Cedar Key Small Boat Meet - May 5th - 6th
Well, this year's Cedar Key Small Boat Meet has come and gone, and if you missed it, then you missed a good one! More boats and participants than ever, and what a variety of small craft. I knew something was going to be different when we were handed an envelope at check in at the Island House. The envelope had a letter from the Chamber of Commerce welcoming all the small boat sailors and inviting us to visit all of the art galleries in town. Tickets to special gallery shows were even included in the envelope! Recognition from the city that we make an impact on the economy of the town is a first. I'm not sure how much time the sailors spent in the art galleries though because there was a tremendous amount of art pretending to be boats out there on the water!

WCtSS member Preston Watters brought his lovely sailing canoe Ione, built in 1990 by Williams Clements. It looks exactly like boats that you'd find in the Adirondack Boat Museum! In fact, I first thought it might be a Vesper sailing canoe from the 1880's! The Hugh Horton canoes were there as usual and Hugh finally had Bufflehead, his wooden canoe that he intends to rig for sail and perhaps market someday either as a kit or completed sail canoe. Dale Niemann was unpacking his new Core Sound 17, Lively, when I pulled up. Lively was lovely with all the decks and detail work done in bright varnish. It looks great against the stark white of the hull and interior.

Even on Friday the harbor was speckled with sailboats, and the beach at the Island Place was beginning to fill up! Holly Bird brought her new Melonseed, Paul and Dodie Waggoner had Wing-It, his SeaPearl-Tri, Steve Wood and Steve Tonnessen both brought their Bay Hens, Bill Whalen, Glen and Gary Maxwell brought their Peep Hens. Art and Brenda had their SeaPearl-Tri. Kent and Barbara Blakely were there with their SeaPearl. Ron and Sammey Johnson sailed with Jim Leet aboard Black Pearl. Terry and Dawn Poling were sailing their SeaPearl-Tri Osprey, Billy and Joyce VanDeusen brought along a motorized skiff to get out to the islands. Larry Whited sailed his SeaPearl 28 down the coast from St. Marks to the event, Stew Whitehouse was there with Rivendell, John and Collette Johns had their new Hobie Adventure Island Tri, which they graciously allowed me to try out. What a hoot! Steven Morrill had his SeaPearl 21, Shadow, Steve Kingery was out sailing with his Princess sailing canoe, Jeff and Diana Lackey sailed their SeaPearl 21, Moonpie, Ted Jean had his Chesapeake Kayak-Tri and was out there quite a bit. Ed and Becky Combs were paddling their Cobra Kayaks, Bill and Sheila Fite sailed their SeaPearl, Moonshadow. Howard and Sheila Feldman brought along their SeaPearl, Sim-plicity. Dave Thomasson and April had their lovely New Haven Sharpie with new sails, Bernard and Genise Spenle had his lovely hand made sloop, Terry and Ruth Nagel were sailing a Sorocco, and Paul and Joyce Myers had their SeaPearl, Brogan there. Patrick Lawler had Annie, his Melonseed. Mike Miller was there again with his Prindle cat. Scott and Charmain Baumer were sailing their SeaPearl Tri all over the place. Noel and Cristy Davis, of FurledSails.com brought their SeaPearl, Interlude as well. Russell Hooton was also there with his sailing dory., and Butch Erney brought his Shell Boats Crabclaw Catamaran, which got a lot of attention everywhere he went! In all there were 37 WCTSS memberships represented, which may be a club record! If I missed any members, I'm very sorry. but I was running around with my reporter's notebook in hand on Friday, just trying to write down all the name and boat names, but finally gave it up as a lost cause. By Saturday the beach at Atsena Otie right across from the town docks were literally filled with paddle and sail craft of all descriptions. Many estimated the number of boats at well over 100!

My brother Tom surprised me by showing up an hour early on Saturday morning, and after that I was pretty much stuck on the beach helping him set up his huge smoker for the cookout. At least I had a good vantage point to watch the comings and goings and a great new camera with a 12x lens! And what a show it was! Besides the members of our club who were there, a great number of folks from the Cortez Florida Maritime Museum attended, led by Roger Allen, the curator, Roger was sailing with his wife aboard Miss Kate a beautiful Melonseed.

