SIM­PLE Plea­sures of a DAYSAIL

Cruising World - - Front Page - CW ed­i­tor at large Gary Jobson is an Amer­ica’s Cup-win­ning tac­ti­cian and long­time chair­man of the Leukemia Cup Re­gatta.

When the Spa Creek Bridge opens, near my home in An­napo­lis, Mary­land, I al­ways have this nice feel­ing of an­tic­i­pa­tion that a good day on the wa­ter is ahead. Within min­utes, the crowded har­bor falls be­hind while the im­mense Ch­e­sa­peake Bay in­vites a sail in any di­rec­tion. Af­ter spend­ing 60 years rac­ing boats of all sizes, and cruis­ing to the ex­treme ends of the earth, I have re­dis­cov­ered how much fun it is to go day­sail­ing.

Ev­ery re­ward one might hope to ex­pe­ri­ence on a long voy­age can take place on a sim­ple daysail. Two years ago, I ac­quired a C.W. Hood 32 sloop with the sin­gle pur­pose of tak­ing fam­ily and friends sail­ing around An­napo­lis, and some­times be­yond. The boat has ev­ery­thing I was look­ing for. It’s easy to sail sin­gle­handed, has a com­fort­able and safe cock­pit that can ac­com­mo­date six adults, has clas­sic lines and is fun to sail in all weather con­di­tions. As I did my re­search, I de­cided to in­clude an elec­tric mo­tor, a head and an easy setup for a down­wind sail.

Any­one as­pir­ing to be­come a sail­boat owner should spend time defin­ing how the boat will ac­tu­ally be used, and look for that per­fect one to achieve this goal. So with my new pride and joy at the ready, I have been sail­ing reg­u­larly. It’s a sim­ple con­cept, but it takes con­sid­er­able plan­ning to make a daysail spe­cial for ev­ery­one. Ev­ery ses­sion has a dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity depend­ing on the weather, crew list and des­ti­na­tion.

If you wait for the per­fect weather, it might be a long time be­fore you go sail­ing. I try to work with a sched­ule, and take the weather as it comes. On one Sun­day, I in­vited two long­time friends for a full-day sail. The night be­fore was ugly, with thun­der­storms and howl­ing winds. By morn­ing, the sky was still gloomy, yet both guests showed up right on time. Off we went. The voy­age (I like that term for a daysail) started with a brief overview of the sail­ing plan and how to use the en­gine and op­er­ate the head. The con­ver­sa­tion be­gan with the news of the day and quickly changed to houses on the shore that were un­der­go­ing ren­o­va­tions. We called the Spa Creek Bridge op­er­a­tor to re­quest an open­ing, waved a thank you as we passed and set the sails. The first warmup for our voy­age was a short sprint up an in­let that leads into down­town An­napo­lis. Any­one who has ever at­tended the fa­mous U.S. Sail­boat Show will be fa­mil­iar with Ego Al­ley. The in­let is well-named be­cause you get to show off your boat to the ador­ing crowd on shore.

On the way out of the har­bor, we passed a col­lege re­gatta. A coach on a nearby pa­trol boat told us it was the Women’s Mid­dle At­lantic Cham­pi­onship. The rac­ing looked in­tense. With a brisk northerly blow­ing, we threw the wind over our shoul­der and headed out to­ward Ch­e­sa­peake Bay. This is the largest es­tu­ary in the United States, mea­sur­ing 195 miles long and any­where from 3 to 35 miles wide. There are 5,600 miles of shore­line, with an av­er­age depth of 21 feet. The bay was formed at the end of the last ice age, and was ex­plored and mapped for Eng­land by Capt. John Smith in 1608, al­though indige­nous peo­ple have lived along the bay for many cen­turies. You can spend a life­time ply­ing these wa­ters and al­ways find some­thing new. My first race on the Ch­e­sa­peake was in the early 1960s; I am happy to re­port that the wa­ter looks con­sid­er­ably cleaner to­day.

I like pass­ing close to chan­nel buoys to study the cur­rent and tune up my steer­ing. In no time, we were in the bay. I am al­ways amazed by how boats sep­a­rate on open wa­ter. In­evitably, we will sail near an­other boat. In­stinct takes over, and I try to sail past. Even friends who are

new to sail­ing quickly get into the rou­tine and watch to see if we make progress in our quest to gain the lead. I am al­ways study­ing the wind for shifts and puffs, and try­ing to make max­i­mum gain.

Crewmem­bers are happy when given a job on a boat. My first move is to pass over the helm. I have yet to wit­ness any­one de­cline the chance to steer. I have learned that less-ex­pe­ri­enced sailors are usu­ally re­cep­tive to a lit­tle bit of coach­ing, but I have to be care­ful not to over­coach or the fun will quickly fade.

Depend­ing on the di­rec­tion and strength of the wind, I set a course for a spe­cific des­ti­na­tion. On this day, we sailed to­ward the ex­pan­sive Bay Bridge, a few miles north. I am hap­pier to sail un­der a bridge than to drive across. Even though the Bay Bridge is 200 feet above the wa­ter, I look up to make sure the mast will clear. From the boat, it feels closer. The boat fea­tures a low free­board that nat­u­rally con­nects you to the wa­ter. Even with the low free­board, the C.W. Hood 32 rides grace­fully over choppy waves. It is a dry boat.

