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What was the sailing moment you will remember forever?


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Pulling into Knights Inlet on my buddies dads boat and having humpbacks jumping all around us followed by the wind picking up and sailing like mad men with as much canvas up as we dared.

That's followed by the first time I ever single handed my boat.

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I was moving a boat from Florida to Texas when hurricane Andrew came across. When we were in the eye, the sun came out, and a sparrow appeared and landed on top of my head. I did not have the heart to disturb it, so the other crew fed it bits of bread while it recuperated. It went away when the wind came back.

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Mid to late 70's. crewing on a delivery back to Sol Cal after a Mexico race.  Some little class C or D racer.  Ive got the midnight to 4 am watch. Just north of Mag Bay, with a fair amount other boats around. A few well ahead of us but one a few points off our pt bow 2 mi or so and we seem to be at about the same speed and course. Motoring with the main up and on the rhumb line. Very dark night with no moon up and a zillion stars out.  You know those nights, just beautiful.  Just doing my normal watch, keeping an eye on the engine gauges, put the steering shaft brake on to pop below to log in every hour and get something to drink. I'm into the third hour now and have all the while been taking rough bearings off the binnacle compass on that boat close aboard to port and we are starting to now over take him when suddenly up in the night sky what seems like a flash bulb goes off, followed a split second later it's like it's the middle of a sunny, cloudless day. I can see all the boats ahead of me AND I can see people on the boat to port.  This full daylight lasted 4-5 seconds and then faded out.  WTF !  Found out after getting stateside a meter burned up in the atmosphere.  It was seen as far north as Utah.  I still remember it like it was last week.  

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I did a 24 hour  race back in the 1980's there we were middle of the night and the night illuminates, and then does it again and does it several more times during the night... The military were doing night photography / illumination  exercises.. I think they were using our race as the target..

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There are too many to write here.

I recall the first time I saw a flying fish. I was in bottom third of the fleet in about 15 knots on a reach at the national Paper Tiger champs in New Plymouth in the early 1990s. A flying fish jumped out of the water and flew beside me about 10 feet away, it was going slightly faster than me - and I was going fast! I look it in the eye - and it looked me in the eye. Must have lasted about 2 seconds but it felt like a lot longer. It then dove into the water, never to be seen again.

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4 hours ago, BruceH-NZ said:

There are too many to write here.

I recall the first time I saw a flying fish. I was in bottom third of the fleet in about 15 knots on a reach at the national Paper Tiger champs in New Plymouth in the early 1990s. A flying fish jumped out of the water and flew beside me about 10 feet away, it was going slightly faster than me - and I was going fast! I look it in the eye - and it looked me in the eye. Must have lasted about 2 seconds but it felt like a lot longer. It then dove into the water, never to be seen again.

There's a flying fish somewhere who still tells the story of this human who looked him in the eye for 2 seconds before sailing away, never to be seen again.

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I quit my job to go sailing just over 20 years ago, and have had some pretty amazing experiences both on the water, and supporting teams / sailors. Dolphins playing in phosphorescence, storming along on a gaffer with all sails set, first time I did over 30kts on an IMOCA, trimming the kite whilst my Mum drives Mid-atlantic! 

Over the last few years I have actually done very little sailing... Always on the shore side. To the extent that I am now officially an amateur again! So I decided to enjoy that fact, and agreed to do the Transpac with the misses, as a way of getting back to enjoying sailing and spend some time with her. 

Middle of the night, 25kts of breeze. I am grinding, she is trimming the kite. We broached, and she flew past my face and over the side!

We got her back okay; but I will always remember sitting on the side deck, whilst dropping the kite, and looking back unable to see any lights in the water. Horrible. 

Turns out she was actually holding on at the back of the boat, but with a ragging main and kite I couldn't hear anything being said at the back of the boat... 

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On 6/26/2019 at 8:49 AM, Tempest said:

first time I ever single handed

been wonder what mine was , this certainly comes close .

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Dolphins swimming alongside my laser round the course in Saudi. 

One of the wayfarers throwing it's mainsheet loose end into the sea to sort it out,  and when they pulled it back in, it had a snake wrapped round it.. 

Launching my trailer sailer in the outer hebridies,  sailing for a bit,  stop for lunch in the sunshine  and listen to the shipping forecast at 12:01.  Gale force 10 imminent.. Where did that come from?  Wasn't mentioned on the earlier forecast..  Tide to far out to recover  boat.  Sailed to a cove with just  a small entrance,  dropped anchor,  dropped the mast,  put the boom tent over the mast instead.  Spent the next uncomfortable 24 hours rocking and rolling listening to the howling wind. 

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On 6/26/2019 at 2:19 AM, BruceH-NZ said:

There are too many to write here.

I recall the first time I saw a flying fish. I was in bottom third of the fleet in about 15 knots on a reach at the national Paper Tiger champs in New Plymouth in the early 1990s. A flying fish jumped out of the water and flew beside me about 10 feet away, it was going slightly faster than me - and I was going fast! I look it in the eye - and it looked me in the eye. Must have lasted about 2 seconds but it felt like a lot longer. It then dove into the water, never to be seen again.

I saw my first one last week motoring on the back side of Isla Espiritu Santo not far from La Paz.  There were tonnes of them and the dorado were chasing them!  I saw dorado flying out of the water probably a foot or 2 above the waves and covering probably 15' before plunging back in.  Then I came up on a pod of at least a hundred proposes and then I saw a shark just cruising along on the surface.  It was just a little shark (maybe 4-5') but at first I thought it was a chunk of wood... then a sea lion... and then I was like "holy fuck, that's a shark" and almost hit it with the bow and wasn't able to get a photo.

Sorry, not trying to trump your story, that just reminded me.  The ocean is awesome...

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16 hours ago, LTR said:

The first time racing in the ocean. Had a blue whale breach near us. Also, the first time dolphins were at the bow, magical shit. 

My first time this winter.  I've had a lot of firsts this year.  magical shit is exactly right.

Untitled-1.thumb.jpg.84279875606f14f142c303b7481e6957.jpg

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15 minutes ago, Tempest said:

I saw my first one last week motoring on the back side of Isla Espiritu Santo not far from La Paz.  There were tonnes of them and the dorado were chasing them!  I saw dorado flying out of the water probably a foot or 2 above the waves and covering probably 15' before plunging back in.  Then I came up on a pod of at least a hundred proposes and then I saw a shark just cruising along on the surface.  It was just a little shark (maybe 4-5') but at first I thought it was a chunk of wood... then a sea lion... and then I was like "holy fuck, that's a shark" and almost hit it with the bow and wasn't able to get a photo.

Sorry, not trying to trump your story, that just reminded me.  The ocean is awesome...

Not trumped at all.

My earliest years were on freshwater lakes. Ducks, swans and the occasional eel don't meal make 'magic moments'. First flying fish does. :) 

Awesome story. Yes the sea is awesome!

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They also could have been Ballyhoo near La Paz - I saw a ton of them being chased around that area. Not flying fish per say, but they can 'skim' along the surface - something to do with their bill! Amazing.

I saw my first flying fish just outside turtle bay - was way bigger than I thought they would be. Probably a good 8 - 10 inches big and I thought it was a bird at first! Only place I've seen them though! I later saw some way smaller flying fish (couple of inches long) in Banderas Bay and had some flying squid land on the deck!

 

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18 minutes ago, alctel said:

I saw my first flying fish just outside turtle bay - was way bigger than I thought they would be. Probably a good 8 - 10 inches big and I thought it was a bird at first! Only place I've seen them though! I later saw some way smaller flying fish (couple of inches long) in Banderas Bay and had some flying squid land on the deck!

Flying fish are a major presence on Atlantic crossings to the Caribbean. Dozens of them erupt from the ocean and sail along for hundreds of yards at high speed,  I was hit on the back of the head by a mackerel-sized one at night - he knocked me off the wheel.  We found him in the morning in the cockpit with a couple of his mates, and grilled them up for breakfast.  Garlic, olive oil, lemon... Mmmmm...

We also found a squid who had also somehow arrived on deck during a night.  Unfortunately he got jammed under a turning block bracket so we didn't discover him for several tropical days until his decaying presence announced itself.  We didn't cook that one.

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Great thread that I just found because I was off sailing - Antigua to Horta which brings me to my most recent great memory:

On a night watch with no moon we had numerous dolphins around the boat and then the special part we could hear a whale breathing, about every 45 seconds. The last one was a deep one (50M?) and then it dropped astern.

Also on the whale front we almost had a collision with a sperm whale that was cruising on the surface at high angles to our course. This was about 400 nm from St Thomas and we were motoring in winds of about 5 knots. I had no idea why wife could yell so loud when she saw it on a collision course and perhaps 15 m away. The whale lifted his head to look at us (her) and changed his course to go just astern of us, perhaps 4 m away.

Going back 50 years, I built a Mirror dinghy from a kit (Book 1) and went for.a first sail (Book 2 - how to sail) on a tiny reservoir that seemed quite large at the time.

Finding Bermuda on my first trip there. Did celestial for the first few days and then the clouds set in. DR and LOPs came from cruise ships passing, jet contrails, and RDF and we found it.

Approaching South Africa from Mauritius had a miserable experience and a great one within a few hours. Came on watch at 0300 with winds in the low 40s with gusts above this and rain, also pitch black. As soon as I sat down behind the wheel to check the course and how the Monitor was doing a big chunk of the Indian Ocean landed on my head and in my lap - and my foulies leaked like a sieve - thanks Henri Lloyd. I though if anyone wanted to buy the boat right then they could get a cheap price as long as the deal included me getting ashore instantly. Four hours later the sun was up, the wind had dropped to 28ish and there were humpbacks jumping (whales again) and we could see see the shore. There was this remarkable feeling that we had found Africa and there were giraffes, elephants, et al there. Turns out there were since our landfall was opposite a national park. I think this was the best experience of all. I think it will be match if my five year old granddaughter can go sailing with me this summer or next. She was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer I had never heard of and can't pronounce. She was really looking forward to her first sail and I really hope she gets it.

