This year was my second Round the County experience and it completely blew last year’s out of the water. This year was an absolute blast both on and off the water thanks to both the fun crew we had on TP52 Sonic as well as other wonderful friends in the community at seemingly every turn.
The adventure began for some of us on Friday morning for the delivery. I showed up a little early, partly to get a handle on things on the boat and partly because I was just so darn excited to get the weekend started. Once the crew had all assembled it was time for a 7+ hour trek up to Anacortes. We left the dock, we pointed the boat North and music came on. On our way out of the dock there was a sea lion hanging out on the Meadow Point buoy. When my sweet senior dog was in his last months I started noticing sea lions and seals more and more. I came to realize that after he passed any time I saw one it would mean that Murphy was saying hi. The sea lion started barking and then there was no doubt that my dearly departed kiddo was wishing us well on our journey.
We could not have asked for better weather for a delivery. It was a beautiful sunny day albeit a tad bit chilly, it was November after all. As crew manager one of my important duties is making sure my people have fun, so to that end I had brought a few surprises for the weekend. I wasn’t the only one who had surprises though, a fellow crew-member Preston had a stuffed unicorn to surprise me with, how sweet! The unicorn needs a name, pop on over to my Facebook or Instagram to help me name him and you can win a Sailing Unicorn sticker pack. One of my surprises was introducing those on the delivery crew to the wonders of the POG mimosa. For the uninitiated, a POG mimosa is like a regular mimosa but is instead made of a unicorn-sized pour of bubbly and a splash of delicious Passion/Orange/Guava juice. I was super gleeful and excited to pop the first bottle of the trip but sigh, our skipper had other plans.
“Lizzy! No champagne until all AIS beacons are installed!” -skipper Marek
“What do you mean I can’t have champagne yet? FINE!” – me (immediately demands all PFDs come on deck NOW!)
The rest of the crew was a little too entertained by this exchange but having nearly finished the other boat prep items like running jacklines and programming what seemed like a million waypoints into the chart plotter they had been busy as well. Beacons did eventually get loaded in and armed with MMSI numbers logged with who they were assigned to just in case the unthinkable happened (thankfully it didn’t!).
As the delivery carried on we continued to have fun on the boat with a mix of light-hearted conversations and some great heart to hearts. The benefit of being on a bigger boat is you aren’t in quite as close quarters which allows for more one on one or time getting to know others on the boat. Part of why I volunteered to be crew manager for Sonic is the opportunity to become more invested in the culture on the boat and take care of the wonderful humans who are giving a lot of their time and resources to sail this boat. I’m really enjoying spending time with our crew, everyone brings something special to the team in their own way. The weekend held a lot of bonding with the crew at different points and I’m proud of how we’re coming together.
Alright, enough mushy stuff. We finally made it to Anacortes a little bit after nightfall (and the second surprise I brought, homemade hot buttered rum!) and it was time to party after unloading the boat! We moseyed over to the skippers meeting/party at the wonderful Anacortes Yacht Club and availed ourselves of the delicious spaghetti feed (yay carbs!) and tasty beverages. It was fun to catch up with other sailors and friends at the club. When the party was winding down we didn’t yet want to so off to the infamous Brown Lantern we went. More merriment and drinks were had, and at one point I was razzed by crew from another boat for (GASP!) wearing my Musto boots to the bar. Oops.
