Narwhal V

The boat is a Dash 34, designed in the early 1980s by Laurie Davidson. Check out the paint job.

Patrick, the man on the right, has owned the boat since new. That’s his friend David on the left. The three of us went for a sail today out of RNSYS in Halifax. My other friend David caught up with us in the harbour a bit later after hitching a ride on another boat, and we ended up sailing to Bedford and leaving the boat there.

Tomorrow the forecast is for NW winds, which means a spinnaker sail back down the basin for the return trip.

I’ve known Patrick for a long time, and have sailed with him on several boats. One of my most memorable sailing experiences was from 1979, when he and I and a non-sailing friend of mine sailed his Bombardier 7.6 Narwhal III from Chester to Halifax in the same storm that went on to kill people in the Fastnet race. It was incredibly windy, probably the most wind I’ve ever sailed in. We had a double reefed main only. Planed down the coast and then as the wind veered NW had a lot of trouble beating up the harbour. We finally got in around midnight. That was before mobile phones, and we didn’t have a radio. Our families had been pacing the docks for hours.

Patrick in his quest for speed under sail moved up to a Kirby 30, and then the Dash 34, which was built in 1984. He had it heavily customized at build with an oversized rig and a diesel inboard.

In 1986 I started sailing on the boat as helmsman. For the next few years Patrick was very busy with his medical practice and family commitments, but he encouraged and supported me and a young crew as we aggressively campaigned the boat without him. This is the crew in 1986 winning the RNSYS opening regatta

We campaigned the boat hard for three seasons. Put a new keel on in 1988. Raced the Marblehead-Halifax in 1987. Won a lot of trophies and grew as a team.

I left Nova Scotia for good in the fall of 1988, but went back to race the Marblehead-Halifax again in 1989, this time with Patrick aboard. In a fast race we finished in 48 hours and won our class. It was sort of a fitting end to a big chapter in my sailing story. The boat was not seriously raced after that.

Patrick is now 80, and has trouble handling the boat by himself. At the insistence of his family and friends the boat now has a small roller furling jib, which he hates. But he has excitedly reminded me several times that he still has big spinnakers aboard. We’ll get one up tomorrow.

Edit/update: Had a nice sail back to Halifax Saturday. These pics were taken as we left Bedford by my friend Andrew.

After we dropped the spinnaker in the harbour and started to go upwind we heard a loud noise and discovered that the main bulkhead was starting to come apart around the chainplate. Fixable, but it ended our sailing for the day. We motored back to RNSYS. So it goes with 35 year old boats…

I’m glad I made the trip. Nice to catch up with old friends and sailing companions, and to have David’s son Allister and mast man extraodinaire Scott join us on Saturday.

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