This year was one of the my best sailing years ever. Here are a few of my most memorable sailing moments this past year:
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain
It didn't make the most sense in the world for me to sail in the Charleston to Bermuda Race this year. It used up more than a week of treasured vacation time during my daughter Laura's senior year in high school, but when I talked to her about it, she said, "Go for it!" I'm glad she had read Twain. Ned Goss at Ocean Sailing Academy offered me a spot on the 45-foot Hylas, E's Alee. I appreciated the way skipper Steve Enloe and first mate Scott Sale fit me in with their crew of five students for the 777-mile race that turned out to be an odyssey. We ran into contrary 30-knot winds, huge waves, and generally trying conditions. Our crewmate Elin Cate has posted a video of our trip on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pt-OyYMxtY. Take a look and see what you think.
"I cannot not sail." E. B. White
So said Charleston's "Accidental Sailor," Shannon Runquist, the local artist who attended a charity auction intending to buy a sweetgrass basket and left the event the owner of a 26-foot sailboat. I love it when new people get into sailing. Shannon doesn't sail, but she wants to learn and come out for CORA races. Her plea for help reached me through cyberspace, I wrote about it in this column earlier this month, and as I predicted, the Charleston sailing community came through
Ryan Hamm has offered several experienced crew from his James Island Charter High sailing team. She now has partners to help split the costs of the boat, and they're planning a renaming ceremony to name it "Outside the Lines," which is an art term. This spring, Shannon will be fulfilling her dream of riding the wind and waves.
"It's remarkable how quickly a good and favorable wind can sweep away the maddening frustrations of shore living." Ernest K. Gann
"The chance for mistakes is about equal to the number of crew squared." Ted Turner
Racing on Ken King's Sabre 38, Quintette this past year was one of the biggest unexpected sailing pleasures I've ever had. Quintette won more often than not, and the atmosphere aboard was totally calm. My position was usually in the cockpit trying to stay out of the way of our mainsail trimmer and jack-of-all trades, George McAbee. Every race, as we prepared to round the windward marks and hoist the spinnaker, George would say in his molasses-thick Southern drawl, "You fellas better have all y'all's stuff in one bag when we get around this mark now." Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn't.
After the Wednesday night races that we won, we would all dive off Quintette and swim in the Ashley River just off the Battery as the sun set. One night the full moon was rising over Sullivan's Island in the east just as the beautiful Spirit of South Carolina came under full sail between us and the orange moon. I pinched myself just to make sure I wasn't dreaming.
"Being hove to in a long gale is the most boring way of being terrified I know." Donald Hamilton
Just prior to the start of a Wednesday night race in July, a thunderstorm came through with 50-60 mph winds. Call it a short gale. All the CORA sailboats headed for shelter. There was no way Quintette was going to make it back to her berth at Ashley Marina before we got pounded, so Ken hove to in the Ashley, set the anchor, and we rode it out. The blast didn't last long, but it packed a punch. After the wind came the frightening lightning. It was the worst storm I've ever ridden out in Charleston Harbor.
Reach Will Haynie at email@example.com.