 

 

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On 6/28/2019 at 12:20 AM, alctel said:

They also could have been Ballyhoo near La Paz - I saw a ton of them being chased around that area. Not flying fish per say, but they can 'skim' along the surface - something to do with their bill! Amazing.

I saw my first flying fish just outside turtle bay - was way bigger than I thought they would be. Probably a good 8 - 10 inches big and I thought it was a bird at first! Only place I've seen them though! I later saw some way smaller flying fish (couple of inches long) in Banderas Bay and had some flying squid land on the deck!

 

I have definitely seen those.  I remember noticing them skittering across the water.  The ones I was seeing the other day were covering great distances without hitting the water so I'm pretty sure they were flying fish but I couldn't see them clearly.  Are you gaslighting me? lol

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8 hours ago, Tempest said:

I have definitely seen those.  I remember noticing them skittering across the water.  The ones I was seeing the other day were covering great distances without hitting the water so I'm pretty sure they were flying fish but I couldn't see them clearly.  Are you gaslighting me? lol

No I totally believe you, just some people get them mixed up! Did you see what type they were - the big guys or the little ones? I would love to see more of the big ones

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On 6/29/2019 at 9:40 AM, Bristol-Cruiser said:

She was  is really looking forward to her first sail and I really hope she gets it.

so do we .

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A couple of days after HS graduation in June, 1964, flew to La Paz for a few days, then hired a driver to negotiate the dirt roads to Cabo (no highway in those days).  Old Ford sedan, no AC, temps in the high 90s.  Remembering stopping at Rancho Buena Vista for drinks at a small beach side palapa, not much there in those days.  Then on to Cabo, arriving about 1800.  The boat I was to help bring back to San Diego, the "Jada", a 1930s yawl, was anchored of the beach...the only boat there.  We cruised up the Baja coast stopping at San Hipolito, Turtle Bay, and Cedros Island.  Saw one boat the entire trip, and it was heading south.  Glad I was able to see the "real" Cabo before it became just like another SoCal harbor town.

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My dad let me sail my El Toro from our marina onto San Pablo bay and out to the Marin Islands. Might as well have been Hawaii for an 11 year old kid. Later I found out, to my complete surprise, that my dad didn't know how to sail at all, although he was a career Coastie. I assumed as a kid that Coasties knew all about all things nautical. He probably had the boat warmed and ready to go, and the islands are visible from the marina.

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On 6/30/2019 at 12:18 AM, alctel said:

No I totally believe you, just some people get them mixed up! Did you see what type they were - the big guys or the little ones? I would love to see more of the big ones

To be honest, I am not sure.  I didn't really think to look closely and, like I said, my eyes are awful.  It's gonna be time for lasik soon.  I'll keep my eyes peeled for big ones though.

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On 6/29/2019 at 5:21 PM, Tempest said:
On 6/28/2019 at 2:20 AM, alctel said:

They also could have been Ballyhoo near La Paz - I saw a ton of them being chased around that area. Not flying fish per say, but they can 'skim' along the surface - something to do with their bill! Amazing.

I saw my first flying fish just outside turtle bay - was way bigger than I thought they would be. Probably a good 8 - 10 inches big and I thought it was a bird at first! Only place I've seen them though! I later saw some way smaller flying fish (couple of inches long) in Banderas Bay and had some flying squid land on the deck!

 

I have definitely seen those.  I remember noticing them skittering across the water.  The ones I was seeing the other day were covering great distances without hitting the water so I'm pretty sure they were flying fish but I couldn't see them clearly.  Are you gaslighting me? lol

 

The little ones rising up in sheets, to skitter ahead of your boat, is really a very cool sight. They follow the contour of the water, if there's a bit of swell they can disappear behind a wave and you think they're gone, then they pop up over the next crest.

Most of my "best sailing memories" are quite trivial. Sailing with my dad and another grown-up, when about 6, and they were busy talking about something serious & boring, and just let me sail the boat (a 16-ish foot catboat) myself. Going on deck in a friend of a relatives big cruising boat after a couple days underway, in a worsening storm, to find everybody looking at me for orders (I was about 20). Sailing a Beetle Cat around Mystic Harbor with my wife, ogling the 12-Meters and the other classic yachts and the Charles W. Morgan.  Racing one of my grandfather's friends Herreshoff S-Boat with that friends teenage grandsons, and conspiring to not let the grown-ups know we had taken the boat out by ourselves (we got a string of 2nd place finishes, after ~50 years I'm still bummed we couldn't claim a bullet). The very first sail on my most recent "big" boat, merely a Santana 23, which took place the night I got home from Florida with it, inviting some friends for a casual quick sail.... surprisingly little fumbling around, and SHIT that thing took off in light air! Etc etc

This is a great thread, thanks everybody

FB- Doug

 

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I was 12-13  grandad bought an old wooden robin dingy for the lake.  it needed work and he an I worked on it over the winter  sanding repairing repainting.  it was a lot of fun,  but probably the best moment was when he let me take it out on my own that summer.  nice warm summer say,  not much wind,  but just enough to get me scooting across the lake with a big shit eatin grin on my face.

