Executive Decision

Stay miserably focused on the economy, or keep a date with a sweet little cutter? It wasn't a debate for this man. "Sailor Profile" for our April 2010 issue

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Chancy flies the spinnaker on a tight reach through the Bahamas.Bob Grieser

Jon Eisberg took a good, hard look at the long-range forecast and knew what he had to do. Eisberg, a professional photographer and delivery skipper-as well as a writer who's authored features for Cruising World on chartering in Croatia ("Through the Croatian Looking Glass," February 2002) and negotiating the Intracoastal Waterway ("An Insider's I.C.W.," September 2004)-keeps his cutter, Chancy, on a mooring in front of his New Jersey home. In November 2008, with his busy schedule running powerboats down the coast on hold due to the gasping economy, Eisberg read a news story predicting a nasty and prolonged winter. He then made an executive decision.

The heck with that, he thought. I'm heading south. On a chilly morning early in January 2009, he did just that. Eisberg's Chancy is a Chance 30/30 built by Allied Yachts back in 1974, a sweet-sailing classic-plastic pocket cruiser that he's laid out and equipped for the solo voyaging he truly enjoys. Eisberg had a fast and largely uneventful trip down to Florida, then bolted across the Gulf Stream for a lazy sojourn through the Bahamas, eventually winding up that March in the well-known Great Exuma harbor of George-Town during the annual gathering of cruising boats for the popular George-Town Cruising Regatta.

That's where I came in. With photographer Bob Grieser, I'd flown into George-Town to cover the event for CW and was sitting on the beach at Stocking Island when my old mate Eisberg came strolling by-standing over six feet tall, he's hard to miss. The cruising world is a small one, but even so, to say we were surprised to run into one another would be an understatement. Eisberg was clearly having the time of his life and regaled us with the tales of his island travels in what had been an exceedingly windy season.

The holding ground in George-Town is particularly good, which may be one of the reasons so many cruisers arrive there, drop their hooks, and don't bother picking them up again for weeks at a time. Those sailors are not named Jon Eisberg. When Grieser and I suggested that it might be fun to take Chancy for a sail one afternoon, we didn't have to ask twice.

I hopped aboard for the ride while Grieser commandeered a Boston Whaler to take a snapshot or two once we were under way. Eisberg knows Chancy like the back of his hand, and before I knew it, he'd hoisted his big, colorful cruising kite, and we were coursing along on a tight reach at seven knots before ideal 15-knot easterly trades. Once everything was settled down, I dove below while Grieser got his pictures.

Now there must've been at least 300 cruising boats in the anchorage on that Bahamian day, and when I looked around, I was blown away by one obvious fact: We were the only one under sail.

While there are several morals to this story, the obvious ones are: 1.) No one will ever regret dropping everything on the spur of the moment and sailing to the islands. 2.) A well-found 30-footer is plenty of boat for the job. 3.) If you love sailing, you'll really love the Bahamas.

The next day, I looked out over the anchorage hoping to spot Chancy so I could thank Jon for the sail. But I was too late. His daysail in paradise over, the singlehander and his beloved boat were already heading home.

Herb McCormick is a CW editor at large.