BROOKLIN — Thirteen summers ago, a handful of traditional small-craft enthusiasts gathered at the WoodenBoat School for a weekend of informal cruising on Eggemoggin Reach similar to the small-boat “raids” popular in Europe but inspired by the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta for wooden sailboats.
Last Wednesday, 68 boats showed up at the Atlantic Boat Co. yard on Flye Point for the 14th edition of what is now known as the Small Reach Regatta.
For the last several years, the event has been organized by the Downeast Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association. It includes three glorious days of informal cruising on the waters of Herrick Bay and the eastern end of Eggemoggin Reach as far to the west as the Benjamin River.
Most sailors and crew not from the immediate area camped at the Oceanfront Camping at Reach Knolls about six miles to the west along Eggemoggin Reach.
“The weather could not have been more perfect for us,” Tom Jackson, senior editor at WoodenBoat Magazine and one of the event’s organizers, said Monday.
While the regatta doesn’t have any rigid rules about minimum or maximum boat lengths, given that traditional small craft vary considerably in design, over the event’s history the largest boat has been 22 feet long and the smallest just 13 feet.
While many are home-built, their construction and finish span the arc from yacht-like elegance to sturdy workboat. According to the event website, boats must be able to put in to a beach and re-launch without assistance and must have oars as auxiliary propulsion.
According to Jackson, 85 boats originally registered for the regatta, but the fleet shrank through “the usual cancellations” occasioned by the gap between the March registration deadline and the late July gathering.
The regatta got underway Thursday with a light-air sail and row that took the fleet to a lunch rendezvous on tiny Sellers Island off the tip of Naskeag Point, then around Babson Island west of the point and home.
On Friday, Jackson said, “we sailed up to the campground beach just outside of Benjamin River” between Brooklin and Sedgwick “and anchored or hauled out there overnight.”
Saturday featured a visit to the fern fields of Babson Island and “then a magnificent run back to Atlantic Boat,” regatta communications coordinator and participant Steve Brookman posted on Facebook. “A great way to finish the 14th SRR.”