These are articles I have had published in various magazines and newsletters, including Notice to Mariners, Small Craft Advisor, WindCheck, Sail Magazine, Messing About in Boats.
Maybe it was because Orion had such a late launching this spring due to school and work commitments. Or maybe it was because I had recently been reading a number of sailing narratives. Whatever the reason, by the time Thursday, August 1st rolled around, I was itching like crazy to get to the Niantic River launch ramp to meet up with other Mariner sailors and officially begin the 2019 Mariner National Rendezvous.
Sitting in my O’Day Mariner Orion in Twotree Island Channel, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had been duped yet again by the local weather forecasters. For the entire week and including that very morning, the marine forecast had predicted winds of ten to fifteen knots. Yet here I was at nearly noontime, just south of Waterford’s Jordan Cove with ten other O’Day Mariners and twenty sailors, barely making any headway at all.
In 2013, a whopping eighteen O’Day Mariners and 58 sailors took part in a big rendezvous at Mystic Seaport celebrating fifty years since the “birth” of the Mariner. Since that time, we’ve had great turnouts for subsequent annual rendezvous. Clearly, there is a desire among Mariner sailors to get together and enjoy this fantastic sailboat.
This year, I chose the new location of Brewer’s Essex Island Marina, just to keep things interesting. Also, to save on slip rentals and various other costs – and for sailors to avoid horrendous weekend highway traffic – I decided to make it a mid-week event from Tuesday to Thursday. I knew this alone would prevent some folks from attending, but dates were set, and by the time registration ended, eight boats and fourteen sailors had signed up. Not bad!
I struggled out of my sleeping bag to see if any rain was coming in through the wide-open companionway and was surprised to find it nearly dry. I sat hunched over on the edge of the V-berth, staring out at the spectacle. The rain was torrential now, crashing down on the awning with incredible force while the wind – later clocked at over 35 knots – whipped Orion and the True Love around on the anchor line.
If there was anything learned from the 2013 Mariner Rendezvous, it was that people wanted to do it again. To have so many Mariners sailing in a non-competitive atmosphere, with a destination like the incomparable Mystic Seaport, was an event people wanted to repeat and first-time members wanted to experience for themselves.
Planning a rendezvous can be a heck of a lot of fun, and it can be an extremely rewarding experience for all who attend. It can also be a headache if it’s not planned properly. Having organized a number of small-boat rendezvous, I have learned a number of valuable lessons that are may serve to help others plan get-togethers on the water.
When I first laid eyes on an O’Day Mariner, I was a teenager working at my family’s marina in Niantic, Connecticut. It was a derelict, but I was attracted to it. Fast forward ten years, and, after taking my wife sailing in my Dyer Dhow and hearing her utter the magic words, “I think you need a bigger boat,” my thoughts went right to the Mariner.
Driving rain completely shut down visibility and stung skin as it was accompanied by sustained winds of 25 knots gusting over 30 and seas between four and six feet. As I worked to keep control of my own boat, I felt nervous for the rest of the sailors as I knew most of them had never sailed in this area.
It was late June, and we were headed to Mystic Seaport from Niantic in my O’Day Mariner, along with six friends who were sailing in four other boats. Our goal was to get to Mystic in time to attend the WoodenBoat Show before it closed for the evening, and we were on somewhat of a tight schedule.
Dave Whittier and Stuart Marine make a point of attending two boat shows a year: the New England Boat Show in Boston, Massachusetts every February and the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland. Out of simple curiosity, I wanted to pay Dave a visit and meet him face-to-face.
I have been asked the question, “How do you know it’s the Mijoy that has cursed Orion? Couldn’t it be something else that is causing the problem?” Realizing my own shortcomings as a sailor contribute at least in some small way, I shall explain my deduction that Mijoy must be the cause of Orion’s curse by a simple process of elimination.
I don’t wish ill on the Mijoy; that 85-foot fishing vessel gives great pleasure to many people. I just wish she wasn’t around when I’m around, as things seem to go wrong when she is nearby. Before I go on, let me be very clear: I am quite aware of my own fallibilities. I believe the curse that hangs over Orion simply merely amplifies them.
I am not one to have a tremendous amount of belief in “curses”; however, after repeated encounters with a certain fishing vessel in Niantic Bay, Connecticut, which always seem to result in mayhem and anxiety, I am thoroughly convinced that my O’Day Mariner, Orion, is indeed cursed. This is but part one of several incidents.