2001 North American Cruising Rally Report

Tom Graefe

Windy Point lives up to its name

The North American Cruise Rally was held on Chaumont Bay at the eastern end of Lake Ontario from July 12-15. Chaumont Bay is around the corner from Kingston, Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and the Thousand Islands. The rally coincided with the Canadian National Cruise Race, held on July 14. Jim and Brenda Meara (W9901) provided both inspiration and logistical support, and eight boats and respective crews participated. Reports from all attendees (first time and repeats) are all very positive—good sailing, good socializing, and good food.

Attendees were:

Tom Ericksen –Possum, W275.

Tom, Nel, Anna & Will, and David (Tom’s brother) Graefe—W9668.

Andre and Monique Girard, W3098

Bill Harkins (I need you number and name Bill!)

Dick Harrington & Margie Cervenik -Blue Mist, W887

Jake, Mary and Renee Maarse - Aalsmeer. W9657

Jim & Brenda Meara - The Passing Wind, W9901.

Al and Julia Schonborn -. Shades W3854

Chaumont Bay is nestled in a historic region of Lake Ontario that has seen much sailing action over its history. A sample of this past includes proximity to Sacketts Harbor, which served as the regions primary U. S. naval headquarters during the war of 1812, and was the scene of several battles between American and British forces. In deference to the usual mixed nationality of Wayfarer owners I’ll not describe the won-lost count of the battles. More locally, the town of Chaumont produced many schooners, measuring as long as one hundred thirty five feet, which were launched from Pt. Peninsula, Chaumont, and Three-Mile Bay. These ships sailed Lake Ontario, the Chaumont River, and the St. Lawrence River, carrying crops, lumber, people, and limestone.

Most of the crews attending the rally stayed at Long Point State Park, located on the northeastern end of Pt. Peninsula. One web guide to the park said "Constant lake breezes keep the park cool and mosquito-free." and this assessment coincided with the nickname given to Long Point by my parents when we camped there over 35 years ago, ‘Windy Point’. The reputation proved auspicious and accurate, as folks that arrived on Thursday found winds in the 20-knot range blowing off the Lake and right across the point. Excitement is the polite term for the fun had by those who sailed or tried to sail. The order of the day seemed to be caution and one reef, and even then one capsize and near thing chastened all. The park has a well-sheltered ramp and docks in the lee of the prevailing wind, but it was somewhat deceptive—not much wind at water level, but a lot more further up the mast as it came whipping across the point.

The official rally kicked-off on Friday morning with the Skipper’s meeting, chaired by Dick Harrington. The weather was mixed clouds and sun, with temperatures in the 60’s-70’s—quite nice when the sun was out but a bit chilly when overcast. Wind in the morning was 15-25 knots, and predicted to stay there or go up. Later, consensus seemed to be that on the water it was 20+. After introductions, much discussion, and coffee, the decision was made to go three to a boat with a reef, and to head for the water that was somewhat shadowed by Pt. Peninsula. Best laid plans were revised in the true dynamic fashion required of all sailors, when Tom Ericksen arrived with Possum in tow (having left Gardner at 3:00 AM Friday Morning). This resulted in a reconfiguration of boats into teams of two, with the same general itinerary—sail out and around Cherry Island and back to the park. It was a great sail, with plenty of opportunity to, as Dick H said it, ‘ put some water in the boat’.

The wind did not relent for the group dinner on Friday night. So all were happy the barbecue and potluck dinner could be held in the moderate shelter of the State park pavilion. Everyone was even more pleased with this arrangement when a shower passed through just as dinner was about to be served. The genuine Ohio beef and fire-baked potatoes as well as various other salads were delicious. Uncle Al supplied brewed coffee that left some coffee lovers tantalized but deprived as they forgot to bring their mugs. It was a great chance to talk with many new acquaintances, and for others a chance to catch up with old ones.

Saturday was the Canadian National Cruise Race, and Uncle Al has provided pictures, maps of the course, and results on the Whiffle. As usual there was a skipper’s meeting for discussion of course and timing. Also before the race horn sounded there was ample time to look at all the individual boats and their respective innovations and rigging adaptations. For me, a new Wayfarer owner, this was both fun and informative. I could see that folks who had owned their boats for many years had accumulated a lot of subtle alterations, whether oriented for cruising or racing. The weather had moderated a tad, but was still partly cloudy (well maybe a bit more than partly cloudy). Seven boats participated, and the preparation and start was a sight rarely seen at the park. Although the sheltered inlet on which the boat facilities are built is a regular anchorage for larger boats cruising the eastern end of the lake, the camp regulars seemed to find the idea of a fleet of dinghies intriguing and even entertaining. (Even Wayfarer lovers have to admit vacations in the park must be pretty slow!) The course itself involved sailing to Shangri-La for lunch (and what more can you want than beer, bait, food, and gas—well who needs the gas!) and then sailing to Chaumont past Pt. Salubrious and back to the park. I am not sure many cruises can claim two such affirmative waypoints. Crews changed a bit mid-race at lunch. Bill Harkins arrived from Washington, D.C., via the Adirondacks and joined on with Jake Maarse, Dave Graefe, who had been sailing with Tom Ericksen, departed and Tom continued on alone. The course provided a mix of a reach, a beat, a long run from Shangri-La to the mark near Chaumont, before turning back up wind to the park.

When the sun came up Sunday the long predicted and postponed clearing had occurred, so it was a gorgeous Lake Ontario day. The wind had died down (perhaps a bit too much) but the warmth was welcome and many folks got their boats out for a good sail before packing up to head home.

Dick and Margie before Cruise meeting


Dick Harrington and Tom Ericksen sharing a laugh—perhaps about the mice that used Tom’s sail as bedding last winter?


Dick rigging Blue Mist for the cruise while Tom Graefe watches (both doing a great job!)


Jake Maarse and Andre Girard before the cruise


Blue mist hove-to and getting a nice shot of Possum crew enjoying a fine sail


And another of Jim and Brenda Meara moving along


Another angle on Possum


Prerace discussions can be almost as much fun as the race it seems


Tom and Nel Graefe in cruise race.