Herd Mentality

An evening stroll on the beach, Stocking Island, Atlantic side, (Georgetown).

An evening stroll on the beach, Stocking Island, Atlantic side, (Georgetown).

A view of (one little part of) an anchorage near Georgetown.

A view of (one little part of) an anchorage near Georgetown.

If there is anything that defines Georgetown as a sailing destination it is herd mentality. Don’t get me wrong Georgetown is a great cruising destination, with well protected anchorages, good holding, half a dozen beaches and organized activities for young and old alike. There is good reason almost four hundred sailboats joined us there. Sailors tend to be independent types and non-conformers so there must be a draw.

But by the end of our month long stay we were itchig to go. As it happened the weather window looked good for our run to Jamaica also coincided with the Long Island Rally, an organized event where about sixty sailboats head to neighboring Long Island for a few days.

Usually I fastidiously study tide and wind patterns before leaving or entering any unfamiliar entrance. But with sixty other boats, countless meetings and weather delays these things must have been considered by organizers, right?

After we weighed anchor at 7am, Mary suggested we raise the main. “Let’s motor a little first, eat our porridge and charge the batteries”, said I. With porridge in tummies I started to look around for an opportunity to raise the main. But by this time we were in a narrow channel, surrounded by sixty other sailboats. Who would have guessed it?

Later, I would watch jealously out of the side of my eyes as our friends on Fata Morgana sailed passed us, while Franklin puked in a bucket, green water came across our beam and our belongings were rearranged in our cabin. And I would wonder why a fifty catamaran chose a seemingly crazy moment to slip between us and another monohull.

Lesson learned. The herd does not always know best. Study every entrance, don’t get accidentally caught in other people’s races and raise that main early for goodness sake.