On the water in a bigger small(ish) boat

May 26th

Memorial Day weekend.  I had promised my father I would come up to Rhode Island where my parents live and help him with the last jobs needed to get his boat in full sailing condition.  So we head up there Saturday and spend the early afternoon getting the sails bent on, the decks and cockpit cleaned, and everything ready to go on his Alerion 28.  That doesn’t take long, and the wind is a perfect 15 knots out of the South, so we take the boat out for a spin.  

Dad is 84 now, and I was kind of wondering whether he was still going to be up to managing the boat by himself or even with one other crew member.   What I had forgotten was how easy the Alerion is to manage.  With a working job with a single sheet led through a deck traveler, and a big powerful mainsail, the boat is perfectly balanced.  Steering with the tiller rarely requires any muscle.  And to tack it all you have to do is put the tiller over.  It’s a keelboat and very stable, so you don’t need to worry about moving your weight around to balance the boat.  It’s easier and considerably less physical to sail than Grey Fox. 

Even though the wind builds up above 20 knots, we feel comfortable sailing out past Newport Harbor and into the fairly open waters of the East Passage of Narragansett Bay, all the way out to Brenton Point, with no trouble whatsoever.  By then the waves are getting big enough to bring some splash aboard, so we turn downwind and head back to the marina just north of the Newport Bridge.  The ride home is fast and exhilarating.  A great boat, a great Dad, and a great day on the water!

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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