Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back in the Saddle on a C36

One of the very nice things is when people actually read your blog. One such reader is Ed Hilton, who owns a Catalina 36, Morning Dew, in Seattle. He emailed me and said whenever I was back in town to give him a call to go out for a sail.

Now you'd think living on a sailboat would satiate my desire to sail, but just the opposite. I connected with Ed and met he and his crew down at Elliott Bay Marina (where we use to keep Endless Summer, our Catalina 36).

It was great getting on a C36 again, and even better since we were participating in the Thursday night Downtown Sailing Series. Now if you think this is some balls-out, pedal-to-the-metal racing series, well not quite, but still very interesting. Began several years ago by the managment at Elliot Bay Marina, there are three simple rules to the race:

•  Don't hit anyone.
•  Finish by 8:30 p.m.
•  Have fun.

Between 70 and 100 boats participate, including everything from Dynema-rigged racing machines to cruisers with the barbie hanging out the back.  Ed had a large crew aboard and I just tried to keep out of their way. The course itself is unique in that it goes along the Seattle downtown shoreline, which typically means a reach to a gybing mark, another reach, and finally another reach. That's my kind of sailing.

Ed got a great start and approaching the first mark it was little crowded, with some knowing the racing or right-of-way rules and others without a clue. Made for a very interesting rounding with boats mere feet away and hauling at around 6 to 7 knots. Ed deftly got us through the mess and on to the next mark.

Did I mention it was one of those perfect Seattle nights, about 78 degrees, a beautiful sunset, and a 10 to 13 knot northwesterly wind that made for ideal sailing conditions?

The next mark rounding was rather interesting as a large boat without rights just barged in right in front of us. In a real race protest flags would be flying, but Ed wisely just gave him room.  The reach for the finish was wonderful as the sun was setting over the Olympic Mountains. Seattle just doesn't get any better than this.

Back on shore the Marina hosts a free beer and hot dogs feast and gives our door prizes to anonymously chosen boats who finished the race.

What a great evening! A big thanks to Ed and the crew of Morning Dew for inviting me along.

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