May 27, 2011
A day before the Figawi Regatta
|Hyannis Yacht Club-Skippers Meeting
This morning I drive down to Fairhaven, Massachusetts, where the sailboat-Bite belonging to
Sail Buzzards Bay is docked. Crossing the drawbridge I take notice of the harbor with its
blanket of thick fog. The hurricane barrier gate out to Buzzards Bay is not visible. Fog
enveloped houses greet me as I turn off Route 6 and head down Main Street. Soon all ends
are finalized and I head for the boat –– must remember everything. Warm clothes are very
important, regardless of the date. Water temperature is still in the low to mid fifties.
And the temperature gradient between land and sea is about twenty degrees. Must pack warmly
just in case. Anyhow, the idea is to sail over to Cotuit on Cape Cod via Woods Hole, best
tide and favorable current midday. Four hours sailing to Woods Hole.
–– Set sail!
In fog, we set sail at 850 hours. The water is fairly calm, small waves, light south,
southwestern breeze. The fog is denser, as we leave the harbor. The harbor entrance, along
with the seawall and the entire coastline, quickly fade out of sight. Only fog surrounds us.
Patches of even denser fog stream by. Foghorn in constant use. Everybody remains watchful,
can’t miss any boats, must stay vigilant at all times. Fishing vessels appear just as quickly
as they disappear. An hour into the trip, heading 110° to Woods Hole; in the fog.
At some point, the sun tries to break through. The forecast is for conditions to improve. My
first encounter with the fog leaves me straining my eyes, using binoculars, constantly
observing the perimeter, the invisible horizon. Some stretches are mightily dense; the foghorn
sounds at short intervals. A silhouette of a trawler creeps stealthily out like a ghost,
figures visible on deck wave – almost undetected it sails across the sixty or so yards of
visibility and, without a trace, disappears back into the fog. All fog yet again. That same
white view all around. Eyes constantly watchful, ears alert.
|Buzzards Bay and Nantucket Sound
–– Woods Hole
At the channel entrance, the fog starts to dissolve and a few masts become visible. The outline
of the shore and a line of trees slowly come into focus, then the contours of the beach.
Momentarily, the red and green buoy serrated channel looms ahead. Suddenly, it is clear.
The sun is out. On both sides, sharp details of the coastline are now visible. Just above the
sandy beaches, amongst the trees a few big houses are perched up on the bluff. Now clearly
visible is the caravan of sailboats heading for Nantucket Sound. The current in the channel
is still strong, not entirely slack time yet. In an hour or so, we cross the channel without
any incidents, and soon fade back into the fog.
–– Nantucket Sound
Fog. Less fog. No fog. Shoreline clearly visible. Heading for Cotuit Bay.
May 28, 2011
Day of the Race
–– Morning at Cotuit Bay
The morning comes with thick fog yet again. It is heavy and hangs low, surrounding us. We dress,
change the jib to Genoa jib, drink coffee, have a bite to eat, and soon after push off into
foggy Cotuit Bay. Start time 1000 hours. Bite –– the slowest boat in the class. Let’s hope
we make the course in time, get in a good sail, and complete it.
|Figawi - The Competition
-At Cotuit Bay get lost in the fog,
-run aground, managed to get off,
-once again foghorn in constant use.
-The race is three hours delayed,
-we have an incredible start!
-Run first to the 17th buoy,
-run out of wind and withdraw.
-No winners in our class,
-not many finishers in general.
-At the docks about two hundred and fifty sailboats,
-the party is alive, smiling faces in the street.
-It would not let up for the next two nights.
May 29, 2011
Day on the Island
|Foggy Nantucket Harbor Morning
–– Nantucket Island
The morning is quiet and the docks are empty. The revelry is in respite. We awake early and
breakfast at the Fog Island Café. Later rent bikes and explore the island. The sky is clear
and the sun is out. We walk the cobbled streets full of restaurants and gift-shops, past old
Victorian houses embowered by tall trees, and once on smooth pavement make time. The countryside
is idyllic with rolling fields of low shrubbery, indigenous pine trees, and wooden summer
cottages. We ride about twelve miles to Madaket beach, western shore of the island. Here
enjoy the sandy beach and watch the fog roll back in off the ocean. After a short rest, we
pedal back to town, which by now is alive yet again.
Back on the boat, we sit back and have a few drinks. The fog has crossed the island by now
and is slowly tumbling over full-leafed trees and slanted rooftops. The last rays of the
orange sun disappear leaving no trace.
–– At the docks
The atmosphere here is alive. People pull notes on the other side of the dock. A Jolly Roger
halfway up a backstay flies stiff in the breeze. It is that kind of a vibe. Noisy, rowdy crowds
heard all around. The commotion permeates the docks, the streets, the ice-cubes are melting,
the party is on.
May 30, 2011
In the morning, there is a stiff South-Southwest breeze. The docks are quiet compared to
the last two days, only rigging and flags make a pleasant, harmonious sound. There are a
few patches of fog. The temperature is climbing. It is difficult to say what awaits us out
on the water. Soon everything on deck is set and we are ready to head out. Boat after boat,
the docks empty. Shortly, we are in the channel heading for the start line. Only two classes
finished Saturday, so today's race counts. The start…not so good…we are the last boat in the
pack. The boats in front are off and running, many with spinnakers on a downwind leg. About
six miles to the first mark. At first, we hesitate, but after a short discussion, we decide
to hoist the big drifter sail. With the bigger sail to maximize the wind –– our speed increases
to seven knots. By the first marking, we have caught up and pass two boats. At the first tack,
the fog returns. In the thickening vapors, we are close-hauled into the
|Martynas and Louisa at the Helm
teeth of the wind, still making about six knots. Fog all around, hard to make out any boats.
Here, due to poor visibility, navigational skills are key, must rely on the GPS. In four
tacks, we reach the mark. We ease and heading on a close reach, stream toward the finish line.
About a mile and a half to go. The fog is even denser, precise navigation is paramount to a
good finish here. Finally, we spot the buoy and the committee boat marking the line. The gun
goes off as we cross. We exclaim, high fives, we have completed the course.
Later we found out we had come in first in our class.