Sailing in the Around Long Island Race

Last week I sailed in the 2004 Around Long Island Regatta. I have previously sailed in the race two years ago.

When I could during the race, I kept a detailed journal that I thought I would share. I’ll post it segment by segment as I get it typed up.

29 July 2004, 0925 – Aboard a Brooklyn-Bound B Train.

I’m on my way to crew in the 2004 Around Long Island Regatta, a 3 – 4 day sailing race on a 190 mile course that goes, well, most of the way around Long Island.  I’m headed toward Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn to meet up with *Diane*, the 30 foot Beneteau sloop I’ll be sailing aboard.

Bob, the captain, Russ, another crew member and Marc, Bob’s son, sailed Diane from her home port of Huntington, Long Island yesterday.  They had to start at the ridiculously early hour of 0330 yesterday to make the tide at the notoriously tricky Hells Gate and then sail through New York Harbor to make Sheepshead Bay in daylight.  I’ll be joining them there along with Arch, the last of the crew.

The course for the race is pretty simple.  The start is off Rockaway Point, the western tip of the Rockaways.  From there we’ll sail east through the ocean along Long Island’s south shore to Montauk Point, the end of the south fork of Eastern Long Island.  Once we round Montauk, we’ll turn northwest through Block Island Sound towards Orient Point, the end of Long Island’s North Fork.  Once we pass Orient, we’ll head west down Long Island Sound toward the finish in Sea Cliff, a small town in Hempstead Harbor on the North Shore of the Island, about 10 miles east of the Queens Border.

Right now by B train is crossing the Manhattan Bridge and I’m looking at a trim sloop powering down the East River.  Perhaps she’s one of our competitors making her way to the start.

I sailed the ALIR aboard Diane in her last campaign in the race two years ago, with mostly the same crew.  Bob, Arch, Russ and myself are returning and Mark will be our fifth this year.  The ocean leg at the prior race was sailed in a stiff east wind that seemed to come right off Montauk, so we had to beat our way back and forth across the wind and heavy waves.  Our fifth crew member, Diego, last time got violently seasick before the start, and once we had crossed the line, collapsed into a bunk, where he lay immobile for the more than 24 hours it took us to reach Montauk.  Once we rounded the Point, we put up the spinnaker and sailed into calmer seas, he popped cheerfully out of his bunk, apparently none the worse for wear.  For whatever reason, thought, he’s not doing the race with us again.

This year the forecasts are for southerly winds of 5 to 15 knots, with 3 to 5 foot waves in the ocean. This should mean that most of the race will be on a steady reach in manageable seas.  Temperatures should be in the 70s and 80s, with partly cloudy skies. There are scattered thundershowers possible on Saturday, the third day of the race, but no rain called for before that.  If the predictions hold – and you know how likely that is – it should be nice conditions for a race.

In the 2002 race, we finished in on Saturday afternoon, a bit more than 48 hours after our 1420 Thursday start, and came in fourth in our division on corrected time.  This year we’re in Division 4, a division of six boats scheduled to start at 1420.  We’re hoping to do better than last time, but we’ll see what the course brings.

I remember that log… Glad you get to go again and are doing another log…

Looking forward to reading the rest!

1445 – 29 July 2004 – E of Gong “2" off Rockaway Point

We are milling around the starting area under power in a race postponement.   The nice breeze that we had leaving Sheepshead Bay has died.  The race committee started the first starting group, Group A, with a 1400 warning gun, 1401 preparatory gun, 1404 one minute gun and 1405 start gun.  The committee had started our starting group’s countdown sequence at 1415, but after our preparatory gun, they fired two guns signaling a postponement and announced on the radio that Start Group B and all following were postponed.  A few minutes ago they announced the abandonment of Starting Group A’s race to be restarted.

They just lowered the postponement pennant and fired the first group’s warning gun, so I’ll pick this up later.

1900 – 29 July 2004 – 40̊ 33.87’ N 73̊ 30.08’ W

We’re about two miles off Jones Beach, sailing along on a nice broad reach in about 7 knots of wind, making 4.3 knots over the water. We’re nearly four hours into the race, but let me catch up on what happened before the start.  

I took the B train to the Sheepshead Bay stop and caught the B4 bus down Shore Avenue, stopping a block from the Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club where *Diane* stayed overnight.  I walked to the Club and met the rest of the crew on the porch.  After a few minutes of relaxing, we took the launch to *Diane*.

