Skipper's Logs Archive: Marblehead to Halifax 2005


Marblehead to Halifax Race
July 10, 2005

Hello Again Friends,

After a brief period on land after the Bermuda 1/2, I am returning to the high seas aboard Gryphon Solo to compete in the Marblehead to Halifax Race, which begins today. After many days of rain, it looks like it is going to be a beautiful day for the start, with sunshine and fair breezes forecast. Approximately 125 boats are entered in the race, which is a very strong turn-out for the races's centennial anniversary. This race is co-managed by the Boston Yacht Club of Marblehead, MA and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron of Halifax, Nova Scotia. At the Captain's Meeting yesterday, they began the proceedings with the playing of the Canadian national anthem, "Oh Canada" and then the "Star Spangled Banner". "Oh Canada" is a glorious song with inspiring lyrics of national pride that always brings a tear to my eye and then makes me think of NHL hockey and the Montreal Canadians. Our cousins to the North always provide great hospitality at the finish of this tough race. 
Sailing into Canadian waters will be fun, although having done this race three times before, I know what to expect -FOG- with capital letters. As the water temperature is still cold, when the summer air heats up, fog is the interactive result. As the boats come across the Gulf of Maine toward Cape Sable at the southern tip of Nova Scotia, the fog usually arrives as the boats go around Brazil Rock, which is just south of the cape. The entire race course is 360 miles, with it being 240 miles to Brazil Rock and 120 miles up the coast to Halifax. The last third of the race is often done in pea soup fog, with piloting done by radar and GPS for an "instruments-only" landing!
Halifax is a beautiful and historic city, that played a prominent role in WW II as a naval base and submarine center, guarding the US East coast from German U-boats. It is now a busy shipping port and entry into the harbor with limited visibility is controlled by "Halifax Traffic" a sort of air-traffic controller for the sea. They have high-powered radar that monitors each boat and controls traffic to avoid collisions. Crossing the finish line off Chebucto Head in Halifax Harbor is never boring!
Gryphon Solo is part of "IRC Class 1" of the race which, has nine boats in it, most of whom are quite a bit larger than Gryphon Solo, and will be fully crewed with up to 25 guys, while we will be double-handed with myself and Brian Harris as crew. We will essentially be match racing against the other Open Class 50, Artforms, who Gryphon Solo aficianados know well from last summer's TRANSAT Race and the recent Bermuda 1/2. Artforms will also be sailing with two crew so we are on a level playing field. I am informed by my mother that it is high time for GS to break through for victory over Artforms so Brian and I will do our level best!
So, the race starts at 1300 hours today just off Marblehead and a large spectator fleet is expected. I will be writing dispatches once a day while offshore, and you can watch the race unfold visually on which will poll the boats' positions every two hours. I found during the Bermuda 1/2 that the iboattrack positions on the chart were pretty accurate but the "Leaderboard" information was not, so don't pay too much attention to that. I look forward to a great race and thank you all for following and supporting the GS program.
All Best- 


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