Key West Race Week on a Budget

After years of talking about it, a group of members at the Palmer Cove Yacht Club in Salem, Massachusetts, finally decided we had to do Key West Race Week before we all got too old. The group included Joe Naroski, 66, John Burke, 71, Steve Kelley, 61, and me, now 64. We later brought in a young whippersnapper, Joe Grenier, 55. All of us have boats, but Naroski is the only serious racer.We
Author:
Publish date:
KWRR.int

After years of talking about it, a group of members at the Palmer Cove Yacht Club in Salem, Massachusetts, finally decided we had to do Key West Race Week before we all got too old. The group included Joe Naroski, 66, John Burke, 71, Steve Kelley, 61, and me, now 64. We later brought in a young whippersnapper, Joe Grenier, 55. All of us have boats, but Naroski is the only serious racer.

We needed a boat. An old Tartan Ten beckoned, but the cost of new sails soon had us looking for something smaller. Eventually, we purchased an old J/24, although everyone told us we were too old to sail the boat competitively. We recruited Grenier, who owns J/24 No. 22, as our coach, and picked up a used main, jib and spinnaker from North Sails.

We’d heard estimates that Key West would cost around $8,000 a head for a trailerable boat under 30 feet. This was way beyond our budget, so we found ways to economize. Because Steve is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, we were able to stay at the Key West Naval Air station for much less than the cost of a hotel. We also did a little camping. Our total cost for housing was around $125 each for the week. Others were paying three times that much per night.

We had light winds and calm seas on the first day of racing and took second out of the five boats in the PHRF 3 class in the first race. A fourth in the second race put us third overall. That night we earned our share of swag at the awards ceremony. We couldn’t believe we’d actually won something.

Unfortunately, there were no awards on Tuesday night, thanks to a poor finish in the second race, but a pair of thirds on Wednesday got us back in to the winner’s circle. On Thursday we struggled in heavier winds and chop, but still we were tied for third overall with two races to go.

A third in Friday’s first race gave us a two-point lead. In the last race we had a great start and scored another third, clinching third overall in our class. What a great way to finish our first-ever Key West Race Week!

The moral is: you can do Key West on a budget. We did it at a cost of about $1,000 each and had an experience we will never forget. Yes, the J/24 is a killer boat, especially for anyone over 60, but what fun! Our new motto: “Old guys rule.”

Related

emSelf-tacking-jib

Ask Sail: Are Self-trackers Worth It?

Q: I’m seeing more and more self-tacking jibs out on the water (and in the pages of SAIL) these days. I can’t help thinking these boats are all hopelessly underpowered, especially off the wind, when compared to boats with even slightly overlapping headsails. But I could be ...read more

01-LEAD-hose-leak-CREDIT-BoatUS

Know how: Is Your Bilge Pump up to the Job?

Without much reflection, I recently replaced my broken bilge pump with a slightly larger model. After all, I thought, surely an 800 gallon-per-hour (gph) pump will outperform the previous 500gph unit? Well, yes, but that’s no reason to feel much safer, as I soon discovered. The ...read more

190314-viddy

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: A Source of Hope

The tagline for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is "serious sailing, serious fun." However, for the inhabitants of St. Maarten, the event is more than just a festival of great music and some of the best sailing around. Local blogger Angie Soeffker explains the impact the race ...read more

SPOTX-1500x1500_front

Gear: SPOT-X Satellite

Hits the SPOT The SPOT-X two-way satellite messenger is an economical way of staying connected to the outside world via text or e-mail when you’re at sea. As well as the messaging service, it has a distress function that not only alerts authorities if you’re in trouble, but lets ...read more

_8105684

A Kid’s Take on the Northwest Passage

Going North—and West Crack! Crunch! I woke with a start to the sound of ice scraping the hull of our 60ft sailboat, Dogbark. In a drowsy daze, I hobbled out of the small cabin I was sharing with my little sister. As I emerged into the cockpit, I swiveled my head, searching for ...read more

Nathan-Bates-San-Diego,-CA

SAIL 2018: Reader's Photographs

Are you out there sailing, cruising and living the sailing life? If so, we’d love to see it. Send your sailing photos to sailmail@sailmagazine.com And don’t forget to sign up for our free eNewsletter. Check back for updates! We set sail from Chicago on a crossing to Saugatuck, ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Let her breathe When the wind’s so light your cigar smoke goes straight up (or it used to, before having fun was banned) any well-designed yacht with a clean bottom will somehow keep on sailing if you ...read more