The Resurrection of a Victory
and the Demise of an Ecosystem

It is with some pride and much pleasure that we’re able to announce that Victory 21, Hull No. 288, can now join the list of Those Who’s Whereabouts is Known.

After spending far too many years moored to little more than good intentions, 288 has once again joined the “active list” by sailing under its own sails to a secure birth at the Vallajo Yacht Club near the mouth of the Napa River.

We’re not sure exactly how many years 288 sat languishing at various marinas along the Napa River. Of course, there were times in those years when 288 sailed the upper reaches of San Francisco Bay so it is not fair to say that she was in any way abandoned, possibly it is more correct to say that she simply lacked love. In truth she didn’t spend all of that time on the Napa River, there was a brief period when she was more correctly under the Napa River. But that is another story that doesn’t need to be dwelt upon here.

Despite such inglorious episodes, 288 eventually found its way to a sheltered mooring in the quite waters of a private marina estate on the southern edge of the town of Napa. It was from here, in the closing weeks of the summer of 2004 that her resurrection began.

The first steps were small and some might say, indirect.  A “mature” Evinrude 6 1/2 hp was fitted to the very tired transom mount and for the first time in many years 288 pulled away from the jetty under her own power. Sadly the new found freedom was short lived, 100 yds from the jetty the Evinrude over heated and 288 had to be towed home by a peddle boat. That’s right, peddle…yet another ignominious episode to live down.

Two weeks and a new water pump later, 288 was once more ready to brave the waters of the upper Napa River; this time with much greater success. That is, if 500yds can be called success. Suffering a disabled gear selector, 288 was seen motoring back up the marina *(operative word ‘back’) in reverse, the engineer standing in the rear hatch bravely leaning on the motor to keep the propeller submerged while trying to avoid being flooded by the stern wave.

Eventually of course these minor set backs were overcome and 288 did manage to leave the safety of the marina and make her way into the river proper. Having done so, 288 quickly achieved the status of the only boat on the Napa River that complied with every No Wake zone even under full power; clearly there was a serious fouling problem to be tackled. A few weeks later 288 was hauled from the water…so begins the Demise of the Ecosystem.

The best estimate to be had was that 288 had not left the water for near on 18 years. In that time, a thriving ecosystem had evolved below the water line.

Complete with caves and hidden recesses the flora and fauna of 288 played out the drama of their daily existence completely oblivious to fact their world was about to vanish. We can only imagine the shock that ran through their inverted society when suddenly their entire world was lifted from the water.

Crabs ran in every direction, some running for cover amongst the outgrowths and barnacles, others dropping to the ground to scurry back to the water. A valiant effort was made to rescue as many as possible but on the discovery that even the small crabs have really strong claws the effort was abandoned and the crabs were left to fend for themselves.

Marvelous as the adaptability of nature is, 288 could not return to her sprightly self while ever she carried her own miniature version of the Great Barrier Reef. Work was soon begun on bottom scrapping, filling, buffing, scrubbing, masking and painting and slowly the new 288 emerged.

Ninety six hours after leaving the water, her bottom painted , hollows filled and smoothed, sides cut and buffed, and her uppers scrubbed, 288 once more returned to the Napa River.

With a new lease on life, and very much needing to watch for No Wake zones, 288 headed once more towards wide waters.

One week later 288 left her berth at the Vallajo Yacht Club and ventured into open water. On that afternoon, once more under the power of her own sails, 288 cut the fine line that only a Victory can cut, as she sailed out across the broad expanse of San Pablo Bay.

There is still more work to be done on 288 and still more adventures to relate, like the Evinrude falling off the old transom mount much to the amusement of passengers on the Vallajo – San Francisco ferry, who were lucky enough to watch a desperate lunge to catch the falling motor not once but twice. In time maybe these tales can be told but for the moment we are content to have given 288 a chance to race again.

288 has now been added to register but there is still one questions remaining: what is the Harken device on the port side of the mast? We have our own ideas but some true knowledge would be helpful.

P.S. To associate the checked history of 288 with any of the names now associated with her might be a disservice. So, instead of looking askance at her crew if ever you should meet, just enjoy the company of fellow sailors and another Victory 21. If by chance you meet them in a race you would do well to remember that 288 crew has uncommon fortitude and just enough daring to make them a fearsome competitor.