Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Race Committee in the Shadow of Sandy

I was a member of the SSA race committee running the East Coast Championships for the J-24 class; the regatta took place on the weekend before that Monday when Sandy slammed into New Jersey, about 160 miles to the east. I had done this regatta last year and the last weekend in October finds the Chesapeake Bay normally empty except for the J-24's and the IRC folks. Not this year. This year a constant stream of boats criss-crossed our course, making their way to safer hurricane holes; most working their way north towards Baltimore. On Friday, the Sandbagger's Bull and Bear sailed north with their tenders following. I was told this was their normal routine as they winter over in a barn up on Gibson Island. My friend Tom was steering one of them; he gave a cheery wave as the wind was just right for these oldster's to have a delightful sail. On Saturday, two trimarans were spotted going north, one larger one loafing along under main only and a Sea Cart 30, fully powered up, coming from West River and smoking north. Larger cruising motor yachts zipped about. In the afternoon two of the large dinner/party yachts that ply the Annapolis Harbor and Severn River with bands and booze were seen steaming purposely north in tandem. Several container ships were going south, towards Sandy; strange to our eyes but the assumption was they knew what they were doing. Saturday's clouds started at a normal height, coming from the northeast with openings here and there to let glorious fall sun play on the water, but, later in the day, the clouds started socking in low with an ominous dark band sitting to the south, always a portent of something brewing from the ocean side.

The class and club had cancelled Sundays racing as the forecast was for a full on gale commencing before the advancing hurricane. Luckily, winds never got much over 12 knots on Saturday so we hustled and got in four races to wrap up the regatta. We got off the water just before dark and on my way home I stopped at my favorite beer store to replenish my storm stock.

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