The Downbay Regatta is an annual summer highlight at Beach Haven’s Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club. A many-yeared tradition, sailboats come “down-bay” from several other yacht clubs on Barnegat Bay to compete in their classes, i.e. A-Cats, B-Cats, E-Scows and Lightnings. It is always colorful, always a weekend of camaraderie, of renewing friendships, of hard-fought races, and not a little partying. Although I had retired as the club photographer, my camera wanted to go take a look; what could I do?
The weekend opened bright, hot, and windy with some question as to whether there might be too much wind. That was a new concept for a power-boater like me … too much wind to sail?!? Anyway, a great start for the weekend. Here’s the traditional lineup of the romantic A-Cats, with two more on moorings out in the thorofare.
On the dock were the colorful “marks and pins” which are taken out to the sailing grounds and moored to mark the turning points of the various courses.
The harbor horn sounds … a kind of mount-up signal which triggers all kinds of boarding, and sail raising activity, some of it frenetic. I heard lots of “Pull that line …. Jack, don’t tie us up … The sail’s caught … Can we get a tow … “
Will somebody let go the bow line?
Third generation Little-Egger Sam Flagler was invited to skipper the A-Cat, Ghost. This boat was generously donated last year to the NJ Maritime Museum in Beach Haven. (A splendid museum, WELL worth a visit.) The boat is “mothered” by past yacht club commodore John Coyle, an inveterate supporter of lots of good things for Beach Haven and the island and the area (e.g. the Tuckerton Seaport Museum.) Anyhow, Sam invited my granddaughter, Gretchen, to crew with him. They’ve been sailing buddies since their learning days in the Junior Sailing program. Here they are as young teenagers in the 2008 Quill-McCarty race around Mordecai Island.
And, eight years later, boarding Ghost for the races.
Finally, they begin their tow to the sailing grounds.
Torch decides to sail her way out, dragging her reflection behind her.
Finally, a Lensbaby view of the morning dock and preparation.