Battle Line


My newest ‘Happy Place’ is on the deck of a racing yacht. I knew little about sailing and even less about racing when I started 2 summers ago but I was hooked from that first exhilarating start.

Two years ago I found the sailing rules were as mystifying as the commands and lines (ropes) on the deck. I’ve had a lot of racing and practice time on sailboats from that first start. I’ve sailed on all 3 of the ships shown here jockeying for prime real estate on the starting line. Heated words were exchanged as all four ships (Yes, there is a fourth hidden behind Ricochet’s jib, you can just make out his mast.), sped along the line close enough to reach out and touch each other while waiting for the starting horn so all could turn up into the wind and start.

This race was part of the Wednesday Night Series which is the series where captains and crew practice for the bigger races and regattas which are usually held on weekends. Matching crew-wear is brought out for the big races. Wednesday night is where Newbies cut their teeth and literally ‘learn the ropes’.

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8 thoughts on “Battle Line

  1. Cool, I envy you a bit, I always wanted to learn to drive a yacht, but it seems it will stay one of my never-come-true dreams! I like the picture…I feel the sea smell!

    • We joined the yacht club, I took beginner lessons then we mooched rides starting as “rail meat”, meaning you are ballast and move to wherever the captain needs extra weight to keep the boat going. If you can learn under a pressure situation where people are yelling at you in terms you haven’t yet learned I recommend it. This past summer a couple of captains have told me I need to learn to ‘drive the bus’ so I’m learning tiller and wheel. In the next two years we’ll probably buy a smaller sailboat.

      If you are not landlocked I urge you to get out and give it a try. It’s hard work but it is exhilarating!

  2. Great shot! You know I share your passion. Before I set off for my circumnavigation, I used to race J24s in NYC as Foredeck and Pit. But I am really a cruiser at heart. My racing Captain used to chastise me for being too friendly at the start (I would sit on the pulpit and be saying hello to everyone) and kept on having to remind me ‘race mode, race mode’!

    • Ha ha!! I do the same thing now, calling out to everyone else. It’s a game after all. Lots of smiling faces coming back at me. If I game faced everyone I’d have horrible shots.

      Our single class fleet at the local club, Muskegon Yacht Club, is Melges. I consider myself more beginner than intermediate. I sometimes have to think and there is no time to think on a J24. I have to get to that instinctual place. I have been going out on Tuesdays with our neighbor on a Lindenberg 27′(She’s a good little racer.) and have learned a lot. Another friend who races on that boat has a Lindenberg 24. My word, it’s only 4 feet longer than my sea kayak. THAT was a twitchy and fun boat. Now I want one to sail single handed and learn on. I am in serious need of butt in the stern driving the bus time. Yesterday we helped a friend shrink wrap his Irwin 43 (also the boat we made our first cross lake race in). It was our first shrink wrapping. Alas..the season here is over. Snow in the forecast.

      What do you sail?

      • One of the great advantages of extended cruising is ‘endless summer’ The season never ends. I’ve just crossed the Pacific on a beautifully appointed Beneteau Oceanis 473 (not mine). Deep keel, extra tall mast, a real ocean goer. And I just joined a racing team with a Beneteau 40 First. I am like you in that I need to think about what I am doing…even after all this time it doesn’t come naturally. Going out on the racer yesterday was a great experience because I really had to be tuned in again. I’ve gotten used to the boat I sail on full time, but on a new boat, it felt like I’d never sailed before. Crazy. It takes me a long time before I gel with a boat and it becomes instinctual.

        I am not familiar with the Lindenberg fleet although I do know and like the Irwin.

        Do you take your shots from the race boats in addition to the Committee Boats?

      • Endless Summer…I like that. I had to look it up: Wow. I would like to do a cross-lake on that. LOOK at all that room, look at those decks!! I’ll bet those lines go on for days when you’re raising the halyards but then you have electric winches? I have yet to sail on a boat with a keel like that but I’m new, give me time. Nice Boat!

        I do take shots while racing if I can sneak them in. My mast head shot is almost the entire fleet running down the wind and passing Bank Point Light. That was the entire course one night; all start from one end of Lake Muskegon and run to the other. It is considered one of the BEST race nights ever by all involved. It was glorious. I lost my water proof camera during the Hospice Challenge this Spring. I used to tuck it down my front but for some goofy reason I wore a different ‘underpinning’ arrangement and as we were motoring out of the club we were slapped by some waves so I put tucked my camera away (down my front) for safe keeping. She slid right through and the last thing I heard as I was reaching for lines was my camera scuttling across the deck and into the lake. I have a new one, not as good, it has a lot of pixels but the lens is ineffective so the photos aren’t real good. They’re nice but I’m not sure I could sell any beyond 4×6. I keep the new one on a lanyard. I’m learning.

      • SY Amandla is a dream. Thank goodness for those electric winches! Love your masthead shot. Sorry you lost your good waterproof but glad you’ve gotten a lanyard for the new one

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