Wednesday, April 15, 2020

J/Newsletter- April 15th, 2020

sunset in ChileJ/Sailing News

As we all continue to experience yet another week of "home sheltering" to hopefully stem the expansion of the pandemic, we continue to see and hear about various ways in which our sailing friends are coping with "close encounters of the home-kind"; for nearly a month-plus in some places.

Here in Rhode Island, Newport life has ground to a halt, as it has in many other places around the world. It is strange to see the emptiness on America' Cup Avenue and Thames Street, normally packed with weekend warriors enjoying the beautiful springs days we have been experiencing recently. It is downright eerie, as if some apocalyptic movie became reality and a neutron bomb wiped everyone off the face of Planet Earth. One is reminded of our friends at The Black Pearl, "Ricky" (Five-O) at the Candy Store/ Clarke Cooke House, Zelda's, and good Lord knows how many other famous and wonderful restaurants that sailors from around the world have enjoyed in Newport for generations.

Even more bizarre is driving across the Newport Bridge on a spectacular sunny day, southwest 10-15 kts breeze blowing, a near perfect 60 F degrees, and not a soul on the water. No signs of any sails glistening on the sunlight seas, carving a languid course across the water, enjoying yet another gorgeous late afternoon, sunset sail across Narragansett Bay.

Yet, the heartbeat of Newport is still alive and kicking. Family and friends persevering against an unseen enemy that is perverse in its treatment of human-kind, sadly having an adverse effect on some of our older veterans of offshore battles and one-design "mano-a-mano" battles around-the-cans. We will miss them.

One imagines how our sailing friends miss such experiences on the Solent/ Cowes, the Baltic, Baie de Morbihan, Porto Cervo, Punta del Este, San Francisco Bay, Lago di Garda, Chesapeake Bay, St Moritz, Valle de Bravo, Lago Panguipulli, the Great Lakes, Biscayne Bay, Puget Sound, Penobscot Bay, the Caribbean, and all of our many favorite places to enjoy a fresh breeze on our face, and the sound of waves lapping against the topsides at sunset.... someday.....hopefully, soon.

John F Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy sailing offshore
President John F. Kennedy and wife Jackie sailing offshore on his beloved Wianno Sr- "Victura"

The scenario we live in today reminds me of another poem regarding our collective journey over the past few weeks.... one from another famous American poet, Robert Frost. Many sailors share Frost’s perspective; including one of the most famous sailing families in America- the Kennedy's.

President John F. Kennedy sailing Biscayne Bay, Florida
President John F. Kennedy practicing "social distancing" in 1963- sailing singlehanded on Biscayne Bay!

In October 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech at the dedication of the Robert Frost Library in Amherst, Massachusetts. “In honoring Robert Frost,” the President said, “we therefore can pay honor to the deepest source of our national strength. That strength takes many forms and the most obvious forms are not always the most significant. ... Our national strength matters; but the spirit which informs and controls our strength matters just as much. This was the special significance of Robert Frost.”

Robert Frost- The Road Not Taken
     The Road Not Taken
     Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
     And sorry I could not travel both
     And be one traveler, long I stood
     And looked down one as far as I could
     To where it bent in the undergrowth;

     Then took the other, as just as fair,
     And having perhaps the better claim,
     Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
     Though as for that the passing there
     Had worn them really about the same,

     And both that morning equally lay
     In leaves no step had trodden black.
     Oh, I kept the first for another day!
     Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
     I doubted if I should ever come back.

     I shall be telling this with a sigh
     Somewhere ages and ages hence:
     Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
     I took the one less traveled by,
     And that has made all the difference.

Learn more about Frost's impact on the world of poetry in a crossing of generations and centuries in his time.

Pablo Neruda sailing in proper gentleman's dresss
Similarly, the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, was famously credited for motivating the Chilean people themselves to take their own "road not taken", to overthrow the oppressive military regime and fulfill their hope for dreams of national self-determination.

