Geronimo Makes a Splash – High Sierra Regatta 2022

Posted:  July 22, 2022
👁 2664   8

After an Unplanned Project, of Course.

It can never be as easy as splashing the boat and sailing I thought as Chris displayed what was left of our rudder post. Fortunately, this atrocity was not on Avocet’s rudder, but rather our Victory 21, Geronimo, that we were getting ready for the 69th annual High Sierra Regatta. Having done a few projects aboard the year prior, we thought all we needed to do was burnish the bottom and be on our way but of course the universe couldn’t let us get away with it that easily.


My face reflected off Geronimo’s cherry red hull as Chris paced back and forth weighing our options. “Scooter has a spare rudder we can borrow, we can weld this one – which I don’t think will work – or we can cut this one down to the ‘good’ metal and modify the boat to accomodate a shorter rudder post.” Chris’s brain was going 100 mph while I was just trying to find shade in the hot summer sun. My bare feet found comfort in a puddle of water that pooled under the trailer, leftover from the proper wash down I gave the boat where I removed layers of valley dust and years of caked-in grime. Usually, we arrive a day before the race to rig the boat, launch and practice meaning our pre-race wash down was essentially a lake baptism, scooping up buckets of water to swish around the deck by hand just hoping it will do the trick. Indeed, having pressured water, soap, and time (above all else) was key to making us feel more prepared, even when we clearly were not.

Although we had limited materials, Chris decided to modify our rudder post starting with cutting off the cracked bit of the rudder stock which was 1.5 inches total, using a grinder and cut off wheel. He only cut off exactly what he needed to, returning the now-shorter-stock back to healthy metal for the tiller to attach too. With a shorter rudder stock, we had to lower the platform where the top of the rudder attached to the tiller – childs play, for someone who glassed an entire deck to hull joint on a 41’ sailboat. This also meant that we needed to cut a new keyway for the top rudder bracket. So although simple in theory, there was a lot of work to do.

The rudder fix process

Chris cut around the rudder post revealing the unsurprising lack of core, reminding us that we should probably address that next summer when we are home from Mexico during hurricane season. Since we didn’t anticipate a project of this caliber that trip, we had left a lot of our fiberglass materials home on Avocet, which meant Chris had to be very resourceful and cognizant of his usage. It was 90 degrees fahrenheit in the sun with a UV index of 10. The trees that once surrounded the Neely home were far gone due to the years of drought, fire and bark beetles exposing the driveway to direct sunlight with no chance of hiding.

With Geronimo elevated 4’ up on her trailer, lifting Chris that much closer to the sun, the temperature was way too hot for medium cure epoxy – the only epoxy we had brought with us with the intent of doing a completely different project on a completely different boat; our Hobie 18, Hobie Wan Kenobi, to be exact. After mixing and walking five feet to the boat the epoxy had begun heating up immediately, the first sign of its curing process. Using a thin metal “For Sale Sign” as his makeshift work surface, the epoxy began to burn Chris’s hands and legs in an unanticipated turn of events. Unwilling to waste any epoxy or glass he continued to use the smoking hot epoxy to try and finish the project, making smaller-than-usual batches. After he laid up the top, he decided it was best to take a break and wait for the temperature outside to drop before he got busy glassing the inside of the boat which would surely be a sauna. 

It was a rough day, but instead of giving up entirely Chris decided to switch gears and move onto a project that always grounded him: his 1963 MGB. People always wonder how Chris learned to be so handy and knowledgeable about various mechanics, and it always comes back to this little British car he built when he was 13, that was his daily driver until we moved to Tahoe when we were 19. He built this car from the frame up, having started the project with his father who passed away during the time the car was dropped off to be painted. Chris finished the car when he was 15, mostly on his own but not without the guidance from a few dear friends that helped see him through till the end. We have had many wonderful memories in the MG, driving in the mountains, to my hometown of Santa Cruz and of course at our wedding where I was adamant the car was a part of our ceremony – it was only once we started to make some more money as an established couple we decided to instal a transmission with overdrive so we could potentially go on longer road trips and be comfortable, going a bit faster than the prior 4 speed allowed us to go. Chris had all the pieces necessary except time, so the poor car had been sitting in Mama Neely’s garage for a year with a hole under her hood where her “heart” should be. 

