A Day on the Bay

Well it’s that time of year again, time for the CDSOA’s Gulf Fleet Annual Invitational Regatta.  When I first read the announcement, I was delighted to hear that it was scheduled for April 17 and was to be followed by a feast (of epic proportion) of mudbugs and all the trimmings!  I love dem bugs and was psyched!  Imagine the depths of despair to which I sank as the Admiral looked at the same announcement and proclaimed, “you dummy what are you thinking”!  We can’t go to Clear Lake on the 17th (for the life of me I can’t remember why at this juncture but we couldn’t)!  So with a heavy heart I notified the Fleet Captain (David Lark) that I would unable to attend!  I was totally bummed.  No sailing AND no mudbugs!

Enter fate!  While the mud bug feast was held on schedule (after all they don’t hold long), BUT the race had to be rescheduled and the new date was May 22nd!  Great!  School was out here on the 21st!  This was doable!  So as the day of departure approached the Admiral (being the harbinger of ill will) announced that one of us would have to stay home and attend the scheduled baseball game staring our grandson!  That chore fell to the Admiral.

Finally the day of departure arrived and the BAT Mobile pulled out of the driveway at 0600 on the nose for the eight-hour (500 mile) drive to Clear Lake.  All went according to Hoyle and I arrived at Watergate Yachting Center at 1530 (eight hours drive time, nine hours total).  On the dock I met up with Chuck Gardner and Carl Jones (Race Chairman) and we shared a cold one and caught up on each other’s wandering and musings.  At 1600 I had an appointment to look at a Cape Dory 30B for sale on the adjacent dock.  Afterward I returned to Carl’s boat (CD 30 Spanish Eyes) and in preparation for Saturday’s race we dropped his yankee and hoisted his 150 gennie.  He was getting serious about this race!

CD 30 ToTheMoon Capt Chuck et.al.

With the race prep complete, Carl headed to the house and Chuck and I headed off for dinner at the Classic Café (a great little local joint, seabrookclassiccafe.com/).  The shrimp were great but the Crab Cakes were even better.  It had been a great day and it ended with a great seafood feast.  Now all we had to do was wait for the starting gun (Hey they’re Texans!  They lob a round at the nearest Brand Xer to start the race)!

The Captains meeting was held right on time (0900) and before we knew it we were off to the mark.  I was sailing with Captain Forrest Paddock aboard his CD 30 Vigilance (with a tiller! Yeah) and our start time was 1203.  The other entrants included Mike & Janette Alford on Lyric, Richard Rowe and Captain Cole Mullinax aboard Karma (both CD 28s), the CD 30s Vigilance, Spanish Eyes and To the Moon, the latter two Captained by Carl Jones and Chuck Gardner respectively, the CD 33 Collaboration with David and Jan Proud aboard and rounding out the fleet was the CD 36 Dragon Fly with Mike and Carolyn Payne.

Russell Rowe and Cole Mullinax aboard Karma

The Gun!  The 28s hit the line and followed closely by the 30s.  Immediately Lyric tacked back and while we didn’t know it at the time they had crossed the link early and were restarting.  Anyway all boats were laying a line for the windward mark and unlike our last race, it was blowing.  Captain Forrest and I were convinced we could round the mark without tacking and we could have had the wind not backed!  As it was we only had to tack twice to lay the mark, but during our port tack run, the halyard block for the stays’l broke so we doused that and lost considerable time.  Now we were playing some serious catch-up.

Rounding the windward mark set us up for a beautiful wing on wing downwind run hitting speeds of seven or sometimes eight knots.  It was pretty amazing to see the others round the downwind mark and take off like rockets on a beam reach for the finish.  Race organizer Carl Jones did a great job of computing the phrf ratings for the boats.  Every boat finished within 15 minutes of the first to cross the line.  Great job Carl.

1st Place Capt & Crew L-R (Allen-Carl-George)

The assembled captains and crew then relocated to the picnic area of the Watergate Yachting Center for the Apre’s Race social, dinner and awards ceremony.  Admiral Grace Gardner had been busy for a couple of days working on the menu and the others provided the sides.  Great food.  We had a great time and following the announcement of the winners (no big surprise we already knew) a discussion ensued concerning the election of a new fleet captain.  Those assembled nominated Janette Alford and she was immediately crowned as Gulf Fleet Captain.  Thank you Janette for volunteering.  Anyway, Spanish Eyes crossed first followed by Dragon Fly, Karma, To The Moon, Collaboration, Vigilance, and Lyric.

Well everyone was pretty tuckered out after fighting some serious weather helm for two plus hours so we all headed to our respective abodes.  The next morning, I was off fishmongers and snapped up 55 pounds of fresh Gulf (non-oil tainted) shrimp and then headed for Skippers to meet fellow fleet members for breakfast prior to heading home.  All told there were seven of us reliving the events of the race while enjoying a great artery clogging breakfast.

Well it was time and off I went.  What a great, yet very hurried time.  A great time, with great friends.

Fair Winds


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