The end of the season

October 6th

Alas, the sailing season has come to an end.  The floating dock which serves as Grey Fox’s den during the summer gets pulled in a couple of weeks, and I don’t want to wait until the very last moment to sail the boat away from the club and over to one of the nearest boat ramps where I can recover it onto the trailer.  Today presents nice weather, with air in the 60s and 10-12 knots of breeze predicted.   The wind is from the Northwest, so I’ll take out at Harbor Island Park in Mamaroneck, which is closer to downwind than heading the other direction for Glen Island Park in New Rochelle. 

I’m solo today so the recovery routine is:  put a bicycle into the back of the RAV4, hitch the trailer onto the car, and drive to the ramp in Mamaroneck.  Park the car and trailer, and use the bicycle to ride the three miles to Grey Fox over at HHYC.  Sail to Mamaroneck.  Recover the boat.

Then lament that there will be no more sailing until April or May.  😦

I’ve learned over the course of my first season in Grey Fox that when sailing alone in more than around 8 knots of wind, it’s best to put one reef in the main.  So I reef before putting the boat in the water.  Once out into the harbor, I hoist and enjoy the last sail of the year.  With the offshore breeze the water is smooth and the wind is gusty, but not too strong, so it’s great sailing.  Rather than heading straight for the harbor entrance in Mamaroneck, I sail past it and on to Milton Harbor in Rye (scene of the crime in the “Some Lessons You Have to Learn Twice” entry below).  

I indulge in a lengthy tour of the Hen Islands and Milton Harbor, dodging in and about all of the moored boats and up into the shallower reaches of the harbor.  Anything to prolong the last outing until Spring.  Careful not to cleat the mainsheet and also to not spill my beer (which is a challenge of sorts, as tiller + mainsheet + beer = 3 objects to hold onto but I only have the standard human complement of hands), I finish the tour and start to work my way to windward towards the Mamaroneck inner harbor entrance. 

The wind has now veered closer to due North so it’s pretty much dead upwind through the narrow channel into the inner harbor.   Thankfully, there’s not a lot of boat traffic late in the day this late in the boating season, and the few small powerboats coming in and out are ok to dodge me as I tack back and forth up the channel.  I am pleased at how close-winded this jib-less boat is, at least in smooth water and moderate winds. 

Conveniently the wind dies just about when I get near the dock and ramp. I have to row the last 200 yards.  This ramp, which can be as busy as Grand Central on summer weekends, is deserted so I can take all the time I need to get the boat onto the trailer.  By the time I’m done buttoning everything down and driving away, it’s starting to get dark.  

Here’s to Spring and a new season!!!

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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