Up until this week, Hacienda II has been a cruising boat. It’s been outfit with some of the latest high tech gear – chartplotter, AIS, solar panel, computer, great stereo, dinghy/davits, etc., slowly getting ready for the dream cruise south. However, those plans are still a ways away — kids to grow, work to do and money to save.
So, in the mean time, we took to the lake for the 20th annual Lake Ontario 300. It’s the longest annual fresh water sailing race in the world. This year there were 170 boats competing on 2 courses.We prepared Hacienda II for the race over the last couple of months. There’s an extensive safety requirement list for the race for which we needed many items. We really wanted to race in the spinnaker division so, we found a used spinnaker online, built a pole, got the rest of the rigging together and had 1 training day to learn how to fly it!
All things considered, we did really well with it.We were passing many boats on the first leg and were 3rd in our group heading into our first nightfall. Then, we blew the downhaul off the spinnaker pole and it was flailing around on deck. We managed to jerry rig it and get it back flying again. Then at about 3AM, we decided to take it down — just weren’t confident enough to keep it running through the night with half the crew sleeping below.The fleet ended up way ahead and we ended up in a giant hole with no wind…for 10 hours! We sat on the glassy smooth lake, went for a swim and ate like kings.
Eventually, the wind came back and we slowly sailed toward the Niagara mark followed by the finish line at PCYC. We ended up at the back of the fleet with only a handful of boats still on the lake as we crossed the line.
All in all though, it was an experience of a lifetime. It’s the kind of time spent that you devote a few solid pages of life’s photo album to. It’s a trip that none of us will ever forget and as a friend predicted, we came back better friends with many a story to tell.
Hacienda II Lake Ontario 300 crew: Glen Eddie, Bruce Bateman, Tony Labatt.