2021 Cedar Key Boat Meet

The last week in April, Clam Girl rode her trailer in daylight - brake and turn lights okay, but headlights weren't - to Cedar Key and Dennis and Stormy Moran's dock on a shaded canal. A hundred yards east of their dock, the 10 to 20 yards wide canal bends south southeast for 130 yards, then turns south southwest for another 100 yards plus, to Daughtry Bay. Since we sail over high tides, the flood was against us leaving the dock and the ebb against returning. Wind on the canal was whacky-flukey.

Being less than a quarter mile, I'd hoped to sail it and not pick up a paddle, so I never struck the sail or brailed it to the mast, nor even rigged a line to control the flopping tiller. I began to understand, though, Dennis's allegiance to his outboard engine on his 8 foot, Puddle Duck Racer.

CLC Eastport Ultralight dinghy The 35th boat meet should've been in 2020. This year, 2021, most people came the first weekend in May, and confusion brought a small group the second weekend. Combined attendance was off, but, we were a beaming bunch, the boats as diverse as ever, from Dennis's jauntily rigged PDR, sailed daily, to Kristi and Simon Lewandowski's F31 trimaran, Firefly, sailed up from St Pete carrying their Goat and an inflatable dinghy, then swung ten days at anchor.

Thursday, April 29th. Karen was up north and her brother Bill was busy, so sailor-paddler Ida Little crewed. Out of the canal, we beat full sail for Atsena Otie Key's exquisite Channel-thru, finding its southwest entrance obscured by rampant mangroves.

Bolger Fieldmouse, courtesy Josh Colvin Friday, full sail. In the canal, paddling easily, Pat Ball smiled ruefully, recalling the last time we'd paddled Clam Girl when the breeze fell, from the Shell Mound to Town before the 2019 boat meet. Two days later in Sarasota he'd had a heart attack. "Judy'd be really pissed if I have another one."

Wind outside was southwesterly 10-14 knots, so too much sail area, although easily countered by feathering and hauling down the vang. The strong flood encouraged us to work in above Atsena's north bar, fall off grooving it, and nibble onto the beach. Dennis was taken away, "fighting the current."

Bolger Fieldmouse, courtesy Josh Colvin Saturday, May 1st, full sail, I soloed to Atsena to reacquaint and catch up. Laughter seemed more frequent, jocularity greater. Playing in the sand at the water's edge, Matt Layden's father-in-law, Jack Bayha, radiated mutual glee with Myten, his two year old great grandson.

Sunday, Single reef. After greetings on Atsena, Tosh, in his Sea Pearl 21, Strider, sped west, followed by the Ossolings' Crotch Island Pinkie. Simon's Goat passed me; Dennis fell back.

Bolger Fieldmouse, courtesy Josh Colvin Again Atsena's Channel-thru compelled me. The tide was lower than Thursday, challenging the leeboards' aluminum toes. Observing it for 35 years, the topography appears to have evolved, seemingly as fast as sand castles built and washed away. Out of Atsena I tacked past the beach, returned jovial hales, and fell off port tack for the canal.

Monday, May 3rd. Dave Thomasson joined me for a single reef west southwesterly. Leaving the dock and the next moments were a clumsy cluster of careening off stuff across the canal. Crash here, crash there, fend with the utility paddle, then paddle hard over half the canal's length.

Bolger Fieldmouse, courtesy Josh Colvin On Atsena, wind had grown. Dave wanted to return and I'd double reefed. Charging back, he said, "When are you gybing?"

"Gybing?" I'd been headed to the dock, but Dave had a gripping urge to go to the Faraway Inn, before we blew by it. We blasted straight up the beach. A couple watchers from the shade gave me an iced beer, and Dave one, too, when he returned.

Getting away in the chop, wading alongside, I'd let go the rudder uphaul too soon. It bounced on an oyster clump and lifted out. Oops - surge back to the beach. The fellows that gave us beer waded and shoved us away, seconds after my toe found an oyster clump. We sailed most of the canal.

Tuesday, at the house Simon wired a "trailer light converter" into the Focus. He was pleased with probe testing.

Bolger Fieldmouse, courtesy Josh Colvin Saturday 8 May, in the morning on Atsena, Rob Hazard trial-sailed Goke Tomlinson's double reefed Bufflehead sailing canoe, N8R. Rob's Slipper, the graceful Herreshoff "Coquina" he'd built, has a yoke and rudder line, giving him immediate comfort with the Bufflehead's steering sticks.

Driving Clam Girl home, headlights and trailer lights were perfect.


Valerie died December 10, 2022

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