By Dave Heitzenrater
My first experience with the Interclub Cruise came in 1972 when perched on a corner stool at the counter in a West 8th Street Erie hang out called The Dog House. Ron, a college friend wondered in “Hey Dave, what are you doing this weekend?” The next thing I new it was three days later, I was in the middle of the Lake Erie under a beautiful blue sky and I had this rope in my hands the others called a bed sheet or something and it was attached to a big green sail in front of the boat. This was not only my first Interclub Cruise, it was my first experience sailboat racing. I loved it! Several years later, again racing on the Interclub Cruise I found myself on this same 35’ boat and again with this same green spinnaker flying high but it was a slightly different situation. It was a gray day with a slight mist in the air and the wind really howling. We had hit a wave, did a wipe out crash broach (technical term), a shackle opened and there was the pride of the boat, that big spinnaker flying straight out from the very top of the mast. It looked just like a pretty woman’s hankie as she waved good by from a windy upper deck of a cruise ship but just a little bit bigger and extremely noisier. Sooooo guess who got to ride the halyard elevator up to the tipsy top of the mast to rescue the pride and joy. Yep, still being the rookie on the boat, I was volunteered. It was a slow ride up that that cold wet aluminum. I was a bit nervous, OK really scared as the stick was moving back and forth every time the boat crashed into the next wave and increasing the size of the stroke every inch higher they dragged me err I mean gently raised me in that not so secure chair. It took forever but after finally reaching the mast head, I was swinging several feet in each direction with every sway of the boat. After much struggling, we somehow managed to retrieve the sail without incident. The Captain was very happy to get the spinnaker down in one piece and I was just happy to get down to the fiberglass! More than just memories, those inner thigh bruises remained well after the last race of the series. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it and now there are many many more of fun and joy. I owe it all to my very first cruise with Captain Jack Finn on the Yacht Killery. Thanks Jack, we’ll all be looking for that big green spinnaker!