Pablo Neruda's Isla Negra house
President John F. Kennedy's love for sailing and the sea was also shared by Neruda. As a young man, Neruda wrote "In Veinte Poemas" (Twenty Poems), an imaginary journey across the sea, symbolically in search of an ideal port. In 1927, he embarked on a real journey, when he sailed from Buenos Aires, Argentina for Lisbon, Portugal, ultimately bound for Rangoon. Later in life, Neruda made his way back to Chile in 1937 to settle in Isla Negra on a beautiful, famously rugged section of the Chilean coastline south of Algarrobo. There, he continued to walk the coastline, watching the enormous swells crashing on the shoreline from massive Roaring Forties storms swirling around the bottom of the world... inspired by the raw power of nature... dreaming... wondering.... writing.

Pablo Neruda's sailboat at Isla Negra, Chile
Neruda's house in Isla Negra features an open sailboat parked in front, facing symbolically towards the sea.

"His poetry of love, equated women with nature. He raised that comparison to a cosmic level, making women into a veritable force of the universe," commented Rene de Costa. Visit Neruda's beautiful, wildly fun, eclectic home, full of nautical treasures that would delight any sailor on the shores of Chile's Isla Negra. It is well-worth the trip...a soulful journey back into time.   Learn more about Neruda as one of Chile's most influential poet/philosophers.

J/24 Sea Bags Women's Sailing Team
J/One-Design Class Schedule Updates

(Newport, RI)- At this time, the J/22 and J/24 classes have the following updates for their members.

J/24 North American Championship
The Good Samaritan Hospital J/24 North American Championship, hosted by Sayville Yacht Club in Blue Point, NY is postponed to August 11th to 16th, 2020. All competitors already registered will be allowed to maintain their slots for the new August dates. If a competitor decides to withdraw for any reason, a full refund will be returned as long as it has been done before June 30. (Any withdrawals after June 30 will be returned less a $75.00 processing fee.) The special hotel rates at the Hyatt Regency Long Island have been rescheduled for August 9-16. All other questions should be sent via email to Regatta Chairperson/Rear Commodore Joe Buonasera at We hope to see you in August!

J/22s sailing off Montego Bay, Jamaica
J/22 World Championship
Over the past several weeks, the International J/22 Class Association in coordination with the South African J/22 Class have been closely monitoring the current pandemic. It has been decided that it would not be in anyone’s interests to continue to hold the World Championship in July. Even if the virus has been contained by then, there are concerns about South African businesses, the economy and participation. Plans for the 2021 J/22 World Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas USA are well underway, so South Africa will host the J/22 World Championship in 2022. Please be sure to reference the International J/22 Class Association website-

J/122 sailing Voiles St Barth
Themes and Memes from Day-to-Day

(Newport, RI)- Considering that spring sailing in the northern hemisphere and the amazing fall sailing usually associated with our Down Under compatriots in the Antipodes is now "toast", perhaps it would be fun to share our collective experiences across the spectrum of the following themes/ categories:

Nikki Beach Club rose wine and champagneMonday Morning Quarterbacks- why I didn't win or why I screwed up, amongst many other things, that happened this past weekend...anytime, anywhere. Recall why the weekend outcome may have been better, or worse.

J/Day Tuesday- featuring a J/Crew and their love and passion for sailing on their boat. Share family experiences that you have treasured in recent memory.

Hump Day Wednesday- should I stay, or should I go? What am I doing this weekend, or not? In other words, what I wished for the coming weekend, but may or may have not happened.

Throwback Thursday- sharing wonderful memories of sailing experiences in the past of any kind; daysailing, cruising, racing, or just messing about with boats.

St Barth's famous beach club- Nikki Beach!For example, a number of J/Sailors are probably wishing they were enjoying the spectacular sailing during the Voiles St. Barth Regatta this week!  Remember pics like the ones above and here (the famous Nikki Beach Club)?

Friday Funnies- anything that was amusing that took place in the past week, at home, at work, on the water, that may or may not be related to sailing.

Please send us whatever comes to mind at:!  All stories welcome!

J/Gear SpecialJ/Gear April 17% OFF Special!
(Newport, RI)- The "J" Marmot Vest is a superb choice for quality and performance. Excellent wind and water-resistant properties while offering a soft comfortable fit. Full-zip front with side-zip pockets and a convenient chest-zip pocket for your phone.

