by Jen Kano
December 31, 1993, 10:25 PM... I was at a small New Year's Eve party discussing New Year's Day sailing plans with five other sailors. Three were planning on a day sail in a Sailmaster 22, two in a Pearson 26, and I on racing my 6'4" Frosty in the eighth annual "Hangover Bowl"--the only day of the year when Cape Cod's three frostbite fleets race at the same regatta. Most people would consider all six of us crazy--"You're going to what?!"--but amongst this group I was the only real nutcase.
January 1, 1993, 9:00 AM... The weather forecast was for 30 to 35 degree air temps and 25 to 35 knots of wind from the Northwest, and it was indeed cold and windy as I loaded up my boat and took off for Hyannis Yacht Club. I wondered briefly if I was on a wild goose chase, but the sun was shining very optimistically so I decided positive thinking was the best tack to take.
There was a sizable group of like-minded sailors milling about the docks and patio at the yacht club, including 10 Interclub crews, 5 DC-10 people, and 11 Frosty sailors. However, it looked like even our combined mental powers wouldn't be enough to overcome the severe conditions. As we all hopefully unloaded our gear and debated how bad it really was, a bare poled Interclub sitting on the beach blew over. Frotsy designer Tom Leach commented that that was, "a bad sign . . . a very bad sign." A few minutes later my hull (no mast) was picked up off the beach by the wind, barrel-rolled twice and deposited upright in the water just far enough out that a crash boat had to go after it. Another very bad sign.
Undaunted, Tom (also our heavy-weather master) volunteered to go out for a test sail. Less than five minutes later he was back and, much to the surprise of all assembled, had only three words to say, "It's too windy!"--something we had never before heard him utter. Still, rather than cancel, we opted to postpone until another expected crash boat arrived and make a final judgment then. Amazingly enough, in a half an hour when the crash boat arrived, the wind had dropped to a just-barely-do-able level and out we went.
It was still mighty windy and there was a nasty chop. I had all I could manage just keeping my boat upright and under control and decided that attempting to starting my stop watch for the start would be too risky--a truly bad sign. I was sure the guys in the 22 and 26 footers were more comfortable than I...
As we all shot off the starting line at what was break-neck speed for a Frosty, all my doubts and negative thoughts vanished. What a rush!!! I couldn't think of a single thing I would rather be doing at that moment than to be up on the rail of a six-foot-four-inch sailboat hiked out hard in 20 knots of 35 degree air! It was a great afternoon . . . four good races, driving your boat and yourself to the limit, dodging the occasional capsized Interclub, on your toes every second, constantly aware that one mistake could spell disaster . . . yes, indeed, a fantastic way to start the new year.
Shortly after I got home I got a phone call--dinner at the local Chinese place with the same five sailors from the New Year's Eve party. Okay.
"So you really did it," one of them said to me as we all sat down. Apparently they had all taken a look at their thermometers and anemometers and decided to stay ashore. I was invited to go sail with them the following Sunday when the weather was forecast to be more hospitable. I declined on the excuse that I had "things" I had to do, but the truth is, I just wasn't interested. How much fun could it be sitting around in a dodger-protected cockpit, lazily lolling around on Buzzards Bay so soon after experiencing the challenge and thrill of racing on the razor's edge in a six foot dinghy.
They say we Frosty sailors are crazy. I say we just know what living is all about.
Ode to a Frosty or Standing is Stupid
by Shel Silversunk (aka Jen Kano)
Standing is stupid
Sitting's a bore,
Kneeling is painful,
Hiking's a chore,
Crouching's a curse,
Running's a horror,
Jibing is worse,
Frosties are torture,
Sailed by the insane--
Guess I'll go home and
Watch TV again.
Like all good things, even the stoutest Frosty must come to an end. Delaminated plywood, rusty gudgeons, acute Bondo fatigue-- any or all of them afflict your old friend and force you to think of the day when she must come home from the sea and seek green pastures.
Fortunately there are alternatives to the town dump or the fireplace. Your Frosty can be born again into a new and exciting life. The only limits are your imagination and resourcefulness. Consider the case of Melinda Fish of East Orleans, yachtswoman and cat lover. Recalling the article in a national sailing journal that described a Frosty as a floating kitty-litter box, Melinda put her old boat to good use in the back hall, where, with conscientious maintenance, it takes care of all thirteen of her feline companions.
Window planters, children's sand boxes, hamster condos, there is no end of the transformations of which the superannuated Frosty is capable. But surely no greater ingenuity has been seen than that displayed by Hallett ("Satchmo") Cahoon of North Harwich, who equipped his old Frosty hull with a neck, bridge, and strings and won third prize in the annual Folk Music Instrument Competition, Bass Viol Division, at Provincetown last February. The judges found the tone unusual but haunting.