I leave the house at 7am and made my Market Basket run, this time I have a sandwich for an on-board lunch. This should at least leave me as a well fed hostage if the same crap from yesterday happens.
I arrive at the West Rodney French Boat Ramp to find less cars but more trailers than on Saturday. This time I have two traffic cones to use to hold a parking spot in the lot while I am at the bottom of the ramp. I also have my emergency whistle tied to my life jacket in case I need to blow it.
While gearing up, I over hear a balding man dressed in red telling a Latino an Asian man who are there to put their motor boats in the water that the boat ramp is closed today and that if they want to use it they have to put in and take off right now and not come back until after four o'clock. This is the same BS that pissed me off the day before, but this time its "official" coming from an event organizer, and being told to two men who because of their race, were assumed to not be there for the event. I approached this balding man, who seemed to be very aware that I was trying to overhear the lies he was telling other ramp users, essentially picking on them because he though they didn't know their rights. I asked him who was closing the boat ramp today. He said the police will be doing that when they arrive. Then I asked if they had received permission in writing in the permit to close the boat ramp or the parking lot and he said Yes. I asked for the man's name and he refused to give it to me and began to walk away. I announced to him and the other boat ramp users "The boat ramp is not closing, and will not be closing today. This man who says it is closing will not even identify himself and he is therefore not to be trusted. Let's see the permit!"
So i go back to getting my stuff together and three minutes later a cop car pulls into the lot and the man spreading mis-truths goes over to the car and speaks with the officer first. I stand six feet from the car and cannot hear their conversation. He walks away and the officer get out of his car and greets me. The dialogue when like this:
PO: Hi Sir, may I ask what you are doing here today?
Me: I am here to use a state owned public boat ramp and to park my car inside of this parking lot that I have a government issued pass to park in.
PO: Oh, you have a boat here?
Me: Yes, that one behind the silver car.
PO: You mean that little one?
PO: Look they are saying that you were over here starting trouble yesterday and I am here to just keep the peace. I am not going to pretend like I know the law involving ramps and the water and stuff, but if you want to put your boat into the water now, I will stay here until you get on your way.
Me: So you are going to watch me rig up my little sailboat? That's fine with me but it does seem a little silly.
PO: I'm just here to keep the peace.
Me: It will take me 10-15 minutes.
I took care to not have him see me put on my wetsuit (Now you are charged with public indecency!) and quickly put the boat in. I was in the zone and wasn't paying attention to onlookers, but I am sure a lot of people there were aware that there was a cop there to "deal" with me, Little Sailboat Owner, which should be the least of the New Bedford Police Department's priorities in general, and as it relates to this even. How about writing some tickets to all these illegally parked cars in the lot (boat trailer parking only), directing traffic, making sure these motor boat operators aren't drinking as well as the large crowd that forms during the days races. Where the hell is the pissing Environmental Police cop from last week? He'd be kickin ass right now! Checking registrations, emergency gear, whiffing breath and delivering Justice! Yee haw lol
I cast off of the dock and immediately realize that the wind is probably never going to get up to the level it was at yesterday. It didn't. This day, I was on the water before the rest of a lot fo the other spectator boats that would arrive later. I made a straight line from the dock to an area away from the race course. I immediately noticed that today there were two police boats and a NBFD fire dept operation boat on the water. Within ten minutes of leaving the dock, a NBPD boat approached me, hit the sirens a few times and essentially pulled me over, but unless they want a nice chip out of their gelcoat, they need to come along side and speak with me while I continue to make some headway. This took them a few minutes to realize, but we ended up having a nice slow speed conversation after they came along side of me:
PO: Hello, sir!
Me: Hi, whats up?
PO: I just wanted to come by and ask you what your intentions were today. (what a weird question)
Me: My top priority is to not influence any of the results of today's races.
PO: (Chuckles) Ok, do you know how long you are planning on staying out?
Me: It really depends on the wind. I'm not sure. and I'm not saying that to be a jerk. I just don't know for sure.
PO: I know you had a hard time getting in yesterday and I you do decide to go in and cannot land, please let us know.
Me: Thank you. I will do that. I really appreciate you sticking up for the guy with the little sailboat! Thank you!
He waved and pulled away. Wow, so this makes three contacts with the police in two days of sailing. Two in one day! That's got a to be a record for a perfectly law abiding small sailboat captain. However, all three of them resulting in basically the same result: Hey buddy, we know you have the right, and we know you know you have the right, so boat on brotha!
