Cruising

Charlie and Jenny McNamara

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Lady, Catalina 470
Winners, Class III

After over a week at the dock, we were anxious to leave Hampton, even though the start was not until noon. We were all up early, ready to go, and departed Blue Water Yachting Center around 9:30 am. The wind was strong as we headed to Thimble Shoal Light. The cruising boats went on ahead, while we waited for the start. Finally we were off, trying to stay to windward of the fleet, exiting the Chesapeake Bay with US Navy warships leading the way.

What a thrilling ride down the coast! We could see Virginia Beach high rises through the cloudy day. Winds were 7 to 9 knots on Lady, and the crew was eager. Crossing the Gulf Stream off the coast of North Carolina made all the men ill, but they recovered the next day, with the help of good medicines provided by the ship’s medical officer.

The weather grew quickly warm enough for shorts. For days and nights the wind blew and Lady flew. We had only one light air day, when we turned on the engine for a few hours. Great meals and not enough sleep.

A small brown bird took refuge under the dodger for a few minutes. We took pictures of deep blue water with frothy white foam. When the big swells came in from Canada, we turned downwind to avoid rolling Lady. After they passed, we were able to sail with the wind forward of the beam until the lights of St. Thomas were off to starboard.

There was some excitement late in the voyage when the autopilot failed, but the end was in sight, and Lady crossed the finish line about seven and three-quarters days after she started. Ashore there were sunny days and rummy nights, and making friends with everyone else who had made this amazing voyage.

Jenny McNamara

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