We set out on a mission yesterday: we were going to get ourselves onto a racing sailboat.
Last week we had an adventure trying to find the owner of "Jazz", the sailboat that Gabrielle used to race on. We found the boat, eventually found the owner, had some fun (and photos, see the last post) in-between, and ultimately learned they aren't racing this season.
After making some new friends at the Seal Beach Yacht Club that night, we were bound and determined to try again the next Thursday, and hopefully land ourselves on a boat.
So, along comes said Thursday. I hightail it out of the office, scoop up Gabrielle, grab some windbreakers, and head out!
We got out of the car, and nervously walked down the pier where a number of the racing sailboats docked. A few crews were already casting off (including the gentleman we spoke with last week). Thinking our chances might be blown, we kicked ourselves for not having gotten there earlier.
We approached one crew, who said they were full, but that another boat, just about to pass by, had been light. We ran to the end of the slip and hollered, but they too said they were full.
We scurried down to the end of the pier and found one last crew about to head out. We inquired with the captain if he "needed any more ballast", and he said they didn't need crew, but we could come along for the ride if we liked, but that we better hop on because they were casting off right then.
YES! We did it!
Next thing we know we're sitting on top of the cuddy trying to stay out of the way, as this beautiful 36' C&C 110 sloop motors it's way out of the harbor to the starting line.
The captain came over and spoke with us for a few minutes while we headed up the waterway. He told us about the boat, his long experience with racing, and introduced his racing partner and co-owner who was manning the helm. We made nice with the crew, told them that Gabrielle has some experience at bow, and to let us know if we could help. Then we settled in and awaited the race!
The sight of all the boats out there getting under sail and into position was magnificent. There were all kinds of boats racing, in different classes of course, and it was fun to see so many different vessels underway in one place. Some were very modest boats, and others were quite large and exquisite. We were happy just to be on any one that would take us however, and this boat was far better than expected.
The firing gun sounded and we headed off into the race. I watched intently as the crew worked the sails and lines, trying hard to remember everything I've been reading the last couple months.
We were in the lead for our class for the entire race. The bow crew informed us that they usually win, but did have a slight rivalry with another boat. They crew were quite skilled, had obviously done this together for awhile, and everything went exceedingly smooth. I had been expecting shouts and tempers and egos, but on this ship there was none of that.
We both got to help out with a few menial jobs, but for the most part we did just provide ballast, sitting on the rails while heeled over on the tacks.
Everything was going swimmingly, with our boat being many lengths in the lead, then the bow sighted the finish line, back down the channel. All the boats were clustered, sails luffing, and drifting across the finish line. Our bowmen made a quick jib change to a lighter sail to help, but we soon fell into the lull like the other boats.
And that's when they caught up. The trailing boats in our class somehow managed to keep just a little bit more wind in their sails before hitting the lull, and they were drifting quite a bit faster than us. The finish line was only a few yards away, but it didn't matter. The two boats caught and overtook us, just seconds before we crossed. And in the blink of an eye, we went from winning to losing.
Some obscenities were muttered, but again no tempers or egos. We were piloted expertly back into the slip, and Gabrielle and I helped out as best we could with stowing the boat and unloading.
We offered to buy everyone a refreshment at the yacht club, and all sat down together. This was the first time we got to see the crew without any masks, and really put faces to the names. We had a blast shooting the breeze with the crew, who wound up being great guys, and quite funny too. I think we ingratiated ourselves with them well.
The co-owner of the boat informed us that they've been quite shorthanded lately due to the virus, took our contact info, and implied that we were welcome back next week. Fingers crossed!
(that's Gabrielle and I sitting on top of the cabin)
After a couple hours of yuks, we expressed our gratitude again for allowing us to join them, and made our way home. Where we jumped up and down with excitement and could not hardly sleep after our adventure!
Can't wait for next week...