Bosunator Challenge

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Bosunator Challenge

Postby jeffd » Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:38 pm

What? OK, I got your attention, didn't I? Here’s a picture of Bosun:

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The Bosunator Challenge is named in memory of Bosun. Here is a link to the full description of the Bosunator Challenge:

http://www.quicktopic.com/40/H/LSmQsY3ZHAv/p17934.17934

… but here is the very brief version: The Bosunator Challenge is a sailing challenge. On Lake Havasu, Arizona, start sailing from the Nautical Inn Dock in Lake Havasu City, sail south past Parker Dam, round one of the buoys in the buoy line (about 15 NM south of the Nautical Inn), then sail back to the Nautical Inn Dock. Sometime in the sail, you must also circumnavigate the island and sail under the London Bridge - either before or after sailing south. No motors are to be used, but paddling is allowed. Sailing distance is expected to be about 45-50 miles. For those of you in the Puget Sound area, distance wise, this is kind of like sailing around Vashon Island – except the ferry at Lake Havasu is a lot smaller and doesn’t throw as mean a wake as the Washington State Ferries(!)

For my sister and I, this began as an intended week-long cruise on Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah in early October 2013. We were planning to meet up with a couple of Havasu Pocket Cruiser sailing friends in Page, Arizona, and spend a week enjoying Lake Powell. But the government had other ideas. Shortly after I left Washington state with the boat in tow, I catch a brief on the news of the government shutting down all National Parks on October 1, 2013. Well, I'm all packed and ready to go cruising for a week, and I'm not about to turn around and head home. So I end up spending some time with my Mom and my sister (who will go sailing with me), and doing chores for Mom. I touch base with my sailing friends and we decide to wait a few days to see if the government will figure it out and reopen the National Parks. Well, it could be a lot worse - I didn't spend a lot of money reserving some resort room or houseboat, or airline tickets, or some other monetary commitment. The news is good at reporting on how the shutdown is causing a lot of pain for people. Meanwhile, we get a lot of chores done for Mom.

And I even got one of my own "someday" boat projects done - I made a deck chock for my spinnaker pole. No, it’s not as pretty as the one from Forespar, but it was a lot of fun making it on the milling machine, and it was a lot cheaper.

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Finally, Mom says "Go sailing!" Well, who am I to disobey Mom!? Lake Powell access is still closed (it is inside Glenn Canyon National Recreation Area, administered by the National Park Service), but it is two days from Mom's to Lake Powell, so my sister and I decide to drive the first day, and if the parks reopen, we continue. Otherwise, we stop at Lake Havasu and sail there for a week. So we drive the first day and stop in Needles CA for the night. We watch the news and the national parks are still closed.

So I float this idea to my sister: Why don't we try sailing the "Bosunator Challenge" at Lake Havasu? The wind prediction for the next day was for pretty strong winds from the south, and the wind was supposed to last well into the night. And the rest of the week, the winds were predicted to be much lighter. Several others were planning to try the Bosunator Challenge during the full moon in October, a few weeks later, but we can't stay that long. So we decided to try it the first day we got to Lake Havasu. OK, sailing 45-50 miles can be an endurance test, but it is much easier (and less frustrating) if the winds are good. So maybe we kind of 'cheated' by attempting the challenge on a day when the winds were predicted to be strong all day and most of the night. So we decide to try the challenge.

Here is a Google Earth picture of our track: red is our beat south, and green is our run back north, and rounding the island and sailing under the London Bridge.

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With a long sail ahead of us, I guess it would have been prudent to get up extra early and get going, since the wind was good early in the morning. But no, we are cruisers, and maybe a bit lazy too, and it was a long drive the day before. So we get up around 8am, get breakfast, and head to Lake Havasu. Once at Lake Havasu, we take care of securing a slip at the marina for the week, rig the boat, load the boat, and launch. In retrospect, we had way too much 'stuff' - a week's worth of food, cooking gear, inflatable kayaks, and other provisions, since we were planning to sail on Lake Powell, where there are no restaurants or stores to restock. So we were pretty well 'ballasted'.

