A few Sun Cat sailors and friends got together on 12/31/10 for a sail on Charlotte Harbor, and were blessed with a gorgeous SW Florida day, temperatures in the 70s and winds from the SE at about 10-15 knots. We launched at Ponce Park and set sail outside the channel, headed toward the Port Charlotte Beach Complex to meet the sailors launching at that boat ramp. We soon heard Whimsy calling us on the radio, and Tom told us he was coming out the Ponce Channel and would follow us up toward the beach to meet the other catboats.

Sun Cat with jib

Sun Cat Frisky in the distance

Soon I spotted a small gaff-rigged sail over by the northern edge of the harbor, and when I looked over again I could see a tiny spot of orange beside the sail. That could only be Don in Frisky flying his new jib. The picture at right is zoomed in quite a bit, and we could not see the boat this clearly, but if you click to enlarge the picture it’s a pretty good view.

Alerion Catboat

Alerion Catboat

I noticed another catboat sail in that general area, and it started coming toward us. “That looks like an Alerion catboat sail,” I said. Who could it be? Then I remembered hearing that Paul was getting one of those, and this must be it! Looking very sharp with the blue hull, which we all now know is the fastest hull color. He sailed on by, then turned around to join Whimsy in overtaking us.

Sun Cat with jib

Frisky heeling under jib

It was “Overtake Wily Conch Day” at the Sun Cat Regionals, and here comes Don with his jib. Showing quite a bit of hull in the air for a Sun Cat!

Morgan 30 sailing

Shutterbug Tom

Tom Scott is not one to let that kind of activity go undocumented. A picture of Shutterbug Tom taking pictures of Don as Whimsy sails herself.

Sun Cat with jib

Frisky Catching Conch

The jib definitely added some speed to the Sun Cat, and soon Frisky was on our stern.

About that time, I heard a somewhat familiar voice on the radio calling the Charlotte Harbor Sun Cat sailors. I answered the call and was surprised that it really was Charlie and Isy, and they were coming out to join us in their Horizon Cat, Good Juju!

Horizon Cat and Morgan 30

Whimsy Chasing Good Juju

This picture turned out to be the last one of Good Juju under sail for this trip. Shortly after I took that picture, the bobstay on the Horizon Cat broke! They were lucky the mast did not fall down, but there would be no more sailing until some repairs are made. Charlie and Isy drove all the way from South Carolina and only got in less than a half hour of sailing! Bad Juju!

Alerion Catboat

Alerion Catboat Full Sail

I had sailed off upwind of the herd a bit, in part to get a good angle for sunlight on all the boats and to try to get them all in one shot. It’s like herding cats! If I could get them in one frame, it was going to be too distant, so I turned back toward them and started taking pictures. Got this nice one of Paul’s Alerion catboat under full sail, shortly before he exhibited the good sense to reef a bit. The gusts were probably a bit over 15 knots, which is managable if a bit sporting in a Sun Cat, but is too much for many other catboats to use the full sail.

Morgan 30 sailboat heeling

Morgan 30 Heeling

Tom Scott was up to his usual tricks, showing us half the bottom of Whimsy as she sailed along under reefed main and jib. I was starting to think about reefing, and my wife, clearly having the same thought, asked me if I had not told her that when you start to think about reefing, it’s time to reef. I explained that I was having too much fun with the full sail, but I did notice the sail fully eased on Good Juju and thought to myself that Charlie was prudent to tuck in a reef at this point.

Horizon Cat

Good Juju Stalled

Charlie seemed to be having trouble reefing the sail on Good Juju as I turned to take this picture. They had been stalled there for a couple of minutes, and though the picture was taken with 3x zoom, I could see that Charlie was up on the bow. I figured something got fouled or jammed, and he was up there to work it out and they would soon be on their way under reefed sail.

Horizon Cat

Good Juju Broken Bobstay

Zooming in a bit closer on the picture reveals what really happened: the bobstay on the Horizon Cat had broken and the bowsprit cracked and lifted a bit. Charlie was not up there untangling a mess, he was assessing the damage. Moments later when I looked back, the sail was down, and we soon learned from Tom Scott that Charlie and Isy were heading back to the dock. The fleet escorted them as far as the US 41 bridge.

Sun Cat Jib Launch

Sun Cat Jib Launch

Whimsy took off for home to go and assist Charlie and Isy. We had spotted Paul’s tanbark sail on Sanura heading south out of the Beach Complex, and the herd went over to pick him up. Don took the opportunity to play with his jib some more. Here is a shot of Frisky off our stern just as the jib was launched and (almost) filled.

Sun Cat Jib

Sun Cat Jib Working

Yes, the jib seems to be working… that’s the transom of Frisky all right.

Alerion Catboat

Alerion Catboat Reefed

Paul came alongside and was matching our speed, probably around 4 knots, in the Alerion catboat under reefed sail. He hollered over to us, “Do you have a GPS?”

“Yes!” I replied.

“How fast are we going?” he asked.

I asked Sonja to have a look at the GPS, and she said, “It is turned off.”

“WE DON’T CARE!” I yelled back at Paul.

Sun Cat Catboats

Frisky and Sanura

We collected the other Paul in Sanura into the herd around marker 3, and for a bit Don was sailing along with him using Frisky’s orange jib. Tanbark mainsail meets orange jib!

Sun Cat Catboats

Catboat Group

With Sanura in the fold, we all sailed around the upper harbor in a group for a while. I could not stop grinning. I do not know why a herd of Sun Cats (plus an Alerion) sailing around together is funny to me, but it is.

Sun Cat with jib

Sun Cat Frisky

I got this shot of Frisky on a close pass for those who want to check out all of Don’s custom sail handling modifications and his jib.

Sun Cat with tanbark sail

Sun Cat Sanura

That tanbark sail looks awesome on Sanura with the green hull. Makes me wonder how it would look with our blue hull…

Sun Cat Regionals Final Standings

Sun Cat Regionals Final Standings

This was the last shot I took at this round of the Sun Cat Regionals, and Wily Conch is plainly in the lead, so I declared victory and told Gerry Hutchins at Com-Pac Yachts that he owes me another hat. He’s a good sport and promised to send one, but I was just kidding and am still enjoying my green one that I won at the Sun Cat Nationals. I’ll make sure the new one gets into the hands of a deserving Com-Pac sailor in our local fleet!

With the wind dying out, the fleet headed for home, and soon we were all under power as the wind got too light for Sun Cat sailing. About that time we got a call on the radio from Whimsy just to inform me that Charlie was at the helm and steering the boat straight and true. I figured Charlie looks like the kind of guy who might have some experience handling fully loaded dumptrucks on ice, and this confirms it. At least they got in some more sailing! The Horizon Cat is going back to the Com-Pac factory for repairs.

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