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‘Round Whidbey Race Report – View from GECKO

posted May 28, 2018, 4:16 PM by Caolan O'Domhnaill

Our first race & shakedown cruise on GECKO went pretty good and we learned a lot about the boat.  Overall results for Round Whidbey:  4/9 for half way, 6/9 for full course.  Not too bad.  Here is the story:

Chris and Joe scrambled around Friday morning making sure we could fly all three sails and had control lines for whatever contingency came up.  This also included where to pile stuff in the boat as there is plenty of room, but no storage lockers.  Our delivery trip up to Cornet Bay was paused while we assessed a few unexpected leaks in the stern of the boat (only under motion though) – mini geysers through some pinholes repairs in the non-core area, but since it was not much more than a weeping stuffing box - and the auto bilge pump was working fine, we spent the rest of the time getting used to being on the water again and Joe cleaning.  Coming into Cornet Bay docks, they were a bit crowded on the outside, but open on inside.  As the tide was coming up and not going through a swing, we gave inside a try.  Oops!  A bump on a rock at 7.2 depth reading had us reversing out and side-tying third out, off of Family Affair.  A bit of MarineTex Epoxy repair stopped those pinhole leaks, then a bit of visiting, showing off the boat, a nice dinner, the skipper’s meeting, few last guffaws, then off to sleep.  (Dang that new furnace is nice!)

Saturday morning Ed, Jim, Brian and Steve showed up with their gear, and we found places to pile that stuff too.  Headed out through our traditional jaunt through the Deception Pass side channel - Canoe Pass, and we had enough time to try out the spinnaker.  The crew made some off-comment about having two clews – turns out it was because Joe had no clue.  He had packed the wrong spinnaker along, and had left the racing asymmetric spinnaker in his truck back in Everett.  Arrgghh!   We got a chance to fly the symmetrical off the sprit, and see the main and #3 headsail while playing around before the start. Nice to actually see all the sails working. 

We got a good start and were doing fine holding with the leaders (which we should as we were third fasted rated (105) behind Family Affair (62)).  The wind was light and we had a surprising current push down the Whidbey shore.  About a mile from Partridge Point, we launched the “cruising” spinnaker that Dennis had given us from his J-32.  Worked pretty good and allowed us a chance to see how everything worked.  Coming around the point, we switched to the symmetrical spinnaker off the sprit, and seemed to be holding our position well.  This allowed us to gybe through about 120 degrees and did quite well as we were able to stay with Family Affair all the way past Double Bluff.  Our nemesis Espresso, having a different strategy, had gone out across the shipping lanes at Partridge Point.  This did not work so well for them as they turned into a tiny green spinnaker spot on the horizon, as we reveled in our luck and skill.

The mid-way point at Scachet Head had us right behind the proverbial leaders – Family Affair and Vertigo – and we were playing cat and mouse with a Jenneau 36.  Seeing the big split in the fleet, we figured we had a good chance at 3rd or 4th place to the halfway results.  Not bad for the first time sailing, and without the racing chute!  Winds were starting to lighten and we could see rain clouds passing over Bremerton area.  Going around our last navigation buoy at Possession Point, Ed started on dinner preparation, and we watched as the wind filled the hole ahead of us and Family Affair showed how to get through Possession Sound.  With the rain clouds coming, we expected some wind, but no luck.  Just south of Clinton, we were becalmed and then rained upon.  Like the directions on your shampoo, it was wash, rinse, repeat.  After the third cycle and right before the last daylight, we got a little breeze from behind which pulled the rest of the fleet together.  Now going into the night, it was trading tacks with Vertigo, Espresso and the Jenneau (Pearl Jem).  The SailFlow predicted winds of “meager to light” were way off.  The rest of the night we had 20-32 MPH apparent winds as we tacked up Saratoga Passage – but fortunately very little rain.  A couple emergency repairs in middle of the night – electrical breaker kicking off the nav lights, electric bilge pump running dry then jamming – just things that were part of the shake down.  Joe took over the driving the last 5 miles and we finished right about 4:30 a.m., a few minutes behind Espresso and Pearl Jem

When we got tied to dock and traded jabs with Espresso, the crew cleaned up a few things, and then Joe reached into the liquor locker to make breakfast cocktails, only to find the bottle of vodka had broken.  Maybe the bilge pump ran dry or maybe it was just intoxicated?  Oh well, breakfast with hot coffee was just as good!  Pretty amazing how much stuff the crew took off the boat as they were leaving for home.  Chris and Joe left dock about 6:00 and made the trip back down to Everett with no further major discoveries.

A successful first sail and race!   With winds from light to 32 apparent, no one got hurt, we did not break anything (just the vodka bottle), we were fastest C&C 99, we did not finish last (though we were the slowest Milltown boat), and we learned a ton about the boat.  We were all impressed with the motion of the boat underway, and happy with the deep keel as it did not require hiking on the rail to keep the boat flat.  Lots of things yet to do, but a great start!


spotted gecko

MSA Results:  Congrats to Family Affair and Espresso – First and Second Place Overall!   Sorcerer finished 5th and GECKO 6th.