Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Queenstown Race Weekend, or "Why you need cash even for a weekend anchored out"



As Tim Williams noted in an earlier post, we had good winds of 15 knots or better for this year's PSA Race to Queenstown.  I learned a lesson the previous week when I did not reef the mainsail during the Oxford Race in similarly strong winds.  This time we put the reef in on Skybird before turning upwind at the Chester River nun buoy, only to have a jib car fail during our second tack.  While trimming in the genoa we heard a loud bang and I saw the jib sheet running directly from the clew to the winch.  Not good.  Examining the pieces later it looked like the delrin sheave cracked and broke.  This loaded up the bolt attaching the jib block to the car, promptly snapping the bolt.  Luckily nobody was hurt, and after tacking back and putting a snatch block on the rail we were able to complete the race.  Whew!  After getting through something like that what else could go wrong....

Sunday morning came with winds from the north, not quite as strong as the day before but still good racing weather.  On the way out to the start I got careless, trying to do a bunch of little things to prepare for the race while driving, and I ran Skybird aground.  Hard.  We revved the engine, tried heeling the boat and using the sails, all to no avail.  Tim brought LinGin as close as he dared, took a line and tried to pull our bow around with all his engine's might.  After numerous attempts that only succeeded in ripping apart one of my bow chocks (oh yeah, that was the chock with the crack in it - really should have used the other one - sorry Tim, not your fault), LinGin had depart in order to reach the starting area in time for the race.

Eventually one of the workboats from the previous night's party, Dipping Time, came by and offered their assistance.  While they helped us we heard a call for us on the radio.  Apparently after leaving us LinGin went to assist another Alberg that had grounded (due to engine trouble I think), and since we were the last start the PSA race committee decided to hold the start until the Albergs were ready.  I had not seen a race committee hold a start in a multi-class regatta for a couple of late boats, but I am most grateful, as is the rest of the Alberg 30 class. 

To get Skybird off the mud the two-man crew on Dipping Time went above and beyond the call of duty.  Between when LinGin left and Dipping Time came upon us we had tried just about everything, including tossing an anchor off to the side to try and pull the bow around.  Nothing worked.  As our anchor rode was our longest line, Dipping Time pulled up our anchor (a difficult task in itself) and  used the anchor rode to try and pull us off.  After about a half hour they finally got Skybird's bow to turn and pulled us back into the channel.  Free at last!  I just had to give the Dipping Time crew something in appreciation.  Unfortunately I had very little cash in my wallet.  After all, we had just spent the night anchored out. Why would I need cash?  After taking up a quick collection I handed the Dipping Time crew what we came up with as they returned our anchor.  Given all they did for us it wasn't nearly enough.

Finally all the Albergs reached the starting area and the race was started.  LinGin had to recover from being over the line early but had rejoined the leaders by the first mark.  After rounding, Argo worked far up to north side of the river while LinGin stayed on a more westerly tack.  By the time the fleet  approached Love Point Argo's move had paid off.  They held a huge lead and just loosely covered LinGin and the rest of us while cruising to an easy win.  On Skybird we shook out the reef and tried playing shifts and avoiding foul current to get back in the game and somehow managed to reach the Chester River nun buoy "2" in third.  We closed on LinGin while crossing the bay but couldn't catch them.  Argo had such a lead that I never saw them finish.

Congratulations to Argo for a commanding win and thanks to the PSA Race Committee for holding the start for us.  Most of all, thank you Dipping Time.  If not for you Skybird might still be at Queenstown.


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