Part of me wants to only recognize two seasons: winter and sailing. Leave the rest to the landlubbers and poets.
There are certainly things I like about autumn. Darker beers, quality outerwear, and bright stars shining through cool dry air are all fine. But it’s tough giving up on sailing.
Fortuitous came out of the water the first week of November. We changed the engine oil and winterized the cooling and fresh water systems well ahead of any sub-freezing temperatures. The next weekend we put the cover on. We probably could have done it all in one day, but we have too many memories of things going haywire and decided to spread it out.
As November draws to a close, I’ve been contemplating our sailing season.
We got an early jump on the season; or so we thought. We completed our bottom work by April 2 and were in the water by April 7, although we couldn’t get out of our marina. The buoys that mark the narrow channel through the Cedar Creek were missing through most of the spring. It wasn’t until May 20 that we had the right mix of clear weather and technology to be able to attempt a sail. I had been messing around with lidar imagery of the bay, and made both a simple web application and a set of OpenCPN charts so that we could follow a visual representation of the channel without the buoys, which surprisingly worked.
Our Memorial Day sail to Beach Haven would turn out to be our longest sail of the year, even though it’s not that far away. We had taken a week off to go on an adventure sail in the ocean, but the weather didn’t cooperate and we wound up doing a series of day sails on the nice days. We did get to Myers Hole for Jen’s birthday and got to hang out with tugboats. We sailed with some friends, and I did some singlehanding. In all, we sailed about 20 times, which is a pretty good run of weekends for us.
Part of the reason that we had so many sails was that we participated in the Windjammers’ Summer Solstice Race Series, which gave us a reason to sail on Friday evenings. This was a huge hit with the club, and even Jen enjoyed it despite not being a hard-core racer. We wound up coming in third overall. We would have done better if we hadn’t become intimate with a fixed ICW marker, resulting in a DNF. Marker 39 is now known to us as the Summer Solstice Race Series Memorial Marker.
We also sailed in the Windjammers-Tall Oaks Challenge Cup Race. Fortuitous had a respectable showing (2nd among Windjammers; 5th overall), but not enough Windjammers sailed and we lost the cup. We had more boats show up for the Frostbite Race, which had nothing to do with frostbite and was sailed in short sleeves and almost no wind. We came in second.
Racing on Other People’s Boats
Sailor Steve and I had a great year on Revolution in our Tuesday night league. We continue to refine our sailing—getting better at predicting the wind shifts and using the current to our advantage—and were rewarded with two podium finishes. We took third place in the Spring Series. For the Summer Series, the club decided to split the fleet, creating a one-design fleet for the Santana 525s and a PHRF fleet for everything else. That removed some of our competition, and we wound up in second in the PHRF fleet.
We also got to race on Tiki, and got to experience the local yacht club scene in the process. The first race was in the ocean for the Jet Star Regatta. It was fun for us to go through the canal and under all the bridges toward the Manasquan Inlet, and we were excited about the prospect of a 20-mile race in the ocean, with half of it under spinnaker, although there was very little wind and the race got cut short. We didn’t do that well in the standings, but got to attend a rum-sponsored event at the Metedeconk River Yacht Club. I also raced with Tiki out of the Toms River Yacht Club in a white sail race, where we came in second on another fluky wind day.
Despite the distinct lack of a large-scale adventure, we had a pretty good year sailing around the bay. No disasters. No weekends lost to major maintenance or repairs. It seems somewhat uneventful in retrospect, although that may just be because this boat log was founded on trying to make sense of why hilariously terrible things kept happening to us as we learned how to sail, and we’ve mostly got it down at this point. I have a much harder time writing about (and perhaps processing) joy, but there’s plenty of it in the simple act of bending the wind around your sails. I miss it when it’s not there, which is probably why I try to compress the rest of the time into one brief “non-sailing” season in my head.
Sailing season will return soon enough, and hopefully we’ll get into some more serious cruising and hijinks next year.