So maybe we 'cheated' by choosing a windy day to start, but we didn't actually get started till around noon. Noon! Gee that's a pretty late start for a 40-50 mile sail! The wind was blowing pretty good from the south. We approached the Nautical Inn's outer dock - the starting point. I briefly tie up, and realize that the southerly wind is blowing the boat hard onto the dock. But if I turn the boat around and face east, I think I can manage to push off and get sailing before getting into trouble, like hitting the other dock. So we turn the boat around, get ourselves set up, raise the sails, pull up the motor, give ourselves a quick shove off the dock, and off we go to sail the Bosunator Challenge.

Photo: A Clipper Marine 23 sailing by the Nautical Inn docks. The docs are just off his bow. This is on a nice day sailing on Lake Havasu. The day we did the Challenge, it was overcast, cool and blowing pretty hard!

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We sail south, beating into the wind. I sure am glad I made new Sailrite sails last year - and I'm glad I sewed TWO reef points in the main. I've used the second reef a couple of times here at Lake Havasu. So we start the long beat south. But the winds are pretty consistent, and we are making pretty good time.

On our first trip to Lake Havasu in Feb 2012, we took a few days after the Havasu Pocket Cruisers Convention to cruise the south part of the lake. So we were sailing somewhat familiar territory.

One very familiar and welcome landmark is Pilot Rock. Bet you can guess which one I’m talking about! Even better, the light on Pilot Rock is lit at night. We discovered the hard way that not all of the navigation lights on Lake Haveasu are lit at night. (Photo is from Feb 2012)

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Sailing down the somewhat narrow canyons, following the wind shifts and land contours was kind of fun. The first year, we sailed south to Standard Wash, which is about 8 NM south of our starting point.

Below is a photo taken from Standard Wash, on the Arizona side, looking across Lake Havasu, at the mountains on the California side (photo from Feb 2012)

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After passing Standard Wash, we were entering 'new' territory for us. Little did we know, that the sailing gets quite tricky down here. Not only are there some shallow spots to avoid, but the west side (California Side) has very steep mountains and canyons. So the wind patterns down here are . . . somewhat of a surprise! We'd be sailing along just fine, when a blast comes down and hits us and we are scrambling to keep the boat moving and upright. We call these "Burro Blasts!" (yes, there are burros living out here).

Red track: sailing through very shifty wind “blasts” from the west.

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Eventually, we noticed that the blasts seem to follow the mountains and canyons - probably something the locals know all about. So the sailing in the south part of the lake was quite challenging for us - changing from very little wind, to huge blasts where we were wishing we hadn't shaken out that reef. One nice thing was the wind direction was more favorable and we were more on a reach most of the time, so we were making good progress toward our goal. The winds did lighten up a bit as we passed Parker Dam.

Photo: Parker Dam, as we sail by on our Bosunator Challenge attempt.

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We had heard about this end of the lake from others, so it was great to see it for ourselves. Sailing from Parker Dam to the buoy line was pretty much a beam reach.


Photo: Sailing under the Power Lines near Parker Dam:

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We sail by the Lake Havasu Springs resort, on our way to rounding the buoy. The wind has been pretty good most of the day and we are making pretty good time. We round our chosen buoy in the buoy line around 5pm - a major geographic milestone, and we did the beat first.

Photo: The buoy we chose to round

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Red track: After the “blasts”: winds settle down and become more southwesterly and consistent. Red-to-Green track is the rounding of the buoy:

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Hopefully, the wind will keep blowing, as predicted. Nothing worse than doing the beat upwind first, only to have the wind die and get 'cheated' out of the downwind run!

Down here by Parker Dam, the wind is still on the beam, so we are reaching and making pretty good time. OK, maybe a couple of zigs and zags near the dam. After passing the dam, we are approaching the Burro Blast area, but now, we are prepared. We manage to negotiate the blasts reasonably well and this time, we are broad reaching most of the time. (the green track) We even put up the small spinnaker for a while, when we felt the winds were reasonably consistent. Notice that I used the 'smaller' spinnaker - its still blowing pretty good.

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We pass by the pump station on the California side, about sunset. Another geographic milestone!

