This past weekend was the Lukemia Cup Regatta out of Fishing Bay Yacht Club. This is typically a huge event around the Deltaville sailing community. I was sailing on Dixie Rose again, Jim Snowa’s boat operating as the Bowman working the spinnaker.
I woke up at 7AM, which is a real challenge for me at the campground since the temptation to sleep in is very strong. I made Andrea and myself some sweet potato pancakes and made a lunch to pack on the boat. I felt really bad about leaving Andrea on at the campground alone. Typically, she has ridden on the committe boat “Mr. Roberts” from the Yacht club and taken picture of me sailing, but this time, the committee boat was packed, and there was no room for her.
Saturday started off with a few bits of trouble which should have been our warning. On the way out, we found that the outboard motor did not want to run any more than half throttle, so we were relegated to only running about 3.5 knots out to the race location. On the way out, we deviated off the Jackson creek channel just a bit, and bumped the sand. Thankfully, we didn’t get stuck, and were able to back the boat back off the sandbar and continue on our way easily.
They say things come in three’s though, and they did this time too…Since the motor was giving us trouble, we decided to sail (well, after all, it is a sailboat!) So we prepared the mainsail. One of the other crew members began to pull the halyard, but it was unusually light…because it was not attached to the sail! It went up the mast about halfway, which meant someone had to retrieve it. That would end up being me, since I was the lightest and most nimble on the boat. They tided a rope around my shoulders and belayed me with another halyard as I climbed the mast. I didn’t think I was particularly good at pole climbing, but I shimmied about halfway up, and then pulled myself up on the spreaders, grabbed the wayward halyard and headed back down uneventfully.
Not long after getting the sails up and cruising underway did we get hit by a big rainstorm. It didn’t last long, but really cooled things down and made visiability a challenge. Thankfully, the little rainstorm brought us in some wind, and allowed us to start the race. This little rainstorm however was not the end of our weather troubles for the day however. Later on, the wind fizzled, and we were left drifting away from the mark. We started to get some wind that pushed us around the windward mark and we flew the spinnaker.
What we were unaware of though was what was creating the wind! It was a nasty thunderstorm! Being out on the water with a big metal pole in the air is not recommended during a thunderstorm! While I was working the spinnaker, a huge bolt of lightening flashed in front my eyes while I was adjusting the sail. That was a sight that quickly turns a lazy sailing day into sheer panic. We still didn’t hear from the committee boat calling the race however, but we decided to head home. It wasn’t til the 3rd lightening bolt that they decided to abandon the race and send everyone home.
While there was no more lightening on the trip home, there was torrential rain and zero visibility. We were navigating by GPS and compass because we could not see land nor determine direction by the location of the sun! This was truly the most adverse conditions I have ever been on the bay in!