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Pulling into Virgin Gorda many decades ago, my wife and I, and two other teachers at the Prep school she worked in, had been corralled by students into organizing a "barefoot in the virgin islands" spring break excursion, whereby the kids would earn two credits, and make their parents pay considerable bucks for it. 

We "adults" (we were 27, the others about 24) and 19 preppie sophomores and juniors, occupied three 42' C&C cutters, out of Charlotte Amalie.  I had thought going in that it would be a great trip if we didn't have these damn kids, but it ended up more fun with them after all.  We chaperones got comped our share of the charter tab, and the school chipped in 10 days worth of food.  So an inexpensive trip to paradise.

Anyway, we eased into the harbor near the Bitter End, and I lined her up to drop the hook.  Everyone on deck, two or three boys forward.  Off to port, an anchored sloop with two youngish ladies with a nice tan, sunning themselves on their forward deck. 

Uh-oh.  Topless (yeah, those Europeans).

I cringed in advance, waiting for my adolescent crew to start making chimpanzee noises or some other oh-no, you idiots-type behavior and giggles.  

Not.  They were casual and talked quietly about it to themselves, but no head-turning or stuff for me to apologize for later.   They behaved like...*grownups*!  And dropped anchor as instructed.

 

Wow.    I couldn't have been prouder of them.

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Another one from me.

I skippered the 80' Fife-built Mylne ketch Mariella in Antigua in 1987, before Carlo Falcone bought her.  

With owner and wife and two guests aboard we went for lunch in the little anchorage behind Green Island.  

Under full sail, main, mizzen, staysail and big jibtop we roared through the passage on a fine reach and came up head to wind toward the reef between dozens of smaller anchored boats.  

The cook and stewardess hauled in the sheets, and at a hand signal, the mate dropped the main then the headsails.  I had rigged downhauls through the hanks of all, so they came down smartly.  We glided up behind the reef in silence with an anchor just kissing the water.  

As we drifted to a stop, down it went and we started slowly drifting astern with the chain rattling out.  As her bow started to pay off I held up a clenched fist and the chain stopped.  This, with the mizzen sheeted hard on, served to straighten us and also set the anchor.  Finally more chain, and all done, except to tidy sails, put the ball up, rig the awning and get lunch ready.  

There was scattered applause from several other boats in the anchorage.  The owners party were completely oblivious - no idea.  But I still have a glow of satisfaction about that one.

Image result for yacht mariella

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There are a few bad events that will stay in my mind forever. However, thinking of the good ones, I have a very found memory of sailing off alcatraz, headed back towards the city front  in the fall olympic classes regatta on a Tornado. The boat felt great, the sails were backlit (fall lighting), new and just looked gorgeous with the Transamerica pyramid behind it. 

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So, 87 year old Dad retired from sailing about 5 years ago after a long and glowing career around the marks. This year he gave his boat to his best buddy who is about 43. They sailed the Wednesday night race and Dad skippered.

They kicked ass and won boat for boat and on time that everyone should look at how they could sail better. 

Dad chugged his victory beer, scooped up his TRYC drink chalice and went home to prepare for another day.

The new sails for my cutter are  being delivered tomorrow morning(WTF, but I am happy as hell!) and now I’m looking to recruit Dick for some easy work picking up the pickle dishes this summer!

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4 hours ago, P_Wop said:

About 60 tons.  Mahogany on steel frames, built in 1938.  Lovely boat.

Another (much more recent) pic of Mariella from halfway up the rig.  Dammit, I loved that boat.

Image result for yacht mariella

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Beating much faster boats to the first mark on the 10 mile first leg of a 32 mile race on a downwind spinnaker start singlehanded on Nacra F-17 (Inter 17R back then). I took the mod hit so I could have my jib also and luckily the wind stayed down just enough until I rounded and got the spinnaker down

http://owners.aquarius-sail.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?t=86

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Last one from me.  I think....

Denis Doyle hired me to deliver his Frers 50 Moonduster 1300 miles from Porto Cervo to Cork after the 1982 Sardinia Cup .  A lovely boat, and even finer owner.  We all miss him.

Reaching up the Portugese coast, the breeze started to pick up and we were down to a number 5 and 2 reefs.  The forecast was for a lot more, the sea was building, and the prospect of thrashing across the Bay of Biscay was not appealing.

The only reasonable shelter was in Bayona la Real, just south of Finisterre, which I knew fairly well.  It was evening now, and the crew were all on deck with life jackets and harnesses.  One problem was that the big lighthouse was 400 feet up the cliff and above the cloud deck, so you couldn't see it.  And the seas were breaking right across the harbour entrance.  I had a reasonably firm grip on where we were, so we bore away and shoved her into the surf.  I've never heard so much Irish prayers in my life.

We surfed through into the refuge, round the corner and tucked her up by the Yacht Club.

Silly, stupid, calculated?  Probably all three. Can't forget it, though.


Image result for yacht moonduster

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Feb '91 sailing from San Fransico to LA. First four days 100% overcast, pitch black, huge following swells, sailing on a sea of light - surrounded by the most brilliant bioluminescence I've ever seen.

