FBYC’s Closing day race features a pursuit start distance race taking us on a tour around the mouth of the Piankatank and towards Fishing Bay. I was sailing aboard Mike Toms’ J105 and as one of the faster boats of the fleet we were one of the last to start. Winds were 12-18 out of the NNE and there wouldn’t be too many spinnaker legs.

Mike drove the start and the first upwind leg. We were able to quickly get by a couple of the boats that started just ahead of us. The next leg took us on a close reach back into the Piankatank towards #7 until the wind shifted and we could turn downwind and set the spinnaker. I was driving this leg while Clark was on the main pumping in the waves and getting us surfing when we could. The next leg south to 8 allowed us to get the spinnaker up and we did 1 jibe while in VMG mode before dousing the spinnaker around 8 for another close reach up the Piankatank keeping Nanuq well behind us. We picked off a few more boats before getting ot the turning mark at #13 and coming back the way we came.

Jon on the helm as we sail under spinnaker
Jon on the helm as we sail under spinnaker

Clark drove back while I worked on keeping the main trimmed and Mike T and Mike S worked on the jib. We passed the remaining boats except the two that remained just ahead of us. The final leg to the finish was from 8 back to B, almost in line with Jackson Creek entrance for about 1.25nm north. Knowing the direction of how the current came into the river we elected to come around 8 and continue on port towards Gwynn’s island before tacking to Starboard to fetch the finish.

Clark driving as we head back out of the Piankatank
Clark driving as we head back out of the Piankatank

When we tacked onto starboard it quickly became clear that the other boats that went left were being swept south by the current, vs where we were it was taking us west which wasn’t as bad. We just focused on our upwind speed and keeping the boat on our feet and managed to grind it upwind just a minute or two ahead of Nanuq at the finish for the win.


Afterthought near Mr. Roberts just before the start.
Afterthought near Mr. Roberts just before the start.

After threats of rain all week for this evening and even an afternoon shower a few hours before race time we ended up with beautiful weather and windy conditions for FBYC’s 2022 Moonlight Race. I was sailing with Mike S, Hunter, Clark and Mike T aboard his J105 Moo Hoos. The course would send us out into the bay, north the the mouth of the Rappahannock and then back into the Piankatank near Stove Point. There would be 2 starts with us as one of the 6 boats in the PHRF fleet and 3 in the cruising fleet.

Just after the start with Mad Hatter to weather at the boat end of the line.
Just after the start with Mad Hatter to weather at the boat end of the line.

We had arguably the best start of the fleet with a couple boats boxed out at the boat, we hit the line right on time a boat length down from the boat end. Unfortunately, Afterthought, a J109 able to point much higher then our shoal draft 105, was below us and forced us to tack away and in doing so we had to quickly duck Mad Hatter. That didn’t end up being too bad of a move as we got a nice lift and 1/2 mile later when we converged on the weather mark we were just ahead of Mad Hatter and just behind Afterthought.

Afterthought changing head sails.
Afterthought changing head sails as we sailed by out of the Piankatank.

From there it was another mostly upwind starboard tack as we headed out of the Piankatank and into the bay. Afterthought was overpowered and went for a headsail change while we were able to slip by them. When we got to the next mark we could see the current was ripping up the bay so we elected to tack and go south to stay out of the current before heading east to the next mark. While that was generally a good move, we took it too far and vastly over stood allowing several boats to ‘cut the corner’ so to speak and round ahead of us. All of this upwind sailing was in winds in the upper teens. We had a class jib up and a full main and worked to feather the main and steer between the waves while keeping the boat flat. Sitting on the rail we got drenched a couple times when we hit some of the larger waves.

Sailing out of the Piankatank with Afterthought behind us.
Sailing out of the Piankatank with Afterthought behind us (for now).

By the time we hit the far mark the sunlight that remained was gone and it would be a reach for several miles up into the mouth of the Rappahannock. We could see ahead that none of the boats were flying a spinnaker – we thought pretty hard about it but the wind was just a little too far forward to flying it in the dark. We still made quite a bit of ground up and could see both Red Sky and Mad Hatter on the next upwind leg and were just about crossing tacks with them. By the time we passed Stingray Point Light and rounded the last mark back into the Piankatank we were just ahead of Red Sky and just behind Mad Hatter. We were able roll Mad Hatter and by the finish we were able to get our time on Afterthought, but not on most of the rest of the fleet.

It was a fun race followed by ice cream and rum. Thanks Mike for having me along and to Tom R, Blackwell, Randy and Brad for being our race committee.


Saturday was FBYC’s Closing Day Regatta – this is usually the traditional end of the season weekend with big boats sailing a pursuit race on Saturday followed by oysters. Then we sail ILCA on Sunday in our final race of the day. With a low pressure off the coast, there is forecast wind all weekend. We ultimately canceled the ILCA regatta for Sunday though it wasn’t enough to cancel the offshore race.

Looking upwind as we sail to the finish

I was sailing with Mike Toms on his J105 Purple Wahoos. Aboard with us were a number of Mike’s friends from college and one other sailor we picked up on the dock. Being a pursuit race and being the 2nd fasted boat by rating, we had a late starting time and didn’t leave the dock until after the rest of the fleet. The race had already been postponed 30 minutes due to wanting to set a new course that would keep us a little more protected in the Piankatank. In the open water of the bay the wind was gusting over 30. Where we ended up sailing we had some gusts into the 20’s but was mostly in the mid to high teens for most of the race. The wind was out of the NNE.

