Vineyard memories: Jed Kelly

The Buzzards Society, formed to honor those who have sailed 10 or more Vineyards, gathers March 10 for its fourth annual dinner. For the next few weeks we will be posting memories of the Vineyard from Buzzards members. This was originally posted in August of 2011. For more information on the March 10 dinner email:

41 Years ago, in 1968 I was about to enter my senior year in high school.

I had been involved in the junior sailing program at Stamford Yacht Club and was a regular crew on Beau Guest for local LIS races. I was often seen hanging around the SYC docks bothering Captain Sullivan.

The Friday of the 1968 Vineyard Race there was and older NY 40 yawl tied to the SYC dock preparing the boat for the race ( I can’t remember her name but I still see her around the sound at various classic yacht events) . The skipper being short of crew asked Capitan Sullivan if he knew of any available crew members, Captain Sullivan volunteered me, I think just to get me out or his hair. I ran home, grabbed my foul weather gear, a sweater and, I think mentioned to my Mom that I was going sailing.

Well, the older NY 40’s have very low freeboard, and tend to be very wet. Halfway through the race, somewhere between BI and Buzzard’s Bay Light we were beating into a nasty easterly. As I was sitting in the cockpit early Saturday morning a large wave washed over the bow and green water rushed down the deck. After the cockpit drained to my surprise I found a 12-14 inch baby swordfish flapping around at my feet.

The ride home was a wild spinnaker/mizzen stay sail run with a few knock down to keep everyone on their toes. Though I have gone on the compete in many offshore races, the 1968 Vineyard Race sticks with me as the only time I ever caught a swordfish.

The strangest part of the weekend was that my parents never realized that I was going on the Vineyard Race, but were not concerned when I didn’t show up home all weekend.


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