Aug 30, 2008

Small Reach Regatta

This photo of Hog Island courtesy of Douglas Oeller.

Sponsored by Wooden Boat Magazine, and organized by senior editor Tom Jackson, the third annual Small Reach (as it is affectionately known) was a huge success! Not really a regatta at all, but closer in spirit to the European raids, this year's event attracted over fifty traditionally inspired and mostly hand-built small craft. Attendance is by application only, and we (myself, my crab skiff Cricket, and crew Holly) were happy to have been included. Situated on a beautiful old former dairy farm in Maine, Wooden Boat's spectacular property includes a floating dock and several hundred feet of waterfront, plus a large mooring field on Eggemoggin Reach, approximately east of Deer Isle, and southwest of Mt. Desert Island. Camping was generously provided free of charge in the old pasture and apple orchard overlooking the reach.

A traditionally built Alfjords Faering owned by Ben Fuller.

Each morning in the pole barn, Tom Jackson would lay out the day's course and give us an idea of what sort of conditions we might expect. It is up to each skipper to familiarize him or herself with the course, and the prudent mariner will plot a few quick compass bearings and make a note of distances to be covered. Navigation is all line of sight... until the fog rolls in! It is amazing how quickly that can happen in Maine, and how short the field of view can become.

All boats were required to have a vhf radio, the appropriate charts, a compass, and a fog horn. We on Cricket were happy that we complied.

A typical course might take us around several islands, landing on one for a rendezvous and lunch (photo op), then to another location before turning home.

A beautiful Washington County (Maine) Peapod.

There were several outboard powered escort vessels in constant radio contact with the fleet, ready to lend a hand if the need should arise. In the evening, most of us chose to anchor our boats out in the mooring field to avoid having to haul and re-launch from the steep ramp. I learned several things about Cricket over the weekend. For one thing, she rows beautifully. I was afraid that all of those double-ended beachboats and peapods would leave us behind if we were forced to row, but not so! We rowed several miles all told, maintaining a very easy 2 mph speed, and stayed in position with the fleet.

Cricket, with Holly at the helm.

Also, she rode to her anchor quite well. She has been known to sail around it, but with plenty of scope, she sat happy as a duck. Some folks made fun of my extra heavy anchor and chain, but I slept well at night. Launch service was provided by the saltiest outboard semi-dory I've ever seen, complete with bow pudding and yard dog. John, the operator of Fetch, was an amazing boat handler, and atypically, not grumpy or taciturn at all (and neither was the dog)!

John, with Fetch and Yard Dog.

For a complete story and more pictures, visit my own blog here.

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