Fortuitous has returned home in the wake of destruction left by Sandy. The tow back to the marina and the winterization process were thankfully uneventful, but marked the official end of the sailing season. As we usually do around this time, we’d like to reflect on what we did and learned this season. I feel like I say this every year, but every year I mean it more: best sailing season ever.
- I probably have more hours as race crew on other people’s boats than I do sailing Fortuitous, and I really appreciate the learning opportunity. I’ve historically had an unhealthy relationship with purism, and I’ve striven to rid myself of it in certain facets of my life, but I still tend to equate sailing well with sailing fast. On some level, I feel like not bothering to trim your sails properly is like opting out of deductions that you’re due on your taxes. Just…why? I realize that there’s more to sailing than speed, but you can learn a lot about how a boat actually works by trying to wring out every last tenth of a knot, and there’s no way that that palpable sensation of nailing it when you’re deep in the groove can be wrong.
- We struggled to find that groove for much of the season on Revolution as we faced the challenges of both learning a new boat and stepping up to the far more competitive spinnaker fleet. We persevered though, and started getting the hang of it toward the end. It was cool to be able to fly the kite, which was my first experience with a spinnaker. With our expanded crew and growing understanding of how to get the boat moving, we should be much more competitive next year.
- I only got to crew on Providence II a few times this season. The pursuit race with Tall Oaks was an interesting format (but a difficult proposition for a boat with a very fast rating) and we took line honors in the Tall Oaks Challenge, even though we finished 3rd on corrected time and the Windjammers didn’t win the cup (again). Finally, in the Windjammers’ Frostbite Race—the last race of the year—we managed to squeak by Chianti by five seconds and come in first overall, which turned out to be my only first place finish of the year. Results aside though, it’s always fun to get out there, and it can be quite therapeutic to focus on those telltales for a while.
Maintenance and Upgrades
- We did some major work on Fortuitous in the 2012 season. Our new mainsail invigorated the boat beyond belief. We passed several boats this year, all of them sporting a lot more waterline than us, and being able to see what the sail is doing and trim accordingly has made us better sailors.
- Our elaborate bottom job made me feel better about the condition of the hull and the boat looks a lot better on the hard.
- While I never intended to test our new Manson Supreme anchor in an emergency situation while drifting through the wrong part of a bridge backwards, I was sure glad that it got a passing grade. Speaking of which…
Cruising and Overnights
- We had some major problems and wound up getting towed to Beach Haven. We learned a lot though—notably that having unlimited towing is totally worth it and that it’s really helpful to cruise with a sailing club full of helpful and knowledgeable folks. It was certainly an adventure to remember.
- While not that far away in nautical miles, Myers Hole was a truly exotic sail for us. This probably wouldn’t be considered a milestone by a lot of sailors, but it was the first time we actually saw the ocean from the boat. It was also the first time we experienced anchoring in switching tidal currents, and when the tide was coming in it brought clear, cold ocean water that was unlike anything that we’d ever seen on the bay.
- Our sail to Forked River wasn’t expected to be a terribly exciting adventure, but since we randomly showed up on the evening of a lighted boat parade, it turned out to be a good weekend getaway for Jen’s birthday.
- What more can be said about our cruise to Atlantic City? We crushed our personal distance and endurance records, and sailing through the wild sedge islands behind Brigantine was mesmerizing. I mean, we saw a sea turtle! It’s relatively easy to scrape together a sense of excitement when you’re sailing on a little boat and you don’t know what you’re doing, but I feel like the AC trip was maybe our first unqualified adventure—it didn’t require any sort of asterisk to denote that it was a momentous sail “for us” or “for a Catalina 22.” I don’t think there will ever be a time when I’m not proud to say that we sailed that whole channel with our keel down and our motor up.
The Boat Log
- It may be a little meta to talk about the boat log in the boat log, but I took a stroll through some of the very old log entries and I feel like we’ve come a long way. At the very least, I think we’re more consistent, with less throwaway filler. We also experimented with some unusual formats this year.
- I’m not sure what sort of mania caused me to write a review of the Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl in verse, but as someone with limited patience for “poetry,” I was happy to get through it. I hope it wasn’t too insulting to the memory of David Rackoff to mention him by name in that post, but there were a lot of tributes in my podcast circles around that time, which probably influenced my decision to try it.
- I’ve never claimed to be a graphic designer, but my sample Artisanal Shipping advertisement got some positive attention. I’m a lot more comfortable with my assortment of free graphics software than I was before I started this site.
- A collision of poorly drawn cartoons and my frustration with the world lead to the closest thing we’ve ever had to syndication: Another Sunny Day in New Jersey got picked up by Dock Six and seemed well received on some of the sailing message boards where I post. I’m not sure if Fuzzy Bunny will make any more appearances in the boat log, but there’s a reasonable chance that there will be more antics at the boat ramp that will require his commentary.
I don’t want to dwell on the negative, but it’s hard to avoid the fact that this season was dramatically brought to a close by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. Even if we wanted to brave the cold and try to extend our season, I wouldn’t take a boat out there right now. The New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau has made it clear that the coastal waters as shown on the charts no longer exist; the Army Corps of Engineers has found locations that are marked as 18ft deep that are now sandbars and they just closed the breach where the ocean cut through the island at Mantoloking last week. That’s not even to mention the debris that’s in the water, including things like sunken boats and who knows what else. I doubt that things will even be cleaned up and re-charted by spring. We’re thankful that we were able to get out boat out of there, and wish all the best to those who experienced far more devastating effects.
Aside from the storm, we had a great season of sailing. We sailed the hell out of our boat and went faster and farther than ever before, gaining a lot of experience in the process. I’ve got some ideas on deck to keep the boat log going over the off season. As always, thanks for reading, and we welcome your feedback.