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One of many.  The end of the glorious summer of 1986,  spent sailing round the South coast of Ireland. On the way home, we are in St Mary's harbour, Isles of Scilly. It is blowing a gale inside the harbour. We have three anchors out, and can't get ashore. Boats are being washed ashore inside the harbour walls. In the Bay of Biscay, it is a hurricane. We tried to go round to a more sheltered bay, and had to run back in. In the night, a lifeboat comes in with a French trawler, crew members lost overboard. In the day time, a large French yacht puts in, Wild Rocket of Caen. A bit later we see them on deck, dressed all in black wetsuits. They put up sail, and sail straight out. Summer has broken, and a few days later we have a long, wet, cold sail back up the Channel to Ipswich.

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Sailing off the Venezuela coast from Trinidad to Panama. Doing the 4:00 am watch. A big creature, like a manta ray, leaps out of the water a little way off. Seems to be blood everywhere. It's all gone in a second. No idea what really happened.

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23 hours ago, Anthony Y said:

One of many.  The end of the glorious summer of 1986,  spent sailing round the South coast of Ireland. On the way home, we are in St Mary's harbour, Isles of Scilly. It is blowing a gale inside the harbour. We have three anchors out, and can't get ashore. Boats are being washed ashore inside the harbour walls. In the Bay of Biscay, it is a hurricane. We tried to go round to a more sheltered bay, and had to run back in. In the night, a lifeboat comes in with a French trawler, crew members lost overboard. In the day time, a large French yacht puts in, Wild Rocket of Caen. A bit later we see them on deck, dressed all in black wetsuits. They put up sail, and sail straight out. Summer has broken, and a few days later we have a long, wet, cold sail back up the Channel to Ipswich.

1976. What is a decade, here or there?

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Delivering maxi Ragamuffin (Frers 80') back to Sydney from the '84 Kenwood Cup... Small kite set, full main, two on deck just on sun rise... 20kn trade wind with a following ocean swell.

Watch change due so my off sider goes down to wake the next watch and put the kettle on. I put my Sony Walkman head phones on with Led Zepplin blaring away, life is good.

Over my shoulder came this intense dark cloud with a squall under it, the breeze went form 20 to a solid 35 in seconds... The old girl took off topping out at 21kn of boat speed, just surfing straight down these long ocean swells, bow wave back at the mast. I totally remember the goosebumps and the biggest grin on my face.

Then the reality hit me that I'm alone up here on deck, I mean I was having a ball and everything under control, just. If I "lose it" coming down one of these waves, I'll have my hands full!! But I  took the time to have a look around at the beautiful morning light, awesome tunes in my ear, just trucking along, just me in control...

The moment the squall passed over and the breeze lightened off, my off sider comes back on deck, completely unaware of the awesome ride I'd just had. My grin must have been a give away, all he said was "why you laughing like an idiot?"  "just a happy chap" was all I could come up with.

 

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SORC 1985, st Pete to ft lauderdale race. Coming up the Florida coast. We hit a major squall with the big kite up. The majority of the crew ran for their foulies and harnesses. Instead of getting the kite down. The man Todd Raynor came up off watch barefoot and only wearing shorts,  Grabbed the spin halyard and dropped the kite into his arms. The whole time yelling at us kids.   He then hauled up the #3 from down below and he hoisted it while I fed it on bow. Easily the coolest moment I ever saw, it was blowing 40 and it was just another day for Todd. I learned a lot that night. Oh yeah this was on the Baltic 48 Diane

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Heron Lake, NM.  Summer 1996.  I took my non-sailing girlfriend out to our club race on a J/80.  Calm conditions for most of the day but a huge micro burst slammed the fleet.  We were on our ear, knocked down, spreader in the water.  I look back and see my girlfriend hanging on the lifelines for dear life, eyes almost bulging out of her sockets.  She never came sailing again.

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So many good memories associated with sailing, but the one that is probably the most burned in my mind is the 2013 Down the Bay Race (Annapolis to Hampton on the Chesapeake).  In a race that is normally upwind in light air, we got 30-40 knots downwind the whole way.  We were just off the Potomac sailing really deep to try to make Smith Point on a Sabre 426, full main and AP kite.  I looked at my buddy and said we should probably take the kite down, and as I was saying that we got a huge puff to 40ish.  We're flying doing a boat record 18.6 knots when all of a sudden the bow digs in to a wave and I can't get it to pop up.  18.6 to 0 full stop followed by a huge Chinese jibe.  Miraculously nothing broke and no one was hurt, but I'll never forget the big girl rumbling downwind like that or the stop and crash that followed.

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I can think of sooo many, but this was a recent race I wrote up where you get to to the end and you want to just keep sailing.

I apologise in advance, I lack the ability to write in short tense :ph34r:

Flashbulb moments.

The foredeck crew flat on his stomach, head in the forepeak as the boat buries itself into the third wave of the set. The gust atomises the water into a fog that whips over the crew on the rail before dumping over the boat, water pouring over the transom. The water dissipates and I see a dark head emerge in the white water in the bow. Good show, the bowman is still on. I’m pressing a bit, as I try and keep the boat moving in the short lumpy sea state, we’re only doing 7 ½ knots which I’m happy with, we’re not pointing as high as some but we’re not making much leeway either.