Saturday morning EARLY boat call of 6:30am. May or may not have felt a bit fuzzy-headed as I crawled out of my bunk and into the clothes I would wear for the day. Our skipper is very conscious of weight on the boat but in order to avoid disaster I cleverly hid the french press that was originally on the dock cart to be stowed in a car. As many sailors know, caffeine is an essential piece of safety kit. As we motored out to the start, I started feeling more excited which surely had nothing to do with the fact that I could feel the caffeine kicking in. There was a supreme lack of wind at the start, we were bobbing around forever as we watched other boats take the current out. We were lucky though, we at least were able to cross the start line in time when some other boats were not. We were catching a little bit of wind and then… it dead. What follows is a scattered depiction of the remaining events of the race:
Sails up, sails down, sail up, sail down. Everybody on the low side, move to the bow, oh yay, wind is up a little bit, two bodies back, ah the wind died again, let’s go down to the drifter. Repeat who knows how many times. Marek broaches the subject: “it’s 3:30, shall we retire?” Crew pretty much unanimously says “YES”. Marek 5 minutes later: “Ah let’s wait a bit and see if anything fills in.” Grumbling occurs under the breath of many. I sneak out the pink sparkly flask of “Secret Crew Manager Water” and share it with some very grateful crew. Sorry skipper… Wind continues to not exist, current continues to not do any favors. I’m about to lead a mutiny. Marek a few minutes later: “Ok, let’s call it.” Motoring to Roche, sails go down incredibly efficiently, music comes on, flasks come out. Me: “Wait, it’s getting dark, time for PFDs. Yes, that means all of you!” More grumbling from crew. Almost in to Roche, wait what’s that weird vibration? Music off, listen to engine, back up, phew, we just untangled from a giant wad of kelp. Pull in to Roche, dock on the wall with assistance of Friday Harbor Sailing Club.
Cruise through party to snag some beers and then check into our crew houses. OMG FANCY! Skipper insisted the guys leave me what turned out to be an incredible suite fit for a queen. Bottles are popped and cans are cracked as the wonderful Michele, our roadie for the weekend had started preparing some of the appetizers/meal. Surf and turf feast (steak, shrimp, salmon, YUM) cooked by crew, out came more wine and scotch, more and more food. Wandered down to the party, run into a room full of friends. S/V Solution crew won’t take no for an answer joining for champagne, running into fellow Foredeck Union member up from California. Party winding down so wander back up to house with one of our crew for apparently more party. Hang out with team talking until past 11, then OMG BATHTUB. Savor one last scotch in big warm cozy soaking tub, throw onesie back on and drift blissfully back to sleep.
Sunday morning, make a bajillion pots of coffee, pack sandwiches for the day, load up car with things that aren’t needed for the race and time to roll out on boat. Head out to start line, watch all the pretty kites start downwind. Feel a little verklempt comparing how I felt last year to this year, grateful to be with a crew who loves me and has my back. Time for our start, holy crap stay focused as I’m really sailing with the big kids! Just enough wind to get moving so we aren’t playing a huge game of bumper boats. Get out of the bay, start playing with sail plan. Oh shoot, boats closer to shore are riding a current river. Wow, boats that went way out are PARKED. Holy crap, did Glory retire? Ooh, wind line coming up, get ready to drop the drifter and raise the kite! Ah crap, wind line is not coming yet. Bring up more and more munchies on deck, ah screw it let’s break out the sandwiches. 30 minutes later, yay wind is here, lets send it! Finally getting a good heel angle, cruising to halfway point between Patos Island Lighthouse and Iceberg Point. Continue making good boat speed, holy crap we are towards the front of the fleet. On the homestretch, man I don’t want to be done yet I’m having too much fun! Looks like a major wind hole swallowing the rest of the fleet further back. See Mist round the finish mark and come back with kite up, good job guys, well-sailed! Call in to committee that we believe we will be next to finish, Ocelet is within earshot and razzes us in good humor. Right as we were about to round the mark a single harbor seal looks up at me from the water and blinks a few times before diving back below. Hi Murphy, thanks for checking in on your mama. It was a wonderful way to cap off the end of the race, I got a little teary but don’t think anyone on the boat saw thankfully.
After clearing the finish line we put the kite up for a little bit to enjoy a downwind kite run before the wind backed off, then we proceeded to motor-sail under main the rest of the way back to Cap Sante Marina. We gave friends on Mist our congratulations again and hugs to the delivery crew, then loaded into the car of the wonderful Tomasz for a ride back to Seattle. Still too many endorphins from the weekend to be able to sleep so enjoyed a good conversation on the ride home with friends I still absolutely love sailing with. I have so much love for this crew and for this community and am very humbled by the love and support that so many have given.
Without sailing I would not be nearly as ok as I am and I’m so grateful for it and looking forward to continuing to do more and more in the sailing world. To that end, I’m still busting my butt to finish paying off the Clipper Race! Pop on over to my Support page, there are some great opportunities to knock out some holiday shopping while also helping me with my goal.