Small Reach Regatta

Small Reach Regatta: Day 2 in Drake Rowboat

I was a little nervous beginning day 2 on a long reach with a potentially gusty offshore breeze that would carry the fleet 8+ miles to the lunch stop. The cracked mast step was only glued back together last night. Would it hold? This was going to be the same tack that I was on when it snapped. I didn't want to ruin this sail!
While the rowboa
ts and sailboats waited for the whole fleet to be launched and hoist sail for the departure, I
lounged on the floorboards enjoying an egg sandwich made by the caterer who cooks for the event. The food is great and the camaraderie while dining is something I enjoy every year. I saved my sandwich for this moment, laying back on the thwarts in the morning sun watching all the sails around me skitter about waiting for the moment when the lead chase boat would say "every body is in, let's go!".

The sail was east to Flanders Bay where we were to lunch at a bar connecting Ash and Sheldrake Islands (family islands that I arranged for us to have as a lunch spot). The fleet sailed on port
tack on a beam reach for all 8 miles to the stop. It was a hoot to say the least. Drake was right up with all the Caledonia Yawls and other larger sail craft. People were quite surprised to see this long, skinny rowboat pass them or hold position next to boats with much larger sail areas. And to my delight the mast step held.

But this morning was proving something that I try to espouse whenever possible: a rowboat with at least some keel to it can sail downwind quite
fast, but not up wind. And you don't need to ruin
the lines of the boat for rowing and you do not need to add the complexity and drag that a centerboard or daggerboard introduces. Lee boards are simply not necessary for off the wind sailing. Drake has enough stability and keel to even sail without any slippage on a bean reach, and this was a revelation this morning on Frenchman Bay.

The lunch was quick as the tide was eating up the bar -- we arrived a little too late. But the scene was quite spectacular with MDI and Tunk mountain and islands all around. I was the first boat to the bar and the 50 or 60 boats sailing into the bar was just a blast to watch.

The return trip was a 8-mile row to windward, through Sorrento Harbor right by Hancock Point and dir
ectly to Lamoine State Park. Drake showed her stuff by being able to row a steady 4+ knots back to the start line and beat most of the sailboats that had to tack many times to get home. This is what she was designed to do: sail smartly off the wind and row efficiently upwind. If this were a real RAID I would have no doubt t
hat we could be very competitive and with a larger boat for two rowers, probably win. But I enjoy the autonomy, privacy, and relaxation that rowing and sailing alone can bring.

Drake in the Small Reach Regatta on the Coast of Maine: Day 1

The Small Reach Regatta was the next stop in my busy summer. The SRR is a gathering of 70 sail-and-oar boats, this year, at Lamoine State Park and put on by the Downeast Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association. Irowed and sailed (downwind) his rowboat design Drake and consistently finished in the front of the fleet (but of course it wasn’t a race!).

This event is an annual gathering and a wonderful chance to test and showcase the boats CCBB sells and builds to designs from around the world, for example Michael Storer in Australia, Francois Vivier in France, Eric Risch in Maine, Bruce Elfstrom's beauties and my own designs. We will be carrying kits and building boats produced by a Finnish builder, Suomen Puuvenepiste. These are unique, semi-exclusive agreements to bring new sailing and rowing boats into the US market as CNC cut kits, bare hulls, and finished boats up to 25 feet. My hope is to bring a demo boat from all these folks to boat shows and events like the SRR. Next year we'll have a Goat Island Skiff Yawl to show off like this one built by a kit customer in TX for the Texas 200:

The event was three days. Day 1 was a short windy upwind row and downwind return to a classic small Maine coast island. Every day features an interesting lunch stop, a wonderful opportunity to rest and to look at others' boats. Moreover, I see it as a learning experience to talk to the builders and owners of the boats. I learn something new from every one of the boats. For me, the SRR is about the finest form of professional development I can get.

On the downwind return to camp, a small squall came through and the force overcame my mast step..."WHAM!"...I heard the snap and the boat lurched and we nearly capsized. The first night was a quick repair with polyurethane glue while the sun set. Day two was to feature a long, fast broad reach to the lunch spot, and there was no way I was going to miss sailing that stretch! I was repairing until I couldn't see anymore boat...will it work?