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Privateer Lynx Heads East

Lynx Captain with Califronian in background in San Diego /

A close encounter

The Coast Guard issued marine broadcasts requesting that small boats keep a respectful distance from the mock battle. But that did not stop a number of curious pleasure craft from sailing directly into the line of fire and forcing a temporary halt to the fracas. Security police from the nearby San Diego Naval Shipyard hovered nervously as the armed conflict raged on.

With the sun threatening to expire, the Californian made its final approach. Lynx stood ready with just two remaining rounds. This would be, not only the last pass of the day, but for Lynx it was the final encounter in San Diego Bay for at least five years.

Californian moves in for final battle pass at Lynx / SeacoastNH.coom

Although the crew had promised an "incident free" voyage, the last few minutes were especially dramatic. While "down at the wind" on a starboard tack with the Californian off port, the two tall ships did not quite clear. The Lynx captain slammed on the 21st century diesel engines to get a final burst of speed, but the evasive maneuver was not quite enough. The jib boom of the Californian caught the main sail of the Lynx as she passed. I happened to be sitting right in the action zone and dived onto the deck as the bowsprit of the attacking cutter passed just overhead.

Three more feet and it would have been just a close call. The only damage was the destruction of a half dozen mast tubes. These wooden hoops are attached to the sail and work like the rings on a shower curtain. As the canvas absorbed the shock of contact, the rings stretched with a painful creaking moan, then snapped. Besides some chafing to the mast, no thing or no one was hurt. No one panicked, and the captain later announced that there would be no surcharge for the added excitement.

The following day the Lynx made her final cruise of San Diego Bay while we took a whirlwind tour of the city’s tourist hotspots. That evening we gathered at a waterside restaurant in the shadow of the looming USS Midway, an aircraft carrier turned museum with 25 restored planes and helicopters on board. Among the departing Lynx crew we met New Hampshire native Alex Peacock of Newmarket. Someday Alex will tell his hi-tech grandchildren how he sailed from the Pacific through the Panama Canal to the Atlantic in a sleek wooden schooner with a raked mast built at Rockport, Maine. Not many can make such a claim.

Woodson K. Woods of Hawaii, our host for the California trip and the man whose resources and vision created Privateer Lynx, offered his blessing for a safe passage. His son Jeff Woods, director of the Lynx Educational Foundation, reminded captain and crew of the Lynx motto: "Be excellent to each other and to your ship".

Stories flowed like beer, and with their departure only hours away, the Lynx crew sang a sea chantey in anticipation of their own arrival on the East Coast in January 2010. They are, perhaps, singing it even now as they hoist the sails and swap the decks and brave the wine dark sea.

Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, 
now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmate, 
Folly rolly rolly rolly rye oh!


Copyright © 2009 by J. Dennis Robinson, all rights reserved. Robinson is editor and owner of He is working on a book about Privateer Lynx. Readers interested in tracking the journey of Lynx will find a blog and updated map on the web site. Berths may still be available to private passengers for portions of this trip and others.


Lynx heading toward Mexico November 16, 2009, Photo by Jeff Woods








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