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It has been overcast all day, so we didn't really see the sun much, but it got dark as we sailed north. Time to turn on the navigation lights. Hmm, as it got really dark, it's getting hard to see the masthead wind pointer. But luckily, my anchor/steaming light is right under the windex, so I turn on the anchor light and now the windex is easy to see.

As it starts to get really dark, I can now understand why the others were planning to sail this challenge on a night with a full moon. This night we were sailing was overcast, so even if the moon was full, we might not get much light anyway. But the high overcast turned out to be our friend - we noticed that the lights coming from Lake Havasu City would reflect off the high overcast, so we actually could see some of the dark terrain. So between seeing via the lights of the city on the overcast, and the lighted depth sounder, we could follow the channel pretty well. And the iPhone running Navionics functioning as a chart plotter certainly helped. On problem we discovered: We were using the printed Fish-N-Map chart of Lake Havasu to dead reckon, and the legends on the map are printed in RED. So trying to use the red lens on the headlamp to not ruin our night vision didn't work very well when consulting the chart.

One thing we were very thankful for is that during the dark part of the trip, we were running! So sailing up the narrow parts of the lake at night on a run were a lot easier than if we had do beat in the dark. The winds kept up pretty well that night, and we made pretty good progress. The Fish-n-Map chart shows navigation aids and range lights, but we found that not all of them were functional. Some worked, but some did not. Luckily, between the printed chart, the depth sounder and the iPhone chart plotter, we could navigate pretty well in the dark.

Finally, the lights of Lake Havasu City appear in the distance. It is pretty late, and we are past the "6 hour" time limit, but the end is near. Oops! I forgot. The challenge states the route must include circumnavigating the island and sailing under the London Bridge. Hmm, for us, that means in the dark. Luckily, there are a lot of lights on the island and through the channel, but then, it did get pretty confusing. And to make matters worse, the lights that mark the channel (the one that goes under the London Bridge) were not lit! On the way to the channel, we sail by the start/end point - the docks at the Nautical Inn. Sure enough, we notice that the docks are not lit at night! So at least we know what we are up against after we round the Island - somehow sail to the unlit docks, with all the confusing lights around and behind to mess up your night vision.

The wind is still blowing pretty good. My sister suggests we drop the main and sail through the channel on the jib alone. Good suggestion. So we drop the main (first set of ‘funny’ loops on the green track below). Then, we sail some very odd courses, because we are trying to locate the channel, since the markers are not lit. We've sailed through the channel several times, but never at night. I think I see some lights, but they turn out to be the race course for the Lucas Oil Drag boats happening the coming weekend. Hmm, these flashing lights aren't on the chart!

Track: Our rather crooked entry path into the channel (“Start” is the docks at the Nautical Inn).
OK, a quick look at the chart, and chart plotter, and some more sailing strange courses on the jib alone, and eventually, we get it figured out.

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During the day, it was a lot easier - there usually is a lot of boat traffic going in or coming out of the channel. But at 10:00 at night, no one except us is out on the water. So we sail up the channel, running on the jib alone, being propelled by the pretty stiff southerly wind, nicely funneling in the channel.

Sailing Under the London Bridge . . . in the dark! Another milestone.

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As we approach the London Bridge, we have a small celebration - good memories of sailing under with all of our Havasu Pocket Cruiser friends on the parade of sail in February 2012 and 2013. But this time, we are the only boat foolish enough to be out here sailing in the dark! But what a rush as we jet under the bridge and out the north end of the channel. After leaving the channel, we raise the main and continue to circumnavigate the island. As we are sailing, my sister notices some lights - moving lights. They are moving quite fast! One is red and the other is green, and they are up very high! Hmm, I think it is time for a quick tack! We alter course severely and notice that yes, those high fast moving lights do belong to another boat - the ferry that goes between Lake Havasu City and the Havasu Landing Resort/Casino on the California side. And this is no ordinary ferry - this is a catamaran, very fast moving ferry. We are very thankful that we "encountered" him outside the channel. I don't think he even saw us. Probably thinking there's no one else crazy enough to be out this late, in winds as strong as this.

