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I see in the last few issues of Mainsheet that our new Fleet #51 is listed. Thanks! I wanted to take this time to inform you that I'm currently serving in Afghanistan with the NY Army National Guard. While we were at an Army base in the S.E. for our train-up to deploy I was living in (believe it or not) tent #C27. Funny but true! My wife sends me my Mainsheet issues so I can dream about sailing my boat! I will be sending you a short essay and a few photos of our last trip on the boat before I put it away last fall.
– Bob Bennett

My last sailing adventure before I prepared to deploy to Afghanistan with the NY Army National Guard was a weekend trip that was made for memories. We prepared for our Labor Day 2007 holiday weekend trip in our usual way. I prepared the boat and my wife prepared the creature comforts we like that can truly make or break an adventure. I had reconditioned my 1977 Catalina 27', Dominique the previous year. I spent the better part of a year going through the boat, replacing all the standing rigging, adding backing plates to all the deck hardware and stanchions. I removed all the cabin windows and boat hatches so I could repaint the deck, cabin and hull. The new forest green hull with Grand Banks Beige nonskid over off-white Inerlux made my boat shine like new once again. I resealed all the windows and added smoke tint to the glass before reseating them. With all the wood work redone (inside and out) and new running rigging added, Dominique looked as good as new. To upgrade the living conditions I replaced all the head and galley water lines and added a new collapsible fresh water tank and new faucets in the head and galley. I decided to replace the entire propane system, tank, lines and connections. While I was replacing the propane lines I added a T-fitting at the tank so I could run a line to the grill on the cockpit rail and another to the two burner stove in the galley. Ellie had made new curtains, pillows and a cushion for the new double bed we made in the cabin which gave our boat a real homey feel. Finally we added the newly printed name on the transom.

My wife made a menu of meals to rival our favorite restaurant, all packaged for easy meal preparation. We loaded the food, some beer and our favorite wines onboard, packed in coolers in the galley and the one we kept in the stern cockpit locker. As our old reliable Atomic-4 warmed up (which also looked and ran excellent with new water coolant hoses, alternator belt, electronic ignition, spark plug wires, plugs, a new electric fuel pump and a fresh coat of original universal bronze paint, all from Moyer Marine) we removed the new toast color sail cover from the main sail and prepared to back out of the slip. As one can tell if still reading this far, I'm very proud of the work we have done on our little 27. While we motored out of the marina in Brewerton, NY heading out on Oneida Lake we talked about all the work we had put into the boat, Ellie reminded me that the porch trim was still not finished on our home, she was right of course. We had a good breeze between 15-20 knots (if I remember correctly) with 3-4 foot rollers once we hit the open water on the lake. We were heading due East with the wind and waves on our stern. It's always exciting when this boat surfs along on the waves like she was. I had decided to sail up the southern side of the islands on the West end of the lake to get out of the wind and waves a bit. I had listened to the weather reports all week leading up to the weekend so I knew this weather would not last past our first day. Our plan for the first night was to anchor out behind Dutchman's Island off the Southern shoreline half way up the lake but, with the weather continuing to hold as it was we decided to pull into Fisherman's Bay a few miles before our intended spot. We motored in and tied up at the restaurant's deck. With the boat secured nicely we walked in for a gin an' tonic (me) and a glass of white wine (Ellie). After a beautiful night at the deck we headed out early in the morning to continue our sail up the lake to our favorite anchoring spot (Dutchman's Island as I mentioned above). The wind continued to blowout of the West however, it had died down nicely to 5-7 knots. We had a beautiful morning sail for a few miles to the island. We tucked the boat up behind the island and rigged up the wind scoop in the front hatch to catch some breeze down below.

We fired up the grill and made a nice lunch with a few glasses of wine. It was cool out but I still went for a September swim (refreshing in upstate NY this time of the year!). We were joined for a while by another Catalina 27, truly beautiful boat out of Oneida Lake Marina. We spent a nice quiet day swinging on the anchor. We come here this time of the year to watch the fireworks from the Bridgeport Field Days, another excellent show watching from the boat. When we awoke the wind had shifted 180 degrees, now out of the East. I rose early and took the inflatable raft for a row around the boat for some pictures. We spend another relaxing day on the boat, a little fishing and some good food. We decide to sail on Eastward up the lake to Sylvan Beach. We enjoy another great day of relaxing sailing. We watched some boats along the Northern shore sailing in the same direction as us. I'm not a racer however, I do measure my speed against theirs and try to stay ahead of them (OK, the racing bug may be in all of us somewhat). At first we drop sail and motor up the river a bit but the power boat crowd has convinced me to head over to Oneida Lake Marina for the night. As always this little marina is extremely friendly and gracious. I bought my boat from the previous owner out of this marina some 15 years earlier. A little like coming home for us as we motor in for a slip. As the race crews from the marina kick off their end of season cookout we fire up our little grill also. Drinks flow and friendly conversation follows. We always like coming down to this little place for a weekend.

An early rise finds heavy fog all around. I do feed the ever present mallard ducks off the stern of the boat. We linger over our coffee and let the fog burn off a bit before we motor out and begin the trip home. We have a very nice breeze for the first few hours and enjoy the time. As the morning wears on though the wind dies and the water turns to glass. And of course I grumble a bit and say out loud "I want some white caps and some wind". I've heard of the old saying "be careful what you wish for." And sure enough, the wind picks up quickly and just as I had asked for white caps appear all around. So, I quickly drop the main sail to the reefing point and roll in the headsail a bit. Water sprays over the bow and we're off. The quickness of the breeze and chop adds to the excitement. Be careful what you wish for (or whine for as my wife says). As we close in on the Western end of the lake and home the wind and water settles down and we cruise under a setting sun. It's dark as we tie up at the slip. A quick load of the Jeep and we head home. Another great time and a lasting memory to bring with me to Afghanistan to reflect on as time goes on.

As we close in on the Western end of the lake and home the wind and water settles down and we cruise under a setting sun. It's dark as we tie up at the slip. Another great time and a lasting memory to bring with me to Afghanistan to reflect on as time goes on.

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