Tuesday, July 19, 2005

SECOND REPORT: Newport Bucket

We motored out through Newport Harbor for the first race of the 2005 Newport Bucket on Saturday – a procession of 70’ plus classic and modern yachts, some outfitted for racing and others for well heeled pleasure cruising. I was aboard the S/V Avalon, a 106’ ketch with five professional, full time crew. As our crew T-Shirts clearly indicated, the boat split its time between Nantucket and St. Barths – not exactly tough duty. Our start had been delayed due to a layer of fog that was only just beginning to lift. In the harbor it was brilliantly sunny, all manners of craft on the water including the ubiquitous water taxis, a couple of classic 12 Meters under sail, a swarm of sailing dinghys at the edge of the fog bank under the Pell Bridge. I had a lesson on the primary winch as we motored along. It was push button but the gears were a little tricky so I practiced switching from the faster first gear to the slower second, used when the load was on and only slight adjustments were needed. The professional crew were mostly quiet, only speaking when necessary to instruct or to accomplish a task. The rest of the pick-up crew chatted happily – some knew one another, others had just met…but everyone was thrilled to have the chance to go sailing on a glorious Saturday in Newport. I admired the green sweep of the lawn in front of the NYYC's Harbor Court clubhouse, the precise grouping of buildings and fortifications that make up Fort Adams. The air smelled of brine and diesel. Our American flag snapped in the breeze off the stern. Captain Tom called for a crew meet and everyone gathered on the aft deck to discuss positions and tactics. The breeze had built and we had nearly ten knots true...

No comments: