After a first week with so little wind no one finished in time to make it official, the racers out for the Wednesday night York River sailboat races were hoping for a bit more wind. But it seems too much energy was going into that thought. What they ended up with was a squall which, at one point measured 40 mph.
The weather report earlier in the day was a bit iffy. Winds were to die down, but it wasn’t certain whether they would die down enough by the start of the race. The prediction, however, showed winds out of the southwest. So what would come in might be strong, but the waves should be minimal.
4 Degrees was the committee boat for the race. Arriving at the start of the course, we put down 2 anchors, just in case. Winds were strong, but nothing that the fleet couldn’t handle. The course was set to send the boats down to quick flash, back to R-24, then around the marks again.
The majority of both fleets crossed the starting line without a hitch and we commenced to relax. Jeff watched the boats the water. I started dinner prep, and Paul commenced to make drinks. But Paul and I didn’t get too far.
Jeff was keeping an eye on one craft that was starting late. And once over the starting line, they began to have difficulties maneuvering. Their mainsail appeared to be too tight and weather helm was kicking them. They finally were able to release their jib. But it tossed itself into the water and had to be retrieved.
About that time on the committee boat, the waves started picking up. Whitecaps were forming outside. The olive oil brought to saute vegetables dropped and broke in the cabin, spilling olive oil throughout. While Grant and I worked on cleaning up the mess, the other two reported that the boats near the first mark were heeled over quite a bit. About then, a call was received on the radio asking if the race would be cancelled. It was a hard call to make. It appeared that the water on the other side of the Coleman Bridge was calmer, but it was hard to tell. And there had already been one great gust with a calm afterwards. Would the same thing happen? Would it be worse?
The race was called. The participants worked their way home. And, of course, about that time, the weather calmed down to where we had hoped it would be when we started.
Calling the race is often a difficult decision. Yes, if conditions deteriorate to something dangerous, of course it is cancelled. But with grey areas, it’s hard to tell. Do you call the race to find that conditions improve after you do, as it did that night. Or do you ride it out, hoping they’ll improve to have them turn worse?
This race was followed by a disastrous situation in the Gulf, not days afterwards. Having faced something similar, but not quite as deadly, in this race, it’s easy to see why the folks were riding out what turned worse, not better for them.
The old saying goes that God always helps fools, lovers and drunkards. Well, someone was watching over me last night and this morning.
As scheduled, we towed the boat back home about 2 a.m. As we were motoring out there, the tow boat operator was suggesting that I might want to haul the boat out and take a look at the keel. It would also be good to call my insurance company, in case they wanted to have a surveyor look at it.
I did call them this morning and they added to the towing report the possibility of damage to the keel. They did ask that the repair work being done show the parts and labor separately. Apparently it would help increase what I might have covered.
So we hauled the boat out. And it looked fine. There was no damage to the keel.
Notice, though, that you can see how far it had sunk into the ground. Nevertheless, I came out lucky.
The fiberglass, however, will require repair:
That was the location of the starboard bow cleat.
I’m not sure how much the repair will be. But either my insurance or Tow Boat US will cover what my deductible doesn’t.
So, to save myself the cost of not hauling it out to clean it, I had to haul it out anyway.
Next time, I guess I’ll just rent a scuba tank.[Top]
We corrected to 4th on last week’s race and 4-1/5 minutes behind the guy ahead of us. We coulda’ been a contender. It was an interesting race.
We were behind the crowd after rounding the first mark. We flew double headsails towards the second and reached that mark with the rest of the crowd. We were port; they were starboard. But we were ahead enough of the other boats I thought the mark distance rules applied and we went around first. One boat called me on it. I wasn’t sure I’d done right. So when we were the starboard boat, I ‘kindly’ got out of everyone’s way and lost time.
Then everyone headed towards the channel and we kept to the more shallow water. They lost wind and the tide was against them, too, so we caught up again. Then the wind changed. Winds were taking us across the river, then switched and we were moving more southerly. The other boats made the correction for the mark better than we did and made up their time.
But it was exciting!
Not only that, the temperature was perfect and, except for that mess at the end, the winds were great, too.[Top]
Five weeks ago, I asked the marina to pull the boat out for spring prep. It was early enough that I hoped to beat the rush of boats also wanting to get ready for a spring launch. I had purchased the boat 6 years ago and, according to what I’d read, the bottom should be stripped. So I asked the marina to do that. They told me that the bottom didn’t need to be stripped. Good news!
So I asked the marina to smooth the bottom and check for blisters. I have little upper body strength and I don’t like spending my time with a 30-lb vacuum sander over my head. I also figured, with the schedule I’ve had lately at work, it would be much faster to have the marina do the work.
That was 5 weeks ago.
We’ve had weather delays. The wife of the guy who was working on it had a baby.
And we had communication errors.
See, when I told them to smooth the bottom, I meant that I thought there were blisters to be taken care of, and the paint was pretty wavy because I’d just been slapping it on. But the head worker thought I meant that I wanted the paint sanded off, so he started to do that.
Now, I don’t know why he did that, especially after he told me that it didn’t need to be stripped. But that’s what he was doing. And that was taking so long, because the paint was on there hard, so they called in someone with – not a sandblaster – but a bead blaster? Anyway, same idea. They stripped the paint.
Well, that did open up any blisters. But it also meant that there would need to be a barrier coat put on. At first I told them I’d take care of that. But as the time went on, I again figured that it would be faster to have them take care of it. But I don’t know. They haven’t even gotten that far.
I stopped by tonight. They have about 2/3rds of the bottom prepped. Meaning that it’s had the filler put on and it’s been sanded smooth. They still have half the keel and all of the rudder to do.
The good news is, I won’t have to have this done for about 10 more years.
Will I have the boat for next week’s race? A week after racing season has started? I hope so![Top]