This weekend the Firefly crew competed in the Masters of the Potomac. We got last, we think, but that’s not the important part.
At 55 nautical miles (nm), this roundtrip race from Quantico to Colonial Beach was to be our longest race as a team yet. So this weekend we strapped on our headlamps, stowed our foul weather gear and beers, and hit the river.
With a forecast of about 10 knots (kn) of wind, we expected to finish the race in about 20 hours. In the end, we finished in 11 hrs 54 mins thanks to some heavy winds, sometimes gusting up to 20 kn it seemed.
The start line was nice and wide, so there wasn’t the unusual heart-pounding chaos we experience in Alexandria races. We started the race at 11 a.m., just off the Quantico Marina with our blue spinnaker flying strong. Then we settled in for what we expected to be a very long race, working in 1 hour shifts at the helm. I think rotating positions like this made the race worthwhile no matter the outcome.
The Firefly Crew Hard At Work
We all had an opportunity to gain better perspective of what every team member does for the boat. I had the tiller as we approached the rounding (midway) mark, facing 20 kn wind gusts and very choppy water. I faired okay, learning on the fly from Captain Dave how not to take the waves head-on. One good wave though got the whole crew soaked – even me all the way in the stern! Later, in calmer waters, I got to fly the spinnaker myself, which I rarely do since I work the foredeck for the team. Meanwhile, other teammates experienced the thrill of walking on the rocking bow and manning the foredeck.
With Sheila as tactician and me as the navigator (and Captain Dave supervising) we managed to plan and keep to a course. Admittedly though, there were some unsure times. Around 8 p.m., Dave asked me where we were, but in this wide river we hadn’t been near a mark in a long time. In the dark of the night, I had to admit I had no clue. So I made my best guess looking at the chart and GPS, and then waited until we passed the next mark to confirm. Using a flashlight, we read the green can’s reflective number – G23. My guess was off by about 4 miles.
Rhonda & Sheila Review The Course
It wasn’t all work. Sheila and Rhonda prepared gourmet meals on deck with Dave as sou chef. I brought along beers for the sunset cocktail hour. And later in the night, we rocked out to some music with glow-in-the-dark Halloween necklaces and bracelets. I even broke out the strobe light on my headlamp for the impromptu disco party occasionally. All in all, it was a fun race!
The Dinner Crew: Sou Chef Dave, Trimmer Sheila and Helmsman Rhonda