Saturday’s Cut Channel Race at Fishing Bay Yacht Club had a bit of everything from the weather. Light air, heavy air, storms, chop, smooth seas, etc. Lud Kimbrough, Mike Karn and I sailed the J/70 Nostalgia in the PHRF-B fleet of 6 boats out of 15 total for the race.
The race took us south and east and then due east across the bay before heading north up the shipping channel and back to the Piankatank. We had a great start and did well on the first upwind and reaching legs. On the 2nd downwind leg out to the channel we made a bad bet on the weather and fell back into the fleet.
After rounding the channel marker to head North we could see storms in the distance but with being so far out into the bay we didn’t have reliable cell service to check the weather. We donned our life jackets and battened down the hatch – we really did this – and prepared for some weather. We were also monitoring VHF 16 instead of the race channel so we could hear ships coming up the channel, etc so we didn’t hear any race announcements that the race was being shortened at the next mark.
Most of the storms stayed away and we could see lightning in the distance. One frontal system did come through and as the wind hit the boats behind us, we quickly executed our emergency chute down procedure to get it in the boat just before we were hit with a 25-30+ knot gust. We rode out the rest of the leg under jib and main still making 6 knots and as we approached the mark we saw Mr. Roberts there and saw the race was being shortened.
We didn’t save our time, but we had fun and got to try something different on a boat none of us had ever done a distance race with. Unfortunately for us, we finished at the farthest point of the course from home, which meant we still needed to sail upwind back home. We definitely didn’t have enough fuel aboard to motor the whole way, plus the boat goes faster under sail anyway. 2 1/2 hours later and after narrowly dodging another squall line and motoring from about 6 miles offshore once the wind died, we made it back to FBYC.