Day 1: Victoria to Gabriola

After a few restless (but beautiful) days in Victoria, the morning of the start finally dawned. Josh’s wonderful family made sure we were fueled and provisioned. Then we were off to the boat for a few hours of waiting. We repacked a bit, drank as much water as we could bear, and then we joined the rest of the racers on the sea wall for the countdown. There was a pretty solid crowd gathered to see us all off, and there was a large local bike race happening on the other side of the harbor. Combined, it made us feel like sailing had a real fan base : )

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The megaphone barked and we were off.

Leaving Victoria Harbor, they ask you not to raise sails in the inner harbor. It’s actually illegal… The wind was blowing at a solid 0.001 knots… so we didn’t really mind. It still felt great to send our beautiful new Smythe sail up once we cleared the buoy into the outer harbor. Not that it really did anything for our speed.

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For the next 3-4 hours we peddled and paddled waiting for the wind to fill in. Mail Order Bride (F85SR), Broderna (F-24), and Por Favor (Hobie 33) were right next to us as we sweated away under the sun. We played leap frog with MOB for a good 2 hours, jumping ahead when one of their three stopped rowing, and falling back when they had all three powered up. We told ourselves that they were part grizzly bear to keep from feeling too depressed that three guys in their 60’s and 70’s were out paddling us. Some gentle ribbing about the stupidity of youth and the fragility of age made the lack of wind slightly more bearable.

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The MOB team was one of the most knowledgeable in the race. Their captain Wayne  founded the Van Isle 360 and has been racing in the Pacific Northwest for longer than our combined age. Knowing this, we decided to stick as close to them as possible as we worked our way through Haro Straight and Stuart Channel.

The wind picked up around 4 pm and we had some absolutely beautiful downwind sailing. We deployed the franken-pole, set our ugly (but huge) kite, and followed MOB’s every jibe. It was a fantastic first evening of sailing. The fleet split fleet at Boundary Pass where Pure and Wild, Golden Oldies, Blackfish, and Uncruise ducked out towards the Straight of Georgia.

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We stayed inside the islands with Felix, MOB, Elsie, Mau, Por Favor, and the rest of the fleet following behind. Our pack lucked out and had great wind while those on the outside hit a serious calm.

After a great 4 hours of sailing the wind started to die off, and we snuck out Porlier pass at the top of Galiano Island. The straights of Georgia we as calm as could be. We followed MOB as the took the inside of a bell buoy. We cut in a few hundred feet farther than they did…. and managed to run our dagger board into a small rock… Matt was relieved from driving and we kept on peddling through the sunset.

A few hours after sunset, we were able to get past MOB and Freeburd by hugging the coast and riding the small puffs we found there. Around 2-3am the wind came back up to 10 knts or so and we started sailing. A few minutes after Josh came on watch and Matt went below, our main halyard splice parted and the main came sliding down onto the trampoline.

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We spun to shore where we could anchor and go up the mast to retrieve it. We found a shallow rock that caught our hook easily. It was surprisingly painless to end for end the halyard (Nico is part monkey) and we were back in the race. The half hour detour did mean we’d lost sight of Freeburd, Elsie, and MOB. We didn’t see Elsie or MOB again until AK.

We sailed into the mornings building wind feeling pretty good about the first day and excited that the wind was coming up (in a big way). Little did we know that the next 5 days would give us more wind that we ever wanted.

Continue to day 2 >

 

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