Down The Sound Underdog Race

Sometimes you just have to be the underdog.

But we were used to that.

I emailed Micah, “Want to do Down The Sound? It’s a double hander.  All I can do is rent a Capri 22 through the club”.

She says something similar to “Hells yes! Do we have a spinnaker?”

“Um, no, (thank goodness) and we are totally the underdog and guaranteed to fail.”

“OK, I’m in”.

And this is why we are friends. IMGP0426


Friday night was the skippers meeting where we were to get all the details.  We had also arranged to get the keys to the boat that night so we could stow our gear because our start time was 9:13a.  Micah had car trouble and she wasn’t able to make the meeting, but it’s a simple race, with relatively simple instructions, so she entrusted to it me.

After limping her car to the marina that evening, we hauled our gear to the boat only to find no key had been left. This was a bit of a problem because the office didn’t open again until 9a. We managed to get covert after hours help and were able to stow our gear.

We arrived at the boat at 8am, more than an hour before our start time and ready to go.  We were ready –but our outboard wasn’t. We tried every trick we knew–check gas, check connections, choke in, choke out, let someone else try, double check the vent, kick it, cuss it…no dice. Our start time was quickly approaching and dock staff arrived at 9a.  They were on it. Since neither of them could start it either, we felt a little vindicated.

A different outboard was hauled onto the boat, latched on, and off we went –20 minutes or so behind our start time, but still determined even if we were DNS.  About three fairways down, I thought the outboard handle felt weird.  I turned around to see that it was vibrating off the mount toward starboard and almost ready to tip over!

I throttled down and hollered (screamed, whatever you want to call it) to Micah who had been busy putting all of our fenders and docking lines away- efficient as always. I wish I had time to take a photo of her expression since all I could do was point. She rushed back and basically hugged the outboard into submission as I glided to a random end dock with no fenders or lines on the boat. We grabbed a jib sheet, wrapped it around a self tailing winch and it became our only docking line. It’s all we had in the moment.

We needed to make the outboard mounts tight on a boat we’d known for 15 minutes, and we were very late for our start.  The Leatherman I hadn’t used in a decade came through with a set of pliers and we tightened the mounts until they groaned and our knuckles were white, taking turns, just in case. We had a race to start.

We were at least 30 minutes late for our start under main alone because that’s all we could get out before crossing the line, but the committee boat let us go.  Our troubles were behind us and we had a long 30 mile trek south to Gig Harbor ahead of us. As Micah grabbed the jib sheet out of the sail bag in a rush to get all our sails in play, her iPhone flew out of the bag. I saw it out of the corner of my eye, and I definitely heard the splash.

“What was that?”

“My phone.”

“Are we done yet, because that has to be three. We need to be done.”

“God I hope so.”

The fast boats and those with spinnakers flew past us as we knew they would. This was going to be a long day. We pinky swore to not use the portapotty. We had Go Girl and Lady J to help us keep that promise. Neither of us wanted PP emptying duty (because it will be me).

It's Going to Be A Long Day

It’s Going to Be A Long Day

Just a few miles south, I looked behind us. The Farr 30’s had started at 11a and were all identical with their white spinnakers. Spread three across they were an eerie sight, bearing down on us like a ghost armada. I suggested Micah turn around for a look, and I can’t repeat the words that came next. It looked eerily similar to the cover of AWOLNATION’s latest album.

The Farr's Approaching

The Farr’s Approaching

OK, More Like This

OK, More Like This

The Farr’s blew past us not too long after, and we were alone with one boat with a blue spinnaker with white stars ahead of us.

It was, as predicted, a long day. As we approached the committee boat we let our commodore MB know he could button things up because no one was behind us- it wasn’t the first time we had sent this message on a race. Jovial as ever, he offered to give us the shotgun (in the air I assumed and hoped).

I replied, “With our day, a flock of doves would be nice.”

“I’ll try to hit some seagulls.”

“Anything is appreciated!”

Not one, but two shot gun blasts happened. That was nice.

We arrived, docked, dined, drank, and found out we actually corrected next to last! An improvement! Apparently at the very end the wind had died, and the current had taken some boats astray, messing with everyone’s times.



