Geezy Sailor, Redux
In my last batch of nouns and verbs and prodigious modifiers, I crunched out a column on the quick because I was off duty and wanted to put the spurs to my sailboat because of a good forecast. Moreover, I’d just ordered an Audible book titled “Bleak House,” which is a nine-hundred-page monster by Charles Dickens. As planned, I finished my column in regards to being a sailing geezer who is easily amused on his beat-up old sailboat, and after said column was submitted to the editor, I went and grabbed some simple grub, hit a text to the bride telling her I was maybe flopping on Reverie up on Prudence Island, and then took
the Oldport Marine launch out to my sailboat in Newport Harbor. After messing around in my boat for a half hour, the wind - like clockwork - aired up from the southwest. As Reverie was ready to leave the harbor it was apparent with the jacking wind that I was in for a sweet and geezy downwind blast north to nowhere in particular.
Over the past eight years or so I’ve embraced my geezer hood and have become very realistic about what is required for me to single hand Reverie. She’s a solid boat - albeit careworn - and has served me for close to 20 years. I know my boat, and my boat knows me. Subsequently, I have pushed this boat hard over the years, and about three
years ago during one particular nasty up wind slog, Reverie pushed her skipper back, hard. I got pretty beat up while sailing back to Newport in a steady 30-knot south wind that was right on the nose for the whole trip to Newport from Mount Hope Bay. It took four hours of tacking against a head tide and I got worked. In addition to the prodigious ass-kicking I got, I also received a concerned text from my wife Cindy, which referred to “Crazy man wind” and being “careful.” She never worries about my sailing alone, but that day she did and it was a turning point for me. Given all of the aforementioned dramatic description; my expectations have changed tacks to a softer and gentler way of sailing a boat. Ahem, I only want to sail downwind. Is that too much to ask? Wink Nod. Hey, a guy needs to be positive. Right? As it turned out, last week’s sail was close
to perfection. Kind of. More about his later.
After I left my mooring and sailed Reverie out of the harbor, I noticed all the Newport-to-Bermuda racing sleds ganging up for the 52nd Thrash to the Onion Patch. This is
not a geezer-friendly race, because during this 600-mile plus race to the agricultural island of Bermuda, all kinds of weather weirdness can happen especially in the Gulf Stream. For openers, the race could begin with a rough patch of weather and this year that’s exactly what happened as the fleet was leaving on 17 June in 25 knots of southwest wind. Ahem, a sweet northwest wind would’ve been much better to nudge the fleet south. In addition to this breezy start, there were bumpy swells and fouled tides at the bay’s entrance. The fleet had its hands full as they left under these challenging conditions, and some boats had reduced sail, which foreshadowed an interesting boat race. Additionally, the sailing teams had a massive dark, foreboding and roiling front astern of them and some bad visibility to boot. Again, this is not a geezer- friendly race. (For this geezer anyway.)
As I left the harbor on this sunny and breezy Monday for my little sail to nowhere in particular, I took a couple of tacks out to Castle Hill and then jibed my boat and headed north with a fair wind and tide. I aimed right for the center span of the Pell Bridge and then cranked up the volume of my Dickens tome. (How can a guy beat sailing and listening to a favorite writer. Win Win.) Moreover, as I heard about the London of my boyo Dickens, Reverie was cranking along at 6.5 knots while I just flew my headsail, which is a geezer thing. I was having a great day off doing the two things I love to do with no heavy lifting. I sailed Reverie into Potter Cove about four hours later and hit the anchorage. I’d just had an easy downwind sail and settled in to look at ospreys and watch some cows walking down from Rossi’s Farm. After puttering around my shed/sailboat I ate my supper. Furthermore, I noticed that I was the only boat in the cove. After a noteworthy moonrise over Mount Hope Bay, I got ready to get in my bunk
for a good night’s sleep. As I drifted off, snoozing into the ether, I thought how nice it would be to wake up to a northwest wind for a nice downwind sail back to Newport, and a nice date night with the bride.
When I woke at 0600 as I’m wont to do when I go for overnights on my boat, I noticed Reverie was pointing to the northwest. Bang, I got the wind I’d wished for and put on my
cooker and made some Folger’s. I put on MVY for some morning music, nibbled a scone, and sailed out of the anchorage at 0630. This was easy geezy sailing at its best. I went tearing across the East Passage to Portsmouth with a fair wind, and then pointed Reverie south. As I put on Audible, I saw a new book I ordered just dropped by a Marthas’s Vineyard writer named Geraldine Brooks. The book is called “Horse.” I grew up around thoroughbred racing, and Geraldine’s book is right in that wheelhouse. This book grabbed me as I sailed back to Newport and learned about the evolution of horse racing in the South. I love this book. Brooks’s research, characters and dialogue are a trifecta. If you are interested in history and horses; get this book. I was having a great two days of sailing on my days off; except for one hiccup.
As I made my approach to Newport Harbor the northwest wind was slacking. I figured I’d roll in my sail, and fire up my engine. I turned the key. Nothing. She wouldn’t start. It
was either a starter issue or battery issue. I shut my batts down, and figured I’d sail out to Beavertail until the wind shifted to the southwest as it was forecast to do. Then, I’d just sail to my mooring; it was easier than tacking upwind in a busy harbor to my mooring in a light northwest wind. As I sailed out to Beavertail, I figured I’d give the engine another try. Surprisingly, she fired up and I steamed back to my mooring. After two easy and geezy days of downwind sailing, the fates were kind and Reverie had a battery issue and not a blown starter. Finally, after my easy days of sailing, the Newport Fleet had an altogether different experience on their journey south, and got prodigiously thrashed on their way to the onion patch where records and boats were broken. ‘Nuff said.