Flat Water and Fair Weather
by Francis K George
LONG ISLAND SOUND & ATLANTIC OCEAN – July 3, 2017
Two of Oakcliff Farr 40’s, Black & Blue, were delivered to Newport as a pit stop on the way to Marblehead for the start of the race to Halifax. I was the OBR (OnBoard Reporter) on Blue. Here’s the story of the trip.
The sun beat down upon the necks of Saplings, Staff, and Acorns as they scrambled down the dock loaded with food, gear, and PFD’s. Two Farr 40’s sat at the end waiting to be loaded up for the delivery to Newport, RI. Small assemblies lines formed at each one to get the gear from dock to boat to cabin. The clock read 8:13am. We had planned on leaving the dock by 8 o’clock sharp. Tensions were rising. Patience was running thin. Everybody was feeling the pressure but by 8:30 we were exhaling sighs of relief and waving goodbye to Dawn and Liz. The only thing that would’ve made it sweeter was wind.
We motored through the still hot air and made our way out into the Sound. Cruz Schroeder, a second year Sapling, was given the responsibility of being the boat captain for this trip. He took the helm for the first two hours before finally swapping out with me. It wasn’t long before all the bunks down below were occupied. The overflow fell asleep outside: Tim in the cockpit with his book collapsed on his chest and Connor farther aft in the sun, which resulted in a gnarly sunburn.
Up ahead we could still see Farr 40 Black putting along. It was funny to see them veer off and do a big S-turn every once in a while when the helmsman wasn’t paying attention. It was much easier being the trailing boat. We didn’t have to follow a heading on the instruments because we could just keep our bow on the other boat.
Fair weather, flat water, and no wind are the winning combination for a perfect delivery. But when you have Acorns on board that you want to teach and you only have 15 hours to your destination, everybody was hoping that something would fill in. The windcast was bleak though: 1-2 knots from the South all day.
Andres emerged from the companionway around 1pm. “We might be able to put up sails soon,” he said pointing back. I looked behind and sure enough there were white caps peppering the West end of the Sound. An hour or so later, his prediction came true and we hoisted the mainsail. “Hey Andres,” Chris Booher said, “Do you want to throw the kite up too?” Andres glanced over at Black and said “Nahh.” I piped up and pushed for the kite too but he stood firm on his decision. Meanwhile, Black put theirs up and took off! They went from being a few boat lengths ahead to nearly disappearing into the haze on the horizon. Before we lost em completely Andres finally agreed to go with it. So we lugged the A2 up on deck and set it. Apparently they had played a little prank on us. When Andres radioed them to ask about the kite they said “No” but raised theirs anyway. I guess sometimes we sailors just can’t resist the urge to turn everything into a competition.
Most of the acorns are young, just out of college, with primarily dinghy experience. Teaching them how to trim a huge asymmetrical spinnaker was a challenge but they made progress. Harry Prager, the youngest and smallest of the acorns, took the first shift. His attention veered here and there causing the kite to collapse a few times but by the end he developed quite a knack for it.
Our unexpected breeze held just long enough for us to make it through the Race. When it became too light to hold the kite any longer we reluctantly dropped sails and continued under power.
The sunset behind us illuminated the cockpit with a golden glow. Tim Kent prepared some Freeze-Dry Lasagna, our one and only hot meal of the trip. With the temperature dropping, we greedily scarfed down our meals.
We motored through the night and finally arrived in Newport around 2am. Tim helmed the boat into a tight slip at the IYRS dock and then we all unwound and enjoyed a good night’s rest on a non-moving boat.