We’ve determined that we’re not the racing type. By ‘racing’, I mean trying to get someplace faster than other people get there. You start at the starting line and you sail as fast as you can to the finish line. Part of the rule is to start at the right place at the correct time. Our day was filled with rule breaking, so you know in advance this day was a good one.
‘Casual’ does not begin to describe the racing scene as defined by the Puget Sound Cruising Club. The race began at 10:00. We showed up at 10:00. No one was there. Confused, we questioned whether we had the correct date. We did. Then the race committee boat showed up, followed by one other sailboat. By this time, our clock showed 10:00, so we had already crossed the ‘start’ line, even though no horn had sounded. Just consider this our ‘handicap’ for now.
The wind was too good for us to turn around and go back to the start line, so we figured we were disqualified from the race and that was fine with us since we were only in this for the fun of it anyhow. At that point we figured we just looked like morons so who cares? Besides, Moonrise needs a haul out and a bottom job, so she isn’t real fast right now. (It has absolutely nothing to do with our sailing abilities, regardless of what Mike says.) Some of these people have sailed around the world! We cannot compete with them. We needed that extra 5 minutes.
Apparently we needed much more time than that because we were soon joined, dare I say PASSED by several other boats who were not even close to the starting line when we began this shindig. In fact, we don’t even know where they came from. So we dawdled along for several hours, enjoying the decent wind and the sea lions, and thinking we’d have lunch on the boat while underway. I made chicken salad with fruit.
As we rounded a curve at the south end of Bainbridge Island, I noticed that there was a tight group of sailboats bunched up together, going nowhere.
Me: “Honey, look at those boats. What are they doing all bunched up together like that?”
Mike: “I don’t know. Maybe they are having lunch together. They probably know each other.”
Me: “You think maybe they are jockeying for position? You know, in this race it’s the second place person who wins. Maybe they are all waiting until someone passes them into first place.”
Mike: “This is our big chance! We will pass them to port, then we will be first, or even second!”
Me: “Hey, there is a big ferry bearing down on us from behind.”
And this is how we became entangled in a rip current with two other sailboats, with pretty much no wind.
Sailors get a certain kind of stressed out look on their faces when they are stuck in a tidal rip and have no steerage. They all yell at one another ‘I have no steerage’, like no one knows that. It’s not that we’re stupid, it’s that we’re incredulous that we are actually in a tidal rip with no steerage. It helps to shout it out loud.
I am proud to say that I was able to 1) think about getting the fenders out 2) find the fenders 3) deploy the fenders in the knick of time as S/V Active Light’s rear end came careening toward Moonrise. One fender saved the side of the boat, Mike and a sailor on Active Light saved the rear ends of both vessels. As the bows came together, I stood ready with the totally ineffective boat hook, which collapsed as soon as it touched the other boat. Thank goodness for arms. What would we do without them?
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, a large marionberry from my salad had sneakily found its way underneath my shoe. The cockpit was a carnage of beautiful purple. How fitting. I was tracking it everywhere. Mike was dragging the sheets through it.
As the boats continued to vie for position in the eddy, Mike and I, thinking as one, got the hell out of there by use of the time honored technique of starting the engine and getting the hell out of there. This is the second rule we broke, although I found out later that technically, since we were in immediate danger of injuring Moonrise, and/or another vessel, we had not broken the rule that prohibits the use of the engine. Whatever. This is what separates the sailors from the racers. The other two boats stuck with it until they got free, without the use of their engine. They are racers. We are not.
We were dead last. I mean really, really last. Like people were already showered and shaved by the time we arrived. Even so, these people generously honored us with 1/3 of the prize for “Perserverance”, along with the other two boats caught in the rip. We completely did not deserve it since we were disqualified from the start. But then they told us we won the prize for ‘early start’. Seems like you just can’t lose with these folks! And a good time was had by all.