Sailing, Sailing, and more sailing!  We spent today crewing on a raceboat in a regatta on Charlotte Harbor and had a wonderful time!

20110123RacingInCharlotteHarbor-013Our entire reason for wintering in Punta Gorda was simply because Charlotte Harbor is so well known as a sailing community.  We wanted to cram as much sailing knowledge into our heads in as short a time as possible, and what better way than classes and racing?

With our ASA 101, 103, and 104 classes at Charlotte Harbor Sailing School, we figured that we couldn’t realistically fit any more lessons in during the time we’re here, so that means racing!

The Punta Gorda Sailing Club has a form online where you can sign up if you’re willing to be crew, or put an ad if you need crew for your boat.  Colette signed us both up for the ‘we be crew’ list, and John Lange from JM Marine in El Jobean called us a few days later looking for an extra hand or two, and his demeanor, skill level and attitude fit right in line with our mindset.  He told me right up front “we’re not going to win, but we’re out there to learn, have fun, and do the best we can with the equipment that we have.”  My kinda guy.

20110123RacingInCharlotteHarbor-039‘High Voltage’ is a 27 Catalina project boat, certainly not the speediest boat out there, but good fun and a good learning experience.

We were expecting to be cold, as the temperatures had dropped into the 30’s Saturday night, but we lucked out – moderate temps with highs in the mid 60’s, and clear blue sky with nary a cloud to be seen – nice!

When a brisk north wind comes up, Charlotte Harbor is well known for emptying – the tide goes out, and the wind keeps the tide from coming back in.  This leads to low water everywhere, and we ended up stuck on a shoal on the way out of the channel to the harbor for about 30 minutes.  Rocking the boat, working the engine and rudder, and patience eventually worked us off the bottom, and out in the harbor – to the cheers of diners watching from one of the restaurants at Fishermans Village.

20110123RacingInCharlotteHarbor-006The race was exactly as we expected – we didn’t win, but we all had a great time and it was a great learning experience for everyone involved.  Nothing broke, we didn’t hit any other boats, and most importantly – we didn’t suck.  We ended up coming in 3rd and beating half of the field, but that simply because those were the three boats that didn’t show up for this race Smile I know from my days racing motorcycles – you don’t have to win every race to win a championship!  Just show up day after day, make your races, and keep collecting those points.

The next race is Sunday, February 20th, and we’re both looking forward to getting out there and learning some more!