o;

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          • #6
            Racer X is in.

            Great work on the flare demo. We will have plenty of expired flares for others to use...heard a rumor that most of the fleet plans to anchor upwind of Ahi....
            Last edited by Rx; 08-19-2013, 11:15 AM. Reason: Sprlling

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            • #7
              We might make that hard to do. Our favorite spot is well east of where the rest of the boats usually anchor, under the highest bluff we can find. If you look at a local DB chart it's about as far north as you can go and still be in the white area at 6 fathoms. We anchor as close to the beach as we dare for shelter. Hopefully this year will be much more mellow than last year where we found shelter and still had 20 knots at anchor.

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              • #8
                23 boats and a decent forecast! Woo hoo!

                Tell us your tales when you return.

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                • #9
                  Lori and I DH Sea Star, had an OK start, and things went well for us until Bonita. Had a hell of a time rounding, and the fleets ahead really seemed to stretch out there, like they had much better pressure. We worked mostly along the shore up to dux, and i prolly should have stayed even closer to shore than I did, seems like there was better pressure there. We rounded Dux around 2 I think, and by 6, we were in very light breeze, looking at a 8 or later finish, so we pulled the plug and motored in. Sunday AM, I listened to the forecast, light SE breeze (!), and decided it was not our race at all and we motored back, leaving after the last start and running radar in the warm fog, dodging racers and fishers. Speaking of which: the racers had a better radar reflection than the fishers, by and large, and I assume that is because of the radar reflectors we carry.

                  We never saw more than about 5 knots, at first from the SE, then from NW, until after Bonita. There was about 10 knots W at the bridge at 2pm. It built up to 22 of course at Berkeley.

                  All in all, a nice weekend. I am still scratching my head about the comms plan the DB RC boat was using--Monitor only 16, but call only on 69, and ask for how many crew on board at the finish? What did they think--we were dropping crew to lighten the boat? Crew swaps? Cannibalism?

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                  • #10
                    “After my presentation I will pass out complimentary Current Books ….and I suggest that you keep them in the glove box of your car and not on your boat..”
                    (a quote – more or less – of Kame Richards opening remarks at his presentation on “Bay Currents”)

                    Sailing out the Golden Gate on Saturday demonstrated his point as it required observation, experimentation and luck to make gains against the flood. We had seen late but strong ebb off of Alcatraz on the way to the start and decided to play that card on the way out – besides “the book” said there should still be late ebb at 10:30. By the time we returned to the center, any sign of ebb had vanished. We did end up playing the middle of the bridge as this course seemed less adverse than the conditions we observed on the boats at the North Tower. Working our way over to Pt Diablo we then found significant relief in Bonita Cove. Tacking moderately close to Point Bonita paid as boats outside of us appeared to be in more adverse current. Working out to the middle of the course it was a day of challenging shifts and variable pressure to Drakes Bay. In retrospect, it seems that the boats that played the shore all the way were the boats that prevailed.

                    In stark contrast to last years “nuking conditions”, Saturday provided an opportunity to enjoy the remote beauty of Drakes Bay with easy anchoring and a quite night. If you ever have the chance, raft-up with Zsa Zsa, do it! Racer X did this year and we enjoyed wine from Stan’s vineyard, his flair for cooking and great stories – quite a treat.

                    Andy Newell deserves thanks for setting up the “flare demonstration” which proved to be a eye-opener. Assuming that the expiration dates on older flares were an “approximation” rather than a “hard cutoff”, we attempted to fire six personal “pocket” flares – zero success. Likewise, 3 red hand held flares (off the shelf – not Solas) - zero success. These flares had all expired in the past 18 months. Several other boats were more successful and put on a great show with rockets and parachute flares.

                    Sunday morning was fog and mist with ESE zephyrs, lifts and headers until about 3 miles north of Duxberry reef. The wind then clocked to the S-SW ish with 6 – 8 kts TWS. We encountered a number of “fog cells” along the way with one type that was cool and misty as expected, while the other was warm, very warm to the point that foulies came off and it was shirts and shorts. There did not seem to be any variation in TWD or TWS between the cool vs warm cells. Playing the middle of the course we then gybed in north of Point Bonita and played the shore, seeking relief from a well formed ebb. We headed to Angel Island and once clear of the hole off of Pt Belvedere (remember the finish of the Approach Buoy race?), went to a close reach towards the finish. With the Aso still up and 200 feet from the finish we found a fairly violent wind vortex and after being slapped around, drove off well below and then beyond the finish line. Aso down, jib out, tack back to the finish – another lesson learned.