Once aboard, we stowed our gear, slathered on suntan lotion, and Bob took us on two complete tours of the boat.  The first started at the "pointy end" and covered safety equipment, including the anchor, horseshoe buoys and man overboard poles, life rafts, PFDs, harnesses, bilge pumps and the like.  The second covered provisions and rigging.

Once briefed, we dropped off our mooring and motored down the channel out to the starting area, where we had southwest winds of a bit over 10 knots.  We put up the mainsail and cruised toward the starting area east of red gong 2 off of Rockaway Point.

My job, in addition to usual watch standing, is foredeck chief, responsible for putting up and taking down the headsails.  I went forward for some practice in setting and dropping the spinnaker and jib.

We put up the jib, dropped it to set the spinnaker, put the spinnaker up and down two more times, and reset the jib.  During these exercises, I called the race committee on the VHF radio to check in.  At about 1345 we were done, and began to mill around the starting area waiting for Starting Group A’s gun sequence to go off and getting ourselves into a good position for our start.  At this point the wind dropped down to just a few knots.

As I mentioned before, the race committee started group A at 1405, leaving us 15 minutes until our scheduled start.  We were working our way toward the starting line. Because of the light air and because it was permitted before our starting sequence, we twice put on the engine to advance closer to the line so we would be in a better spot to cross when the gun went off.  We noticed that the Group A boats hadn’t really advanced past the line.

Shortly after this, our sequence started and the committee called the postponement.

Right now our dinner of pasta salad and green salad is coming up, so I’ll put this down and pick up later.

I want to thank you a bunch for keeping the journal in terms that I can understand. See “pointy end” I get :smiley:

0930 – 30 July 2004 – 40̊ 49.67’ N 72̊ 27.34’ W

We’re just past the Shinnecock Inlet red and white sea buoy, a couple of miles off the beach, with about 30 miles left to go to Montauk.  It was an eventful night, but let me get back to the start.

Once the race committee had recalled Group A, they restarted the entire starting sequence at 1500, an hour later than originally scheduled.  At this point we were motoring around with just the mainsail up, so we got ourselves into position and raised the jib.  The wind was generally southerly, but still a bit variable, so we prepared the spinnaker for deployment.

With about three minutes to the start, Bob decided that we wouldn’t risk going across the line early if we put up the chute.  With the whole race watching, we neatly raised the spinnaker and lowered the jib.  Because the wind was just abaft the beam, we had the chute set well around to port.

We crossed the line on a spinnaker beam reach and headed for our first way point, the sea buoy off Jones Inlet.  When we settled on our course, the wind steadied forward of the beam.

In the fleet that were just a few of us flying spinnakers.  You’re really not supposed to be able to sail on a close reach under spinnaker, but we had it sheeted all the way back and were making good time.  For the next hour or so we had an on-again/off-again discussion as to whether we should switch to the jib.  Form what we could tell, the boats in our starting group were doing about equally well no matter which headsail they were using.

About an hour into the race, Bob decided to switch to the jib.  As we were changing headsails, the wind freshened and when we finished our sail change, we had picked up half a knot, but we really don’t know how much that was from the increased wind and how much from the sail selection.

Back on shore, before we set out, Bob had set the watch schedule, with Arch and I as one watch and Russ and Marc as the other. Bob would float, helping out and relieving watch standers as needed.  Arch and I had the 1600 to 2000 watch.  At about 1600, while the spinnaker was still flying, Arch and came back into the cockpit, and Arch took the helm, but the whole crew remained on deck.  Once we were settled down under jib, Russ and Bob went below.  Arch and I are switching off between helm and sail trimming, and while we have the sails set, the trimmer can relax and write or even snooze.

At 1930 Bob came up with bowls of pasta salad and took the helm to allow Arch and me to eat. After we finished the pasta salad, I refilled the bowls with green salad, and by the time we were done, out watch was over.  We handed off to Russ and mark and went below to try to sleep.

It is now just past 1200 and my watch is over.  In writing when I’ve had a chance switching off the helm with Bob and Arch, I’ve now caught up to being only one whole entry behind.  Rather than carry on, I’ll end this entry and try to catch a bit of a nap.