We hit our starting time on a broad reach as we sailed south and then west up the Piankatank. We slowly caught up to boats ahead like GOIN and Morningtide. As we got to the turn around spot up the river the wind was predictably lighter and this is where we encountered most of the rest of the fleet. We eventually got around Mad Hatter and Sting.

The fleet behind us in the Piankatank

As we approached Fishing Bay we slowed a bit to put a reef into the main sail knowing this was the last opportunity we’d have to do this before sailing into more wind and the last leg was going to be relatively upwind. I had done main for most of the race and swapped with Mike and drove the bit of the race after needing a break from all of the sheet adjustments on the main to keep the right heel and speed.

On the final beat we were in 4th with Shenanigan just ahead of us and Corryvrekan and Sting just behind us. We were slowly able to pick off Shenanigan, but Corryvreckan came from behind to finish ahead of us leaving us in 4th overall.

Red dotted line showing the track we took.
Red dotted line showing the track we took.

Given the wind and conditions it was great being on the water and we made the most of what we had. It was a fun way to end the season followed by an Oyster Roast at the club.


We had a gorgeous night aboard Mike’s new to him j105 Purple Wahoos to sail Fishing Bay Yacht Club’s Moonlight Race on June 15.  Mike wasn’t able to sail so Clark, Scott, Jenny and I sailed the boat along with two kids.  The race was set to start at 7:30 at night and the wind was forecast to pick up overnight and so the RC picked the shorter 14 mile course for all 6 boats sailing. We were in the PHRF-A class against J109 Afterthought. Purple Wahoos is a shoal draft wheel driven J105.

The RC got the race started about 15 minutes late. That was enough time for us to sail over to what would be the finishing mark and get a ping on it allowing us to find it later in the dark. The start was downwind- we approached at the pin and set the chute just after crossing the line. The rest of the legs would end up being somewhere between upwind and reaching. I trimmed jib, navigated, did pit and drove half of a leg.

We had a great race and managed to correct to 1st in our fleet and 2nd overall.


I’ve finally gotten my photos from Key West Race week posted.  Many of them come from screen captures from the video cameras we were running.  Hopefully in another week I’ll have the video completed.  Some photos of the boat by the professional photographers are here and here.

Jon aboard Lucky Dog during Key West Race Week 2011

With racing complete, I had one final day in Key West for sightseeing before my flight out at the end of the day.  I visited the Hemmingway house and saw the 6-toed cats and the studio where he wrote most of his books.  I also visited the Key West lighthouse and walked up it to see the views of the area.  I made another stop to the shipwreck museum.

Hemmingway House

Key West Light House

My trip to Key West wouldn’t have been complete without more problems with flights.  All week the winds hadn’t been over 10 knots which didn’t make for great race conditions.  But today there were high wind warnings and so the plane flying in to fly me out wasn’t able to land because of it.  My flight was cancelled and Delta didn’t have another seat on a plane out of Key West until Monday.  So they put bunches of us in cabs and drove us 190 miles to Miami where I was put up in 2-room king bed suite at Embassy Suites.  My trip goes on another day…

Friday was the final day of racing and having had a day with only 1 race, the race committee bumped up the start time so that we could try and get in 3 races.  Out on the race course the wind was light and out of the same direction as it was on Tuesday.  In the light sloppy stuff we just didn’t have the horsepower to keep up with the fast boats.  By the 3rd race there was weather on the horizon and we played the side we thought the wind would fill in to, but it didn’t come in time and we were hung out there.  We ended up going 9-8-9 for the day putting us into 8th for the week.

After racing we had a few of our crew needing to catch a 5:30 flight so we got the boat completely packed on the water so that we could dock and dash.  Tal and I were the only two left so we caught up with the crew from Solaris and went to the regatta party and dinner.

Today was a rough day on the water.  It started out with an intense fog that limited visibility to only a couple hundred feet.  We were postponed on shore for 30 minutes before finally being sent out.  Initially the fog was lifting as we were heading out of the channel, but once out in open water it came in even thicker.  We didn’t have a chart plotter onboard so we ended up using a plotter app on my iPhone using coordinates radioed by the race committee to find their position.  One unlucky Melges 24 ended up several miles away on the Division 3 course.

Fog surrounding the signal boat

The Race Committee postponed us on the water until the fog lifted and then got racing started.  The wind was light in the 6-8 knot range and by the time we were actually racing it was rarely over 6.  At least the water was pretty flat so we weren’t bobbing around.

I can’t say much else about the racing because I didn’t see any of it.  To best position our crew weight while sailing upwind, Lud and I sat down below.  Being out of the sun with a slight breeze was more comfortable than being on deck.  If only we hadn’t tacked so much causing me to switch sides, I could have actually caught some zzz’s.

At the last minute before the mark rounding, Lud and I would spring onto deck and raise the spinnaker.  We’d be on deck until it was doused and then we were back below.  Results-wise it wasn’t the best day for us.  We put up an 8 and a 13 in two races dropping us into 8th.

After racing we did some packing at the condo as many of our crew are hoping on a plane immediately after racing tomorrow.  We hit up the regatta party, grabbed some sea food for dinner and called it a night.