Gail Bowdish

Crew, Joy For All, Farr 50

2009 was my fifth Caribbean 1500, and the second crewing on Joy For All. It was a clean start, with enough wind to sail and we quickly settled into our watch rotation. My watches were 12:00 to 3:00, so I took the first watch. On Joy For All, the “on watch” crew is responsible for sail trim, watching for other boats, keeping us on course and watching for weather. David followed me on watch and after he excused me, he invariably started tweaking the sails to look for an extra tenth of a knot of boat speed. Of course, I did the same thing when I came on watch after Gil. You put four sailors on a boat and you’ll have four different opinions about how to trim the sails.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather. Our Gulf Stream crossing was rather benign. We had reached the edge of the stream by 0200 the first night, and I slept through most of it. We had occasional squalls during the last half of our passage, but never saw more than 35 knots of wind, unlike some of the slower boats behind us. Two days out from Tortola, our mainsail furler broke, so we were unable to reef the main. It happened at night, but it didn’t slow us down. Our daily mileage ranged from 168 to 205 miles, giving Joy For All her fastest passage yet, covering 1300 miles in six days, nineteen hours, and 17 minutes.

People have asked me why I keep doing the rally, and why boats like Joy For All keep coming back year after year. For me, it’s the people, the camaraderie, the social events, seeing that pink flag while cruising down-island and knowing that you share a passion for sailing and have accomplished something that only a small percentage of people on the planet have done. I’m proud to be a rally veteran, and after such an enjoyable passage as this one, I’ll definitely keep coming back as long as I can find a boat to crew on.

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