One of the most interesting boats at the event was Little Cruiser, the Matt Layden designed and built microcruiser owned by Dave and Mindy Bolduc. Dave and Mindy have taken her to the Bahamas for several years in a row, even though she is only 15 feet long. Dave and Mindy live aboard and even have 2 small parrots in cages aboard! It was really interesting to examine the interior of Little Cruiser and see how creative Matt's designs can be. Another Matt Layden design is the Paradox boat, which is similar to Little Cruiser. Glenn Maxwell's Zoe was at Cedar Key as well seeing them sail around with Little Cruiser was certainly a delight. Speaking of Matt Layden, he arranged for Sven Lunden, AKA Sven Yrvind, to attend the CKSMB. Sven is the sailor who took his BRIS series of boats all around the Atlantic Ocean during the 70s and 80s. At one point he attempted sailing east to west around Cape Horn only to be pitch poled and capsized. He made his way to the island Tristan deCuna in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, to refit the boat and ended up staying there for several months. One of his BRIS vessels resides now at the Museum of Yachting at Newport Rhode Island.

Another famous sailor and yacht designer at Cedar Key this year was Graham Byrnes. Graham is the winner to this year's and last year's Watertribe Everglades Challenge. He brought with him his winning boat, Southern Skimmer. It looks fast just sitting there! Graham sailed Lively with Dale and Bob on Saturday, which must have made Dale's day, having the designer sail his newly built boat!

As I mentioned, Noel Davis of Furled Sails.com was there with his SeaPearl Interlude, but Gary Blankenship was also there with his Frolic II, Oracle. Gary and Noel sailed Oracle to third place overall in this year's Everglades Challenge!

Saturday afternoon saw a flurry of activity getting the tables set up and the side dishes ready. So many squadron members contributed side dishes and helped out that I couldn't possible mention everyone, but I have to mention Ed and Becky Combs, and Billy and Joyce VanDeusen, Dale Niemann, and Jim Leet of Marine Concepts who helped set up, and tirelessly served the food to over 150 sailors! My brother Tom deserves special mention as well, for taking a day off to come from Clearwater to cook for us! His smoked chicken, polish sausage, and baked beans were just superb! Luckily we planned well, and people who wanted extra food were able to come back and get seconds. Tom told me he could do something really special sometime for a smaller group, like 40 or 50 members only, if we'd like to do that sometime.!

After the food was served, we invited Matt Layden, Sven Lunden (Yrvind), Graham Byrnes, and Noel Davis to give short impromptu talks and answer questions from the assembled sailors. Sven was very funny and interesting, Graham was full of ideas about the Everglades Challenge as was Noel.

We were all pretty tired Saturday night! Dale and I soaked in the hot tub and then took a swim, and I think we hit the sack pretty early.

Sunday was for sailing, and after a filling breakfast at Cooks Cafe, Dale and I launched Lively for a trip out to the islands. There were still quite a few boats milling about, although some had already packed it up for the long trip home. The wind was quite light when we shoved off. Dale was handling the anchor and getting ready with the oars. But even though we could hardly feel the wind, Lively moved out smoothly until we realized that the oars were not needed. Out by Atsena Otie Key we picked up Mark Stewart with his sailing kayak tri - Shark Bait! Mark tried his best to catch and pass us, but we managed to stay ahead. Out by Seahorse Key, it looked like a Windrider 17 was gaining on us, but couldn't point as high, and eventually they turned back. Out by the western end of Seahorse Key was closed with the shore and sailed right along the shore taking in the nesting seabirds of every description. On the way back, with a fair tide and an increasing wind, Lively topped 8 knots! She's a steady and easy handling boat, Dale. You'll enjoy her for many years, I'm sure!

Dale decided to head on home on Sunday, partly due to an approaching cold front and partly because of obligations at home. After Dale left I was alone in my room at the Island Place. It rained that night, and the wind howled. The few boats that were still there on Monday were soon packed up for home. I did the same.

If you were one of the few who didn't make it to Cedar Key this year, plan early for next year. You won't regret it!