North American Cruising Rally 2000
Report by Jim and Brenda Meara

With the Adirondack high peaks on one side and the Green Mountains of Vermont on the other, you wouldn't expect too much wind in the valley of lower Lake Champlain. There wasn't on Thursday, the day we arrived for the First North American Cruising Rally. 

But on Friday the wind picked up and, after the 9 am skipper's meeting, we had a great time sailing across Lake Champlain. From Button Bay State Park on the Vermont side, which served as our base camp for the extended weekend, we sailed to Westport, NY for lunch and some sight seeing. Westport is one of those picturesque port towns perched on the slopes of the Adirondacks overlooking Lake Champlain. We found a place to buy lunch and a town park with tables overlooking the white-capped lake. What we didn't find was dockage for our boats, but a nearby vacant beach was used by those of us who didn't bring a sufficient anchor for the wind and waves all around us. 

One of the boats picked up some grit in the centerboard trunk. After several attempts to loosen the board failed, we careened it but still couldn't free the board. We eventually had to remove the board and file off some loose paint to get the clearance needed. The amply furnished tool kit on Dick's boat sure came in handy. Speaking of tools, one of the boats had a long foam beach toy that was used to cushion the fiberglass bottom from the sand. The foam cylinder was more effective than the dock bumpers as the bumpers continuously washed out from under the boat while the foam held tight.

During all the commotion with the repairs and weather, we noticed the town crew placing buoys between us and open water. Because the wind and the waves were also acting on their 8 ft buoy tender, it was some time before we realized they were attempting to rope off the beach for the swimming season. After some hollering across the noisy surf and a few attempts at sign language, they decided to leave a channel open. That's all we needed to head back across the lake with most of us reefed against the stiff wind blowing down from the long end of the lake.

More members arrived on Friday and by the skippers' meeting on Saturday we had seven boats ready to sail. Those that attended the rally were: 

ERICKSON - Tom & Diane sail Opossum, W275 (a woodie).  They are from Gardner, MA.  Tom and their son have made several coastal cruises in Maine and Massachusetts with Opossum.

GURA - Abbey is from Douglaston, NY and sails W3475, which according to him doesn't have a name.  Since Abbey also owns a second Wayfarer, in addition to a Montgomery 15, we can forgive him for this oversight.  Abbey's usual sailing ground is the Atlantic side of Long Island, but in addition, he cruises the Chesapeake each year with some of his Montgomery  acquaintances and has been a regular participant at the International Wayfarer Rallies.

HARRINGTON - Dick & Margie.  We are from Euclid, OH and sail Blue Mist, W887 (a woodie).  Spending four consecutive days sleeping in a tent was a first for Margie.

MAARSE - Jake & Mary live east of Toronto and will be sailing Aalsmeer. Aalsmeer is the name of Mary's home town in the Netherlands.  Jake &  Mary operate a landscaping business. 

MEARA - Jim & Brenda live in Newark Valley, NY (Binghamton area) but spend the summers at their "camp in the woods" in the Adirondacks.  There, they participate in racing with a mixed fleet of small boats on Piseco Lake.  They sail The Passing Wind, W9901, which they acquired in Montreal last year.

McCLAY - John is from Wilmot, NH and is a former S2 sailor.  He comes from a family of sailors.  Recently he obtained Wayfarer W1443.  "She is tired and in need of much TLC but is still sound and sailable, albeit bedraggled to look at."  John has previously cruised Lake Champlain in his S2. 

PEDERSEN - Ivan, Suzanne, Annemarie (16), Chris (14) & Charlotte (10) are sailing Akvavit, W7350.  Ivan & Chris race regularly, and are based in Pickering just east of Toronto.  The Pedersens have had their Wayfarer since '81 and all love water sports.  In a pinch, Annemarie has been known to jump in and crew for her Dad. 

SCHÖNBORN - Al, Julia, Joanna (14) & David (12).  Uncle Al, North America's Wayfarer racing champ, needs no introduction and I'm not going to try.  Anyone visiting that fabulous CWA Web site, THE WHIFFLE WEB (, can't help being impressed and amazed by its content and quality.  Well, according to Uncle Al it was his kids who taught him how to do it!  They sail Shades, W3854 (a woodie).

On Saturday, we headed north, upwind,  towards Thompson's Point and the marina at Town Farm Bay for lunch and a rest stop. The sailing was easier than on Friday and with a little more sunshine. In fact it was downright slow at times which gave us a chance to enjoy the steep rock cliffs dropping right to the waters edge. According to the charts that Dick gave to each captain, some of these cliffs (Split Rock Point) tower up to 1000 ft. 

After all boats were back in our makeshift harbor at the foot of the bluff on which our campsites were located, we all enjoyed a nice dinner at Rosie's after a drive through the rolling Vermont farmland and foothills.

On Sunday, the weather shifted and brought a strong South wind with lots of rain. Our harbor, which was protected from the North wind, was now open to the wind and whitecaps from the new direction. That extra anchor sure came in handy. Prior to the worst of the rain, Dick and John sailed to Rock Island and back in their foul weather gear. The rest of us packed up for the trip home or enjoyed the other attractions in the area. Those who stayed until Monday found out what happens when a strong wind works on those dining fly tent pegs trying to hold on to the soggy ground.

I found this rally very enjoyable and really appreciated the opportunity to sail with other Wayfarers (a first for me). It was great to be able to talk to other Wayfarer sailors and to compare notes on the boats and rigging. My thanks to Dick and Margie for arranging this unique event.

With any luck , there'll be many more and Brenda and I will certainly be there. 

Jim Meara  W 9901  e-mail:

Hi folks, this is Brenda writing, giving the feminine point of view.  Yes, I too had a great time at the rally.  It was a good mix of sailing, sharing of information (which we badly needed), and socializing.  Sailors in general, but especially Wayfarer owners, are a very amiable and welcoming  group of people.  Most of us were strangers at the start but soon developed friendships which we hope to continue. 

I understand there is no other design of sailboat which has such cameraderie among its owners as the Wayfarer.  Wayfarer-ing is also good for the family, as was evidenced by the wonderful families participating.  The youngsters were involved, energetic and had such good manners.  They were a pleasure. 

Dick chose a particularly beautiful location, as Jim said.  For us it was reminiscent of Jackson Hole, WY, with a large flat plain surrounded by tall mountains.  The area was also rich in local history, and shopping for those rainy days, or for the non-sailors.  We were all camping, but there were plenty of local overnight accommodations for those who would rather not take their dry clothes into the shower. 

I have one suggestion for next year.  I noticed Annemarie Pederson was the only female who willingly took the tiller.  The rest of us women could take a lesson from her. I recommend a short powder puff cruise during next year's rally.  There are plenty of experienced young crew available, and the usual skippers can stay on shore with the non-sailing children and worry about the boat.  It may mean some bolstering of our courage, and some practice (for me), and even a few lessons (perhaps from an unbiased, patient instructor).  But I feel it will be very enjoyable, and a refreshing switch from our routine.  Besides, Margie and I  know the skipper doesn't work half as hard as the crew. 

My thanks also to Dick and Margie Harrington for all the work they put into making this first North American Rally a success.  Well..... I hope to see everyone, and meet some new Wayfarers, same time next year.

Brenda Meara,  Crew and Future Skipper   W9901

The Lake Champlain Cruising Rally 2000
Rally Report by Jim and Brenda Meara
Scenes from Button Bay, Vermont - 1
Scenes from Button Bay, Vermont - 2
Dick & Margie's photos
Dick looks back at 2000 and ahead to '01
return to Rallies index