Ed­i­tor’s Log

Cruising World - - Contents -

Though named af­ter the swift and ag­ile jack­a­lope, our four­decade-old Sabre 34 is not a race boat. I’ve sailed on race boats, and I would ob­serve that they sel­dom have full wa­ter and fuel tanks, packed lock­ers, a dodger, or a bar­be­cue mounted on the stern rail when they cross the start­ing line.

Still, there we were, my wife, Sue, and I, in Na­hant, Mass­a­chu­setts, one Sun­day last Au­gust aboard Jack­a­lope, which th­ese days lives on Nar­ra­gansett Bay, 80 or so miles to the south of our home­town.

Like a lot of sail­ing ad­ven­tures, this one could be at­trib­uted di­rectly to a cou­ple of cold beers, and a bril­liant idea: “I’ll just sail our boat up for the week­end,” I’d told our good friend and long­time sail­ing pal Peter Davis a few weeks ear­lier. We were talk­ing about de­tails for a memo­rial race or­ga­nized by the Na­hant Dory Club, in me­mory of his wife, Peggy, who passed away quite un­ex­pect­edly last New Year’s. The idea was to raise money for one of her fa­vorite char­i­ties, the Cam Neely Foun­da­tion, which we were happy to sup­port, of course, but that’s not re­ally why we wanted to be there. Peggy was a great gal.

Na­hant is a small town, sur­rounded by ocean, just north of Bos­ton. It’s a good place to raise chil­dren and sail. When all of our kids were small, Peter and Peggy and Sue and I dragged our fam­i­lies up and down the New Eng­land coast on our var­i­ous boats to­gether, sum­mer af­ter sum­mer. Candy was of­ten ex­changed for peace and quiet. The kids were en­cour­aged to take dinghy rides at a young age, and of­ten. Once, on a visit to a mu­seum in Rock­land, Maine, Peggy taught the lit­tle dears how to make spit­balls and shoot them through straws. Not every­one was amused.

Back then, with kids in tow, we of­ten raced all across Broad Sound against the Davises. But more re­cently, with our boat in New­port and the kids grown, I more of­ten than not sailed with Peter aboard his Eric­son 34, Moon­dance, some­times with Peggy, some­times not, when­ever I was in town on a race day.

For the memo­rial, though, it seemed like we should have our boat there, with a crowd aboard, of course.

Sue ac­tu­ally liked the idea. Be­fore I knew it, she and my daugh­ter Lily had signed on as de­liv­ery crew and put in for va­ca­tion days on Thurs­day and Fri­day. Our older daugh­ter, Re­becca, made plans to cut her own va­ca­tion short by a day to join us for the big event. Friends were eager to pull some lines too — and I hadn’t even bought an Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book to see if it was pos­si­ble to make it through the Cape Cod Canal in time for the start!

That Thurs­day turned mag­i­cal very quickly. Though the fore­cast was for a blus­tery sou’wester and sum­mer boomers late in the day, we got an early start and mo­tor­sailed down the bay in light air. Just be­fore we reached Beaver­tail Light, Jack­a­lope was sur­rounded by leap­ing dol­phins. Then, right as we pointed the bow east, the promised south­west­erly kicked in at 20-plus knots and we were off. Al­most unimag­in­able, we even had the tide and cur­rent with us as we bounded up Buz­zards Bay.

We stopped for the night in Mar­ion, and were al­ready un­der­way for the canal when the tide turned in our fa­vor at 0830. All day Fri­day was more of the same. Good breeze, fair cur­rent, and though we saw thun­der­heads to the south and north, we en­joyed sun­shine and sailed nearly the en­tire way. Be­fore we knew it, Graves Light was in our sights, and right af­ter it, Na­hant. It had been eight years since Jack­a­lope had last vis­ited her home port, and it felt fine to be back.

Satur­day, just about the time the race was sup­posed to start, a front came through and af­ter­noon light­ning de­layed events on the wa­ter. But the weather cleared out in time for the party that evening, and it seemed as though every­one came and jumped off the town wharf.

The wind was light on Sun­day at the 1300 start of the race, but the sea breeze filled in, and it was a beau­ti­ful bluesky af­ter­noon — so fine, in fact, that once we and Moon­dance crossed the fin­ish, the crews of both boats went sail­ing.

It was a week­end to re­mem­ber for all sorts of rea­sons. And for Sue and me, it was the start to our sum­mer get­away. We spent the next week sail­ing back south, tak­ing our time and vis­it­ing har­bors we hadn’t seen for a while.

I think Peggy would have loved it all.

All day Fri­day was more of the same. Good breeze, fair cur­rent, and though we saw thun­der­heads to the south and north, we en­joyed sun­shine and sailed nearly the en­tire way. BY MARK PILLS­BURY

The Davis fam­ily crew, aboard their Eric­son 34, Moon­dance, look fast as they beat their way up­wind.

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