2018 BAMA Doublehanded Farallones Race Update – Thursday, March 22 - Archived

Pat Broderick is participating in the race and is generously sharing reports about the race.
Race is scheduled for Saturday, March 24

Farallon Freaks,

Well, NOAA thinks things will be more interesting on Saturday’s BAMA Doublehanded Race!  And, SailFlow isn’t far behind.  These forecasts are for the “Lightship” – about halfway out and back.  The wind at the Island is a notch higher.   Waves, NW at 7 feet at 11/112 seconds. Certainly doable, but much more exciting than earlier forecasts.  Add in the chance of showers later on and it gets even better!

Okay, there isn’t really a “Lightship” stationed 11 miles off the Golden Gate anymore.  We just call the buoy that bobs around where the Lightship used to anchor the “Lightship” or “Lightbucket.”  Here’s a picture of the last “Lightship” in 1957 when it was replaced by an unmanned  “Large Navigation Buoy”  (LNB) in the foreground, and a picture of “Low Speed Chase” rounding the present “Lightship Buoy’ in 2009, and finally Jennifer saying “Goodbye” to the “Lightbucket” (buoy) in last year’s OYRA Lightship Race.  From Sailing Schooner in 1898, to steam powered lightship, to diesel powered lightship, to Large Navigation Buoy, to “large” buoy.

And even a large buoy isn’t needed in today’s navigation world since “SF” has already been replaced by a “virtual” buoy that appears on AIS screens.  It won’t be too many years before there will be nothing floating around out there at all.  The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a collision avoidance system in which ships broadcast a signal that includes their name, location, course, speed, and other information.  The “system” automatically calculates possible collisions, alerting the ships at risk. “NANCY” carries several AIS receivers which allow us to “see” ships on a screen, even in fog.

AIS also has an Aids to Navigation (AtoN) function using satellites to create virtual navigation marks.  The Coast Guard is busy converting buoys and day marks (on poles) to “virtual aids” or in the lingo, “false positions.”  (But with the recent use of “false” in the political world, perhaps they’ll find another term?)  It’s possible that future races using the SF Buoy position will sail around an open space of water with their AIS receiver telling them they’ve “rounded” the mark.  The S. E. Farallon Island, however, even though it, too, has an AIS location will remain a real “mark” on races that go out to it.

A sad footnote:  In 2012 on the full-crew OYRA race, “Low Speed Chase”  sailed too close to the NW corner of the S.E. Farallon Island and was caught in the “break” that I’ve previously written about.  Four out of 7 crew members were lost and the boat was tossed up on Maintop Island.  There have been multiple fatalities in races around the S. E. Farallon Island.  Sailing safe and conservative is the only way.

 

 

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