Moosehead, The Long Way. 4/6/13

It’s official: the 2013 Moosehead Long Way is in the books. Of ten boats starting, six made it the thirty-five miles to Mt Kineo and back. How windy was it? Well, we didn’t see dogs getting blown off their chains, but Lee Spiller has to get the raw balls award. He was sleeping in his van at the launch site, but had to move to a calmer spot because the van was getting so buffeted by the wind that he couldn’t sleep! And it’s not just about getting some sleep, but he must have been laying there awake thinking that he actually has to sail in this stuff in the morning.

And this is what the morning looked like: Did I mention we discovered a half inch of snow to add insult to injury?

How windy was it? It was so windy that at one point in the middle of the largest bays there was a shallow white-out of wind whipped ice pellets. The wind was scouring the surface of the smallest chunks loosening in the noon sun and just driving them in a blast-cloud.

Yes, that’s a pressure ridge hiding in the white-out. There were five pressure ridges between Greenville and Mt. Kineo, all easily crossed, some under sail once scouted by the first boat. The ice was very good, probably a 7. Peter Coward spent some time on a particularly fine plate doing speed runs while the rest of us were trying to keep our speed down! Denis Guertin’s brother, Yves, did the whole trip in a DN with a full sail and kept us amused with his gymnastics. He is an excellent athlete.

He nearly wore through the heels of a new pair of boots trying to slow the boat down!
Francois and Kate Morrone both busted stud plates, Denis and Lee both had rigs come down; the rest of the boats held together amazingly enough. Always tape your pins in heavy air. Steering pins included!

This is Mt. Kineo in the distance, our windward mark. The ice was as good as it looks in this picture. The roster: Warren Nethercote, Denis, Yves and Frank, Curtis Rinlaub, Lee Spiller, Bruce Brown, Kate Morrone, Dave Fortier, myself, and the hard-core bros Lamb and Coward.

The happy gang in the shadow of Kineo, too tired to set up a proper line. We sailed into this cove and all just coasted to a stop in a silent lull. There wasn’t a breath of wind in there, and it took some work getting back out with the little storm sails. But once around the point it was fifteen miles of delightful downwind sailing. We had to brave a reach every now and then but generally it was nice and deep. I did get way ahead at one point and thought I should beat back up to the fleet, but a couple of minutes of that was enough so I peeled off and continued sun bathing.

Aside from the ridges and the drain hole over which Denis unintentionally flew his windward runner there were no major flaws. If this is what we can expect from Moosehead in the spring, let’s consider cultivating our spies and make this an annual event. The one change we should make is to take Bruce Brown’s advice and have lunch at the turn-around.

Thanks to Curtis for the maps, Denis for the commemorative stickers, Warren Nethercote (8 hrs from Nova Scotia!) for finding the lodging, Kelly’s Bar for keeping us well fed and juiced, and Christian Jacques for scouting the ice last week which set this whole event in motion, and to everyone who had the faith to make the drive. Faith, after all, is just asking your heart to believe what your eyes can’t see and you mind can’t understand. It’s finally time for some well deferred boat maintenance, and maybe even a little gardening. And as you are sitting on the porch this summer sipping your gin&tonic, the ice cubes will be speaking to you: it’s not just mindless clink-vlink against the glass. What they are whispering to you is THINK ICE!

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