Though I was originally to sail with GOOD TRADE, her skipper, Bob, landed me a spot crewing aboard TRUCULENT TURTLE, a modified Lindenberg 26 (hull #41 of 51). This is a very fast boat, with a great skipper and crew. At first I felt out of my league, but Prag, Brian and Noah were congenial, informative, and forgiving of my foibles–even if they chuckled at them once or twice.
The wind forecast had been for no more than 10 MPH, but that proved wrong and we had enough wind to make the race a lot of fun. We joined three races, running north up the Potomac River, and beating our way upwind and down river. The two new sailing terms I learned are “foot cleat!” (meaning “get your foot off that line!”) and “butt cleat!” (meaning “get your butt off that line!”). There were a few other choice words thrown about. Prag paused to question the hardiness of my ears and I assured him I had heard much worse, that I can even dish it out.
The Cherry Blossom Regatta included races between single-designs (FJs, Interlakes) and spinnaker and non-spin classes. TRUCULENT TURTLE was in non-spin, since we didn’t have enough crew experienced with the spinney. Oh, how sorry I was about that! I so wanted to fly a spinney, to race with one. Sadly, that will have to wait for another day.
Prag took the helm, Brian handled the sheets, and Noah and I helped with sheeting and served as “rail meat” (movable ballast). The two of us didn’t just sit dangling our legs over the rail. We were on alert for Prag’s next call for “tacking in 30 seconds.” This meant quickly swiveling our torsos inboard from between the lifelines, pulling legs up to deck level, swinging legs aboard, scrambling to our feet or knees, moving across the deck or cabin top during the tack while avoiding the swinging boom and whipping jib sheets, pulling down the foot of the jib if needed, clambering up to the windward side, and re-positioning at the new windward rail. Sometimes this was repeated in quick succession. By the end of the third race I was having to push past my fatigue in order to perform.
Even without the spinnaker, we had a great time racing TRUCULENT TURTLE. She’s so fast, and Prag and Brian so well versed that they could pretty much have won even without any help from Noah and me. We each did our part, though, and TRUCULENT TURTLE won two of the three races, and was the overall winner for the non-spin class.
Aside from the new terms, I learned that it’s best to grab a copy of the race diagram, just in case something happens to the skipper’s copy. Ya’ don’t want to rely on some other competing skipper’s word for the location of the marks. Especially if that skipper is so afraid of losing to you that he’ll try to gain advantage by lying–which isn’t exactly sporting, is it?
My muscles are stiff and sore, skin is bruised and hands blistered, but I am happy. Thanks to perfect weather, a turn of luck, a generous introduction and a kind welcome, I had about five hours of terrific sailing, smiling inside and out the whole time. A day like that can sustain a body for another couple of weeks…until the next race!
Photos and writing (C) 2012 by Shay Seaborne. All rights reserved.