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Thread: Farallones Race Questions

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    Default Farallones Race Questions

    Looking at my newly purchased map of the Farallones, and comparing it to the race tracks from last year, I see that this race is not around the Farallones but around only the Southeast Farallon. Not to be rounded are the North or Middle Farallones, nor Noonday Rock or Fanny Shoal. Unless our race, titled the Singlehanded Farallones Race, is different from the Full Crew Farallones race? Aren't you all glad I ask the dumb questions, so you don't have to do so?

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    pogen is offline Sailing canoe "Kūʻaupaʻa"
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    You can round those other rocks if you really wish to -- but only SE Farallon is required! Keep a good lookout for whales, they are often right there within a mile of SEF itself.

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    Is anyone interested in doing a write up of his/her experience in this race? Course? How and when to avoid the potato patch?

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    pogen is offline Sailing canoe "Kūʻaupaʻa"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Philpott View Post
    Is anyone interested in doing a write up of his/her experience in this race? Course? How and when to avoid the potato patch?
    Here is my writeup of the full crewed version last year, yes the LSC year

    http://neversealand.downtothesea.org...rallones-2012/

    I did the DHF last month, and did not write it up -- a pretty inglorious outing for us, pretty much reachy-reachy on fairly flat seas.

    I entered the SHF two years ago, but it was very rough, and I pulled out. I think Red Sky and Culebra also retired, at least one with damage from the very boisterous seas. In the meantime I have gone to hanked on headsails, which when short-handed make it easier (though slow) to change headsails.

    This year my goal is just to finish. We will see if I have guts enough to set the spin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philpott View Post
    Looking at my newly purchased map of the Farallones, and comparing it to the race tracks from last year, I see that this race is not around the Farallones but around only the Southeast Farallon. Not to be rounded are the North or Middle Farallones, nor Noonday Rock or Fanny Shoal. Unless our race, titled the Singlehanded Farallones Race, is different from the Full Crew Farallones race? Aren't you all glad I ask the dumb questions, so you don't have to do so?
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    Jackie, All the "Farallones" races (OYRA, BAMA, SSS) only go around the S. E. Farallon Island. If you want to get techincal, however, they also go around Maintop I. and Seal Rock since the "S.E. Farallon Island is actually a small group of islands.
    The Middle Farallon Island is just a single rock jutting up a mile+ N of the S.E. Farallon. It's difficult to see in bad conditions, especially fog. Good idea to have it in your GPS just for good measure. It's not marked/lit and high tide doesn't stick up very much.
    The North Farallones are a small group of sharply tilted rocks sticking up about 5 nm NW of the S.E. Farallon. Fanny Shoals is another couple of miles NW and is marked with a buoy (and named for the clipper ship "FANNY" that found it in the 19th Century and whose remains are still there).
    You can see both the Middle and North Farallones to the NW as you approach the S.E. Farallon - if the weather's clear and you're not too busy dealing with heavy swells. About the only time any SSSers sail up around the N. Farallones or Fanny Shoals is coming or going on the LongPac. If you ever drive up to Bolinas on a clear day, the N. Farallones are clearly visible from Duxbury Point. If you know where to look, you can see the Fanny Shoals buoy with bonics, too.

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    Saw the North Farallones up close and personal for the first time last July when delivering the boat after the SH Transpac. I was surprised to see they were more rocks then islands - though large enough to be considered islands. A lot of shear vertical rock walls. I found more beautiful then the SE Farallones (without the stink too :-)). There was a humpback doing full body breaches at the same time... it was the middle of the afternoon under a clear blue sky... the whole thing was a bit surreal.

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    Returning on the 2010 LongPac, Michael and I were too far north (long story) and came in just north of Fanny Shoals shortly after sunset. We turned south and sailed along inside the North Farallones. There was enough moon and it was partially foggy/overcast, but clear enough to make things out most of the time. It was eery and beautiful as we passed those slanted rocks with the moonlight glinting off of them through a haze that came and went. Sort of cubist-painting-like. Like Jim says, they are almost surreal -- and maybe worth a trip up that way just to see them. They're unlike anything else you'll see along our coast.

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    David's ("pogen") write-up of the 2012 OYRA Crewed race (linked above) provides some good descriptions of how it can be out there. I would read this carefully and consider your boat's ability (and your personal ability) to endure these conditions for several (many) hours, since that's what you may need to do. It is important to have what you need in the cockpit and to be careful while below. If something is out of place (a line gets loose, etc.) fix it immediately - problems can compound quickly in those conditions.

    To avoid any possible confusion from his write-up, the Crewed race allows you to round SE Farallon in either direction and he rounded with the island to starboard. Our (SH) race requires that you round with the island kept to port.

    A few additional thoughts:

    Because of its length the race starts early (0835) and that increases the likelihood the wind will be light at the start. Together with the ebb, this makes the three restricted areas a challenge (Anita Rock, H-Beam and the So. Tower) - and even more so this year since we'll be starting at the St. Francis YC. Some years, boats have not been able to clear the So. Tower and have had to drop out. So after your start, get onto port tack as soon as you can and work out towards center span. Also, plan way ahead for ship traffic because it may take a long time to get out of their way.

