Home Sweet Home
Leaving the Detroit area two years ago was, by far, the best possible thing that Mer and I have done for our lives, for our minds, and for our future. Even when times were good, I hated almost everything about the place: Provincial attitudes, high prices, overpopulation, a sea of asphalt, terrible governance, no ocean, and a long, bleak winter that makes even eternal optimists think about suicide. And that was before the recession, which in Detroit, is a full-blown depression. 1 in 4 people is out of work here, and a pall hangs over the place like clouds of industrial smoke once did – back when there was still industry.
So we avoid coming back here – back to the place that I fell in love with my beautiful wife, with one-design racing, and the place I started my ‘career’ with Sailing Anarchy.
But we got a call last month that made a visit to the big D a necessity – a friend needed his Melges brought up here for the NOOD regatta. It had been almost a year since our last visit, so away we drove with boat in tow, not knowing what we’d do once we got here. After all, the NOODs aren’t our favorite event, and the conditions on Lake St. Stupid are generally pretty frustrating, so maybe we’d just relax and see the family – but then I remembered something: This NOOD is completely unlike any other. Nobody cares about the party, because the BYC bar is where the action is until 2 in the morning. And the host club – Bayview Yacht Club – is actually the one thing about Detroit that I have missed with all my heart.
Somehow, amidst the economic turmoil, Bayview is actually thriving while nearby clubs are dying a rapid death. Why? Because it is completely and undeniably devoted to racing. There aren’t any pools or tennis courts, and motor boats are distinctly unwelcome. Its junior sailing program may be one of the best in the USA, while its adult learn-to-sail program (which we’ll profile next week) is a model that every club should follow as a pipeline to get more newbs into the sport. Its one-design scene – from Cal 25s to Melges 24s to C&C 35s – is full of family programs, hot young ex-college sailors, and a host of 20 and 30 somethings. And the bar and parties are, well, some of the most legendary in the entire world of sailing.
So we decided to race. Rather than finding a Melges 24 and dealing with all the competitiveness and headache that entailed, we chartered one of Bayview’s fleet of Ultimate 20s and rang up our old friend Peacefrog at Doyle Boston Sailmakers to see about a set of loaner sails (PF’s brother Brad is a 5 time North American Champ in the class). Once that was sorted, we decided on some crew – or rather, we let it decide for itself – and the result is that sometime on the weekend, we’ll have the newly wed Sister Clean, Mer’s little sister Alex, our good friend Andromache Mason, and – most wonderfully – my six year old nephew, Jake. When we asked him what to name the boat, he didn’t even hesitate:
“Anarchy, Uncle Al.”
Anarchy it is.