I guess you’d call this the shoulder season; at least that’s how it feels to me. We just cruised past the spring Equinox and sprung forward an hour for daylight savings time. Winter is definitely behind us, but the warmer days of summer and high boating season still lie ahead.
This is the time of year I usually dive into boat projects. Of course, we’ve been deeply involved in getting our new-to-us boat Three Sheets ready for cruising since January. And like all boat projects, it has taken at least twice as long and cost three times as much as we anticipated.
One of the big plans was to install a heating system. Until we bought her in September, our 1989 Island Packet 38 had spent her life in the balmy environs of Southern California and the Sea of Cortez. So while nicely equipped with cruising gear, it lacked an essential piece of equipment for the Northwest—a source of warmth.
I had high hopes of getting a heater in place by March. But it just isn’t going to happen. We needed a quick fix to get us through the shoulder season and into summer. We needed something that would let us use the boat now.
We found a possible solution in Practical Sailor last month—a portable alcohol heater that is apparently safe for boats. And at $75, the HeatMate seemed worth the gamble. It supposedly puts out more than 5,000 BTU—not enough to sit around naked in the cabin, but enough to take the chill off a spring morning.
My HeatMate arrived in the mail this week, and it looks bulletproof enough. We are going to take the boat out for a quick overnighter on Saturday to Kingston, one of our favorite low-key spots in central Puget Sound. It’ll give us a chance to try the heater, and we still have the electric heaters as back-up if it doesn’t cut it.
If you plan to be in Kingston, come on by and say hello. We’ll be happy to show you the HeatMate if you’re interested. And we’ll even buy you a drink.
On the Horizon
Our friends at the National Weather Service in Seattle have a mixed forecast for marine weather in Puget Sound this weekend. Saturday is going to start out sunny and with light winds. Ideal conditions for powerboaters, but likely to leave the many racing sailors out on the Sound hoping for a breeze.
“If you are going to hit the water, Saturday is the best day,” said Art Gaebel, a NWS meteorologist.
He says that because by Saturday evening, a weather system moving in from the Gulf of Alaska is going to bring rain. The rain will continue through Sunday morning as the front passes through, then give way to showers for the rest of the day.
And the winds are likely to pick up too, with a small craft advisory possible on Sunday. So there you have it, wet and windy, but all in all a typical spring weekend.
Looking ahead for the rest of the week, there will likely be showers on Monday and Tuesday before the possibility of nicer weather returning about mid-week.
This will be a big weekend for sailboat racing in the Northwest, with at least six races taking place.
The Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle is hosting the final of the three-race Center Sound Series on Saturday. The Three Tree Point race will get underway in the morning—probably in light air. But if you want some tips on tactics, Bruce Hedrick, the publisher of Northwest Yachting and a guru of Puget Sound winds, will be telling the “Secrets of Center Sound” at CYC’s club house Friday at 7 p.m. I heard Bruce speak at a recent Sloop Tavern Yacht Club event and learned a lot.
Over on Lake Washington, the Meydenbauer Yacht Club is holding its annual Spring Regatta. It’s three round-the-buoy races on Saturday and one round-the-buoy race on Sunday. Looks like sailors will get to test their skills in both light and windy conditions—not to mention wet ones—if the weather forecast holds.
On the west side of the pond, the Port Orchard Yacht Club is hosting the aptly named Spring Shakedown Race in Sinclair Inlet.
Up north, the Anacortes Yacht Club has the second of its Tri-Straits series on Saturday beginning in Guemes Channel.
And the Whidbey Island Naval Sailing Association is holding the last of its Frostbites.
Finally, down south, the Corinthian Yacht Club of Tacoma is hosting the Spring Single-Handed race in Commencement Bay. No word on what sailors should do with the other hand.
We didn’t see many publicly announced rendezvous this weekend. Might be a bit early in the year for a lot of cruisers, but not so the Puget Sound Cruising Club. They are holding a raft-up in Gig Harbor, which is always a nice place to be—especially if the winds pipe up to 20 knots.
For boating newbies, The Seattle Sail and Power Squadron on Tuesday is beginning one of its comprehensive Seamanship classes, normally the first class folks take after the introductory ABC class. The Sail and Power Squadrons are a great resources for those wanting to learn more about all the dark arts of boating, and we highly recommend their classes.
In Our Wake
It’s been an interesting week on Three Sheets Northwest. Lots of good, meaty local stories for boaters.
If you are doing some work on your boat this spring, you might want to check out Deborah’s story on the new marine exchange store that opened up in Poulsbo recently, about a mile and a half from the marina.
And speaking of boat projects, the good folks who run Adventuress toasted the completion of the first phase of a major renovation of the classic schooner.
Also on the maritime heritage front, the clock is ticking for the Northwest Maritime Center, which is still a few dollars short of meeting a much needed fundraising goal to help pay for its fabulous new headquarters in Port Townsend.
Over at Late Entry, Scott Wilson tackles another interesting topic: what do you have on your life vest? Scott tells us why he likes to go old school.
That’s it for this week. As always, we hope you have fun on the water. Now get out there.
Marty McOmber, editor, Three Sheets Northwest
Do you have a news tip? A boating experience you want to write about? An event you think we should cover? A great photo or video you’d like to share? If so, we want to hear from you. We know there’s a lot happening on the water that we might not know about, and we’re always looking to add other boaters’ voices to the mix. So if you have an interest in becoming a Three Sheets contributor, or have a tip or story idea, email us.