  • 96% polyester, 4% elastane
  • water-repellent and breathable
  • zippered chest pocket
  • zippered handwarmer pockets
  • elastic drawcord hem
The perfect mate for a performance race crew or just cruising the bay. Comes with the J/Class logo of your choice and can be customized with your boat name and sail number. Comes in colors of Black, Carbon, and Navy and sizes from S to XXL.  Check it out here on the J/Gear website

What friends, alumni, and crew of J/Boats are doing worldwide
Below we hear from Bob and Reverend Mary Johnstone as well as Rod Johnstone. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on living through the pandemic.

We would LOVE to hear from you, too! Please send us your stories and photos, too! Email us-

Reverend Mary with model sailboat* Perspectives from Reverend Mary Johnstone "sheltering" in Charleston, SC:
"Bob & I are counting the days 'til Bishop Gadsden issues an 'all clear', or 'clear with precautions' for its independent living residents. We have lived in a CCRC (continuing-care retirement community) in Charleston, SC  since October 2018.

Great people, beautiful campus, wonderful cottage, good food.

Since Wednesday, March 18th, all residents & most Staff have been under strict quarantine - no one is to leave campus, no visitors allowed. Each resident is provided a "care package" every day to cover lunch, dinner & breakfast. BG provides a once a week food shop for max 15 items at BiLo & we can also order (for a price) from Harris Teeter or Publix. Pharmacy items are available for delivery from a few pharmacies we've never heard of. A wonderful woman named "Heidi" did a huge shop for us at Walgreen's. My car is 'running on empty', so it is sitting in the garage until its driver is freed up to come & go.

On the flip side, the pace of life is noticeably slower. More time to think, reflect & write, which I enjoy. More time to exercise - I take a daily walk around the grounds 1-3 miles. Always look forward to this! I am focusing on domestic stuff & also on connecting with friends from near & far via phone, text, Facetime or email, especially with the 3 generations of our family. ❤️

On Easter day, Bob & I watched & participated in the 11:15am service from Washington National Cathedral, standing to sing all the hymns, including one accompanied by 1,000's of Episcopalians from around the USA, generated by miraculous technology: Facetime? Zoom? Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached (from his home) - it was an uplifting & hopeful message.

When we are collecting mail, or strolling around campus, we wear face masks, & wash our hands & keep our 6' distance from others. Dedicated to cooperating for the good of all, while inside our heads asking, "When & how will these behaviors end??"

Bob & Mary Johnstone boating off Naples, FL
This photo was taken on "Breeze", our 43z, during a February outing in Naples, Florida. Breeze sits patiently at Safe Harbor Charleston City Marina awaiting our return!

Warm greetings and love to all! Stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!

J/99 arriving Bristol, RI
* Where the is my boat? Rod Johnstone's trials & tribulations in the past few weeks dealing with the new reality of home sheltering and restricted travel is compounded by trying to figure out how to commission and get his new J/99! Like many of us, dreaming of how to go sailing! Here is Rod's ruminations:

"So..... Lucia and I are riding out this storm here at anchor at our house in Stonington. We are both well. We plan to go sailing as soon as it gets warmer. I am sitting here in my office doing what I know best........ designing the next great sailboat!

Our new J/99 “Jazz” is being bottom painted now and will be ready to launch soon. The challenge will be how to get to the boat to go sailing. As of now, I might need to borrow a family car with Rhode Island plates, so I do not get stopped by the RI State Police at the border. We intend to go sailing soon.

J/99 sailing with Rod Johnstone family
Last summer sailing the J/99 AGENT 99- Rod with sons Jeff and Al (left to right)

Sailing is the best example of social distancing; our own household having been in quarantine together for over a month already. it is easier to do that on a boat like the J/99 for the two of us.

So, why does the Governor of RI now prevent boaters from other States, who can easily self-quarantine on their own boats flying the “Q” flag? A visitor by boat should be able to follow the same rules and enjoy the Rod & Lucia Johnstonesame rights as Rhode Island residents while in Rhode Island. Right now, they have got the RI police patrolling marinas to get rid of the likes of CT'ers, like me. Seems like RI needs higher intelligence to find a more effective approach to the crisis!

Hard to be positive about this, but it makes sailing all the more desirable as an escape from the overreach of authority; something safe to be enjoyed with others from the same household, or at a safe distance. Most of us don’t need to be treated like idiots.

Lucia and I plan to go cruising on our J/99 every chance we get and will try to overcome any obstacles placed in our way while we are medically protecting ourselves and others in our vicinity. I would urge other sailors to do the same.