After that brief scare, we continue sailing around the island. We are back in "the city" so all of the lighthouse navigation lights work, and there are a lot of other lights. And this is familiar territory for us too - we've sailed around this island several times in the last two Havasu Pocket Cruiser Conventions. Still, everything looks very different at night. We are glad we did the sail-by of the dark Nautical Inn docks, so we know what we are up against. So we finally complete the "challenge", by sailing up to the docks, both of us touching the dock, and a whoop of celebration, and then, keep going to head for our slip in the marina. We completed the challenge at 11:52pm, so our elapsed time is just shy of 12 hours.

Our Statistics:

Total Distance Sailed: 44.6 NM
Start Time Oct 9, 2013, 11:59 AM
End Time Oct 9, 2013, 11:52 PM
Average Speed: 3.7 knots
Maximum Speed: 6.6 knots

InSpeed Wind indicator:
Average Apparent Wind: 10.5 mph
Maximum Apparent Wind: 30.8 mph

Photo: For our efforts to complete the Bosunator Challenge, we are awarded a green paw.
Bosunator Challenge green "Paw" is proudly displayed, next to my Havasu Pocket Cruisers Convention numbers:

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And now, . . . the rest of the story:

Thu Oct 10, 2013:

So that covers our first really full day and night sailing at Lake Havasu. After a good sleep in, breakfast, and a good cup of coffee, we are ready to head out sailing again. Winds today are much lighter than yesterday, but still good enough for some good sailing. We decide to head south to some of our favorite close in spots on Lake Havasu: Copper Canyon and Balanced Rock Cove.

Our first stop is Copper Canyon. Copper Canyon is a lot of fun to sail into. We’ve done this before It is narrow, lots of rocks, and very scenic. The secret is even when the wind is blowing hard outside, once you get into the inlet, the wind subsides a whole lot, and when you get to the canyon, it is usually quite light. You do, however, need to zig and zag to miss a couple submerged rocks.

This time, the winds are really light so we end up motoring in:

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… and end up backing out (too narrow to turn around):

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After our brief tour of Copper Canyon, we head for one of our favorite anchorages: Balanced Rock Cove. Here is a photo from land. I’ll bet you can’t guess where the cove got its name from!

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We spend some time kayaking around the cove, relaxing, and taking photos. Then, we head ashore for a short hike and more photo opportunities. Here is a view from above Balanced Rock cove, looking south, of Pilot Rock, and Friendly Island in the foreground:

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This anchorage, Balanced Rock Cove, has several great hikes. One is the famous “The Crack”, one of the more famous slot canyons in the area. Another is “Arch Rock”. We decide to take a hike to Arch Rock. So we kayak ashore, start hiking up the trail, and enjoy the views along the way. I look at the map. “Let’s see, I think it is up this way, or is it that way, or . . . “. My sister looks up and says, I think it is that way, and points to Arch Rock:

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Hiking in Arizona is very different than hiking in Washington! OK, there aren’t as many trees, but then, sometimes, you can see your destination way before you are even close to it. So we start heading toward Arch Rock, since we can see it off in the distance. We are hiking a bit late in the day, so we get to Arch Rock in the evening, and with the setting sun, the light on the rocks is gorgeous!

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We linger at Arch Rock to watch the sunset, and take lots of great photos. There are no bad views from up here. Any way you look, the view is great.

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OK, the sun has set, and it will get dark real fast, so its time to head back down, before we can’t see the trail. We hastily hike down to the wash and back down to the cove, jump into the kayaks and row back to the boat.

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By now, it is dark. We cook dinner on the boat, using headlamps. Note to self: A new project: cockpit lighting! But after a very nice day sailing, and hiking, with some great scenery and good exercise, dinner tastes very good. After cleaning up, it isn’t long before we are ready to hit the sack.

Friday Oct 11, 2013:

We wake up, and decide today is lazy day. A leisurely breakfast, with coffee, and just enjoying the morning. We see a few fishermen come into the cove, troll a bit and then leave. The birds are active here in the cool of the morning:

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We even see a few ultralights fly by. We kayaked around the cove, checking out some of the huge rocks in the cove, and the wash, where it enters the cove.