One of my favorite wedding photos

“Can you hand me that?” Chris said, roughly pointing in the direction of his ratchet set. He was deep in project mode with hands covered in oil and grease and the engine block between his legs. He was surrounded by the unusual silence of the garage. No music, no clanging, just the occasional grunt and swear word professed from Chris himself. “How can I help?” I asked carefully, taking a gamble that my presence wouldn’t overwhelm my hard working and frustrated husband. I was pleased to be invited to stick around and get my hands dirty, assisting with moving the block around, tightening bolts and just keeping Chris company. We had just finished dropping the transmission and engine back into the car when he said “Today was stupid,” an oddly timed statement with the event that had just taken place. His frustration was warranted, but I reminded him we had time on our side and it was all going to be alright, plus the MG was one step closer to being drivable again which seemed to be the key comment to returning a smile to his face 

With newfound energy and determination Chris returned to Geronimo to finish laying the glass inside, this time banking on the cooler temperature helping the process. He was successful, and celebrated inside with a hot shower to remove the sweat, grease, mountain dust and epoxy from his skin before settling down for dinner. Although the project looked rough, it would get us through the races and the rest of the summer until we could return the following year to put some actual time, resources and finishing work behind it. 

The next day Chris completed the original mission of burnishing the bottom, giving Geronimo a buttery smooth race finish. With that crossed off the list we loaded up Hobie Wan Kenobi to take to the lake in preparation for the weekend. Naturally, we made it all the way to the boat ramp and were in the midst of rigging when we realized our furler was missing. “There is no way I lost that” Chris said while rummaging through the cat box on the trailer. Absolutely baffled and temporarily defeated by yet another boat we called “Uncle” Scooter asking if he had a spare furler we could borrow for the weekend. To our luck, he did, and Chris’s brother Jon was in the valley that day and could retrieve it for us before coming home that night. We trailered the boat to China Peak Mountain Resort where it would stay until we could properly rig and splash it. Facing yet another frustrating day, Chris retreated to the garage once more to work on the MG – his form of meditation. 

That night our pals Mitch and Quincey arrived, ready to join us on the start line in the coming days. It was their second year racing with the Victory fleet in the High Sierra Regatta, and we were thrilled that Uncle Scooter once again had a boat they could borrow for the race. “Nats” was spelled out in white duct tape on the stern, complimenting the boat’s rough blue sides that were riddled with white scratches and scuff marks. The story goes that this boat’s rough paint job was someone’s attempt to mimic our own, back when Geronimo was blue and named “Christopher”. It was a far cry from perfect, but it would do for the weekend, which was quickly becoming our motto. 

The following morning we were up early and ready to finish crossing off the remaining items on our pre-launch list. While Mitch and Quincey inspected Nats and gave her a good wash, Chris and I removed our sail sheets to soak in vinegar and soap to rid them of yet again more dust and grime. While they soaked in their brine, we installed new blocks on the jib sheet track. Chris had sent Mitch on a mission to buy some, which didn’t quite work out as planned since the Ronstan blocks needed their own track car. Chris thought he could adapt the new blocks to the old track cars, but was disappointed to see it was impossible… Fortunately Mitch had anticipated this and bought the adapters anyway, surprising Chris and saving our asses. It was noon, and the boats were ready to be reacquainted with the cool waters of Huntington Lake so using our new-to-us car named Max and Mama Neely’s 4Runner we began our drive up the mountain. 

The red on red looked pretty sweet as our Max towed Geronimo through the winding mountain roads, contrasting with the remaining trees and charred forest. We were thoroughly impressed with Max’s towing capabilities, keeping a good speed and decent gas mileage the whole way up. We do miss our truck, but this car is more practical for our lifestyle and will be driven heavily when we are home in the summers during hurricane season. At the boat ramp we parked side by side and began rigging the boats, pulling out our neatly coiled dyneema rigging from the cabin below. Last year’s decision to install synthetic rigging was one of our better improvements aboard and fairly easy with Mitch’s expertise.