Under staysail and full main, the boat feels balanced with a slight weather helm needed in the puffs. The staysail is soo good to drive to in strong winds, but leaves me feeling a bit underpowered when the wind falls too much below 20 knots. The boom is up near centerline with some twist to exhaust the puffs, and even though it’s an ugly swell with the waves trying to wrap around the hull form, we’ve got loads of horsepower. Oh yeah.

I bear away a degree, eyes on the forestay angle, the weight on my feet shifting to leeward as the heel increases a degree more before planting the chine and translating the energy into go-forward mode. The helm pulls under my fingers as we surge forward into another set of three waves rearing up, I’m trying to twitch the bow off as the bow rises to meet it.  We slam into the trough hard, the furled jib gyrating under the deceleration as I squeeze some more weather helm for the next wave, not quite making it again, the boat falling into the next trough shaking itself, speed falling away. Ugh.

This should not be fun. It’s dark, it’s blowing 15’s to 30, the bowman is struggling to get the gennaker back on board as it snakes under the lifelines and we’ve got a 10nm beat in a wind opposing tide, albeit with not huge seas but one with a short nasty duration.

Wiping salt from my eyes, I realise I’m grinning like a loon. This isn’t just fun, it’s awesome!

The bowman calls for a tack, and we go over, putting the runaway gennaker on the high side and the crew haul it inboard. I look to port and downwind as the crew are trimming into high mode and there is The Matrix, a Beneteau First 50 and then Dream, an Inglis 38, both slightly ahead as we settle into an Easterly beat away from the shore. The waves on this tack are more abeam and a lot easier to drive in, the boat speed pegs past 8 knots but then I feather too much, the boat popping upright. I’m too focused on height, the leeward boats surge half a boat length forward and I curse mentally as the bow flicks off on a puff and now I’m too pressed, we’re now in low mode. For gods sake get it together Shaggy. We fight this tack to the layline, and just prior the Inglis flops onto port . I'm watching but not moving, and you bastard Craig, it's a beautifully timed cross, our bowsprit sliding through the water occupied by his transom mere seconds ago. I see a bunch of cheeky grins fading into the darkness.

Flashbulb moment again.

In spite of my mental focus, I can’t help but laugh in response. This is what it’s all about, the cost and worry of owning the boat forgotten. It’s dark, it’s blowing 25+ knots , boats crashing over waves, nav lights winking on and off in the darkness and you’re crossing with a mere metre or two of separation after a similar tussle on the long downwind legs . We know these boats and these sailors, and have come to trust each other, we all know our strengths and weaknesses, so we hike a bit harder and trim again, hunting for those inches and seconds in the darkness.

Another two tacks and we’re back in front and now leading the gaggle on the port layline to the shipping channel marker to the South. I sneak a quick peek over my shoulder, and coming hard down the layline and now planting herself firmly in the mix is Javelin, a J122. She’s had a great windward leg so far, so now we have four boats in trail leaping and lurching their way south to the boundary marker of the main shipping channel we need to cross for the last work to the finish.

I call out to the crew to check for any outbound traffic, clear comes back the reply. We’re now in the lee of Mud island, and all four boats extend slightly in the flatter water and it’s a mad charge to cross the channel ahead of an outbound ship. Then suddenly 5 long blasts pierce the darkness, and like a switch has been thrown we all bear away and depower, dreams of sneaking across ahead the furthest thing from our minds as we meekly pass under the rather annoyed gaze of the ship's pilot. Now all 4 boats are grouped and luffing just outside the channel with only 1.8nm to go. The ship passes and the course is clear, the four of us turn almost in unison, I’m dimly aware of the dark shapes, shouting and the cannon shots of sheets coming on, it’s a drag race and it’s on.

Javelin’s the lead boat now and has tacked over onto starboard heading for the finish line, and we follow, she’s to leeward and ahead by a length and may just lay the finish. The wind fills in to 20+ knots and everyone’s fully dialed up, no quarter given now, I try for height and the boat stands up in protest, the crew are yelling as I desperately fall back trying to fill the sails. I get myself sorted and with full sails up and 25 knots the boat accelerates enough to eke out in front before the slight but inexorable fall away below the higher pointing of the pack behind us. We need one more quick dig on port to the south to cross the finish line. It’s just there to windward, but we’re falling off, we’ve already crossed in front of the finish boat and are running out of room. I grit my teeth and curse myself for not laying it in one go, and push deeper for a bees dick of more speed, trying to gain separation from Javelin as she’s behind but above us,. This has to be good tack or we’ll not only foul Javelin badly, we’ll overshoot the line into danger shallow water if we’re forced to tack back away. Shit sit shit.

I look for some slack water, one last quick look behind, and another flashbulb moment of Javelin’s prow etched in white foam in the darkness. I call the tack, no finesse this time as I almost brutalize the helm over, and bless the crews cotton socks the jib comes on in a heartbeat, we’ve got speed and power and we cross just inside the pin end to take line honors with a few boat lengths to spare. Our handicap is a shocker after the last race but I couldn’t give a tinkers damn , I'm pounding the wheel as we celebrate, that was fantastic, close hard racing in fresh breezes and all the way to the finish.