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Then, we kayaked around Friendly Island, and checked out the scenery in the cove next door.

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It was a very nice day, warm and clear. We even took our ‘daily’ dip – the water wasn’t too cold, if you picked the right spot. Cell Phone coverage at Balanced Rock cove is spotty, so I kayaked ashore and hiked up a bit, and discovered a message from our friends – they arrived at the Marina and were rigging and launching their Seward 25. So we pull up anchor and sail back to the Havasu Marina. We meet our friends, and together, we decide dinner tonight will be at the Mudshark, in Lake Havasu City (great burgers and pizza).

Saturday Oct 12

We wake up to the noise of a lot of commotion, and noisy powerboats. But we were warned. Today is the first day of the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Races. The race course is just outside the Havasu Marina. After breakfast, we decided it was time to get out of here and away from the noise. We are required to follow an ‘escort’ boat around the race course. It take a long time, and they take us a long ways around the course, but all in the interest of safety. We do get to see a few of the drag boats practicing – very fast and lots of noise and spray.

After clearing the drag boat race course, we set the sails and sail south. The wind is pretty good from the north, and we make good time.

Seward 26 “Anastasia” sailing south:

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We sail south to Steamboat Cove, another of our favorite anchorages. The cove has several good beaches that are popular with the powerboats, but we decide to anchor out and raft up together. (that’s us, 2 boats rafted up, on the lower right corner)

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Then, we inflate the kayaks, and go ashore for a hike. Steamboat cove has a great rock wall face on the east side, with some great views from the top:

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We have been to Steamboat Cove in past trips. There is a casual BBQ before the Havasu Pocket Cruiser Conventions. We have attended the BBQ the last two years, but both times, we arrived kind of late in the day, and did not have the opportunity to hike up the rocks. So this was our chance. It took a bit of effort and scrambling, but the views are gorgeous from up here today!

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Then, we spent some time kayaking around cove, exploring and relaxing.

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Steamboat cove is a popular spot for boats, but many only come for the day. By nightfall, all except a few had left. So we had a very quiet, peaceful night at anchor.

Sunday October 13

The wind is blowing pretty good today! It is from the south, so we decide to sail south first.

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Then, we discover a new kind of “Hazzard”: BoatPix.com! These yahoos come flying around in this little helicopter, throwing all kinds of propwash all over the place. They circled us a few times, and finally left.

Wish I had a shotgun, but I guess that’s not very nice – sorry. At least the wind was pretty good so we could continue sailing, despite the weird winds they were causing. Later on, we were told these guys take photos of boats and try to peddle them on their web site. Sorry guys, I'm not biting!

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We continue sailing south, and even had a few “adventures”. I lost my cap trying to put a reef in the main. Anastasia was towing her kayak, and lost one of her paddles. I never did find my cap, but after taking the sails down and slowly motoring back and forth, Anastasia did end up recovering her lost kayak paddle.

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After some good sailing, we decided to sail back north to Balanced Rock cove. My sister and I were there already, but the place is so great, we decided it would be fun to take our friends there. And the wind is from the south, so we get to RUN back up! The spinnaker comes out, and we have a great run to finish out a great day sailing, except maybe that I lost my hat.

As we were anchored in the cove and evening approached, we see some Bighorn Sheep walking on the trail that we hiked a few days ago. Wow! I’ve seen photos of them, but this is the first few I get to see for real. Later, I read that these are a common sighting in this area.

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Another reason I love this cove is that at sunset, the rocks and colors really come out. What a show!

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We are the only boats anchored out in the cove. Later in the evening, the local tour boat takes a cruise through the cove:

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The tour boat is very polite. He keeps his distance, doesn't throw out a bunch of wake, slows down before entering the cove, and waits till he is well outside the cove before throttling up. Maybe someday I'll take the tour, and learn a few things about these places.

As we are anchored out in this cove, Ken pulls out his anchor riding sail and raises it on Anastasia’s backstay. He explains that the sail keeps the boat pointed into the wind at anchor – and it really works! This is what I really like about sailing and cruising with others – you can always learn something. I take some careful notes and a couple of photos – I think I have enough scrap sail making materials from my Sailrite kits to make one of these anchor riding sails. Sounds like a good project for the winter.

