8/1/2014: Keehi, Oahu – Pokai Bay, Oahu
Friday night nobody showed up for the race. So I decided to go solo and see how it would work out. It’s fun sailing alone in a completely different way than with crew. No communication required, nobody in the way, no relying upon others… It’s all you! So I called in for my start time on VHF, “Race Crew: Sailing Vessel Siren. No spinnaker.” I decided not to use the spinnaker to simplify the single-handing, which also gives me a 2 minutes head start per the local rules. The start was much better than the previous races, crossing the line between the Yacht Club and the Palm Tree 30 seconds past the start horn. Oh well, better than 3 minutes late like normal, haha. The wind was light and fickle in the turning basin before moving into the channel, and I didn’t pass anyone and only one 40+ race boat passed me. Turning left at the last red #2 buoy towards Diamond Head I chose a lower angle on the wind than previous races to try a more direct shot at the Diamond Head Buoy which I think worked to my advantage. There were around 20 boats behind me while I prepared for the first tack around the Diamond Head Buoy. The wind was blowing 20, full main, full jib, heeling more than I’d like but that’s better than reefing down and losing speed in the lulls. Anyway, the first tack was a complete disaster! Without a second person to tighten up the lazy jib sheet on the tack, the sheet got caught on a cleat at the mast base pulling the jib upwind, taking away my ability to stay above the buoy. I decided to just do a quick 360 to release tension on the line, weaving through 10 or so boats bearing down quickly nose-to-nose (giving way as best I could), uncleating the line as she came around with the jib clapping like thunder before finally getting everything sheeted in and back under control. After heading back into the wind trying to regain all the lost ground, tacking (successfully this time) around the buoy and driving downwind for the finish, I believe around 15 boats passed me all told in that one tack. Ugh!
The turning basin was calm and fickle as usual at the finish, and I was actually able to pass a couple boats. But seeing the final results, I guess I only beat 3 others, but hey, that’s the best finish yet! It’s all for fun, anyway, and this race was no exception!
Back at the Ala Wai dock I met Natalie and Mike, two of the 4 Kauai crew, and we night sailed to Pokai Bay in 7 hours, the Sail-O-Mat 601 self steering device manning the helm the whole way. We arrived in the bay at 2 am, feeling our way through a couple anchored sailboats and inside the breakwater to anchor beside Tide Roller, one of Siren’s neighbors at the Keehi slip to await sunrise.