 

Motoring home, under a moon which only now helpfully decides to emerge from the clouds, I’m contemplating why I feel so content. The flashbulb moments return unbidden, and I’m struck by the clarity of the images, sounds and smells returning to match the optics,and I realize the common denominator, they’re all dangerous moments. I note my lack of concern, is this bad? Am I getting sloppy? Chasing down this thought, I'm struck with the realization of how much trust we sailors place in each other in this sport of ours. Any serious occupational health and safety audit would ban the sport outright, and yet we see it as fun, that’s yacht racing y’know? Symmetrical and asymmetrical boats converging and diverging, with gusts near 30 knots and a sloppy swell, surfing then falling off waves, masts gyrating all over the place, bowman holding on as they get buried into the troughs, the crew hiking on the rail only held up from pitching into the darkness by a single stainless wire and clenched butt cheeks, I’m amazed that the modern worlds regulations and oversight has not made our sport as extinct as the dinosaurs.

I almost drain the first beer in one go it tastes so good, and half listening to the chatter of the crew I sit back and look around, taking in the night and thinking about what we can do to improve for next time. I’m smile in the darkness, my little lessons learnt forgotten in an a growing sense of freedom, and elation at being away from the bureaucracy and oversight that govern our normal lives. It seems in such contrast to the seemingly reckless and, at least to an outsider, suicidal behavior.  Out here, our safety, and that of our boats, is dependent entirely upon the skill of our fellow sailors on the course, as it has done for 100’s of years, before albeit well intentioned oversight existed. I relax, content just to be on the water amongst like minded souls. 

And long shall it ever be.

 

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Mine's easy,

Motoring under the Blue Water Bridge in '90,  John looks at me and says Jim, if I had all the money in the world and could be anywhere doing anything this is where I'd want to be.

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turning a swan 65 upside down (170 degrees) 1385 miles southwest of perth. You do the math!

17 broken masts. Dont sail with me!!

Helping design my boat with Tom Wylie, then cruising deep south Mexico for a year.

Those are near the top!

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I invited two girls to go sailing. One of them got coconut oil sun screen on my spinnaker, and it would not come off. I had a wonderful romance with the other girl for a few years, and she could steer.

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On 7/9/2019 at 3:19 PM, poncho said:

turning a swan 65 upside down (170 degrees) 1385 miles southwest of perth. You do the math!

Still in awe of what you did in the 73/74 race.  Magnificent.  The S65 was/is a superb and very tough boat - I'd buy one tomorrow if I had the dosh.

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turning a swan 65 upside down (170 degrees) 1385 miles southwest of perth. You do the math!

Bloody Hell was that on Sayula?

Well built boats, you forgot to mention she got upright and you kept on going!

A very sea kind hull shape that makes them a pleasure to drive even if the weather is snot although inverting them is slow and not recommended.

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On 7/10/2019 at 10:19 AM, poncho said:

turning a swan 65 upside down (170 degrees) 1385 miles southwest of perth. You do the math!

And you were steering, or was it (t)jerk ?

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First boat, left Comox, great sail down channel between Denman Island and Vancouver Island, overnight in Deep Bay, out in Strait to go home with no forcast,  30 Knots wind out there, Yikes, both afraid to go on foredeck to wrestle down big genoa.  Stood on cockpit side and hung on, boat took us home.  

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2002 Bermuda Race between junior and senior year of college.  Probably last full-send for the IOR 80 Drumbeat/Congere/Spank Me BT, champaign sailing in the Gulf Stream with big quartering seas in 20-30 knots, full sun, digging a 10-16 knot hole in the water with a full main and #2 jib-top after the vang tore it's track off the bottom of the boom.  SDL 3rd overall, 3rd, in class.

IMG_3764.thumb.jpg.289e9339eee9b33f2d5dee008204e819.jpg

And the subsequent failed 2002 Around Long Island attempt, which concluded with my last time climbing that rig, a 1am mast-head mission with a flashlight and radio to confirm bridge clearances on our way back through the East River to Manhasset Bay.

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Last one (?) from me.

Delivering Formidable from Cowes to the Med for the 1980 Sardinia Cup, we dropped into Camaret on the Brest Peninsula to wait out the tide for the Raz du Sein. 

Motoring out in a flat calm early in the morning, a big black thing loomed through the fog.  It was Pen Duick VI, the mighty Whitbread ketch.  No sails up, nobody aboard.  

Until I saw Eric Tabarly on the stern with a huge oar, sculling his engine-less maxi alone into Brest.

All you could do was raise the hat and call "bonjour, maître."

Superhero.

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Wife and I have only been sailing for about 8 months, took the first two ASA classes late last year.  Around January we took the boat out on our own for the first time.  Wind and waves got pretty heavy for the little J80.  The best moment was when the first line was tied to the dock when bringing it back...no accidents, no problems, did not hit the dock.  We have since taken out the club boats out over a dozen times since then and had some really great sails.  But nothing will top the satisfaction of doing everything ourselves the first time without an instructor.  

