Date: June 25-27, 2003
Course: Ucluelet to Victoria
Hi, my name
is Rhonda. I've been sailing for 4 years and am the proud owner
of a 26' T Bird. I had been looking forward to participating in
the Van Isle as crew but the boat I was to sail on withdrew from
the race some weeks back. As I had booked my time off for these
two weeks, I contacted Kim to volunteer for the shore crew slot
the Cheekee Monkee was advertising for on the Van Isle website.
So far in the race, Tom and had been working hard to provision the
boat at each stop and to make sure the crack crew had everything
ready to go for each leg. It was so sad to see Colin hurt on leg
8, but it was my lucky day as Colin, with Kim's support asked if
I would stand in for him on Leg 9. This was going to be fun! Most
of my sailing has been on mono-hulls, and this day proved to be
the most interesting and exciting sailing of my life. It was a confusing
leaving the dock trying the juggle my shore crew duties with my
new boat crew duties.
It was sunny
as we left the dock, but soon we were socked in with fog. What an
eerie feeling to be out there with so many other boats, but only
able to see a few and the start line? Where were the ends? The race
committee started the countdown to 15 minutes before start and my
watch was set. It was a beautiful site, our sails were raised, anticipation
and apprehension filled me while watching the other boats coming
in and out of the fog.
As we were getting
near to the start we were close to shore, aiming to cross the start
line on starboard tack. Five minutes before our start the fog magically
cleared. As the last minute ticked by, we raised the spinnaker,
and it looked like a miracle was taking place. Many of the boats
just seemed to clear the way for us crossing backward across the
line and around the buoy on the wrong side, we were away. Only Dragon
Fly was in front of us and looking back, it was the most colourful
collection of spinnakers I've ever seen. We were soon flying across
the water at 15 or 16 knots. What an exhilarating feeling! That
wasn't the fastest speeds I was to feel flying on the Cheekee Monkee.
Soon most of
the boats had disappeared as the fog set back in. Red Shift and
Flip Flop and Fly stayed within view for a long time. We went way
out into the Pacific with Red Shift and then we gybed back in looking
for wind and soon lost sight of them. Captain Kim of the Cheekee
Monkee took us so fast it was as if we had traveled through a time
warp, as we were transported back to the days of Captain Cook when
out of the mist came square rigged ship. Was it an apparition???
What a beautiful experience. Soon a big blue spinnaker also appeared
out of the fog near the shore, following us as we were lifted up
the shore was Baaad Kitty. Relaxation in the wing nets was the next
order of the day as I watched the sea skim by a few feet underneath.
The pace was much slower now. There was time for refreshments and
I was even served tea on the net.
But this proved
to be short lived and the winds began to build again. The crew jumped
into action. The jib was raised again. It was a sight to see the
co-ordination between Kim and Jason and Shane. Kim never moved from
his perch on the Ama, except for moving from one side to the other
when we gybed. His concentration never wavered. Jason seemed to
have two or three pair of hands, as the mast was rotated, the spinnaker
was trimmed and the jib was trimmed for each new gybe. Sometimes
I could help a little, but more often than not, he had it all mastered.
As we started to gain speed, Jason said, "Now we're Dragon
And where were
we? The fog would lift a little and close in again. Was that opening
to port the Strait of Juan de Fuca? No! We were already in it. I
couldn't believe it. It must be too soon. I had the feeling like
I had covered the whole West Coast Trail on the ocean in too short
The winds continued
to rise and as we were approaching Race Rocks, the opposing current
set up quite steep waves and it was getting rougher now. Speeds
were reaching 18 or 19 knots. Positioned near the stern, sometimes
I would face back and watch 20 foot walls of water approaching the
back of the boat. They would lift the stern and take up on a roller
coaster ride which sometimes ended in the back of the next wave.
Kim was skillfully steering back and forth with each wave to take
advantage of the extra push and avoid burying the Ama's in the next
wave. The whole attitude was one of full concentration, with Jason
releasing the spinnaker and Shane releasing the main if we were
ploughing too quickly into the next wave. I felt such full confidence
in the skill of the skipper and crew, that I was never afraid. As
we buried about a third of the boat in one wave, Jason looked back
a me, with a smile and said, "Are you okay?" But he had
a slight look of terror in the back of his eyes, and I was sure
he was just trying to reassure me that we were okay. His comments
to Shane showed more emotion. Jason was always reading distance
from shore, distance from Race Rocks, and figuring when we could
gybe to miss Race Rocks. This is an extremely talented young man.
And Shane always gave me the feeling that he was looking after me.
As we came by
the light on Race Rocks it was like a wind light switch was turned
on, the winds howled at a roaring 30 to 40 knots, they finally needed
me again for something, to release the fore-guy and the spinnaker
halyard, throw it in the water to make sure of no tangles, and maintain
control while Jason retrieved the spinnaker. We sailed under storm
jib and full main as we headed up to make Victoria Harbour.
We had lost
sight of Bad Kitty as she went on the inside of Race Rocks. And
Red Shift had disappeared into the fog on the American Side after
we had witnessed a sail change. I think Flip Flop and Fly was over
there with her too, but was no longer visible. We were just flying
toward Victoria and switched to channel 69, to radio our arrival
to the Race Committee. As we came within a better angle of the harbour,
we were again able to carry the spinnaker and up she went. What
an exhilarating feeling when the Race Committee came over the radio
to announce our finish! 20:13:00, how could we be here? And before
But where was
Red Shift? We looked and expected to see her behind. Had she finished
first? We waited and looked and finally took our sails down and
entered the harbour. It was the first news when we docked that she
had gone over. What a shock? I was completely devastated. Sailing
with them in Nanaimo, I know Wayne and Janine quite well and being
a fellow T-Birder have been friends with and sailed with Tormay
often. I can't express my feelings and concern. I'm so glad that
they are all okay and that Red Shift has been righted.
bad news and "Lively" sail, I have complete confidence
in the skills of Skipper Kim and the rest of the crew and would
sail with then anytime again.