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- Dec 03, 2013
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Join SAIL on our 2014 Snowbird Rally down the ICW. After a Halloween party kick-off in Hampton, VA, Wally Moran, longtime ICW cruiser and SAIL's Contributing Editor, will lead the troops on a journey south. We'll stop for potlucks and parties along the way and end in Miami, FL, just in time for you to stay there or head to the islands for the winter.
Back in the day I owned a salty gaff-rigged ketch named Autant. Traditional to a fault, she had no electricity, plumbing, winches, roller-furling or any other modern conveniences. Nor did she have an engine, though there were plenty of times when I wished it were otherwise. Like it or not, those years I spent cruising without an engine were emphatically educational.
Gazing upon Cayuga Lake on a calm August day, I am struck now three decades later by my vivid memories of what must be every sailing instructor’s worst nightmare. It was supposed to have been a picnic, a final exam for the summer sailing program at the local yacht club. Instead, in less than 20 minutes, it turned into a terrifying, life-threatening maelstrom of wind and water.
It all started midway through a cruise on Mexico’s Sea of Cortez when we were having dinner aboard Born Free and Chris of Starship announced: “Anne-Marie [his wife] and I have been talking and she agrees, we should do a partner swap.” An uncomfortable silence followed as I failed to respond.
Though we’d dragged our 6,000-pound Balboa 26 over three mountain ranges and through seven passes, our pilgrimage from Colorado to Washington State had been relatively carefree. After that we’d spent three weeks in the Gulf Islands east of Vancouver, all without a serious mishap. Then, as we were moored in Oak Harbor preparing for the final leg back to Seattle, everything changed.