A week or so ago I got a call from an old friend. He invited me to crew with him on his sailboat in an ocean race offshore St. Augustine, FL. It was a beautiful spring day. I hadn't seen my friend, Bob, in a very long time and his call brought fond memories of us sailing together for years in the 80's. Yes, I would love to go sailing again. Deal done.
The day before race day, a front moves through bringing overcast, cold rain and wind. Forecast is 70% chance of rain, winds 10-15 knots out of the south clocking to westerlies (off-shore) by the afternoon. A condition guaranteed to create "square" 5'-6' chop.
As I'm driving down to St. Augustine early in the morning, it's cold and wet and I'm trying to find any excuse I can to get out of what I know is going to be a miserable day on the ocean. Trust me folks, being buttoned up in foul weather gear on a cold and rainy day in heavy ocean chop that constantly tries to throw you overboard and does throw a bucket of sea water in your face every other wave ain't all that much fun.
As I turned off of US1 and onto King Street in St. Augustine the rising sun found a hole in the clouds and bathed that wonderful village in a light that made me smile from ear-to-ear. Thank you Lord. Thank you Bob for making me do this.
|Sunrise over the marina. Don't let the calm water fool you. It's in a sheltered marina. Offshore, the wind is doing its thing. We're looking at the foredeck of Bob's vintage Bristol 35 which he is doing a nice job of restoring.|
|The crew checking rigging and settings before the start, about 2 miles offshore.|
|Jockeying for position at the start line.|
It turned out to be a beautiful day, overcast but no rain except for a brief shower after the race had ended. The wind varied at about 12 knots and the chop at 3-5 feet making the windward leg a joy ride and the downwind legs a smooth glide. We raced cruiser, non-spinnaker class and finished 4th. Not too bad for a bunch of old men, one of whom had never been on a sailboat before and another seasoned racer, me, who had to get his sea legs under him again.
We were back in the marina by 3pm and started celebrating and catching up on tall tales and lies. It's what sailors do and one reason why I love it so much. I'm still hung-over two days later.
|Brothers Dennis and Bob. If I had a dollar for every minute spent, every mile raced, every tall tale and lie exchanged with these two old friends... arrrrgggg, even Carl Sagan couldn't measure it!|