Just as we were about to splash the boats our friends Peter and Olivia pulled up in their sweet kitted out van, officially joining us for the weekend’s festivities. Although they were very new friends to us, we had clicked immediately the week prior while playing volleyball and invited them to join us for the High Sierra. A bit ballsy, considering we had literally just met them, but they had good taste in boats (they live aboard a Hans Christian 38) and were already friends of Mitch and Quincey’s so we took the chance and were so glad we did! 

Chris’s sister Tess, her husband Jason, and our youngest nephews Truman and Hansin joined us dockside as we finished rigging the boats with sails. They had spent all day lakeside enjoying their “backyard” amongst friends and waiting for our arrival. Tru and Hansin were so excited to go sailing and put their little hands to work assisting their Uncle hoist the sails and get off the dock. With wind in our main we handed the tiller off to Truman who, as an 8 year old, is a natural sailor. His tiller adjustments were spot on and his attention to the wind direction was impressive as he wore the biggest grin on his face. The boys’ giggled as the boat gently healed over, melting my heart and giving me a hot flash of baby fever. Chris could tell too, because he gave me the “look” as if it directly translated to: I know, but not yet. Truman sailed us alongside Nats that had a full crew with M, Q, Peter and Olivia – although 21 feet these boats sure look funny with more than two people aboard! 

After some tacking and a dip overboard we found our slip at China Peak Landing where Geronimo would call “home” for the rest of the season while across the street was the cabin our gang of sailors would call “home” for the weekend. It was a large cabin, much bigger than the one next door that we had stayed in last year. This cabin had two bedrooms, a loft with two sort-of bedrooms roughly connected by a jack and jill half bathroom but not before the other three beds that lined the walls, two pull out beds in the living room and two full bathrooms – it was a lot of space, especially for us boat dwellers. Despite the additional beds, Peter and Olivia understandably stuck to the comfort of their van while the rest of us settled into our respective spaces. 

That evening Quincey, Olivia and I got busy in the galley preparing the fixings for a wonderful taco night featuring BBQ Jackfruit, Seitan taco crumbles, cabbage slaw, black beans, dill crema, tomatoes, corn, and of course my cashew nacho cheese – which always fools people. Full, tired, and excited for the following days we sat by the campfire until the moonrise making s’mores then took ourselves to bed.

Cashew Cheese Recipe (Loosely based off of Siete Nacho Cheese

1 Cup of cashews

1 ¼ cup of hot water

4 TBS Nutritional Yeast

¼ Orange bell pepper

¼  Sundried Tomatoes

Salt and Paprika to taste

Soak cashews in hot water for 20 minutes or overnight (the longer the better). Blend until smooth, slowly incorporating all ingredients until you are satisfied with taste. If looking for more acidity, add a dash of apple cider vinegar.

Practice Day

Sailing in a regatta with your significant other is not for the faint of heart; it will either make or break you. Chris and I adopted the race committee rules of “handling it on the water” when it comes to conflicts, so the minute we reach the shore we don’t hold any animosity or ill feelings towards each other. Racing is high stress, and teamwork is the key to success so we do our best to speak to each other with respect, love and kindness at the age old advice of our dear Uncle Scooter (who apparently always says “please” and “thank you” to his crew) but truth be told we always seem to fall short the first day while we are remembering how to sail Geronimo together. Since we traditionally are rigging the boat, splashing, and practicing all in the same day we never have a lot of tiller time pre-race day (meaning we are generally pretty nasty to each other on day one of the regatta) but this year we had the entire day on the water to tune the rig, work out the kinks and learn how to work with each other to communicate effectively. 

