I don’t know how you spent the first couple weeks of February, but I spent mine on a junket. Thanks to the Australian marine trade group AIMEX, rather than shoveling snow off the dock in Newport, Rhode Island, I was halfway around the world enjoying the middle of summer and having a hell of a time playing with boats.
And so, while friends back home spent their Saturday afternoon perhaps polishing up their cheese heads and marinating chicken wings for a Super Bowl Sunday feast, I was a day ahead and already enjoying a super Sunday: In sweltering heat aboard a Steber fishing boat, I sampled icy cold Cascades and shucked prawns while we took a tour of Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
Minutes later, as we got set to raft up to an anchored Seawind 1160 catamaran so a few of us could jump aboard and go for a sail, a chop spread quickly across the water, making the transfer of bodies and hors d’oeuvres a test of wills and fenders. Dark clouds filled the sky, the chop turned to serious waves, and the forecasted “southerly bustah” arrived with a vengeance, ushering in a noteworthy 20-degree drop in temperature. The locals took a curious delight in our introduction to this distinctly Aussie weather event.
We put two reefs in the main, raised the anchor, and were off, flying past the National Maritime Museum and out into Sydney Harbour itself with 20, then 25, then 30 knots on the beam. Spray flew off the leeward hull as we passed the Opera House, and all around us crews scrambled to reef sails as boats rounded up in 40-knot puffs.
Reluctantly, I handed off the wheel to my fellow junketeers, and we sailed on for another hour or so, taking in the sights of a very boat-friendly city and a harbor brimming with ways to get out on the water. Back ashore, I was content with the fact that should the rest of our trip be a complete bust—it wasn’t—this sail alone thoroughly rekindled a New Englander’s ice-drenched and snow-covered spirits.
So now, back in the still chilly Northeast and with CW’s April issue in your hands, it’s time to get on with it because our own summer is nearly upon us. For those of us not lucky enough to sail year-round, it’s time to start making those lists of what needs to be done when the shrink-wrap comes off and before you let go the dock lines for the first time since fall.
This month, you’ll find lots of helpful advice for those spring projects in our annual commissioning Hands-On Sailor section, which begins on page 66. You can also pay a visit to CW_’s website, where we have a hefty archive of how-to stories from _Cruising World contributors over the years. While you’re there, be sure to check out our latest online addition, Ed’s Boat Tips, a storehouse of articles by longtime CW writer Ed Sherman. Ed develops the training curriculum and helps draft standards for the American Boat & Yacht Council, so you could say he wrote the book on how to maintain a proper yacht. Following his frequently updated tips on upgrades, refits, and tools will help to ensure that all your projects come out right.
The days, at long last, grow in length, which is a good thing when you’re ticking off items on the boatyard to-do list. Best of all, it’s just about time to go sailing.