Flying South for the Winter on a J/125

Jeff Johnstone caught up with Dan Mullervy of Annapolis and heard about his recent experience crewing aboard the J/125 STRABO. The story begins with the delivery down the coast and winds up with STRABO winning Class A in the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race.

“We had three people on board for the delivery from Annapolis to Charleston in the second week of November. We left at 9 pm on a Tuesday, motoring the first 8 hours and then had a beautiful sail, fetching down the bay, and making it out in total of 16 hours. We got off Cape Hatteras with the wind on the nose, and were going up and down in some big stuff with the #3 jib and the double-reefed main. Next morning the wind came around to the NW and built to about 25 knots, we still had same sail combo and we just started surfing waves. We cut inside Frying Pan Shoals at night, because there was a tug with long tow and they couldn’t see us on radar. Our radar reflector had blown off and everything on the boat is carbon fiber. Of course the waves stacked up in there, with the depth dropping from 200 ft to 50 ft. But the periods were just right for some wild rides. Top speed we were hitting was 18.6 when Kevin was driving. The boat handled fantastic. It’s an incredible to boat to sail at high speed. It’s very forgiving, you can put it wherever you want. When you see a wave, you just put it on the wave and let it go. In fact sometimes Pat wouldn’t get off the wheel. I’d come up to relieve the watch and he’d say he was good for another 10 miles. The last 9 hours we did 100 miles, surfing everything we could find right into Charleston Harbor, arriving about noon on Friday, less than three days after we started.”

“On the next leg to Lauderdale, Marty Fisher, STRABO’s owner/skipper joined us. We initially motored while the air was light, then when it came around to the north we had a very comfortable sail, broad reaching down the coast. We were surprised when we reached Lauderdale only 48 hours after leaving Charleston.”

“The final leg to Key West was the Lauderdale-Key West Race. We were in Class A PHRF with big boats like CHESSIE RACING and EQUATION (Santa Cruz 70s), a Corel 45, and a few other older big boats. The beginning of the race was just awful. It took us 10 hours to go 12 miles. We sat off Miami near the sea buoy for about 3 hours. Then the wind filled in around midnight. The Corel 45 was trying to get away from us, because they knew in the right conditions, we’d be able to go right by them, which ended up happening. Going into the 2nd night we were sailing along at about 8 knots and then put up a Code 0, which was on a furler. Then as the wind came up we switched to a jib top reacher. At daybreak there was the Corel 45 who we thought had gotten away from us, just a little bit in front of us. So we kept on surfing with the jib top and let the boat do its thing. Then we surfed right up next to them and played in their quarter wave for a little while. After a while we realized they were slowing us down, so we gained some separation and then got in front of them and held them all the way to the turn coming into Key West. They got us going back up wind but only by a couple of minutes. We corrected out to finish first, followed by the Corel and CHESSIE (who was first across the line). Other than the beginning it was a great race, especially with only six people sailing the J/125."