YES! Boat on Brotha! Sailtember is alive!
The wind is boring compared to yesterday and the races seem to be taking forever to start. I sailed over to the Dartmouth side of Clark's Cove and found an empty mooring that was probably abandoned in the recent evacuation of the summertime people. Tied up, pointing into the wind, I laid out in the cockpit of the laser and took some photos.
I got excited when I saw what looked like a race was about to begin just to figure out that it was actually a rowing event. Yawn. I had to wait, and sail around, for another two hours or so for the sailboat races to begin. I believe there was one race of Azorean whaleboats and then the Azorean vs Yankee whale boat race.
During the break, I spotted a boat that I thought was "Amaral II" tied up in the Dartmouth dock. I sailed over and was very happy to have this opportunity especially because it was in a quiet spot with little wind. I can only image what they though when they saw me coming over to them, or when I called out "Excuse me, are you the gentleman that I had an argument with yesterday". The guy shook his head and it I called out" I wanted to come over an apologize for loosing my temper yesterday". He immediately shot back " That's alright man. We are all have to look out for each other on the water." I replied: "Enjoy your day guys".
This made me quite happy.
Two boats flipped over Sunday. That made three for the weekend. Inexcusable, unnecessary and dangerous! I covered all the reasons yesterday. All I will add is, can you imagine of you pulled that crap a mile or more from shore? No rescue motor boats waiting to help out...
I was glad to see the end of the last race. Everyone that had popped up out of the wood work suddenly disappeared and the cove was empty again.
I have some suggestions for the next Azorean Boat Race that is held in New Bedford.
A) get a barge that you can use as a dock to handle all of the competitor boats. It will reduce the pressure on land. Bring the competitors back and forth to the barge from the Dartmouth side (the community boating dock is in Dartmouth and is private so you can have exclusive use of it). This barge would have two port-a-potties and a tent for shade on it.
B) have a police officer at the foot of Corral Street to direct traffic, answer parking questions and keep non-boat ramp users out of the Coral Street boat ramp parking lot.
C) ensure that all skippers and crew are properly trained for the sailing events and there should be a penalty for capsizing above and beyond loosing the current race.
D) If they are going to continue to put as much pressure on the West Rodney French Boat Ramp, future events should have an assistant harbor master or Mass Dept of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) employee on site, at the ramp to ensure that all users rights are protected and boaters are operating in a safe manner.
E) Have real sailboat race starts. They are way more interesting.
F) have someone on land that knows sailing and acts as an announcer to the crowd to help them follow the race
I am a cheerleader for and a business owner in New Bedford and really want to see this place succeed.
Overall, I was discouraged by the "once again" element to seeing New Bedford mismanage their recreational waterfront resources. No swim classes, tons of kids that don't know how to swim, dirty beaches, very few bathrooms or fresh water to drink or rinse with, residents only parking stickers, few public events, "beach grass restoration" areas... I could go on and on about how pathetically underutilized the amazing waterfront that New Bedford has been blessed with. It's a shame. And once again, another chance to display the awesome waterfront we have was probably a disappointment for many. The event had no food, one port-a-potty and a tent that could only provide shade to 20 onlookers. I would like to see New Bedford host real deal regattas with real race boats (not toy replicas), real racing skippers/crews, and a really big crowd. Anyone that has seen what has happened to sailing this summer, by way of the America's Cup in San Francisco, knows that the natural amphitheater we have in Clark's Cove is the new hottest thing to have in a regatta. We should be stepping up to the plate and telling the racing community at large and any of the heavy hitters in the Padenarum sailing community that New Bedford is ready to host a major regatta. Instead, all I saw was lots of "Not Ready" signs. It was discouraging and par for the course to me as a small business person based here.
At the very end of my sail, the wind picked up and was focused on an are near shore, so i did a few close passes of the shore. After two days of sailing for 5-6 hours at a time in the sun and on a Laser, had me pooped. The excitement of the conflicts on the water and dealing with the police had been enough for two days.
I got the the ramp's dock first and mystic Seaports team got their trailer to the bottom of the ramp first so we compromised by picking up the laser onto the dock so they could load up before me
I (and my butt) cannot wait to recline in New Job tomorrow. Lasers can really kick your butt.