I haven’t missed the Interclub since.
JUST WHERE DOES ONE “PASS LONG POINT”?
By P/C Ron Busse
Passing Long Point has never been the same for every vessel or even every crossing. Each vessel has a different imaginary point closest to land with a water depth that hopefully exceeds their draft. This requires a bit of Black Magic as Lake Erie’s depth tends to surge regularly and storms move the sand bars at the spit. But since the Interclub Race began using it as a Mark of the course, there have been many other changes. During my first race in the early 60’s rounding long point meant looking for the light (which at that time had a brilliant Fresnel lens) and using a sounding lead and compass much as sailors had done for a hundred years. Passing got easier in the 70’s when Radio Direction Finders and Depth Sounders became
economically viable for pleasure craft. Then in the 80’s you could pinpoint your rounding with Loran positions – if you could get one of the then new NOAA charts with coordinates. Shortly thereafter smaller Radar units began to appear which not only displayed the Point but also its transponder. The Point became so easy to find that they removed the Fresnel lens to a museum and left us with a placebo of a beacon. GPSs got us to within a few feet of our position as we passed Long Point and now some skippers are watching it all in real time on the electronically linked GPS/Sounder/Radar/ Mapping CRT screen. So even though passing Long Point has changed dramatically during the course of the Interclub, watching the “Video Game” in the cockpit still gets exciting as the keel kisses the bottom from an uncharted shifted sand bar as you “Pass Long Point”.