The next morning was a rough start–a no wind, slightly if not mostly hungover start. A stray eddy turned us 360 degrees and I could do nothing about it. I saw it on Tide Prints…I just couldn’t get away. We were now facing all the boats behind us….this was ranking up there with top embarrassments. It would have been a good time for photos of the other boats, but all the sails were limp and sad.

A Floater

A Floater, My View From Bow

“Starboard! Starboard! We want to go that way!”

“Do you SEE the tiller? Fine, you drive.”

“Oh shit! Why won’t it turn?!”

“Would you like to start drinking now, or later?”

“Now is good.”

“I’ll be right back”.

This is what when jokingly call our brief sailing divorce.

We actually had a nice sail up Colvos Passage after the wind filled in, and we were in a midst of a bunch of boats elegantly tacking back and forth until the Sound opened up; then we were alone again. We made it back within the time limit, although the committee boat had disappeared.  We were last again, but other than the loss of the phone, we can laugh about it all, and we still do.




Laundry is a Battlefield

It was laundry day. Actually it was way past laundry day.  There was a month’s worth of laundry in bags in my car. It was Thanksgiving day and I thought it would be deserted in the laundromat.  Text from my mom, “I have never heard of anyone using their car as a laundry hamper”. My response, “you dont live in 150 square feet”.  Her reply, “That is true.”

Gone are those days I could throw my clothes in the washer and go about my day, getting them out when I damn well pleased or before they smelled weird. I could throw them in the dryer and let them stay there until I needed them–just needing a little fluff dry before I wore them.

These days, it’s done at a laundromat at the marina, and it’s a battlefield. There are currently about 300 live aboard slips (with 50 more being added), some with singles like myself, and some with families of four and young children. So on average, let us say that at least 500-600 people need to do laundry each week. There are six washers and nine dryers.

For the smart soldiers, there is an app for your phone or laptop that shows you how many machines are open, taken, or idle (cycle finished but door hasn’t been opened).   It is far more high tech than the last time I used a laundromat in college (20y ago).

Laundry App

Laundry App

I can have a text sent to me when my machine has finished.  I can also look at the statistics of usage times over the last week to further polish my plan of attack. For soldiers that dislike technology, laundry day is a crap shoot.  I like technology, but I got lazy.

Plan of Attack

So on Thanksgiving day I thought “who would be doing laundry today?”.  Everyone will be busy cooking or traveling. Apparently that was not a novel thought. My laundry was in the car- a whole month’s worth – perhaps more since I had last recall doing it in Ganges on Saltspring Island at the end of September. So, I didn’t check the app which was a mistake. There were about a dozen other people that also decided that no one else would be there either.

The machines were mostly full and I was only able to start part of the load. I did a stake out rather than leaving and returning like the others so I could grab machines as they became available. I watched as people hauled in heavily laden bags, only to feel the agony of defeat, leave, and throw it all back in their car. Fortunately for my stake out, the laundry room is also the unofficial free library, so I had reading material.  It was touch and go at one point when the pay machine went offline and I had a load of wet clothes to go in the dryer and no quarters. A friendly old salt loaned me a dollar and I was back in business!

I had learned my lesson. On New Years Day I awoke and checked the app. All the washers were available and I had another month’s  worth of laundry. I dressed hastily and half ran up the dock.  It had only been 15 minutes, but two of the six washers were taken. I took three more. It had been pretty cold and when I tried to pour detergent in, nothing came out. I squeezed the jug, and detergent came sliding out in a frosty tubular shape.  I hacked off a chunk with the lid and hoped it would melt quickly. I settled in with another book from the shelf

Again there was a parade of people with heavy loads that were out of luck and would have to come back another time. Technology was my friend this day, and I actually coached an older man on how to use the app next time.

Some changes have been proposed at the marina, and hopefully the facilities will be expanding. I am appreciative that I can check the status of my machine online, and pay with a debit card and not have to carry cash (although cash is cheaper).  I will be thrilled if they do the same thing with the showers.  Yes, this is one more thing that is a little harder about living on a boat, but it is the best view I have ever had while washing clothes!