In 2006, a group of sail-and-oars boats gathered for an informal cruise in Maine to answer a question: could we succeed here with a large gathering of such boats, inspired by “Raids” in Europe and by the famed Eggemoggin Reach Regatta for classic yachts? The reply was an enthusiastic “yes,” and for three more years like-minded people sailed the same waters the ERR has sailed annually since 1985. This experience gave us our name—the Small Reach Regatta, and today we are organized entirely under the auspices of the Downeast Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association.
The idea of the SRR is to gather together small sail-and-oars boats for sailing, with the same kind of camaraderie and appreciation that the ERR has established. The boats typically sail courses of 5 to 15 nautical miles on three successive days (Thursday through Saturday) starting from the waterfront anchorage each morning and returning each afternoon. There is no racing, but participants always show keen interest in how their boats perform against others. Many of the boats were built of wood by their owners themselves, and some of them were even designed by their builders.
We don’t have hard-and-fast rules about boat minimum or maximum lengths, knowing that the nature of traditional small craft is highly variable. The largest boat has been 22’, and the smallest 13’. They ranged from elegant yacht-like constructions to boats inspired by workboats such as sailing dories. Generally, the boats must be able to put in to a beach and relaunch without assistance and must have oars as auxiliary propulsion.
Since those times on Eggemoggin Reach we've sailed three years out of Lamoine State Park on Frenchman Bay east of Mount Desert Island and two years out of the excellent Hog Island Audubon facilities in Muscongus Bay, with as many as 55 boats in the fleet. The last few years, we have been back in Brooklin, Me., sailing in and around Blue Hill Bay and Eggemoggin Reach. Arrival, as usual, will be Wednesday afternoon, with sailing Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and departure Sunday. The fleet will be based at Herrick Bay, thanks to the generosity of Cy Hannon, proprietor of Atlantic Boat. The yard has an excellent launching ramp, a good pier, quite a number of floats, ample space for trailer parking, and frontage on a large anchorage. The bay has excellent sailing access to Blue Hill Bay, Jericho Bay, Casco Passage, Eggemoggin Reach, and potentially to the eastern part of the Deer Island Thoroughfare. For the event dates, we've engaged the entire facility of a campground in Brooklin, called Oceanfront Camping at Reach Knolls, which is on Reach Road about six miles away from Atlantic Boat and can accommodate all our participants.
Catered meals will be available, but not required. The catered meals are all “opt-in”; no one is required to participate. Traditionally, we have a chowder dinner Wednesday, with grill dinners Thursday and Friday and a lobster shore dinner Saturday. Those who wish to do so may cook at the campground; the camp sites all have power hookups. Those with vegetarian diets or very specialized food requirements, should arrange their own meals or consider nearby restaurants. Brooklin’s General Store is available for basic supplies. (We’ve decided not to pursue vegetarian options.)