“Do NOT talk to me like that!” I snapped at Chris after securing the jib sheet in its cam cleat. We had just installed new sheets, and although they felt lovely to handle they were too slippery and wouldn’t grip the winches properly, preventing me from executing a well timed trim. I was upset with myself, more than anything, but Chris’s comment “come on, you’re a captain now!” as an attempt at a joke was enough to set me off. I wish I could tell you what ridiculous things we continued to bicker about after that, but it was truly so insignificant I can’t remember. We sat in silence after I set the whisker pole on our downwind sail, sitting on the doghouse in my usual position. Chris was at the tiller and offered his hand as a peace offering, which I gladly took. We apologized to each other for being blatantly cruel and all around stupid for arguing over practically nothing before pulling out the spinnaker to have some real fun. 

Nice shot Mitch!

For some unknown reason our fleet doesn’t run spinnakers despite the fact many of them are rigged for the big beautiful sails. Chris and I may be one of the only Victory’s with two shoots and like to use them when we can outside of racing. After wrestling with the sail on the bow and figuring out how to rig it the sail filled with wind and our speed significantly increased. We had sailed all the way to the top of the lake alongside Nats to where Captain Jacks (now Seasons Bistro) is, giving our friends the full seven mile tour of Huntington Lake, then left them in our wake as Geronimo picked up speed. They didn’t seem to mind though as Mitch snapped a few photos of us under sail before jumping in the water with the rest of his “crew” only to catch up with us on the dock later. 

Back at the marina I confessed I wasn’t confident in what we had practiced and asked for another hour together on the water. It was already 3:00 pm, but I was determined to have clean tacks and quick trims before the race the next day. At the advice of Jon, we wrapped a strip of duct tape around each winch to help the sheets grip, and it worked like an absolute charm. I was feeling much better about the coming races after a few adjustments and returned Geronimo to her slip where we put her to bed for the night. 

Photo: Chuck Philips

“When did you have babies?!” I was absolutely shocked as our friends and fellow Victory sailors Matt and Laura arrived with two little ones in tow. Four months ago they welcomed twins into the world, at the same time Chris and I were busy building a dodger for Avocet. “If you were at the Midwinter Regatta you would have known about the babies” Matt said. Touche I thought, trying to remember when the last time we attended Midwinters in San Diego was… Again hit with another onset of baby fever Chris flashed me the look of “not yet” and I made a full recovery, remembering that we will have a family when the time is right – preferably after we do some serious sailing. It was great to visit with old friends and introduce our new friends to the fleet that continues to support and inspire us as sailors, bantering back and forth filling the forest with booms of laughter. 

As tradition goes, the rest of that evening was spent watching the 1992 sailing classic Wind on a makeshift projector screen rigged in the living room. The sound was not super ideal, but with the help of subtitles we made it work. We all gathered around the screen and were about 5 minutes from the end of the film when Chris’s phone that we had been using as a hotspot died! Even the abrupt interruption wouldn’t prevent us from finishing the film though (mostly out of fear that messing with tradition will give us bad luck) so we connected to my phone as quickly as possible to take in the last moments of the fictional race before retiring to bed. 

Day One – Race 1, 2 and 3

“Welcome to the 69th annual High Sierra Regatta!” the chairman announced over the mic. Sailors clapped as we gathered to hear the skippers meeting announcements that would disclose the need-to-know information about the races. It was all business as usual, and as seasoned HSR veterans we knew what to expect. Our fleet would be last as always, following the Moors, Ulsons, Ultimates, Coronado’s, Thistles and PHRF’s. There were 11 Victory’s racing this year which included 9 from our own Fresno Fleet and 2 from Mission Bay, San Diego. 

My heart raced on the start line as our sequence started. We jockeyed back and forth trying to get the best position when the horn blew. I pulled in the sheets as hard as I could, before joining Chris on the rail to flatten out the boat. We were holding 7th place, and not pointing as high as we usually do which was frustrating but something we would assess later. Race committee set us on a longer course, giving us plenty of opportunities to pick off the competition. We passed one boat, ending the first race in 6th. Mitch and Quincey finished somewhere behind us after having a horrible start, but still wore smiles on their faces as they crossed the finish line. Chris and I were determined to do better the next race, and hove-to so we could tune the rig. 

