Monday, May 23, 2022

Palm Beach Sailing Club Regatta 2022

Hillsboro Inlet to Lake Worth - Regatta 2022

This was our third participation in the Palm Beach Regatta. Our first earned us a Trophy for the best story as none of the boats in our class finished due to a nasty squall 30 minutes from the finish and we had the best story. Our second earned us a win in our class, our first ever win, we won against a Catalina 36 so we did really well despite not being a racing boat ( if you saw how much 'stuff' we carry for cruising, you'd probably agree  -  not a racer) and then, there was the 2022 regatta.

The Regatta has a 'Skippers' meeting on the Friday before the actual race. The meeting was held at a Condo's Dockside venue where most of the crews turned up to learn about the race details. Nothing new. The anticipated reduction in the span at at the Hillsboro Inlet Bridge had not taken place yet so the bridge work was not an issue. The weather was expected to be steady for the entire race day with the wind shifting from the SW to the NW later in the day. But, hey! we've never had 'great' weather in our past participation in this race.

At the end of the skippers meeting, Loony Poons ferried the crews back to their boats on Lake Boca, it was a pretty peaceful night, well except for one crew, no names = no pack drill, that kept their conversations going into the early hours of the next day.

We picked up our crew, Ira, and headed down the Intra Coastal to Hillsboro Inlet Bridge then out of the inlet and North to the starting line. Our class was second to start. Warning at 10am, start at 10.05. I screwed up the start, seriously! Far to far offshore and we missed the start by 20 minutes, but Hey! We're not racers, so not a big deal. However the race Committee boat, Lady Grey, was also in the race, so they left the line, headed south and turned to get back to the start line for their start, that was a few minutes after we crossed the line. I did verify with the Beach Committee that we had actually crossed the start line.

We headed off on a North Easterly course hoping to get into the Gulf Stream and grab a ride up North. We turned onto a Northerly course.  The Spinnaker boats mostly stayed closer to the shore except for Lady Grey which quickly passed us on our Stbd Side. We soon felt the push of the Gulf Stream and our Nav system reported that we had a couple of knots Northerly drift which confirmed it. The Nav system reported that we should be at the finish line by 16:00 WooHoo! We'll actually  finish this race.... if all goes well .

By about 1300 we had made good progress, the reefs had been shaken out and we were looking at a 15:00 arrival at the finish line. A big black foreboding cloud system appeared on our Port Quarter. We could see it on the Radar and it looked as though we would pass ahead of it, so we sailored on. Of course, we didn't 'pass ahead of it' and it picked up in wind speed quickly, no time to reef, just hold on and keep the boat from tacking or gybing. Peggy was done, she went below, it was too much for her  - Sorry Honey! Ira and I kept control of the boat and the squall passed after about 15minutes. At one point we were doing 10.2 knots over the ground thank to the push of the Gulf Stream. Here's a link to the track on our Inreach, follow it around Noon. Our speed reduced to less than 3 knots during the height of the squall which is no surprise as my goal was to keep the boat off the wind on a Port Tack, I didn't even consider trying to Heave too, the wind was changing direction so much.

Back on course after that squall, Peggy still below and Ira not really complaining, we both joked about it, just a bit. We saw a second squall playing tag with us. This time we reefed, One reef in the Main and one in the Headsail. The second squall was much more easily managed and only lasted a few minutes.
I briefly considered starting the engine but dismissed that thought quickly.  Two reasons, one it would have taken us out of the race and the boat was really holding well despite the weather. And two, I was not sure if  myself and Ira would be able to change the sail configuration even with the engine running. As I said, we've had squalls hit us before and much worse than these two, the boat has stood up to them without any issues. Yes it will dip a rail below the waterline but won't stay that far over too long. Our worst storm to date has been with 52knot winds. It's a strong boat.

With the storms past, even the Radar showing a clear sky to the West and North, we started out turn towards the Lake Worth Inlet and were doing a pretty good speed, we could finish well before 16:00 despite loosing time due to the storms. Of course, the wind veered (rotated clockwise) towards the North West and that meant we could not make the Finish mark on our current tack despite heading up to wind whenever the chance arose. By this time, Peggy was felling much better and had opened the Cabin Hatch to peek out, all was well. But we could not make the mark on our existing Port Tack. Eventually I gave up trying and headed North to the Mark on the other side of the inlet and then tacked to the West towards the finish mark and we easily made it, passing less than 100 feet from the mark.

We actually finished the Race at 14:42 and it took us a few seconds to capture a pic of the GPS Chart plotter showing our position. Peggy took a pic of the #3 Green Buoy.

Once past the finish line, we turned on the engine and into the Inlet lowing the sails when chance arose. The boat was nice and tidy topsides before we got to the next buoy. That was not the case for down below. Despite our thinking that we had secured for sea, the cabin deck was awash with books, cushions, charts, and the contents of one locker that had not stayed shut. Nothing broken and it only took a few minutes to clear it all away.

We headed to the ICW and South to the Palm Beach Sailing club, and then turned East into the mooring field looking for a place to anchor. With Peggy & Ira at the wheel and myself on the bow, finding a suitable spot as we passed Jim Wallace aboard Contrails, we turned the boat and anchored, digging in hard in anticipation of strong winds later that night/early next morning.

Peggy & I in the cockpit gave Ira first dibs at taking a shower with hot water after running the engine for 25 minutes as we motored to the anchorage.

Brent from the Palm Beach Sailing club was motoring around in one of the club's dinghies and we spoke briefly and arranged for a pickup in about 30 minutes. By that time we were ready to go ashore for the After Race Party and the Awards. Ira's wife had driven up to join us (and take Ira back home that evening). We had a great time at the party, it was super noisy, but everyone seemed to be enjoying it. They had a big screen showing the Derby horse race, the outsider 80-1 won the race, but I think we had the better race.

This was the only photo of the night for us. 
Ira & myself accepting the award for coming 1st in the Gunkhole Class
(OK, we were the only boat in our class - but we finished!)

It was a great race, will definitely do it again next year, I'll ask Ira too!