Sunday, August 25, 2013

OHYC Member Circumnavigating the Globe in a SJ24

From club member John C - a local sailor from Oak Harbor is attempting a circumnavigation of the globe on a San Juan 24. He would be the first person to ever do so in an SJ24. To boot, he's doing the trip non-stop and solo. Boats from this era are known for broaching downwind. It will be interesting for him in some wind.

He's set up a SPOT so you can follow his progress:

An interesting story to watch.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer of Duck Dodge nearing the end

With only a few more Duck Dodges left in the season (check out the schedule if you like), here's a video compilation from an August Gold Duck aboard WYC keelboat Rascal.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Anthony A posts about racing the club J22 "Freedom"

Greg and I took out the J22 and opted for the 15-minutes-late start. We passed a similarly-sized boat with a crew of 4 or 5, who were disappointed that we weren't interested in tossing around a tennis ball with them while short-handed. Surprisingly, we did not pass any of the fast third-start boats while rounding the course. Overall a fun night, but an outboard is highly recommended.

Here's a pic of Wizard from last night:

Leo M posts about Friday night racing...

Friday night racing took place with 8-10 kts of wind and warm clear skies last night. Wizard was in the second start along with a t-bird, J29 and other boats. We started less desirable side of the start line but with clear air and room to maneuver.  This turned out to be the right decision as we quickly accelerated past the other boats in our start. Half way to Juanita Bay we passed boats in the first start.  At the mark we were passed by a McGregor 65', leaving us in second at the mark rounding.  On the way to the finish, we managed to hold off a J209.  Because the J209 has an asymmetrical spinnaker they were not able to sail as directly down wind as Wizard with its symmetric spinnaker.  In the end, they crossed the finish 2-3 boat lengths ahead of us.  After the race the J209 congratulated us and ask, what is your PHRF rating?  I replied, not as low as yours for sure.  So we ended up third behind the McGregor and J209.  Not a bad night for a novice crew and skipper.

Join us for Friday night keelboat racing!


Dennis B. sends a pic from the San Juans

pictured: club boat Nightshade, a Cal 3-30

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Watch out for the cut!

From club member Raz:

Hi Sailors, 

Summer is very nearly upon us.

For everyone who has joined the club since this past autumn, you all are in for a treat. Warm water, long days, sunshine. It is amazing. 

One thing to be aware of:

For most of the year the predominant breeze in these parts come from the south and tend to blow across the lake and union bay as sou'westerlies (trivia: "sou'westerly" is a wind. "sou'wester" is a hat). This is a generalization of course, but is largely true (the winds, not the hat).. 

But during the summer, especially in the afternoons, the wind pattern switches and we get lovely northerlies. They tend to build in the afternoon and peak an hour or so before sunset, dropping off quite rapidly after the sun goes down and becoming dead calm by the end of dusk. Again, also a generalization. 

You might be thinking, "Raz, this is a great piece of trivial, but why does this matter?"

It matters because with the switching of the breeze, the lee shore of Union Bay switches from very expensive real estate and swamp ("wetlands"), to the extremely busy montlake cut shipping channel. I don't recommend drifting into the real estate (expensive!) or the swamp (smelly!), but I REALLY advise against the shipping channel (hazardous!). It is a good idea to avoid it altogether. If conditions are testing your limits, try to stay in a part of the bay where you have adequate sea-room to right your boat before you drift into the cut. This is especially important if you are sailing the cats or bravos.  If you find yourself becalmed in the cut (how did you get there!?) then scull or paddle or bow-steer your way out of it. Don't bob around. 

Have fun. Get wet. Enjoy yourself. Practice your form so you can test in the higher winds that come in Autumn. But avoid the area between the red and green markers. 

Fair winds, 


Monday, June 24, 2013

Motor vs. Sail peeps

From club member Brent:

I was having a debate with a powerboater yesterday about whether or not sailors were better boaters than powerboaters.  My contention was that they were - predicated on the idea that sailors need to invest more time and effort into sailing, so they tend to be more aware and informed, whereas powerboaters frequently just jump in a boat and drive it like a car.  Sailors are much more aware of environmental considerations, and less likely to go out while intoxicated.  I also hypothesized that a sailor was more likely to be wearing a PFD if they went in the water.  Mostly conjecture just based on my biases.  So, I decided to figure out if was true.  