At the next start we had a decent position over the line, charging up the lake alongside the front of the pack. Again, we were not pointing as high as normal and began to fall off gaining boat lengths on our competition. Somewhere in the middle of the race Chris noticed the rudder was starting to loosen up again, resulting in major play in the tiller. Because of this, we finished race two in 6th then hove-to by the committee boat to try and fix the rudder. “The pin sheared off” Chris said while frantically trying to find a solution. We didn’t have enough time to make it to the dock and back so he began to search for something aboard that would assist in a quick fix. Fortunately he found a turnbuckle with a 5/16ths stud that would suffice until we could replace it with an actual 5/16ths bolt and continued onto the start line for the last race of the day.

Fixing the tiller/rudder… and the flag that Nats hit when we hove-to’d next to each other

“At least we are consistent” I said as we finished the last race in 6th. Mitch and Quincey were far behind us after losing their mainsheet block and vang at the start, scrambling to repair it before joining the rest of the boats on the course. It was a rough day and clear that Geronimo was not as tuned as we had hoped, leaving us frustrated that the boat wasn’t performing to our standards. We knew that next summer would be full of boat projects on Geronimo, but we needed to pour some more love into the boat rather than the residue of anger from gear failures and performance woes. That night after a full dinner Chris and I walked down to the lake to skinny dip, then laid in Geronimos cockpit bathing in the starlight, spending a while pouring nothing but love into her hull. 

Day Two – Race 4 and 5

I wish we had more races on the second day since we always seem to perform better. The wind was consistent and less flukey than the day before, and after we tightened our forestay and adjusted our trim angles we felt good – great even. At the start line we charged alongside our fleet, fighting for the best position before the horn blew and we tacked over the start setting our course for the first mark. We were out in front, holding strong in 3rd when we started to get dirty wind from our competitors. Chris decided to tack, with Nats following our lead leaving the rest of the boats on starboard as we forged our own path up the lake with clean wind to push us. 

Geronimo out in front followed by My Black Pearl and Mr. Goodwrench Photo: Jon/Shannon

It was a tight race and we were neck and neck with Black Pearl skillfully skippered by Missy Hansen, a second year Victory 21 sailor. Together we charged towards the final mark, fighting for 5th place at the finish. At the last second we fended off the Black Pearl on a starboard tack, taking the 5th. “Good race!” Missy called from across the water. We gave them a thumbs up before we high fived eachother with sh!t eating grins strewn across our faces. For us it was more than a good race, it was a great race!

Crossing the finish on a Starboard tack

We had one race to go with no time to eat. Our stomachs grumbled as we tacked to the cove where a lot of our fleet had hove-to. “We lost our tiller!” Matt yelled from their boat. Having been there before, we reached for our duct tape and offered it to them – at least in boat malfunctions we seemed to be in good company this year. He and Laura had been crushing the competition, maintaining podium placements throughout the races – we were curious to see if their newfound handicap would affect their abilities. In the distance we could see Hobie Wan’s rainbow sails stand out against the forest backdrop as it slid across the lake, with Peter and Olivia as crew. A few gulps of water and a reapplication of sunscreen later we were called to the start box for the start of our sequence. Determined to end the regatta on a high note, we short tacked alongside the pack leaders not letting them get too far away. 

At the horn we came out strong in second, out pointing a lot of the boats. “I knew tightening the forestay would help, ” Chris said, pleased with his adjustment. I joined him on the rail to flatten out the boat, keeping an eye on our direct competition above and below us. Scooter was right on our stern, but given our position it was only a matter of time before we knew he would tack over. Chris kept his eyes on the horizon as I gave him a play by play of need-to-know vessel positions and wind patterns. We held third up until we took a header that made us gain boat lengths on the leading boats, dropping us back in a fight for 4th place, but this time Matt and Laura were with us the whole time. 

