Yes it was a great last sail but unfortunately Strawberry’s (Kirby 30) last sail. The race was going great. June and I had decided that we would sail the race double handed without the spinnaker. If the conditions where right this would give us a big advantage in the race. Sometimes you end up sailing up hill against the wind all the way around the island. The extra 15 seconds on our PHRF handicap can be an nice side benefit on a long race.
Thing where going well for us we where in the last division to start and had passed a lot of slower boat and where on a nice down wind reach going north in Trincomali channel. The wind looked way stronger on the Galiano side of the channel so with chart in hand I thought we could go in between the Ballingall Islets and Wise island. Well lets just say the reef was not that deep and we clipped it and rode up on it. June was thrown into the bulkhead and received a nasty cut on her lip that was spurting blood. Now this in not a good position to be in. Wife crying and profusely bleeding boat high and dry on a rock (both the tiller and rudder). Luckily there is a nice man who lives on Walace he came over in his power boat and I threw him the spin halyard and we where over and off and back in the race (technically out). June was still bleeding on my beloved boat so I needed to get her a few stitches so we sailed over to the Fernwood dock and she jumped ship. Wendy Vine from the race committee was nice enough to drive over and meet her and take her to the hospital. The strange thing about dropping her off at the dock was no one rendered any assistance to her. There had to be ten people all on the dock and they just stood there and starred at her. They might of thought it was a domestic dispute and I was throwing her off the boat. It was very weird for Salt Spring. June received three stitches and text me she was OK. I had thought I could pick her up on the other side of the island but she was a little to shaken up.
The race must go on. With just a little water coming in I could not resit the chance to single hand the rest of the course. It proved to be a great race. Strawberry gave her all and preformed so well. Coming out of Samson narrows we crawled over to the cow bay side and had a nice 14knot breeze behind up that made the old girl fly. Truly a magnificent sailing boat the Kirby 30. If this was to be her last sail it will be one I remember for ever. The big main was at it’s best on the run towards cape Kepple. I walked on so many boats it is a great feeling. 10 minutes on a reef will put you at the back of any race.
I have run two 42km marathons one in Greece, Marathon to Athens and one in Paris. During the Athens race I started at the very front of the pack and it was demoralizing having faster runners passing me all day. On the Paris race (30 thousand runners) I was the last one to start and passed people all day. It just makes you feel better. I have the same time on both races (3:20 range) but emotionally I was way stronger in Paris.
The nice thing about being in the mid fleet on a long race is you can avoid the parking lots (stopped boats) and pass by them on the outside or inside (never sail towards a stopped group of boats they are not having lunch). My strategy was to sail way south and avoid all the dead air in Fulford and Beaver Point. The only problem was all the wind died and everyone sat their having supper. I tried to get out side and work the tides and was hoping to get a jump on the fleet and hit the line before them all but the wind filled in from the Salt Spring side and I made a mid pack finish. The only tense part of the race was at the finish. The wind had picked up to 10 kts and there had to be 60 odd boats going in every direction dousing sails. I chose to sail off and do it on my own time.
Strawberry is up on the hard at Canoe Cove with a 25 thousand dollar repair bill. I have to admit it is nice to have boat insurance. If I did not I would be at Canoe Cove with my West System kit. Just waiting for the cheque now. It should be sent out soon. June had been driving me mad with all this talk about a new boat; what about a J24, how about a Santana 525, Martin, etc…
Special note to all who sailed on Strawberry Express Kirby 30 hull #9 a big thanks from Scott Simmons. Hopefully that will not be the end of the boat. Someone (not me) will buy her and rebuild.