By Commodore Tad Lhamon
Desolation Sound, BC to the Carolina Coast
Beginning last fall, after the Desolation Sound Cruise where we enjoyed hosting the club to a favorite local cruising ground, Joyce and I sailed South to visit the other two CCA stations on the West Coast, SAF and SOC. Arriving in San Francisco too late for the famous Tinsley Island gathering of sailors, we were pleased to be included with more than 40 members and guests who attended the station lunch at St Francis YC on October 1 with RC Terry Klaus presiding. The featured speaker, Dirk Rosen, gave a wonderful tale of ocean research conducted by deep water robots, which ultimately netted him a Bonnell Cove Foundation grant. Sailing activity in and around St Francis YC was non-stop with at least five events occurring the day we departed.
Sailing on to Southern California, we recognized that the SOC membership is scattered along the coast of much of the southern part of the state so multiple stops were the answer. Holing up first in Santa Barbara and Oxnard to travel to the Toronto meeting, we then sailed on to Newport Beach where advance guard Larry Somers guided us into the Newport Harbor Yacht Club where we raised a glass with local members. After a few days, a lovely slip at Mick Bacich’s house became available, so we moved there and flew home for Thanksgiving. Returning in December to be with the SOC station for the annual holiday dinner, about 87 members and guests found the time to gather in Newport Beach for the annual holiday dinner led by RC Bill Barsz. Here the warmth of CCA fellowship was readily apparent, and the balmy weather was a treat for us northerners.
Moving south after a day of preparation, we found other SOC members in and near San Diego. By the time Lyric was secured for the winter months to the Coronado Cays dock of a neighbor of SOC RC Bill Barsz and PNW member Dan McDonough, we’d logged countless meals with CCA friends, and over 1500 sailing miles and met more than 100 CCA members in these three stations. Time now to adjust sights for the East Coast.
After the St. Martin Club cruise in late March, we loaded Lyric on a truck in San Diego and unloaded her in Ft. Lauderdale – arriving in a mere week via the Interstate highway system, not months later via the Panama Canal. Launching went smoothly courtesy of the advance intelligence and physical assistance rendered by Steve and Karen James, and we proceeded to meet with the FLA station, first in Ft. Lauderdale at the James home where a pig was sacrificed for the occasion and RC Tanner Rose presided over a festive evening. Sailing out the cut early Sunday morning in Ft. Lauderdale, Lyric showed her stuff after a brief intimidation in the form of SIX cruise ships entering the harbor as we were exiting for the first time. The 80-mile voyage to Stuart went quickly in a single day assisted by almost three knots of Gulf Stream and a brisk SE wind. The regular FLA station lunch drew about 40 members and guests in Stuart and our stay was enhanced by the cheerful assistance of Jim and Sue Chambers, and by the repair skills of the workers employed by CCA member Brad Mack.
Having said good bye to the FLA station for the moment, we’re now headed to Charleston to pick up CCA crew for the voyage to Bermuda. The 250-mile offshore passage to the St. Mary’s Entrance, on the Florida/Georgia border renewed our routines for offshore sailing, and ended with some unpredicted northerlies that added real topography to the sea surface. Now cruising the Intracoastal Waterway behind Georgia’s fabled Sea Islands – Cumberland, Jekyll, St Simeon, Sapelo, and St. Catherines –as we learn the skills of a ditch pilot, marking off each marker as it is passed, we’re reading the tale of the 1929 blue water medal winner Slade Dale, who skippered the Coastal Queen down the ditch in 1962. This book, a gift from Barbara Watson, is a delightful history of this area and the people who developed it, and a perfect example of the many kindnesses we’ve seen on the trip so far. For a special treat, we had a chance meeting with one of CCA’s newest members, John De Regt aboard Starlight with his wife Joan, as we weathered out a squall at Jekyll Island with peak gusts above 50 kts.
There’s no question in our minds that the CCA clan is as good as it gets and we’re looking forward with great anticipation to the rest of the voyage.