Thursday, January 2, 2014

The New Year's Day Race

Yesterday we sailed. No rain and a little wind meant lots of sailors participated in this annual Oriental tradition. The river was dotted with over 40 boats, lined up (or trying to) at Oriental marker #1. That's the marker below:
It was a good day for a leisurely sail on the river. However, a few of these boats really do want to race, and the wind probably frustrated them.
The course went in a triangle:  Oriental #1, to the Garbacon Shoals marker, and then to the Adam's Creek marker. Garbacon shoals is east of Oriental, out toward the Sound a little and across the river. The Adam's Creek marker shows the entrance to the Inland Waterway as it cuts through to Beaufort. Rounding these markers and returning to Oriental #1 completes the race. Below you see the Garbacon maker. That's about as close as we came to it.
Our boat, "The Nocturne," is small with less sail. Less sail, less wind ... and less speed. So we participated purely for fun, cutting the corners of the course and enjoying the other beautiful boats. Here's one:
The first leg we all sailed into the wind, requiring us all to tack back and forth. This was good practice for Adam and me. We are very inexperienced sailors. I have difficulty navigating into the wind and I tend to stall the boat as I keep us too close to the wind.
As the early racers rounded Garbacon and flew ahead of the wind along the second leg, several put up spinnakers, the large, bulging foresail.
Here's another. You can see how the sail is luffing. The wind wasn't strong, and some boats struggled even on this second leg, when the wind was basically behind us. It should have made us all fly along, but there simply wasn't enough wind.
Even one colorful sunfish came along. I could hear him chatting with one of the boats behind us, a cockpit full of happy passengers.
When the wind is behind you, but not very strong, you try a sailing maneuver called "wing on wing." The fellow in front of us is attempting this style -- see? He's put one sail straight out one side (his main, on the boom), and the one on the left he attempts to keep "out" as well, with difficulty.
Adam did a great job putting our main and genoa in a wing-on-wing arrangement. He put a whisker pole on the genoa (on the right), and kept the main sail on the boom far out to the left. We passed the other sailor and cut across the middle of the course. If we'd tried to follow the boats and round the markers, we'd have been out all day and been far, far behind the last boat.
I enjoyed getting quite a few shots of the pretty boats on the second leg, off our port side.
I enjoyed the second leg. My job at the tiller was to keep the wind directly behind us. I looked over the stern and simply watch the waves -- the waves and the wind (of course) mimic each other. If the waves were smacking on our backside, we were perfect.

When we saw some big racers on the final leg, dashing toward Oriental, we finally turned about, filled the sails again, and joined them.
These boats are probably all between 30' and 40', maybe more. Acres of sail (well ...) and great speed. See them heeled over?
And on the other side. We all waved at each other.
These folks had a pretty spaniel aboard.
Some sailors did give up and decide to motor at the end. This lovely bark has a teak deck and wooden masts. Very beautiful.
I think I've gotten over my fear of heeling that I developed last spring, and I enjoyed yesterday's ride. We took no doggies. We took no kids. The girls preferred not to go -- it was cold. I bundled up with 3 pairs of socks under my heavy winter boots, and multiple layers on my torso. I was comfortable. Peter might have gone, but he stayed up late to join in the fun on Hodges Street on New Year's Eve, running the Chinese dragon back and forth. Late night owls miss the fun the next morning!


  1. MK, love your blog -- uh, did I already say that??? I learned lots of maritime jargon! Love,

  2. What a great way to start this new year -- sailing together! I hope you and Adam have many happy adventures in 2014:)


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