Saturday, October 16, 2010

Schooner Racing on the Bay - A Photographic Essay of the 21st Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race

As I sit here at my computer this evening writing this blog, I can honestly state that as soon as we moored the Spirit of Independence after finishing the race, if we had just turned the boat around and retraced the entire trip, I would gladly do it again without hesitation. What a fun time with a great crew, incredible boat, excellent captains - JC and Joy - terrific sponsors, and volunteers to create and incredible racing experience.

And I could easily write a book of information about our schooner racing adventures, but I decided to create a photographic essay instead so that you can look over our shoulders and experience our adventure though the eyes of my camera. So first I would like to introduce you to the captains, crew and guest for this year's Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race (GCBSR). We will start and the end, go back to the beginning and come home again.

Jim Dyson, Whitney Rayl, Capt. Joy Waters, Peter Mulhern, Ester Simpson, John Beauchamp, Allen Graves, Faye Bailey, and Capt. JC Waters soon after finishing the race with our race banner signed by all.

On Thursday morning in Fells Point the day dawned gray, and while the capt. and most of the crew went to the meeting in the town's square, I had to go to a coffee shop called Bonaparte to use their internet. No sooner had I finished forwarding pictures to Joe Elder at Skipjack Nautical Wares than the heavens opened up and it started to rain. Having no rain gear for my camera and computer bag, I borrowed a few trash bags from a local coffee shop. Back at the boat at our appointed departure time of 9 am, I stored my gear, put on foul weather gear and by the time I was up on deck we were well underway.

Looking through the windows in the pilot house aboard the Spirit of Independence. Navigation station shows position, radar, depth and a view from the video camera looking toward the bow.
By the time we got below the Bay Bridge at Annapolis we began to set sail to be ready for the appointed start time of 13:40 hours.

Setting sails in preparation for the start.
Schooners soon after the start of the race.
Schooners after the start seen across the deck of the Spirit of Independence.
Soon after the start the wind died, we slowed and soon showed a speed of .1 knots. After about an hour, or so we were still within sight of the Bay Bridge near Annapolis.

South of the Bay Bridge after the race start, a moored commercial ship and schooners spread out across the bay.
Fortunately the wind picked up again and we sailed in rainy conditions with dark sky's and incredible views of other schooners in the race.

Schooners sailing in the rain.
Schooner seen across bow the Spirit of Independence.
By evening the sun came out and the wind was out of the north.

Sails rigged wing-on wing for a down wind run.
The Martha White illuminated with the evening sun.
Clearing skies and the deck of the Spirit of Independence.
Sunset and strategy session for the night.
Sunset Thursday evening with a lone schooner to the right
Sunsets bring out all the cameras and become an unannounced all-hands-on-deck.
Jim Dyson at the helm with the reflection of the sunset on the window glass.
Sunset Thursday evening.
After sunset Thursday evening we sailed into the night keeping watch and trimming sails. We set a new speed record, after midnight, for the Spirit of 11.2 knots. Dawn brought us close to our objective and the finish line at Thimble Shoal. Last year we completed the 127 nautical mile course in 23:44 hours. This year we shaved off some time and finished in 20:11. Not sure how the results will come out, but they will be announced later today and we should place well.

Spirit of Independence.
Traditional signing of the race banner just before the group picture at the top of this page.
Most of the schooners are moored here in Old Town Portsmouth where I am now writing this blog. Come on out this weekend for Schooner Days here in Olde Towne Portsmouth, Virginia and see these magnificent vessels for yourself. Some are open for tours and all are great for photographs. The Schooner Virginia is unfortunately moored in Norfolk.

Fair Winds,
Allen B. Graves

All photographs were taken by Allen B. Graves.

No comments:

Post a Comment