I can feel the pressure in this photo. Tacking being Matt and Laura’s stern into the next race. PC: Jon/Shannon

Going downwind we had a solid whisker pole set after deciding to jibe towards clean air, free from the wind shadow of our fellow sailors. Back when we had a 300 lbs lead bubble on our keel, going this quick down wind was unheard of, and how we often lost our place, but now we were able to maintain our position and even pick off boats as we charged down the lake. Matt and Laura’s unnamed boat was right on our tail strategically trying to steal our wind. Chris kept his eyes on the next mark while I reported to him their movements so he could adjust accordingly without losing focus. “This is going to be tight” I said as we neared our final mark. I would have to dowse the pole, pull in the sheets tight and pray to Zephyrus that we would get a nice lift to carry us through the finish line in 4th, putting our friends Matt and Laura in 5th. 

Back in the bubble days we usually shared the slow downwind passage with Matt and Laura who also had a bubble… until the hacked most of it away with a chainsaw inspiring our total bubble removal shortly after. PC: Jon/Shannon

It was a risk, but we tacked over to port and held it all the way to the beach. “Go Geronimo!” was shouted from the shoreline from a voice that belonged to no other than Chris’s sister who was working, giving a tour of China Peak’s lakeside wedding venue. The finish line was in our sight and as soon as we could make it we tacked back to starboard, our defense against any upcoming boats. It was a textbook photo finish as we crossed the finish with Matt and Laura right behind us on a port tack. Given our right of way they had to duck us, allowing us to cross over just seconds before them. I felt like I could breathe again, letting the stress of racing melt away.

Final Lakeside Evening

Chris and I quickly put Geronimo to bed before joining the family on the beach. Despite our full day of sailing, Chris was antsy to take Hobie Wan out, especially after watching Peter and Olivia enjoy it all day while we raced. Feeling the bruises start to develop, and my knuckles ache from gripping the sheets so tightly I decided to sit that sail out, letting Chris take out Shannon and Quincey. While he continued to bleed adrenaline I jumped in the cold lake to rid myself of sweat before joining Olivia on the beach blanket to dry off. 

“Thank you racers for attending…” The closing announcements were beginning as sailors gathered at the committee tent above us. Chris was still off sailing, but I pulled up my shorts and put my tank top on before walking up to watch the award ceremony commence. Luckily, the Victory fleet was always last, but I was still hoping he wouldn’t miss it. “I’ll stand with you babe” Mama Neely said, joining my side. We clapped as the winners from each fleet were announced and listened to their speeches – one skipper was celebrating his 40th High Sierra Regatta at 90 years old and was ready to return next year for the 70th anniversary. I can only hope to live such a long, wonderful life that allows me to keep sailing at the tender age of 90. Finally, it was the Victory fleet’s time to shine. Chris ran up behind me right before the 5th place announcement which was awarded to the crew of the Black Pearl (congrats Rod and Missy!)

Chuck and Scooter at the end of the Regatta. Hopefully not the end of an era! PC: Jon/Shannon

Matt and Laura took 4th place, accepting their award with a twin on each parent’s hip. I am confident that in only a few short years those little ones will be on a Victory racing against us on the lake – maybe against our nephew Truman as well. Matt’s parents Don and Wendy were awarded 3rd place after two days of stellar racing, followed by Scooter and Chuck taking home 2nd. What should have been a pure celebration was laced with a twinge of sadness as Chuck announced to us all that this would be Scooter’s last race on Red Eye due to Chuck not being able to crew for him in the coming years. Although Scooter confirmed the news and was pretty dead set on the idea of retiring Red Eye, Chris and I will do our best to find him a suitable crew to race with and keep him in the regatta for as long as possible – hell, I might even offer up Chris and skipper Geronimo myself with a female crew member (any takers…?)

Finally, 1st place was awarded to John and Joe from Mission Bay San Diego, two great sailors that are as kind as they are skilled. We know they worked hard for that 1st, even if they made it look easy! After the announcements were over, we took a Victory 21 family photo where instead of saying “cheese” like normal people, Uncle Scooter encourages us all to say “sex” which never fails to make every adult giggle like a blushing bride. 