Rodney's dingy
I have my home-built, balanced lug rig, daysailer in front of the garage, ready to go! Easy to launch anywhere, single-hand or double-handed.

Love to all and stay safe!
Rod & Lucia

Model sailboats on Charleston pond
* Who is that masked man?!  Like his brother, Bob Johnstone has also been dreaming, wondering, when it would be possible to escape onto the water again? In the meantime, here are some of his thoughts on "pandemic life":

It seems the boatyards and boat trucking operations are carrying on with “Business as Usual”.  Just arranged for a June 10th hauling our new triple-outboard powered MJM 43z BREEZE from the City Marina here in Charleston to truck to Newport Shipyard in Newport, RI.  We have a condo rented there on Coddington Wharf, overlooking the harbor, from June 15 to September 15… with a 3-week cruise to Northeast Harbor in late July.  Booked at the Northeast Town Docks.

Bob Johnstone with his model sailboatWe had been planning to put BREEZE on our mooring off New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, but looks like their launch service won’t start until the end of June… so, we may be rowing an inflatable back and forth as “registered” dinghies can be kept at the HC floats.

The other option during the last half of June, particularly if the 14-day R.I. quarantine for "foreigners" still exists, we could keep the boat on the dock and either live on the boat at Newport Shipyard, which is offering deliveries to deal with the situation… or move into isolation in the condo.  After all, we spent a month aboard (the longest period we’ve ever stayed aboard any boat), cruising BREEZE from Naples FL back up the ICW (intra-coastal waterway) to Charleston and had a great time.

In the meantime, doing what comes naturally! Back to one-design sailboat racing… actually coming back full circle to model sailboats.

My first one-design efforts, preceding J/Boats by 15 years, was when we were living in Cali, Colombia.  Got a dozen of my ex-pat friends to invest in Dumas model Star class wooden boat kits. I imported them.  It was a complete disaster. I was the only one who built one.  Guess we were going to take them out to our local golf/tennis- Club Campestre- and sail them on the pond, run around, pushing them back on course with our putters… as they weren’t radio controlled! LOL!

Good news is that I learned something in the past 58 years. “Build it and they will come!”  If I put all the kits together and handed a fully-tuned, completed boat to the owner, the program will take off (or, so I hoped). That story and some nice coverage by Craig Leweck in Sailing Scuttlebutt apparently got Tom Babbitt and Ben Hall psyched about starting fleets in ME and FL… and Rod’s been thinking about the same thing from his new house on an extension of Stonington harbor north of the RR bridge.

DF-95's sailing on Charleston pond
You can see my #24 (my official US Sailing Offshore number having the obvious J/24 connection) above along with half the new fleet one-design of DF-95s, each boat being a different color… trying to match the appeal of Nantucket’s Rainbow Fleet of catboats.  The dining room table of our cottage is now the local boatyard, as am rigging every boat for the new owners from a very complete “ready to race” kit. And, I thought we had one-design nailed down with the J/24! These are like mini-Volvo 70s. Of the 5-lbs total weight with carbon keel and unstayed carbon rig, the keel is 3 lbs.! Stiff boats!

They anointed me Commodore of the Bishop Gadsden Yacht Club here on the campus. We are restricted to only 4 person groups with masks and social distancing… SC Governor says no more than 3.  But, the croquet people talked management into 4… so it was extended to sailing! With 16 sailors, we’ve had to split up into two hourly sessions, 11am and 3pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with one group of 4 on the North side of the pond and a second group of 4 on the East side of one of two ponds. So, everyone gets two days of racing a week.

What is the best part? Unlimited solo sailing… because sailing is more than just racing. It can be quite therapeutic.

We’re probably one of the few yacht clubs in the country, active, with a full regatta schedule.  The racing is fun.  Haven’t ever hear the word, “protest!”  Mark rounding jam-ups are causes for laughter and we don’t publicize a running daily score, but I keep a tally. It’s crazy enough sailing on these ponds with swirling winds. For example, yesterday afternoon every sailor had at least a podium 3rd place finish and can go home happy.

Reminds me of the movie, 'King of Hearts'… where the only sane people were those in the asylum, the insanity being the war around them.  Is there a lesson here for the sport?"

Cheers and pray everyone is OK and doing well,
Add to Flipboard Magazine.