    Assuming the prevailing NW wind, your result in the race will be determined largely by how well you can stay on the north side of the course. It is typical to get lifted as you sail west (on starboard tack) and this helps, but to round SE Farallon at a safe distance you may need to tack to the north (onto port) for awhile. Typically, the wind bends and becomes more of a westerly closer to the coast. That makes a hitch to the north less costly if you take it earlier, but it's harder to know how far to go before tacking back onto starboard. I plan my exit of the Gate (the strait not the bridge) to be on the north side as I pass Pt. Bonita. Comparing your boat speed to SOG (on the GPS) will enable you to stay in the ebb, and I've found it doesn't drop off as much as most skippers think on the north side of the flow. Staying on the north side from the outset helps you to get some money in the bank.

    When I pass Bonita and get out into the bigger breeze and chop I make my first evaluation whether to continue. Do I have everything at hand? Is the boat doing okay? Am I liking this? (etc.) I have yet to hear a skipper criticized for making the decision to turn around - it's called good seamanship and is respected.

    Again, assuming the prevailing NW wind, I usually sail out just north of the ship channel, between it and the Fourfathom Bank (including Potatopatch Shoal). I don't sail in the main ship channel and I try to stay outside the northern boundary of the westbound traffic lane (see a chart). If you decide to take an early hitch to the north, I don't recommend doing it until you reach G "1" to avoid crossing the Fourfathom Bank.

    More later (if this is helpful) . . .
    Last edited by BobJ; 05-11-2013 at 09:17 AM.

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    I agree with Bob's strategy. Starting at the SfFYC can make it difficult to clear the S. Tower if you don't get out into the middle as quickly as possible. The problem is we're Starting just after Slack and the Ebb forms first along the seawall in front of the SfFYC. That means there's likely to be more current in than out during the Starting Sequence, but the Ebb will build out toward the middle. I always think it's a good idea to get to the Start Area a little early and "feel" where there's Ebb and how strong it is. Of course you don't want to be caught on the OCS of the Start Line with an Ebb and probable early light wind! That's why "LSC" was an hour late in last year's OYRA Farallones Race.
    I like the North side at Bonita. I probably tack North sooner than Bob suggests if I look to the NW across the Four Fathom Bank and it looks okay. But, if the wind's got enough North in it, I continue North of the shipping channel, trying to stay above the layline to the island. I always want to decide whether to go North or stay headed out by the Lightship. If you get South of the island when you're at 123 W, it's a long, long, long slog up to get around it! I've always found the tacking angles at the S.E. Farallon to be incredibly wide.
    The island is actually a little WSW of Pt. Bonita (about 240m); if you sailed directly West you'd probably find Noon Day Rock (another clipper ship) and Fanny Shoals instead of the S.W. Farallon.
    It's about 60m back to Bonita.

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    More . . .

    A good resource is the buoy reports, including Dial-a-Buoy. It's an electronic voice and the data comes quickly so you should try to get below and out of the wind before calling, and have a pencil ready. It's great data and only 60-90 minutes old. The number to call is (888) 701-8992, then Press 1 to enter a station number.

    For this race I like 46026 (18 nm W of SF). You'll hear wind data first (speed, gusts and direction) and then a wave summary including swell height, period and direction and windwave height, period and direction - just what Jim A discussed at the meeting.

    I also like 46237 (SF Bar). No wind data from this one but the same wave summary. Most stations also give you the pressure and air and water temperature. A couple other stations for future reference: 38721 (Fort Point) and 46012 (HMB - offshore).

    Briefly . . . old school SSS wisdom for a port rounding of SE Farallon in the prevailing NW's: For the last three hours you've been staring at the knob on the NE corner of the island. Pass it well outside the 4.5 fathom shelf (see the chartlet on the race entry page), then DON'T BEAR OFF until you pass the NW corner of the island (actually Maintop Is.) In other words, hold 255M (= 270T = due W) as you transit the north side of the island. Don't be tempted to bear off and follow the shoreline. As you sail across the top, watch for any larger breaking waves ahead off your starboard bow. If you see any, you need to tack and get farther north.

    After passing the NW corner, some skippers bear away hard and cut too close to the W side of the island - you can see these tracks on the chartlet. I almost had to fetch an Antrim 27 out of there - it's still a lee shore. Respect the six fathom contour line as most tracks on the charlet show.

    Then you have the mother of all gybes at the SW corner - a chicken gybe should be considered. After you pass Seal Rock you'll have a lull (in a prevailing NW'ly) in the lee of the island. This is a good time to clean things up, check things over and make sure you have what you need in the cockpit for the ride back.

    More if I get a chance . . .
    Last edited by BobJ; 05-14-2013 at 05:52 PM.

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