the 2019 National Long Distance Race...
as seen by Jim Heffernan
updated: 27 August 2019 at 1058 hrs - a work in progress
Doubt and Confusion in Long Distance Cruise/RaceThe 2019 Killbear Cruising Rally took on a new twist with the addition of a 11 NM Cruise/Race across Parry Sound using large islands as markers. The plan as described by organizers Alan Asselstine and Sue Pilling was to sail from a starting line at the campground boat launch on an easterly heading and round Depot Island near the entrance of the abandoned shipping harbor.
Then a nice 4NM close reach to round Horse Island, thence around Green Island and head back to the boat launch finish line. All islands would be left to port. AnnMarie Covington used her GPS to give us a general course for the long legs to Depot and Horse Islands. Initially Linda and I took a wide sweep past the downwind side of Depot Island but as the wind filled we followed in the general direction of the lead pack as they steered clear of the commercial fish farm marked by large red and yellow balls. Believing we were well clear, we were surprised by two thick yellow poly cables just below the surface. Linda quickly pulled up the board as we passed over the cables and we nearly stopped as the rudder got a good thwacking and then the rudder's safety latch released and we moved on, still not able to see the small marker ball well off to starboard that would have kept us safe had we been navigating wisely and not cutting corners. When the leaders hardened up on port tack, we bore away a wee bit to clear our air and make the ride easier for the next 4NM. After a check of the compass, we steadied on the recommended 345° heading to put Horse Island on our nose. Sailing this heading caused us to diverge from the lead group, Sue and Steph, AnnMarie and Andy, and Alastair and Sharon and their followers. Doubt began to gnaw. What do they know that we don't know? And then a mile later, "Jim, why are we the only boat going this way?" followed by, "Are you on a flyer again looking for the wind?" There was one other boat following us but it was too far off to identify.
As the Day Beacon that marked the passage between Horse and Huckleberry came into view, I knew we were on the right heading. But what if there had been a change made to round all islands to starboard. Committed, I was now resigned to watching the fleet pass us downwind as we slugged our way upwind through the island passages and then reached back to the finish line. When the fleet failed to materialize ahead, I was convinced the race had been abandoned in the rising wind. In any case, we were all alone with one unknown Wayfarer also struggling to stay upright in the shifty and gusty winds between the islands. Eventually we reached a point where we could see Wayfarers returning to Killbear Lighthouse Campground, so we fell in line toward the finish line, sure that the finish buoy had been lifted from the water and we would just be joining the others on the beach. Surprise! Mary Asselstine was standing on shore with the Wayfarer flag held high taking finishes and sounding the horn. We crossed first followed by Patty and Robin. Then Alastair and Sharon came into view leading a group that had finally peeled away to correctly leave the islands to port.
Next year at the rally, there will be many more islands to sow confusion and doubt as we navigate the currents of the St. Lawrence River. Maybe a GPS should be allowed to add more confusion? Jim Heffernan, W2458, Fleet 15
Sue Pilling [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
I think that is easiest for you to just tack on a thank you (no pun intended) to Wade Perkins, his daughter Kylie, and Sail Parry Sound for loaning and volunteering as our chase boat and of course, Jo Bossart for his professional photography.
Jim's report is good - he left out the part that he also helped plan the course. Someone summarized the day as "The blind leading the blind into Blind Bay". I like Jo Bossart's line in his photo email: "Commander Perkins (Wade), we seem to have lost the fleet!" They were waiting for the fleet to come around Horse Island for some good shots and we never showed up...