Chris and I placed 6th after our three consecutive 6th place finishes the first day (ya, we know… 666 is a pretty gnarly score) then a 5th and 4th the second day. Although we know in our hearts that we are better racers, let alone sailors, than what our score reflects, we still think that we raced well by keeping up with the pack and displaying well executed strategy despite nearly losing our rudder. If anything, we know that we need more tiller-time next year to work out the kinks and mitigate any potential unforeseen issues well before race day which will hopefully be our key to the podium. 

With the help of our friends we loaded up Nats to de-rig before heading back to the cabin. It was still hot, so we walked down the dock to Geronimo to watch the sun start to fall behind the mountains. The fries from the boathouse were smelling too good to pass up, so Shannon treated us to a couple rounds of nacho fries and libations while we sat on the deck that our brother in law Jason built, taking in the fleeting moments from the exciting weekend. “Geronimo!” called a voice behind us. Chris and I whipped our heads around to see Rod and Missy amongst their friends, eager to chat with us. “That was a close race” Rod said with a full smile on his face. “We always were keeping an eye out for that damn red boat” Missy said, which made us chuckle because we often were doing the same, except keeping an eye out for that damned black boat. Missy was the only female skipper in our fleet, inspiring me to someday skipper Geronimo myself if I can ever learn to manage the high stress at the start line. We shared photos of Avocet and learned that they had a power boat in Oxnard, the harbor over from us – perhaps we will share an anchorage at the islands someday soon. 

Back at the cabin the girls took turns showering while the men took over the galley, preparing a fine meal of raviolis and left overs. Outside we ate dinner under the setting sun then cleared the tables to play a tournament style round of “Stans Marble Game,” a game that will live in infamy between the Avocet and Esprit crew, which is fairly similar to the game Pegs and Jokers if you are familiar. After Mitch and I were crowned the reigning victors of the game, we moved inside to play a full 8 person round in which hilarity ensued with every offensive play. Before we knew it, it was nearly midnight and our friends were starting to turn into pumpkins, every yawn accompanied by arms that stretched like vines. It was our last night in the lakeside cabin, and sleep was patiently awaiting us. 

Homeward Bound

Coffee wafted through the cabin as the early risers settled into the morning while the rest of us hatched a bit slower. My body was sore, riddled with bruises and every joint ached with each bend. I took my time to roll out of bed, but when I did Chris had a cup of coffee ready for me. Olivia, Shannon and Quincey were bent over the puzzle they had started the first day, doing their best to complete it with the remaining pieces they had. The rest of us gathered round, talking about sailing plans and boat projects while intermittently collecting our belongings to vacate the cabin. 

With the final piece of the puzzle complete (minus the 7 missing pieces) Peter and Olivia were off after hugs all around and a promise to see them on the dock sooner than later. We stripped the sheets from the beds, collected the towels and dummy checked the premises for anything we may accidentally leave behind before we turned off the lights and locked up. With Nats in tow we stopped in Shaver for a late lunch and to grab Cleocat before returning the boat to Uncle Scooters storage yard and continuing on our drive back to Avocet. We managed to scope out a few of the boats for sale (or “sail”) at Scooters, sending details to Mitch, Quincey, Peter and Olivia who are all on board with potentially becoming Victory 21 owners themselves. We sincerely hope we can do our part and entice some more young blood to join our fleet… after all some boat will have to take Chuck and Scooters’ place as the most competitive and difficult to beat. 

(left to right) Peter, Olivia, Shannon, Quincey, Mitch, Jon, Me, Chris, Mama Neely in front of the lakeside Cabin

The weekend had gone by in a blink but was full of fun and memories. We don’t know exactly where Avocet will be this time next year, but we know that Chris and I will be sailing Geronimo alongside the rest of the Victory fleet in the 70th annual High Sierra Regatta, doing our best to place on the podium. Who knows, maybe after a whole season of cruising we will become unstoppable.

Until then, Fair Winds!

Marissa & Chris

The Crew of Geronimo

Watch the YouTube Recap HERE!




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