His argument, by the way, was that powerboats are more controllable, and therefore safer.  I conceded that, while that may be true, it didn't offset the generally higher level of seamanship exhibited by sailors.

Here's what I found out:

In 2012, there were about 12,101,936 state registered recreational vessels in the US.  That alone blew my mind.  Of these, 244,264 were some type of sailboat (about half with a motor and half without).  Keep in mind, in some states, you don't need to register some kinds of boats (including sailboats).  So, roughly 2% of all registered boats were sailboats.  Also, about 11,097,404 were mechanically propelled with no sail - or 91.7%.  (The remaining 6.3% were kayaks, canoes, rowboats, etc.)  That means there were just over 45 times as many powerboats as sailboats registered.  So, for my assertion to be true, powerboaters should have at least 46 times as many accidents.  This is skewed somewhat because USCG (where I got my stats) report all accidents, even in states where an involved sailboat was not registered.  But, it should be close.

Assertion #1:  Sailors get in fewer accidents than smokers.  (Waterworld reference)
Nope.  Of the 5900 vessels involved in accidents, 5106 were powerboats of some kind, and 330 were sailboats of some kind.  That is one powerboat accident for every 2173 registered powerboats, and one sailboat accident for every 740 registered sailboats.  Or, a registered sailboat is about 3 times more likely to be involved in an accident than a powerboat.  (Of course, this doesn't account for time on the water.  One could argue that sailboats spend a lot more time actually moving - possibly three times as much or more.)

This is also tricky, though, because a high percentage of accidents are due to vessel collisions.  So, if a powerboat and sailboat collide, this will skew the numbers drastically in favor of powerboats, rationally speaking.

1 in 45 boats were sailing at the time of the accident, though 1 in 50 boats were sailboats.  This suggests that the actual act of sailing isn't any less dangerous than motoring - a little more, in fact.

Assertion #2:  Sailors are less likely to be involved in a fatal accident.
This is also a little tricky because the high percentage of vessel collisions, particularly where fatalities are concerned.  But, the fatality numbers pretty closely mirror the vessel numbers:   476 powerboat fatalities, 27 sailboat fatalities.  That's one fatality for every 23,314 powerboats, and one for every 9047 sailboats.  You're about 2.6 times more likely to die on (or near) a sailboat.

Assertion #3:  Sailors are more experienced and better educated about safe boating than smokers, leading to fewer accidents.
Well, it's a little hard to nail this one down, but there does seem to a be a direct relationship between boating safety instruction and boating safety.  I don't know if we can say that this is causal.  It may just be that people who take boating safety instruction are just more serious about safety, and therefore less likely to be in an accident, regardless of specific instruction.  But, it does look positive.  About 3/4 of all accidents were caused by a person with no or unknown boater education.

Bad news is that experience is no predictor of safety.  The most destructive category, by far, is the group of boaters with 100-500 hours of experience - people who are just confident enough to do something really stupid.  (By the way, this is almost exactly the same stat as for pilots.)

I don't know if sailors are more/less likely to have formal safety education or any amount of experience, but the proof of sailors' ultimate superiority (or not) is in the primary cause statistics.  When you look at the primary cause listed for each injury accident, in powerboats, some form of operator negligence is named in about 57% of accidents.  For sailboats, the percentage is almost exactly the same.

A few stats about primary cause:
  • Interestingly, excessive speed is listed as the primary cause in the same percentage of powerboat accidents as sailboat (no motor) accidents.  In other words, excessive speed sailing is statistically as dangerous as excessive speed on a powerboat.
  • Weather is listed as the primary cause in about 12% of sailboat accidents, but less than 5% of powerboat accidents.
  • Navigation rules violations were the primary causes of about 14% of powerboat accidents and about 16% of sailboat accidents.  (I wouldn't have predicted that.)
  • Drugs/alcohol was listed as the primary cause in about 7.4% of powerboat accidents, and about 4% of sailboat accidents.
So, even though sailors are a little more susceptible to certain factors (such as weather) and a little less likely to make certain kinds of mistakes (such as alcohol), it is hard to paint these statistics in any way that proves sailors are better, safer, or smarter.

Assertion #4:  Sailors are better looking.

Bonus Stat:
By the way, though WA state has about 4.6% of the registered recreational vessels in the country, we have only about 2% of the accidents.

Be safe out there,