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Falmouth Week '17 with my 2 boys crewing on our 1250 quid 4kt sh*tbox.

13 races, 9 bullets, a 2nd, discarded a 2nd & 3rd. Wednesday - Champagne Race does not count for the series - but won that as well, hence the bubbly, Class shield and the Drambui Cup for best yacht of the week.

What's not to like.B)

 

 

 

WP_20170812_19_44_25_Pro.jpg

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Back in about 2002 having won only 1 trophy in the previous 20 years of sailing, I started racing Yeoman keelboats, with a lady who was in her late 60's by this time, she'd never won a thing because she used to give way all the time although in clear water she could helm very well... With me shouting at her what to do , and taking turns at the helm race by race. We won 10 trophies that summer season, because all the hot shots were covering each other and ignoring us. The pile of silverware on the table at the prize giving dinner was impressive.

That was the first time I got to regularly sail a boat that suited me, We never won that many trophies again, but normally got 2 or 3. When she had to give up because of her husbands illness. I went onto another Yeoman, where again, we won 2 or 3 trophies a season.

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Oh god, where to start.

The final reach of my first major regatta win as crew.  I was 13 QLD Cobra Catamaran states.  Blowing a gale on the wire with the jib in hand, my job was to keep the tip of the leeward bow hovering +/1 an inch or so over the top of the water.  If it got too high, my skipper would subtly ask "is the jib on?"" 

Planing to a thud in a sabot regatta (QLD selection trials?) in '93 in waterloo bay because of the giant jelly fish. (seriously, they were huge!) 

My first major laser regatta win.  QLD radial states '97 I think.  Went into the last race with a race spare, but only 2nd's to my name.  Got the gun on the last race to take the championship.  Not my first cube but my first win.   My 2nd QLD title I picked up with a more perfect win record, but was less memorable for some reason.

'97 radial worlds.  11 wide and 6 or 7 deep at a gybe mark.  The presentation at those worlds and being surrounded by military police with AK's after everyone started jumping in the pool.

Loosing the '98 youth nationals and selection trials.  The frustration of what was really several years campaigning to ultimately lose because I simply didn't have the right body mass.

Buying the yacht.  Every bill that comes for the yacht.

Getting my daughter out on the boat.  Having one of her first words be "boat"

The list goes on.  But then I have an odd memory.  For instance, I can tell you that in february or march of '98, I missed a shift in the RQYS club race because I misread a cloud pattern out on the left side of the course.  I think I recovered to third but brad taylor and brand anderson walked away.  But I forgot to buy a cake for my wife's birthday yesterday.

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February 1988. AIKANE X-5 delivery from Oakland to Long Beach, CA. It was the second day and we had just passed through a Gale on the central coast and jibed before running into the back of San Miguel island in the dark.  A huge WNW swell was running as we screamed down the Santa Barbara channel in 25 knots of wind double reefed. Rudy and Barry Choy, Mark Wekmeister and the legendary Gary Craft along with myself were all witness to a beautiful sunrise straight ahead of us. As we run up the back of the next wave and then flew off the top and into the trough of the next we found ourselves rapidly passing a tanker going the same direction on our port beam. A flock of small birds was out in front us as was came off the top of a particulararly large wave and the flock disappears between the hulls and under the wing deck. As we landed in the next trough the flock emerged still in flight out the the back of the wing deck. Incredible.  Will never forget that. RIP Rudy Choy. Thank you for all of the memories.

Aikane_X5_transpac_record_1989_cGeri_Con

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On 7/15/2019 at 10:12 AM, Laser1 said:

Falmouth Week '17 with my 2 boys crewing on our 1250 quid 4kt sh*tbox.

13 races, 9 bullets, a 2nd, discarded a 2nd & 3rd. Wednesday - Champagne Race does not count for the series - but won that as well, hence the bubbly, Class shield and the Drambui Cup for best yacht of the week.

What's not to like.B)

 

 

 

WP_20170812_19_44_25_Pro.jpg

Got a photo of the boat?

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First time surfing a Cal40. 1967 Ensenada Race, somewhere south of the border. After a soul-crushing night of light/non-existent wind, the dawn brought a freshening breeze.

A winter race on San Francisco Bay in my new Laser, 1971. Running in plenty of wind and a nasty ebb chop. Tied the mainsheet around my waist so the boat wouldn't plane away from me after getting shoved off by that nasty chop. Stuck it out and finished the race with no other boats in sight. Pulling my boat out at StFYC, someone came up to me and said, "Congratulations! You got 2nd Place!"

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Start with the crap ones first.

Long faces in the drain of death after still leading the 100 foot canters and the Tps on IRC at S1 after a fresh night running but now pushing 3 knots of ebb to the finish and run out of time.

Great pic of passage racing though

new phone pics 009.jpg

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56 minutes ago, Laser1 said:

Here you go.

36948343191_1190b228af_z.jpg

32608491657_d120601bea_z.jpg

@Laser1 Pretty boat. What is she?

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Almost cutting off Ted Turners fingers a few years back as he was holding onto the main sheet and I was looking up at sail trim and saw in my peripheral he was holding onto the main sheet just as it was about to go over a turning sheave into the boom.....  

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