Last fall Craig Dowley had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. He and four mates sailed in a race across the Atlantic. They began in the Canary Islands off the coast of North Africa on Nov. 24 and finished 20 days later in St. Lucia in the southern Caribbean.
The race was sponsored by the World Cruising Club. Two hundred and fifty yachts participated, ranging in length from 38 to 50 feet. Craig’s boat, the Annabella, was 45 feet. Craig reported with pride that they finished second in their class and 22nd overall. The coarse they plotted and sailed was 3,088 miles. They were one of six boats that never used their engines during the race.
“We did so well because we prepared for three or four years,” Craig said. “The boat sailed flawlessly. We replaced all the lines and sheets, and purchased two new sails. We added new safety equipment and a new generator. It also helped that we were all experienced sailors.
“It was amazing that after the first day we rarely, if ever, saw another boat. We all went our separate ways. But we did see a sperm whale and several dolphins. The stars at night were amazing, and the sunrises in the morning were incredible. On day six, we had southeast winds of thirty knots. The boat hummed along at nine knots for the entire day. It was really exciting.”
Race organizers kept track of all 250 boats with a special Yellowbrick satellite tracking system. Craig’s childhood friend, Skip Ivison, used the same system to monitor the Annabella’s progress on a daily basis.
“Would you do it again, Craig?” I asked.
“Not anytime soon because it took me away from my family for six weeks. But it was an awesome trip, a trip I will never forget.”
This week as Hurricane Arthur worked its way up the coast, we lost two longtime members of our community. June Curme, wife of John Henry Curme, died on July 2. June had been an East Chop summer resident for all of her married life. Family members remembered her as a determined, can-do woman who fixed all the appliances and other household irritants. She also never missed a yard sale, son David added. “Now we can finally have one ourselves. She was a great mom!”
On Thursday morning, Chuck Sanders died after a long struggle with leukemia. Chuck was also virtually blind for the last several years of his life, but these infirmities never kept him down. He loved to tell stories in that deep, booming voice, and he never lost his sense of humor. We will miss both June and Chuck.
Despite the lousy weather brought on by Arthur and the two deaths, I was heartened by two mainstays in our community. The osprey nest at the beach club survived the high winds of Arthur, and Emma Carmichael was seen all over the Chop on her new scooter. You go, girl! You make us all feel young and vibrant.
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