                    Another great weekend on the water…thanks to the RC!

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                    • #11
                      Saturday was definitely a day to play the currents. We took a single tack from the start line almost all the way over to Crissy Field playing lifts along the way. I was tempted to tack toward the north tower but we resisted and did not tack until we saw flat water on the SF side. It seemed to work well and we mostly played the middle. We saw a few boats playing the north shore but we seemed to be OK and they seemed to have too little wind and very little relief. Rhum Boogie seemed almost motionless for a while so we stayed out. Later it looked like the guys north were gaining so we tacked for the middle of Bonita Cove and ended up entering on the east side. We found good stuff in there like Rx. We had decided to try and go a little beyond the main Bonita Channel before we tacked and that was a mistake. Mimicat tacked right at the point and was inside the 2+ knot current we were swimming against and made huge gains. I think they may have pulled close to a 'last to first' swap with that move so kudos to them. We finally tacked because the main channel current was developing quickly and ended up just pointing at the Bonita channel buoy, not nearly as far as we wanted. We carried on in the parade and then Gravlax and some other boats seemed to sail right by us 50-100 feet away, closer to the point but still in the channel. I obviously don't have that one figured out. The rest of the day was extremely pleasant and we mostly stayed out before Duxbury. I think some other boats played the shore and did OK in there. It seemed there was a lift before the reef that we missed out on.

                      After Duxbury we stayed much closer to shore. Not scary close but in 40-60' and I think we did OK. We were 4th to the finish and got two of them on time so it was a good day.

                      I had a chat with the PRO about the roll call and check-ins in DB this afternoon. Even before the conversation I pictured a layout on the committee boat where the radio was not in a convenient place to watch the finish line (you don't usually have the VHF mounted on the stern) and I think that was part of the problem. Other than the person in charge apparently the crew up there was pretty inexperienced so the one guy had to run between all the jobs. That kind of fits with the gaps in communication that we experienced. The finish line check in is a new thing. Our written instructions specify getting a head count on check in but they don't differentiate between a pre-race check in or a finish line check in. The roll call was a last minute add and obviously not planned well enough. I think at some point we will need to get better at roll calls for the boats still out after dark, but 6pm when half the fleet is still out is a bit early. We are working on all that stuff.

                      The flare shoot was very educational. I've seen flare shoots at seminars during the day, but at night the difference between SOLAS and non was unmistakable, even the hand flares. I hope to make this a yearly exercise with the blessing of the USCG. We did have one complaint from a cruiser who happened to be up there and knows an OYRA board member. He did not know what was going on and thought one unnamed boat was particularly rowdy and that flares were getting too close to his boat. It's kind of like when you pick the perfect camp site and the next night a bunch of rowdy kids camp in the one next door.

                      Sunday was kind of nuts. First we had to find the committee boat but then the fog lifted a little bit and the start was OK. We went out hoping for better pressure outside the point and it seemed to work well. We sailed along with Gravlax for quite a while. Eventually we decided to go in and see how the other half live and we regretted it. Before we tacked in we were up with what we thought were the lead boats in the fleet and after we came back out we were crossing behind what we thought was the back of the fleet. There must have been some sort of lift we managed to find the outside of or a different bit of pressure we missed out on. About 1300 I started the math exercises and reminded myself about the 8pm 4 knot ebb. Finally at at 1335 after going 3 knots for hours we started the motor. Now we are motor sailing at 6 knots but we are not catching Rx and Maggie. Oh shit, pulled the plug too soon. Then the wind died and we finally got past them but both finished before 1800. We came under the gate at about 1700 right next to Void Star. I hate to bail on a race but getting in before the ebb kicked in and getting the boat in the slip by 6 instead of 8 was nice too.

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