Thursday, September 06, 2007

2nd Place for Skipjack Martha Lewis

As regular readers of my blog know, I have a bigger obsession than tanka poetry, and that is the Chesapeake Bay, and skipjacks in particular. Over Labor Day(s), I spent five days crewing aboard Martha as she took two days to get down the Bay to Deal Island (I wonder if the name was originally 'Ordeal'), one day to race, and one day back. I did get showers which made life bearable because it was sunny and hot on shore. On the Bay it was sunny and very pleasant, and I have intensified my tan with only minor sunburn to report.

Martha took second, outsailed by the spry Captain Art on the City of Crisfield, who at 86 is the last of the old time skipjack captains. He still drudges, too. Art is a Deal Islander and knows his waters, and he's been winning skipjack races since before our captain was born. It was a duel up until the final stretch. We made the first mark but he cut inside us and got ahead, then we caught up to him. We parted ways when he ran up the bay and we took our turn for the next mark early, way ahead of everybody else.

Turned out we turned too early and had to tack back to make the second mark, thereby losing ground that we had gained. City of Crisfield was waaaaay out there, and came screaming into the next mark on a broad reach - her best point of sail. Captain Art trusted his boat's ability to reach to give him the speed he needed in spite of us taking a shorter course, and he was right. We crossed her bow and tried to steal her wind, but he pulled away from us. He was just ahead of us going around the last mark, and then the wind died.

He got the City of Crisfield wung out, and though we tried, we couldn't get Martha to run wing and wing. Skipjacks are hard to wing out because of their club-footed jibs. Only one other skipjack got her sails wung out, which I do believe was the Rebecca Ruark. She'd had a block break earlier that cost her time and she wound up coming in fifth. There were three skipjack's fighting it out for third and a piece of the money. But as it was, the wind went nearly dead and we dawdled toward the finish line. City of Crisfield sails well in light airs, and we couldn't catch her, although we tried. We came in a quarter of a mile behind her (7 mile course). It took about an hour and a half.

Looking back, a flock of skipjacks was rounding the mark behind is, crossing each other and coming about, fighting it out for third. The fight was among Rebecca Ruark, Thomas Clyde, H. M. Krentz, and Fannie Daughtery. The third place spot went to Fannie Daugherty.

Finals were:
1st City of Crisfield
2nd Martha Lewis
3rd Fannie Daugherty
4th H. M. Krentz
5th Rebecca T. Ruark
6th Thomas Clyde
7th Helen Virginia
8th Somerset
9th Wilma Lee

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