I named my Hood 32 Whirl­wind in honor of L. Fran­cis Her­reshoff, who de­signed a J-class yacht named Whirl­wind for the 1930 Amer­ica’s Cup tri­als. The dou­ble-ended yacht was a pretty sight but did not win many races. I liked the fact that the crew never gave up. My Whirl­wind was de­signed and built by Chris Hood in Mar­ble­head, Mas­sachusetts. The build took place in a shed that was con­structed in 1897 — cer­tainly a nice pedi­gree in a his­toric sail­ing town. Whirl­wind fea­tures a large, open cock­pit. Chris ar­ranged the seat­ing per­fectly for sail­ing. The coam­ing is the right an­gle no mat­ter what an­gle of heel you’re on. There is just enough clever stor­age space un­der the seats. There is no need to hike out. A 4-foot-deep Scheel keel gives the boat good sta­bil­ity. All sailtrim­ming lines are led to a con­sole near the tiller for sin­gle­handed sail­ing. Whirl­wind is easy to main­tain and to keep clean and pol­ished. Guests feel more com­fort­able on a well-founded yacht. Keep­ing var­nish up and all equip­ment in or­der makes for a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence.

My sail­ing guests range from first-time sailors to long­time vet­er­ans. The hard­core rac­ers ap­pre­ci­ate the change of pace of day­sail­ing. There is never any pres­sure. I find that you can have good dis­cus­sions with peo­ple on the wa­ter. Some­times I use the boat to take out po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and slowly work a con­ver­sa­tion to­ward an im­por­tant is­sue. My com­men­tary is usu­ally bet­ter re­ceived on the wa­ter.

As our daysail with my two friends con­tin­ued, the con­ver­sa­tion moved to­ward sail­ing. One asked about my fa­vorite day­sails over the years. It made

me think back to a day in July 1977 aboard the 12-Me­ter Coura­geous. Our sta­ble­mate, In­de­pen­dence, was forced to re­turn to the dock for a re­pair. One of our crew, Richie Boyd, sug­gested we sail out to Block Is­land, which is 23 miles south of New­port, Rhode Is­land. Our skip­per, Ted Turner, didn’t miss a beat and said, “Let’s go.” A few hours later, we an­chored in the har­bor, got a ride ashore and had lunch at an open-air lob­ster house. We even mailed a post­card to our syn­di­cate head, Lee Loomis. I never found out if he got the hu­mor.

An­other mem­o­rable sail took place dur­ing one of my ex­pe­di­tions to Antarc­tica. We woke up to a beau­ti­ful, sunny 20-knot day, with the tem­per­a­ture in the 40s. We spent the af­ter­noon sim­ply sail­ing around the ice­bergs. One es­pe­cially large berg rolled a few min­utes af­ter we passed by. We gave the bergs a wide mar­gin af­ter that near-catas­tro­phe.

On a rare Sat­ur­day with noth­ing sched­uled, my wife, Jan­ice, and I took

Whirl­wind for an af­ter­noon sail. The breeze was fore­cast to build through­out the day. My plan was to sail north­west up the 14-mile-long Sev­ern River and then set the spin­naker for a fast ride home in the strong breeze. When we ar­rived at the mouth of the Sev­ern, the U.S. Naval Academy had closed the river to boat traf­fic for the af­ter­noon in fa­vor of a Safety at Sea sem­i­nar that in­cluded a he­li­copter-res­cue demon­stra­tion by the U.S. Coast Guard. I headed down­wind out into the bay. There were a few bulk car­ri­ers an­chored across the bay, and we set course to round the ships and sail home. It was a nice ride in 18 knots. No sooner had we turned up­wind, a front blasted in from the north. It was gust­ing over 35 knots! For­tu­nately, we had good foul-weather gear, life jack­ets and boots on. I played the main­sheet on each blast to keep the boat from over­heel­ing. A few other boats took their sails down and went in un­der power. Sail­ing seemed safer, and we pressed on.

Con­ver­sa­tion was sparse, but at one point, Jan­ice asked where I would like my ashes spread when the day came. I hoped the heavy wind did not in­spire that ques­tion, but I had an an­swer ready: “Good Luck Point, on Barnegat Bay.” This des­o­late, sa­vanna-like point of land sep­a­rates Toms River from Barnegat Bay. Dur­ing my teenage years, I would sail my Pen­guin with one of my friends out the river into the bay. The af­ter­noon ther­mal breeze was usu­ally 15 to 18 knots. It felt so ex­cit­ing to see no land on the hori­zon and choppy white­caps ahead. I sailed for a good hour or more and then headed down­wind for some surf­ing. I never cap­sized on those late-day sails. Think­ing back, those sails were some of the best of my ca­reer. At the time, I rarely thought about what might be over the hori­zon in the years ahead. I sup­pose when you’re young, thoughts like that don’t ex­tend too far in the fu­ture. But now, as 70 years of age looms on my hori­zon, I know the an­swer to the ques­tion about why I like to sail, be it dur­ing a race, off­shore or a jaunt around the har­bor.

What other sport can you do for an en­tire life­time? Is there an­other ac­tiv­ity that con­nects the gen­er­a­tions like sail­ing? It is such a joy to take our grand­chil­dren sail­ing. Through their eyes I get to see ev­ery­thing for the first time. Thanks to this sport, I have sailed off ev­ery con­ti­nent and ex­plored places I could never have imag­ined from land. Birds, fish and all kinds of sea life con­nect sailors with the en­vi­ron­ment and help them ap­pre­ci­ate our planet. Time on the wa­ter passes swiftly. I am ready to set sail again as soon as I can.

With a large, com­fort­able cock­pit, the C.W. Hood 32 is per­fect for a day on the bay with friends.

Jobson (at the helm) finds that con­ver­sa­tion and re­lax­ation come eas­ily on a daysail. Head­ing through An­napo­lis’ Spa Creek Bridge sig­nals good times to come.

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