July 4th – Grey Fox reaches its home port – finally

Grey Fox is back from the show and finally I can get it on the water and over to its summer home on the floating dock at Horseshoe Harbor in Larchmont.  So I’m off to Glen Island for the third time in a month to launch.  Since it’s not a long trip from Glen Island to Larchmont, I’m not in a hurry to get going early, and don’t hitch up the trailer and start driving until around 2pm.

Oh, I forgot – it’s the fourth of July and the entire population of the New York metropolitan area is at Glen Island Park.   We wait in traffic for almost an hour just to make the turn onto the park road and to crawl into the park.   At least once we get there the line for launching is not too bad.  I rig up, back the trailer into the water and Jeffrey drives away with the trailer to take it home.  I row out of the channel and hoist sails in the very, very light air.   It’s about 95 degrees with 90 percent humidity, and with almost no wind blowing it’s a sweat-fest just sitting still trying to sail.   I make about 200 yards in a half hour of trying to sail (most of which was probably just the current pushing me) and give up.   Down comes the mainsail and out come the oars.

They’re nice oars:  9’9” long, Sitka spruce, pretty well balanced.  I made them myself from patterns from Chesapeake Light Craft.  And the hull design rows well for its size.  But in the heat, and with all the lumpy water kicked up by the armies of powerboats that assault Long Island Sound on a summer weekend, it’s not pleasant rowing.   After about 5 minutes of rowing I am about as wet from sweating as I would have gotten from jumping overboard.  Plus I figure out something sorely missing from my boat:  there’s nothing to brace my feet against.  It’s hard to get a good pull without a footbrace.   It’s going to be a long row all the way to Larchmont.  Next boat-improvement project:  build some kind of moveable footbrace for rowing that can be stowed out of the way for sailing.

After two and a half miles of galley-slave rowing.  I get to the mooring field off of Horseshoe Harbor, and of course just then a little breeze comes up. OK, I’ll take that.  Up goes the mainsail and I have a blast sailing around the mooring field and showing off my boat to everyone in sight. I get a few thumbs-ups and “she’s a beauty”, which is huge to the builder and traditionalist in me, and part of why I built the boat instead of just buying something.

Enough showing off, time to unrig and head into the cove for the moment of truth—will I be able to haul this boat up on the dock? If not, then I really miscalculated on one of the major reasons I selected this design in the first place.

The cove at Horseshoe Harbor is very small and shaped like, imagine this — a horseshoe.   The entrance is tight and there’s not much space between my dock and the rocky side of the cove, so I always drop the sails and row in.   I came down to the club this morning and mounted my roller on the edge of the dock at my appointed parking space, so it’s ready.  I row the boat alongside the dock, jump out, square up the boat with the bow at the roller, and… HEAVE! On the first try, I couldn’t get it far enough up to pull it onto the dock.  On a second try with a harder pull to get more momentum, I get it past the tipping point and am able to pull the boat all the way onto the dock.  Whew, that is a relief, and I am in business!

If my dear club members will allow me, I will revel for just a short while in the result of my labor.  I leave the masts in and the boat uncovered on the dock so the club members can admire the new kid on the block (actually the new boat on the dock).  Yes, I am a proud builder and traditionalist with a healthy disdain for Benetubs and other ugly boats.  At Horseshoe Harbor I’m not alone, as we have several Herreshoff S-boats, an L. Francis designed Rozinante canoe yawl, and a couple of International Class one designs. Still, Grey Fox is the prettiest boat on the dock.  And since this is my blog, I can say that.  And since you read it on the Internet, it must be true…  😊

Author: Larchmont Jim

A 50-something investment banker from Larchmont, New York (about 15 miles from midtown Manhattan). Amateur small boat sailer, boatbuilder, kayaker, musician. I grew up spending summers sailing the New England coast on my grandfather’s beautiful 47’ 1952 Sparkman & Stevens wooden yawl. I’ve lived in Larchmont, a major and historic sailing center on Long Island Sound, for 25 years, but career and family obligations kept me off the water for all of my 30s and 40s, and only about 7 years ago did I get back on the water, first in sea kayaks, and then in small boats.

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