By Sheila Dassatt        

Let’s have some fun with this for a change!  After all of the seriousness of three winter storms and lots of miserable weather, the mullygumps are starting to set in with most folks these days.  We need spring and we need it now!  Those poor robins that showed up are all confused and don’t know which end is up.

With this being said, I thought real hard about where to go with this, and with boat race season coming up, and the boats in the yard getting ready to go back overboard for another season, it only stands to reason that we have a few stories that we can share about that.

Let’s go back to the beginning of some of these races that we prepared for and remember well.  There were quite a few of us then and our kids were all pretty young then, not even quite old enough to run the boats in any of the races yet.  Back in the beginning, Jonesport was the major race, then came along Winter Harbor and Stonington.  Those were the only three races for quite a while. We all hailed from Belfast, Vinalhaven, Corea, Stockton Springs and Stonington and many small towns along the coast. Getting ready for the races was pretty serious stuff. There were those that would clean the bottom of their boats to a racing slick, which usually was topped off with a coat of clear varnish to keep it racing smooth.  Then there were numerous trips in the harbor just to clock the time from start to finish and do it over and over again until the engine was tuned up “just right.”  A lot of folks that weren’t used to it would get worked up about the loud noise which could be heard all over town when the Red Baron was doing her trials.  They were told that this happens this time of the year and would just have to get used to it.

One of our stories was about the time that the Illusion from Vinalhaven was tuning up with us and Willy and I forgot to put the screws back in the transducer.  Those boats were going over and being brought back up so fast that it was just a mistake of hurrying too fast.  They noticed that she had quite a water leak out there and brought her back in in a hurry.  Brought her back up on the trailer, discovered the transducer needed the screws put back in and they were off and running again……oops. Not a popular moment.

Then there was the time that we were all tied up in Winter Harbor the night before the races.  Everyone was partying it up and things were pretty loud all evening.  Dad was trying to go to sleep on the Red Baron and just couldn’t get a wink of rest.  So in the morning, everyone had finally settled down to rest.  Being a fisherman at heart, he was used to getting up early to start his day.  The whole harbor was quiet and all of the partiers were at rest.  He said, “I’ll show them what it’s like to lose sleep.” He commenced to fire up the Baron and woke everyone up, even in the village!  They were    coming out of the holds of the boats that were tied up next to us and one fella tripped over his tub of melted ice that had held the beer from the night before.  To some it wasn’t very funny, but we thought it was a hoot!  That’s just the way things were done, and it was all in great fun.

Then there was the time that our crew on the Baron brought a potato gun with them. They didn’t want to do any damage by loading it with potatoes, so Mike put a cup of cole slaw in it.  They were always having fun with Capt. Andy Gove on the Uncle’s U.F.O., so when they did a “drive by” they blasted the potato gun and spread cole slaw every where. Again, it was all in great fun!  You never knew who was going to do what to each other.

My mother was known for being a little cantankerous, so when we were at the Stonington race, she was teasing Sidney Eaton who was racing the Little Jan at the time. He reached right over and picked her right up and held her over the railings of the dock! It took her by surprise and his strength to be able to do this took us all by surprise.  She said that she wouldn’t tease him again about racing competition.  These are just a few things that took place when we were among the heyday of racing.

Also in Stonington, when all of the visiting boats were tied up at Billings Yard, Dad and Glenn went to get a bite to eat and had Mike stay behind to keep an eye on the boat. They came back and found him on a Grand Banks yacht sitting there having a feast with the folks that owned it.  They not only gave him a great meal, but the biggest strawberry shortcake that he’d ever had.  Dad and Glenn said to him, “what are you supposed to be doing?” He said he was eating!  That’s the way that it was, when everyone was racing, folks were very good to us.  There was a lot of camaraderie going on.

This is just touching the tip of the iceberg for now. There’s a lot more stories to tell, but I’ll save them for another time.  When we need to chin up from a hard run, I’ll bring a few more stories out to tell.  Take care and we’ll all look forward to a great and safe season all around.