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SEA CRUISE DIXIE 2013 Deserves 60-Gun Salute!

By Nancy Molitor (Thistle 3798)

Memorial Day weekend was reinvented to become Memorable Day weekend in the hands of the Thistle Fleet last month when a  remarkable 60 sister ships gathered from ports far and near for the launching of the first and only Sea Cruise Dixie.  Given last year’s venue of tents and construction barricades, the 2013 Dixie was a perfect opportunity to embark on a new course, showcasing our elegant new clubhouse and entertaining in the grand manner -- first class all the way!

Passengers arriving Friday night were greeted at the gate with an amazing display of ship and champagne crafted by Dale and Arlene Newnham, whose creative juices could pop anybody’s cork.  Once up the gangway, to welcome us aboard were beer and sea snacks provisioned by deck hand Amy Roberts, followed by Beth Tumlin’s more-than-you-can-eat spaghetti supper.  After a mini but jubilant pre-voyage celebration, we were off to cabins (literally) to shore up for next morning’s voyage.
Saturday brought fair skies and Rita McCormack’s “Sail Away Brunch” in our newly christened galley.  While Cruise Director Beth booked passengers, the Coral Reef guys were on hand to deck us out in shirts and paraphernalia bearing Julia Martinroe’s custom Sea Cruise Dixie design.  Meanwhile the seven Junior Dixie skippers and crews hit the water early for their own regatta, championed by LLSC siblings Darby and J.D. Reddaway.  Thanks to Al Daniel for running their two races, and extra kudos to Lauren Yapp for cheerleading this event and literally doubling Junior participation.

 Now for the main event.  In this year of new beginnings, Ship’s Captain Bill Tumlin grabbed the wheel and headed for uncharted waters:  a two-fleet Dixie instead of our traditional four-fleet mix.  The new system would give us a better chance of fitting in five races and allow everyone to compete with the same boats start to finish.  We drew 42 boats to the Purple Fleet, with 18 opting to Go Green -- a pretty good balance that we’re betting to improve next year because the Greens had so much fun.

Both fleets headed out to sea hoping for three races Saturday and two Sunday.  The wind was a lovely 5-8 mph but classically Allatoona-shifty, so RC Chair Don Hackbarth had his hands full.  Between significant shifts and an aggressive fleet, the first race took four starts to get the Purples off clean.  Mike and Judy Ross led the race early and won it, with formidable competition from Paul Abdullah and Skip Dieball.  John and Leslie Irvine, though their good start was deep-sixed by a port-tack boat collision, managed to pick off boats on every leg and crossed the finish line third, just behind Ross and Abdullah.  

So Irvines clearly know something about picking off boats.  After a good start in the second Purple race they rounded the weather mark in about eighth, the leeward in fifth, the second windward in third, and the last leeward in the lead, which they held across the finish line.  (Say. . . why don’t we all try that?)  With a 3-1 they had the regatta in their gunsights, with Abdullah just behind.  Rosses had just a tenth in Race 2, which allowed Bryce Dryden and Sean Adams to slip past them into third for the day.

Meanwhile the Green Fleet was being dominated by Dave Shively and wife Diane,  resplendent in green to match their spinnaker, their speed and their fleet.  Winning the first race handily, they finished second in Race 2 behind Will Stout, working a little of that ol’ Magic with daughter Adrienne and granddaughter Zoe.  But Stout had finished third in Race 1 behind Brook Hamilton and Michael Friedman, so that put him one point behind the Shivelys at the end of the day.  Tied for third were Robert Mitchell, Johnny Sinclair and Art Molitor, all with high hopes for Race 3.  But time had run out on Saturday, so it was on to the next event. 

Party time on the poop deck featured hors d’oeuvres that nearly sank the ship at the Green Flash Margarita party, orchestrated once again by Master Marga-Rista Jeffrey Martinroe.  Buddy and Renee Wainwright saved us a cache of pirate’s booty by serving and cleaning up our delicious catered dinner themselves.  First-class table decorations by the Newnhams, and the icing on the cake was. . . well, the cake! -- another awesome culinary opus by kitchen artist Samantha Haisty. (What else but an “S. S. Sea Cruise Dixie” life buoy?)  Passengers had a holiday with the dress code, sporting an eclectic mix of steward whites, pirate garb, tacky tourist hats and shades, sun-seeker pool robes, and even the uninvited guest Norovirus, whose nemesis the Finefrock Sanitation Team showed up just in time to spare us all from barf bags.

Dancing rocked the boat until way into the moonlit night, with revelers perhaps anticipating Sunday’s forecast. . . and yes, it was no wind at all.  So our five-race hopes were reduced to two, and Saturdays standings were left, um. . . standing.  High twos to John and Leslie Irvine, champions of the Purple World, and to the Shivelys for proving themselves fleetest of the Green!  Bob McCormack gets his own shout-out for another new tradition -- Fastest Over 60 (instead of 50, which was letting way too much young blood compete).  Even though David Huck was pretty lucky to earn an eighth place, his new wife and crew Victoria was given a four-leaf clover just to be on the safe side.  And speaking of new brides, the coveted Potted Thistle was awarded to Sean Adams’s fiancée Jen (now Mrs. Adams).  She is probably too new to even appreciate the depth of this honor, but I bet she had fun earning it.

It takes a lot of hands on deck to power a ship the size of the Dixie, and we salute every one of you.  If you don’t see your name in bold, it’s not because we don’t love and appreciate you, it’s because we believe in sailing more and reading less!  For a more complete report, you’ll have to wait for the Bagpipe.  Meanwhile, here’s the Q+D:

1 John Irvine Leslie Irvine AYC 3 1 4
2 Paul Abdullah Skip Dieball FYC 2 6 8
3 Bryce Dryden Sean Adams AYC 6 4 10
Others from AYC:  4) Mike Ross; 8) David Huck; 9) Bob McCormack; 
15) Buddy Wainwright; 20) Scott McCormack; 23) Bill Tumliin; 24) Gavin  McCormack; 30) Clint Hodges; 33) Carlin Hodges; 35) Jim Roberts ; 
37) Anna Lee Bradley; 39) Chip Hawkins; 41) Alex Padgett

1 David Shively Diane Vandeputte AYC 1 2 3
2 Will Stout A Warnken & Zoe Wyant AYC  3 1 4
3 Robert Mitchell Paul & Katie Mitchell AYC 7 3 10
Others from AYC:  4) Johnny Sinclair; 5) Art Molitor; 6) Fred Bradshaw; 7) Brook  Hamilton; 10) David Yapp; 11) Len Wert; 12) Troy Davis; 13) Dale Newnham;  15) Todd Copenhaver; 18) Darryl Allardice

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