Scene of unlikely rally

This April, for the first time, a handful of classic small sailboats gathered in Savannah, Ga., to sail the 100-mile voyage through the barrier islands to Charleston, S.C. What began as a personal exploration by Beaufort, S.C., resident Sam “Woody” Norwood aboard his Herreshoff 12 1/2 has now grown to a mini-regatta of classic small craft. “In November of 2004, I took my H-12, Myrdie, to Beaufort, which is about half way between Savannah and Charleston. For a week I explored north and south and my enthusiasm for the area grew quickly, as did the idea of a journey from Savannah to Charleston,” Norwood wrote in an e-mail interview a few days after his voyage this spring. “The tidal currents run 1.5 to 4 knots along the ICW on the South Carolina coast. Tide heights are 7 to 9 feet. Therefore, the tides make a big difference in planning a sailing trip in a small boat.” Norwood made the first trip with a rotation of friends, his wife graciously meeting him with the boat trailer each evening. “The trip was successful,” Norwood said. “I wrote a summary of the trip and sent it to friends.

The idea, with the feasibility proven, seemed to touch the adventure spirit of other owners of classic boats. I think that owners of more modern racing sailboats are more interested in sailing around the buoys; classics owners tend to be more romantic and adventurous in the vision of how to use their boats. Others began to ask if they could do this with me this year.” The voyage is now a regatta and includes another gaff-rigged Herreshoff 12 1/2 sloop, two Marshall catboats, a 13 1/2-foot Melonseed and a Cape Dory Typhoon. Each is well suited for the barrier island waters; shallow draft and centerboards are forgiving in the flats, and in the open water of Port Royal Sound, the boats’ livelier sea-keeping abilities are allowed to shine. “It is said that if there are two sailboats in sight of each other and heading fundamentally in the same direction, without any communication whatsoever between them, the race is on,” Norwood explained in an e-mail message to his fellow sailors prior to the race. “In that spirit, and to add a bit of spice to our adventure, we will have a race for part of our journey every day starting in Beaufort.” The rally sailed during the day and hauled the boats ashore at night in marinas. After departing Savannah on Saturday, April 30, the fleet made stops at Hilton Head, Beaufort, Edisto Island, and arrived in Charleston on May 4. Norwood said the race will be held in April again next year. For more info contact Woody Norwood by e-mail:

By Ocean Navigator