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Thu Sep 25, 2014 12:49 pm

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I live 900 miles from Port Townsend, so am researching likely race conditions for June 4 online. Here is what I have so far, if anyone with local knowledge can comment it would be much appreciated.

Currents

Using the Canadian Current Atlas, and referencing a 13 ft high tide at Point Atkinson for 6:14 that morning, it looks like a big ebb in the morning followed by a fairly strong flood. For a single point (Juan de Fuca east) it looks like this:
Image

A couple of comments. First, the current atlas shows 2 to 3 kts ebb in Admiralty Inlet at start, 8 - 9 in the morning. Several sources advise that there will be a strong and dangerous tide rip at Point Wilson, extending far into Admiralty Inlet. The advised routes to avoid it are either close in to Point Wilson, or to swing far out towards Whidbey Island. What say the locals?

Second, the strong ebb current flows out from Admiralty Inlet then N and W toward Victoria. A human powered boat would have to make use of that to finish in 24 hours, but with an 8:00 am start I am not able to plot a course to get a boat travelling at 3-4 kt through the water far enough west before the flood. The flood current past Victoria is strong, it would push the boat east again where it would have to wait out the flood. I am not finding a course that gets this kind of boat to Victoria during daylight on June 4. If the cutoff is 24 hrs, that means using the overnight ebb and travelling at night. Has anyone looked at this and do you agree?

Wind

Historical wind data for several points in the strait (Race Rocks, Smith Island and Dungeness Bay Buoy) during June show likely average wind speeds 10 to 20 mph and very high probability of wind direction W to WSW.
http://en.windfinder.com/windstatistics/smith_island
Sail boats that point well in light wind should win big from this, it will be no help to human powered boats.

Rick



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Fri Sep 26, 2014 3:16 pm

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Hi Rick,

I've heard talk of a possible 5AM start for the race. If that happens, racers will have nearly 17 hours before total darkness and obviously a lot more of the early ebb. But I think the PT to Victoria leg will be plenty challenging—especially if the wind comes up.

—Josh

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Fri Sep 26, 2014 6:48 pm

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Editors wrote:
Hi Rick,

I've heard talk of a possible 5AM start for the race. If that happens, racers will have nearly 17 hours before total darkness and obviously a lot more of the early ebb. But I think the PT to Victoria leg will be plenty challenging—especially if the wind comes up.

—Josh

5 am gets boats past Pt Wilson at slack water, which is a lot better. By better I mean easier and safer. If the goal is to make it harder then by all means go for 8!
5 am also makes what I am thinking of as the "direct route" possible for a rowing boat. There is enough ebb current to take a route out into the strait, arriving near Race Rocks at slack. The flood then carries toward Victoria. This route is most exposed, with no escapes if high wind picks up and most time in the shipping lanes.
There is a lot of westing to achieve by any route, so it is really ebb time that is useful. The 17 hours of daylight includes flood that carries the wrong direction. There is also the problem that boats cannot just land anywhere in Canada, they have to land at a customs dock. For the "southern route", the only option looks like following the WA coast to Dungeness Spit, or possibly Port Angeles, during the ebb. Crossing during the flood carries too far east, I would have to wait for the next slack to ebb. If the cutoff is 24 hrs, that still means a night crossing.
You are right, this is not meant to be easy!



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Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:18 pm

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Rick,

I've mucked about in boats in the straights quite a bit in several different boats. The conditions out there are pretty crazy, even on calm days. It's a pretty notorious stretch of water.

I'm concerned tackling that on a schedule in a small boat because that's just really, really, really stupid. Only fools sail on a schedule (especially in small boats). There's definitely a chance that'd be a suicide run if the wind/current come together in the wrong way our there. (I've been sailing for 20+ years, lots of offshore, learned my lesson). I'd hope they'd never start the race in conditions like that (or extend the deadline).

Once, in a 28' Westsail (lived on that boat for years in Seattle), we had zero wind but 4 foot confused swells coming from every direction. Strangest sea state I've seen.

Other times - smooth sailing.

I was out on 120' schooner (non traditional, off-shore beast) one time and it was probably blowing 20+. We were shipping breaking waves over that boat about 5 miles east of Port Angeles mostly in the middle of the straight.

If it's windy it'll almost definitely be coming from the W down the straight.

I think my plan is to make it as far west as I can until the wind kicks in and then head for Victoria on a beam reach. Dungeness spit protects you from waves for a quite a ways. It could be safer to cross the straight earlier (head up towards the San Juans, duck behind Smith Island, but then you'd be nose into heading for Victoria if there's any wind since it'll wrap around Vancouver Island.

I'm in a 18' sailing-kayak-trimaran (Hobie Tandem Island - going solo).

Should be interesting :)

-ben
(currently in San Francisco)



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Fri Oct 17, 2014 2:02 pm

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Ben,

Thanks for your insight, this is the kind of local knowledge that helps a lot for those of us not in the area.

