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  • Ward Fay

21st Annual Deer Harbor Wooden Sailboat Race

Race Instructions

Tuesday September 5th, 2023, Deer Harbor Marina

(Local non-wood boats are allowed but are ineligible for prizes.)

Skippers’ meeting:

The Skippers meeting will begin at 9 am or shortly after, on the pier by the office of the Deer Harbor Marina. Dock Store will be open for coffee at 9 am. You will receive an entry form/waiver to fill out. Once you turn in a signed entry form with the $15 entry fee, you will receive the race packet which includes these race instructions plus race course charts. Entry forms/waivers must be filled out, signed, and submitted with the $15 entry fee by 10 AM. Otherwise, you are not in the race. If you don’t have a PHRF number, an imaginary one will be provided. Start is at NOON.

This year we are asking racers to take photos of the race, particularly at the start, (You may need to designate a crew member for this purpose.) and send them to Ward, by either texting to his phone (360-376-5581) or emailing to

Start Line:

The Starting Sequence:

Sequence will begin around NOON, unless postponed.

Before 11:55, come by the Committee Boat, or hail them on Channel 69, to identify your boat, or your time may not be recorded.

Monitor Channel 69. Do not hail the committee boat during the five-minute starting sequence. Any changes to the course will be announced by the committee.

The Line will be SE of Fawn Island, running roughly east and west, with the committee boat on the west end. The committee boat this year will be a big green 1920’s motor yacht named Argonaut II. The pin end of the line to the east may be a buoy consisting of a red flag on a pole attached to a traffic cone on plywood on a foam-filled tire, placed not too close to the shore. Or it may be another buoy supplied by the committee. Pass between the committee boat to starboard and the pin buoy to port, and head for Bird Rock to pass it to starboard. In a north wind, the start will be a downwind start. Whichever the wind direction, we will proceed from the line towards Cliff Island to the south. In any event, know rights of way, and avoid collisions when jockeying for position at the start. Or hang back and let others mix it up on the line. Let’s all avoid damage to our nice boats.

Note: The Inclusion of Jones Island on the course will be determined the morning of the race, depending on if we think there will be enough wind to finish within the time limit. This will increase the distance of the course by about 3 miles. Jones Island will be kept to starboard. If we include Jones Island, there will be only one lap of the course. If we are not going around Jones Island, the committee will fly the short course flag.

Finish Line

The finish line may be changed from the starting line. There will be two laps of the course, unless the committee shortens the course after the start, or Jones Island is included in the course. If two laps, round the committee boat to port when you cross the line the first time, unless the committee boat has changed the location of the line, then pass between it and the pin buoy, with whichever end of the line is more west to port.

If we use the long course around Jones Island, the finish line will be between the committee boat and the buoy, with the committee boat to port unless it repositions east of the buoy.

If the short course is one lap, the committee will fly the short course flag, and give you a horn as you cross the line to finish. If two laps, they will take the times at the end of the first lap in case the wind dies on the second lap. Round the committee boat to port in the event we are doing two laps of the short course. You will not get a horn unless you have finished.

In the event the committee boat changes position during the race and is now east of the line buoy, pass the boat to starboard. Cross the line to finish.

The committee may change the finish line to shorten the course after the race starts. If you see them stationed somewhere on the course flying the short course flag, assume it is the finish line, and pass the committee boat to starboard. Monitor Channel 69 for any course-change announcements during the race.

Flags Explained:

The Short Course Flag is a white square with a blue square in the center. If the committee boat is flying it, or if the committee flies it at the finish, the short course will be in effect.

The Individual Recall Flag is white with a blue cross. It will fly if a boat is over the starting line early and must re-cross the line, avoiding all other boats.

The Postponement Pennant is long and tapered with vertical red and white stripes. It will be flown from the time the line is established until the starting sequence begins.

About 1 minute before a yellow flag goes up to begin the starting sequence; there will be three or more blasts on the horn, and the postponement flag will go down.

The horn will blast once as each flag goes up or down.

Yellow flag goes up: 5 minutes to Start.

P flag (blue with white in center) goes up: 4 minutes to Start

P flag goes down: 1 minute to Start

Yellow flag goes down: Start


Keep to Starboard:

1. Committee boat at starting line, with red flag buoy to port.

2. Bird Rock (Not too close!)

3. Coon Island

4. Red buoy southwest of YellowIsland

5. Underwater rocks 200 yards west of Yellow Island (N 48 35.49 and W 123 2.17). Look for kelp there and stay a stone’s throw away from it.

6. OPTIONAL: Jones Island

7. North end of McConnell Island (Not too close!)

Keep to Port:

8. South end of Reef Island (Not too close!)

9. Committee boat at finish, unless it moves east of the buoy, then pass to starboard.

There will be a time limit of four (4) hours, so if the race starts at 12:05, and you are still on the course at 4:05, come on in. The committee may decide to extend the time limit. We will attempt to have a course that can be finished in three hours.

NOTE: HAZARDOUS AREA. All rocks and shallow areas are charted. Study and consult your charts! The use of GPS units with charts uploaded on them is strongly encouraged. The north end of McConnell Island and the south end of Reef Island are marks of the course and have underwater rocks extending off them. Especially beware underwater rocks located 200 yards west of Yellow Island and 300 yards northwest of the red nun buoy. The approximate location of these rocks is N 48 degrees, 35.49 minutes, and W 123 degrees, 2.17 minutes. The rocks may be marked by kelp, less likely in the spring. Rocks off the east side of Jones may be submerged.

As stated in the entry waiver you signed, you the skipper are responsible for your boat and crew. If you are navigationally challenged, do not enter this race. There are rocks out there!

At noon the current will be ebbing to the south and east at a maximum rate of 1.14 knots. Slack before flood will be at 3:18 PM. Data from Spring Passage (the passage between Orcas and Jones Islands) south entrance.

A rowing race beginning at the beach by the pier will begin around 4 PM. Course will be around Fawn Island and back. Dave Roseberry will officiate.

Post-race Dinner

This year we will bring back the salmon dinner on Tuesday evening after the race. The dinner will begin serving around 5 PM. The location will be on the floats near the party barge. The price will be $30. Included are corn on the cob, garlic bread, potato salad, ice cream cone, plus one serving of beer or wine. There will be live music. Boaters may get together for their own potluck on Monday or Wednesday nights. Island Pie (pizza) is just across from the marina and Matthew’s Smokehouse (BBQ) is a ten-minute walk to the north.

During the dinner announcements will be made to award the prizes for the row race and the sailing race. Ward will be handing out race results at that time. He will also email racers the results.

Boaters going to the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival will likely choose to leave Wednesday to go to Watmough Bay on the southeast corner of Lopez Island and cross the Strait Thursday morning.


1. Avoid collisions. Give other boats room to go around buoys, islands and underwater rocks. Study charts closely.

2. Know and follow the rules of the road. Know which boat has the right of way in any situation.

3. No protests will be allowed. Let your conscience be your guide.

4. If you foul someone, execute a 360-degree turn, while avoiding all other boats. Running aground is its own penalty. Don’t do it!

5. If you touch a buoy while rounding it, you must round it again, avoiding all other boats. Otherwise, you disqualify yourself. If you touch it again on the second rounding, keep going.

6. Be safe and have fun!

Prizes (Wood boats only): Burgees with the Wooden Boat Society of the San Juan Islands logo on them will be awarded to the first (blue), second (red), and third (white) place finishers based on PHRF corrected times. Green participant burgees may be awarded for special cases. Additionally, handmade ceramic plates will be awarded, courtesy of Mike Douglas.

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