Monday October 14

At anchor in Balanced Rock cove, rafted up with Anastasia. You can see the anchor riding sail flying off Anastasia's backstay.

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Today, we decide to take the hike up to “The Crack”, one of the most famous slot canyons in the area. We kayak ashore and take the hike. Here are some photos of the slot canyon:

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Here is a photo of the “wash”, as we hike back to the boats.

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After we get back to the boats, it is quite warm, and we are hot from the hike, so its time for our “daily dip”. A quick swim is very refreshing. We relax for a while, then pull up anchor and head north to meet with some other sailing friends that we were originally going to meet up with at Lake Powell. As we sail north, we see our friends in their Seward 25 "Shadowfax", and also Sean, the organizer of the HPCC sailing “Scout” his Paradox:

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It was very fun sailing with three other boats, in pretty good winds and flat water. The wind speed indicator was showing 14.4 mph average, with a maximum of 22.5 mph. Perfect sailing wind and weather. We sail around till just before dark, before heading back to the marina.

When we get back to the marina, we greet our friends, talk for a while, and check out Sean’s new boat, a Matt Layden designed Paradox Sharpie. He’s been doing a lot of work on it, and it was fun to hear all the stories and check out the boat. For more details see http://www.fullnby.com

Then, we head off for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, for a great meal and more fun with friends.

Tuesday October 15

Today’s our last day at Lake Havasu. We take a walk in the morning around the island with our friends. By the time we return, the wind is blowing, so its time to go sailing! Our friends have some things to take care of first so we head out by ourselves. The wind is quite strong from the north today. We take a quick run down to Copper Canyon again, but this time, we anchor in the cove.

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Then, we inflate the kayaks and explore the cove. Notice the submerged rock just ahead of my kayak - that's the one you have to swerve around when sailing into Copper Canyon:

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We explore Copper Canyon and the cove in the kayaks and take lots of photos of the interesting rocks and scenery.

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If I haven't mentioned before, Copper Canyon is a really neat place to visit. Yes, lots of people come here, mostly in noisy powerboats, but most of them come, take a quick peek, see the submerged rock, back out, and leave. So if you're patient, you can have the place to yourselves and just enjoy the scenery and wonder of the place.

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A group of younger folks come into the cove in a power boat. They drop off a some of the more daring at the base of this rock. They climb up the rock . . . . and dive off!

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. . . and they do it again! It was pretty entertaining watching them do this. We watch from the safety of our boat.

Too soon, it is time for us to head back to the marina. We need to pull the boat out and start heading back home. From inside the cove, we notice that the wind is really blowing hard. Photo is from inside the cove looking out. It doesn't look too bad in the photo, but we could see the wind was pretty strong.

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Earlier, we saw our two friends in the two Sewards sailing south – and running quite fast! But we are heading north – into the wind. Whitecaps and some rough seas, so we elect to sail with a double reefed main only and no jib. We put on our raingear, prepared for the splashy sail. At least it is still warm. The beat back to the marina does indeed turn out to be kind of wet and splashy. The anemometer recorded an average apparent windspeed of 21.9 mph average, and a maximum of 34.5 mph. I was kind of wishing I had some kind of a storm jib, but the beat on the main only with two reefs in took us about an hour and a half, sailing around 4 knots.

We pull the boat out, unrig, clean, drain and dry (no mussel hitchhikers!) and prepare for the drive home. What a great time! Even though we weren’t able to sail Lake Powell as was originally planned, we still had a great time cruising with our friends, and we were able to complete the Bosunator challenge.

We still want to cruise Lake Powell – maybe next year.
Last edited by jeffd on Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Bosunator Challenge

Postby kuriti » Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:01 am

Thanks for the write up. Excellent as usual!
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Re: Bosunator Challenge

Postby cklamp » Sun Mar 16, 2014 6:56 pm

I need to go back through and read it all, though the pictures are awesome:) for now dinner's almost ready so you lost me at "milling machine" now I have some projects for you, lol.

later
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