By Bill Moffitt, Stone Mountain, Georgia - USA

I am unsure how many reports on the 2010 Texas 200 will finally be put up on the net, but I will probably read, and enjoy, them all. I do know that Tom Pamperin is writing it up, and as a result, I choose not to offer anything that can be compared to his superlative efforts.

            This will not be a report on the Texas 200, but a musing on my experience and realizations as the event unfolded. The OBX130, held one month earlier, has some bearing on this as well. I am 63 years old. My son Sean is 23, just graduated from Warren-Wilson in N.C. and is going to Americore in August for a year. Son Paul is 33, married, and had his first child, daughter D’Arcy Bryn, with Cybele about 3 months ago.  My daughter, Kathleen, is not a sailor, but if I did not mention her here, I would catch hell!

Sunset over Core Sound - The OBX 130

            Paul conceived, organized, and orchestrated the OBX130. This was after he sailed the first Texas 200 with me on Embers Watch maiden voyage.  After D’Arcy was born it looked like he would not make it to his own event, but my wife, Rebecca, stepped in, and Cybele, Paul’s wife, allowed as he could go on down to North Carolina. This event has been reported on enough, but I want to emphasize what a great job Paul did in running that whole show. Where did this steady, rational, detail oriented person come from, what happened to my son Paul, and where is the POD?

Paul and me aboard Ember's Watch in the first Texas200.

Sean showed a surprising maturity at the OBX130 in turning back on the first day in his Michalak Piccup Squared because of rough conditions. I believe I would have gone on and been forced to capsize a couple of times before I realized what he knew early on. Despite having sailed 90 miles the year before in this boat, this year’s conditions were just too much. Where did he get that insight? Not from me, obviously. And there goes the torch of common sense, passing on into his hands from mine! Sure is dark in here…

Sean at the help of Ember's Watch - The OBX 130

Paul happily remained home to care for D’Arcy while Sean and I flew to Texas for the 200. Let me tell you, this is the only way to go! Have somebody else (Chuck Leinweber) build a boat for you to use, equip it fully, pick you up at the airport, drive you down to the coast, and launch you onto the water! What a treat! And a Laguna no less, painted to perfection by Sandra with eyes and all. This was to be my boat to captain for a week with the help of Paul Hainey from Waukegan, Il. Paul drove down in his un-air conditioned Jeep to tow the Laguna down behind Chuck and the Caprice, Pearl.

My pimped out Laguna for the Texas200.

After a night spent in Chuck and Sandra’s guest house, listening to the night frogs through open windows, we got our next clue to how special this trip might be. At the first stop sign leaving Chuck’s house, and therefore at a relatively low speed, the Jeep’s brake lines blew out and we rammed the Caprice full on!  Pearl was pushed forward 10 to 12 inches, but suffered no damage at all. Paul’s Jeep got two dents under it’s head lights.  Imagine if this had happened a bit later at 55 MPH and in a different situation. Someone might have had to spread our ashes at Paul’s Mott and Army Hole in memorium!

With brake lines replaced, we carried on to Port Mansfield and arrived about midnight. Spent the night camping at the boat ramp and got launched the next morning. Bullet No. 2 got dodged when Chuck and I towed Laurent across the channel to his dock. The Caprice was coming in a bit too fast, about to hit the dock, so I braced up on the bow to fend off. At just the right time, I put out my right foot to absorb the shock and pushed on thin air!  Chuck had put the motor in reverse, the dock hand pushed the bow off from the dock, and I fell straight down, executing a split with the bow between my legs and hitting the dock edge with my ribs and elbow. My neck got wrenched, my elbow cut and bruised (still sore 2 weeks later!), but no broken ribs thanks to my PFD!  Wear that PFD guys, too much is never enough! We shall not discuss the splits…  Alleve and a nights rest with a bed and air conditioning got me right enough to carry on.

Paul Haynie aboard Chuck's Laguna

(Bad things happen in threes they say, and Paul Haynie caught the third one. He had to drop out at the PIYC due to a case of hives brought on by who knows what combined with too much sun.  I was impressed with Paul’s tenatiousness given his physical limitations. He is one tough dude!)

It was pretty much down hill (wind?) from here on. Sean and Andrew built their Laguna Sinko on the beach in 5 hours! I had planned to help him to make sure he did it right, but he did it without me. Sean sailed that boat with a couple of different people and did so faster than almost any other boat in the fleet. I did not get to tell him how to do it nor make suggestions as to how to do it better; they were always way ahead of me! He did manage to dismast the Laguna Cinco at one point, so maybe I still have SOME influence on him. He got yelled at by Andrew (not unique!) but set that to rights without my input, did the entire Texas 200, and watched his work go up in smoke. Somewhere there is a second POD hidden away!

Laguna Sinko goes up in smoke.

The final blow was something Chuck said. He pointed out that I did not speak to my sons as some fathers do. I apparently do not correct them, tell them what to do, nor deride them. That is when I realized the transition was pretty much complete. Sailing in general, the OBX130, and the Texas 200 in particular, have capped the road to maturation for my little boys. I am sure I will miss them if I ever slow down enough enjoying the two men they have become.

Un Abrazo,
Bill Moffitt
S/V Embers Watch


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