Ok, so it’s really August 20th, and I am just getting around to posting something that happened a month ago. I have no future as a live blogger. But since I have no mass of followers eagerly awaiting my next pronouncement, I guess it’s ok. Most of my posts are composed from airline seats, when I have captive time on my hands to write. Today’s trip is from Mexico City back to New York, plenty of time for another post.
After two glorious days of warm, sunny and dry weather, it would not be surprising that Maine’s reputation for fog, cold and rain might catch up with us, but today is yet another perfect day to get out on the water. There’s not a cloud in the sky, and the forecast is for light winds in the morning but maybe a bit more breeze in the afternoon.
Today’s plan is for the fleet to set out from Herrick Bay and rather than do an out-and-back sail to some lunch spot, to make a one-way trip up the Eggemoggin Reach and anchor for the night just off the shore where the group is camping for the four days at Oceanfront Camping at Reach Knolls. For that to work, the fleet needs the tides and currents to work with us rather than flushing us down the reach just as we’re trying to make our way up it (up here being to the Northwest, or from Jericho Bay towards Penobscot Bay). We also need a docile forecast for overnight, as the proposed anchorage is totally open to the Reach and would get dicey in any serious wind. Fortunately the SRR Race Committee has that all figured out and the weather and tides are all lined up in our favor.
I use the term “Race Committee” in jest; the organizers of SRR are as salty as can be, know these waters like the back of their hand and are very focused on the safety of the fleet. But there’s no real racing at SRR, and not one of the organizers is sporting the traditional race committee garb of tomato-soup pants and blue blazers that you might see on the committee boat of, say, a New York Yacht Club regatta. Of course, you don’t see any megabucks racing machines, kevlar/carbon sails or trophy 2nd wives at SRR either. (Tom Wolfe called the latter “x-rays” in The Bonfire of the Vanities” because they were so thin that you could see their bones).
And the competitiveness of the sailing is good-natured and not so serious: on a downwind leg in super-light wind on a previous SRR, I saw the crew of one of the Caledonia yawls get out a couple of big beach umbrellas they carried and use them as spinnakers… this caused a nearby boat to cry foul for the unauthorized additional sail area, but I don’t recall a review of the purported foul by a Race Committee jury, no 720’s were performed, and the offending parasolers were not ejected from the day’s sail.
I’m on Elyssa again today, and so is my erstwhile Grey Fox crewman John, so the longest boat in the SRR fleet might have the biggest crew today as well with six people. Rather than make the one-way trip and anchor overnight off Reach Knolls, Susan plans to return to Atlantic Boat this afternoon. That’s fine with me and will actually have us doing more sailing as the one-wayers. The plan is to sail to Campbell island on the south side of the Reach and just off of Deer Isle and anchor for lunch, then most of the fleet will make the short leg from there across the Reach to Reach Knolls, while a few boats will return to Atlantic Boat.
The wind is once again ultra-light in the morning, and we’re on the late side of the fleet in getting underway, so we lag most of the other boats. It’s a patience contest all the way out of Herrick Bay and past Naskeag Point and Smuttynose Island into the eastern mouth of the reach. Then we find some wind and make good time in the smooth waters in between the islands lining the south side of the Reach.
As we are a little late to the lunch spot, and have longer to go to get back to Atlantic Boat than the boats going to Reach Knolls, rather than anchoring or rafting up with some of the boats already on their lunch hooks, we just sail through the fleet a few times while Dave experiments with a 360-degree video camera that he has just bought for the SRR. We get some funny looks, as Dave’s camera is at the end of a 3-foot pole and he looks like he is chasing an invisible butterfly with a net, so we yell at the other boats to smile and look nautical for the camera.
After buzzing the fleet we head into the Reach and then eastward towards Jericho Bay and Herrick Bay. The wind has kicked up to around 10-12 knots, which is when I would be tying in a reef if I were sailing solo on Grey Fox, but Elyssa is a much heavier boat and handles this kind of wind perfectly. I have the privilege of steering for almost the entire trip back, which is just great. The sailing is such fun that we’re tempted to just keep on sailing all the way over to Pond Island before turning around to head back to Atlantic Boat, but we don’t want to hold up the chase boat crew that will be acting as yacht club launch ferrying crews from their moored boats to the dock, so we take a more direct route back.
Another perfect day of sailing.