Southwest of Okinawa, Japan,_ Cloud Nine_ was running to avoid the path of Typhoon Forrest. Both my sons, Steve and Philip, were aboard at the time. At the reunion, Steve recalled going up the mast in a bosun’s chair to free a jammed halyard: “The wind was up pretty high, and my biggest challenge was holding on to the mast so I wouldn’t become a human tetherball when the masthead swung back and forth, probably 20 to 30 feet from port to starboard, as we ran downwind.”
Afterward, he described what it was like steering Cloud Nine. “We were running off down the backside of those waves, sometimes surfing at 12 to 14 knots ,” he said. “If we didn’t keep the boat pointed down the waves, the pressure would build to turn her sideways. It would’ve been like driving a car at 60 miles an hour and suddenly turning the wheel.”
And from Philip, who was only 15 years old at the time: “The waves were my biggest memory from the storm. Being down in between two waves and having to get to the top to see the horizon again, then skating down the back side of the waves was all pretty neat.”
Much of the credit for the success of the reunion goes to Gaynelle, who worked tirelessly on the preparation and details. It may well have been the largest gathering of saltwater sailors in the history of Minnesota. I’ve often been questioned about the potential benefits or risks of bringing additional crew along on a passage. I believe that one should choose crew carefully, but the outstanding highlight of my 40 years of cruising has been sharing the experience with other shipmates. After the party, I received many emails about the warmth and companionship that prevailed throughout the weekend. And such notes as “Thank you for enriching my life” and “It reminded me of who I am and that I can do anything” warmed my heart. The reunion is now over, but the treasured memories remain.