Summer has flown past. Where did those mostly hot and humid months go? They seem to have vanished in a flurry of things that we wanted to do and things that needed to be done. We started with things we wanted to do; in June we went racing in the LOSHRS (Lake Ontario Short-Handed Racing) series, first ‘around the buoys’ and then in an unfinished (for us) race to Youngstown, New York.
In that first race, our start showed just how rusty we were. We grazed the marker at the pin end of the line and had to make a circle as soon as we had cleared it and the other boats, losing valuable time. But we had a good, brisk wind, brisk enough for us to set off with a reef in our mainsail and keep it in until we turned for the finish. The sailing was busy and (on our boat) wet, the lake bumpy – and so I took no pictures. Just imagine waves and wind and boats nicely heeled over…
This was the shortest of our long races. In the longer races you never know where your competitors are. Everyone has their own opinion about how best to cover the distance, when to tack and where to find the best winds. When we are racing we see other sails out on the lake that may or may not be those of other competitors; sometimes we are passed by other boats flying the yellow LOSHRS flag off their backstay. But often we are on our own, sailing along as best we can until we approach the finish line. Even then we might be on our own, though in this race there were other boats approaching the finish line with us. We finished third in our class.
Though there was lots of wind for our first race there was not nearly as much for the second. The morning started well enough, though we found it a little off-putting to hear a faster boat approach from behind and then watch its dark sails disappear into the distance. Unfortunately the wind dropped while we were still mid-lake. We decided to wait and see if it would return, if it would be strong enough to set us sailing again so we could get there in time for the dinner we had already paid for. But no.
From time to time we heard other boats calling the race committee on the radio to announce they were retiring. Some were going to motor on to Youngstown, others were returning home. Come late afternoon, only halfway there, we too called in our retirement, turned on the motor and headed for home. We considered going to Youngstown and racing back the next day, but the forecast for that day was much the same as for this one and there did not seem much joy in repeating the same experience. Sailing is fun; drifting not so much.
A week after the Youngstown race-that-wasn’t we were over at National Yacht Club for the Syronelle, an annual Alberg 30 tradition in which a team or teams of American sailors come up from Chesapeake to compete against Canadian Alberg 30 sailors in Canadian boats lent for the occasion. It is always a weekend of food, fun, conversation and – oh, yes – sailing. Very competitive sailing. This year the weather only allowed one day of racing instead of the hoped-for two, but that just meant more time to swap stories, enjoy the company of other sailors and eat. Richard crewed on The Answer V; they did well until he noticed a detached chainplate and they headed back to the dock rather than risk losing the mast.
Then it was time to do some needed boat work. At the beginning of July, in the midst of some of the hottest weather of the summer, we hauled the boat out of the water to paint the hull above the waterline. We sweated away in coveralls and masks as we sanded and filled and sanded and washed and then, the moment of truth, painted. We were rolling and tipping a new-to-us paint on a hot day; the first coat was a mess, hardening before I could tip it properly (Richard was rolling). We sanded again, leaving the paint unevenly distributed over the hull. Then Ed, manager of the marina yard and someone who knows these kinds of things, told us about thick foam discs that fit between the sander and the sandpaper and allow the sandpaper to follow the contours of the hull. Thank you, Ed. Those discs saved us aggravation and time.
Two sandings and two more coats of paint and we had the finished product. It is beautifully shiny and looks very good if you don’t examine it closely. We have become accustomed to our boat now being a different, slightly darker blue from the color we had before… Once that was done we covered the boot stripe at the waterline with two coats of black anti-fouling paint and were ready in time to be back in the water two weeks after we hauled out.
We fit in other jobs. Some of the work was delayed by an infection in one of Richard’s fingers, now healed. After the hull, our next biggest job was putting new wooden inserts in the tops of our cockpit lockers. Richard cut and measured and fitted and adjusted before he put the inserts in – and the wood, which we had been given, promptly warped. We were at a loss about what to do. But after talking to someone who knows wood far better than we do (you never know who you might meet at a party) we understood our problem and found a solution we hoped would work.
The problem: in search of a non-slippery surface we had stained the wood and left it unsealed. When it rained and then things dried the moisture in the wood was no longer even – water stayed in the wood underneath while the sun was drying the top and the uneven moisture was making the wood twist. The solution: to allow the wood to flatten and then seal it, so that the moisture content remained even. If we could not have our first wish, our second was for something that needed minimal maintenance. Richard sealed the wood with resin, using a UV resistant hardener. Time will tell how well it holds up – and I will tell you more about the whole experiment in time.
In the middle of August, we competed in the LOSHRS 100 mile race, or tried to. Once again we started with a good wind, and it stayed with us until early evening when we reached the Burlington weather mark. There it made a very complete exit. We floated very slowly away from the mark, looking for any sign of wind. After gliding and floating for another four hours we finally joined the ranks of the retirees and once again headed for home.
There was a lot more wind when the Albergers met at National Yacht Club to sail Alberg 30s for the Great Lakes Championship. There was so much wind, in fact, that the race finished more quickly than expected and Sam (the boat that was the rabbit in the rabbit start) claimed victory. I was very surprised when Richard returned so quickly from crewing on Jazz. I had barely had time to read some of my book…
Our final race of the season was in September, another LOSHRS race, this time to Port Dalhousie. We sailed over to PCYC the day before, using our drifter to keep us moving along in the light wind. On the way we talked about what to do if there was not much wind on the day of the race, knowing that a buffet dinner waited for those who could finish the race in time. Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy social time with the other competitors?
This race followed the pattern of the earlier races – good wind in the beginning, dropping partway through. There was enough to keep going, slowly; if we kept racing we might finish by about ten, much too late to enjoy the buffet. We had not finished enough races to make this one count for anything. We decided to retire, turn on the motor and go to the dinner.
We arrived at the Port Dalhousie marina in good time to go to the buffet at the yacht club next door. We walked across a dark parking lot to the brightly lit doorway and found ourselves at the end of a long line of people lined up to pay. The line went along the bar, and some people used the opportunity to buy drinks on the way past. We found ourselves at a table with fellow competitors we had not met before, enjoyed a pleasant conversation and our dinner and were back at the boat in time for a good sleep.
We got up the next morning, but the wind did not. We went out to find the start line in a fog and when it lifted found ourselves surrounded by other boats that were mostly, like us, trying to keep their motors going until they absolutely had to turn them off. Flags went up and came down, the horn sounded, our start came and went and we drifted around hoping to stay out of the way of the other boats. Finally we decided to withdraw from the race, even though the forecast said the wind would come up at about noon.
And it did. Which meant that we had a pleasant afternoon sail and arrived home before sundown.
The weather stayed warm for a few more weeks and we kept talking about going out sailing again but somehow it didn’t happen. Now the weather has turned colder and Richard is working on our winter cover. We went for our winter coats and boots so we would have them on the boat, and it’s been cold enough the past few days to actually wear them.
I guess winter is coming after all.