Your description of the confused sea state is un-nerving, I was hoping that conditions for the day would be predictable, at least by start time in the morning. There is an area just inside the GG Bridge, on SF Bay, that has a similar confused wave state (but smaller), where flood current goes over a rise. Do you recall if there was a strong current at the time you encountered this?

Jake has said that the start would be delayed if conditions were poor. I will also make my own decision whether to proceed that day. Not doing the whole race (this year) means no pressure to complete this leg to qualify for the full race. That could lead to taking more risks, as you say.

Your southern plan makes sense, but in a slower rowboat even with 05:00 start I may not be able to cross the first day. My reading of the Current Atlas has currents at these times (please correct if you disagree).
Ebb during the morning, this is chart 26 at 10 am:
Image

Slack at 13:30, chart 1:
Image

Afternoon flood, chart 4 at 16:30:
Image

The most direct route is to follow the ebb current out Admiralty Inlet and go west down the strait. Without any wind (and avoiding traffic), my boat should be able to get near Race Rocks by the slack. The current then carries NW toward Victoria. The forecast would have to be for calm for me to risk that, 40 miles of open water. What do you think - too risky in any conditions?

Your southern route to Dungeness Spit is more protected to start, but does not have as much help from the ebb. Do you think you can get to DS with enough time to cross, considering the strong E flood current? It does not look likely for me, I would probably wait for the next morning ebb.

The other route you mention, headed N to the San Juans, goes against that strong morning ebb coming down Rosario and Haro Straits. That would mean waiting out the ebb, going N in the afternoon, then waiting again for the next ebb. Final part against the wind, as you say.

All interesting to plan at this far from the start, it will get scarier as the time approaches.

Best - Rick



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Fri Nov 07, 2014 8:08 am

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Looks like they'll be getting 47 kts gusts on a steady 30 kt wind today with 3 meter seas north end of Vancouver Island. Good thing the CCG has a rescue boat in Port Hardy!



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Tue Mar 17, 2015 12:01 am

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Tidal currents, fluky and horrendous winds, two- faced calms, disorienting fog, deadheads, traffic, equipment failure, accidental discoveries, world records, uncharted rocks, shifting sandbars, kelp islands, steep chop, rogue waves, favorable breezes, mutinous crewmen, charlatan skippers, helpful cabinboys, generous backers, wise and understanding race officials, heroic coasties, friendly locals, miscalculation, hubris, oversight, lack of local knowledge, inexperience, narrow escapes, arrogance, happy luckouts, overloading, competitive drive, intoxication. madness, victory, defeat, triumph and disaster. Those are only some of the "mysteries of the sea", soon to be revealed, reading the entries and between the lines, in the logbooks of the vessels participationg in the upcoming "Race to Alaska".


Last edited by Dirk Visser 166 on Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:12 pm, edited 7 times in total.


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Tue Mar 17, 2015 11:01 pm

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To win this race a boat and crew will have to be able to roll up the miles on the protected inside waters by human propulsion overcoming adverse currents and persistent calms . This is the Southern half.
Unless a human powered entry produces high and sustainable speed, the Northern half will most likely be won by a boat of seakeeping ability on the potentially windy outside waters in a fast passage to Dixon Entrance from Port Hardy and Bella Bella.
A bit of a split personality , this race.
And the qualifying leg: to Victoria is much the same.
The 40 miles from PT to Victoria can be nothing but a rippled millpond , or possibly the sternest test you have ever faced as a mariner. Any local waterman will confirm: "It's big water".
Back in the day, planning a run to Neah Bay or La Push we used to just say to each other with a shrug of the shoulders, "the Straits can always be rough!".
It's that insane dirty dancing of wind and tide that makes you wish the band would just go home . On one ocassion I can remember the relief of just getting out to the open, unprotected, Pacific Ocean!



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Wed Apr 15, 2015 11:35 am

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Registration deadline day, and you can bet their are plenty of Leg 1 dillitants and sandbaggers , like myself, taking a long second look at that Old Cdn 3461, the Eastern Portion, Juan De Fuca Strait chart...
Ha. Ha!
So simple on paper , so infinite in reality.
Lets just admit it, Leg 1 represents the longest, most potentially problematic crossing of the entire route. Nothing to reduce the glory of your arrival in "God's Pocket" after rounding Cape Caution, the other possible major test of the 750 miles, but all kidding aside you might want to be wearing a pair of brown pants if you are getting involved with Partridge or Hien Banks in some all too easily wrong conditions, and that by no means covers it.
Damn that thing is wide, and my boat is small, and the coasting possibilities kind of lead nowhere, except to some other major crossing.
Sheesh- kabob!
Oh, get a little hard cheese to go with that whine!
Put some faith in yourself, your crew, and your sturdy little command...just sign up. And know that race day might well dawn on a sleeping giant, 40 miles of open water, flat as a platter of pee-pee!



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Wed Apr 15, 2015 1:03 pm

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This was in Dungeness Bay last weekend, a place I was thinking of as a safe bail-out near halfway: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-new ... for-storm/

"Two people died and another remained hospitalized in serious condition after their kayaks overturned Saturday in rough waters in Dungeness Bay near Sequim."



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