And I would sail 500 miles...

Saturday, July 11, 2015

We packed up the boat, and stowed all the food. I wasn't sure if the food was all going to fit, but it did- it actually fit better than I though it would. We took our team photo and headed out. We only had to wait for one team member that got stuck in the last minute bathroom line up. 

We went out to Navy Pier and sailed by the waiting and watching crowd. The announcer talked about us as we went by and someone from RCYC wished us good luck. Then it was out to the check in boat, which was Lisa’s boat “In Recess”. Ellen took photos of us, and we sailed out to the racecourse. 

We manoeuvred around and did all the standard things, run the line, wind checks, etc etc. Finally the gun went off for the start of division five, and we were in sequence. Our start was fantastic. We were up at the committee boat with clear air and speed at the gun. We could hear the boats behind us screaming each other “up, UP!!” behind us, and we sailed off without looking back.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

We screamed along for most of the first day. But now, 24 hours later, we are in a hole… again. The wind is not doing anything the forecasts said. We are inundated with biting black flies that swarm our cockpit and sleeping quarters. There are entire families of black flies, grandchildren, aunts and distant cousin black flies. They have even invited some close species to join them. The crew is near madness and runs around dressed like muslim women, swatting and slapping and cheering when our speed increases above 1.5 knots. We will survive this. We do it because it is fun. Yachting. Isn't that where you go out and Geeves brings you pate and crackers and pink champagne on your lawn chairs on the deck? 

Monday, July 13, 2015

The weather map looked like a video gamer’s dream with a giant field of gold coins to the west of us. Unfortunately in this game, that represents lightning and giant storms. We prepared for it, putting unnecessary sails downstairs, and tidying and tightening. In the end, the storm mostly passed below us, and we just got some wind and precipitation and waves. It was great, and we rode the wind while it lasted. 

The wind blew itself out and we found another big hole in the lake. A hole, is a place where there is no wind blowing. It is kind of like the sand trap on a golf course. Then the wind would come up a little, and we would sail and then the wind would go away and we spend hours trying to drift towards our mark. 

In the afternoon we finally saw the bridge. The finish line for the Mac is just after the giant suspension bridge that goes to Upper Michigan. Everyone was elated. We were not placing very well, finding that first big hole and being stuck for so long had really killed us. The wind came up and we sailed under the bridge, only another couple of nautical miles to the finish. We would have a celebratory dinner. We called the race committee one mile past the bridge as per the sailing instructions. 

And then, the wind shut off. We drifted for hours and finally had our supper and cleaned up. Later that evening, the wind filled in enough for us to sail across the finish line for the Mac, and begin the second part of the journey on the Super Mac. We waved goodbye to the boats that were going in to Mackinack Island. Into the island with no cars, just horses and wagons and a few buildings and a big hotel. We waved goodbye to the hot showers, and hot meals, hot parties and cold drinks. 

And then, the wind shut off. We drifted aimlessly about, trying to stay off the shore, and pointed more or less towards 135 degrees, the course we wanted to go. We sailed with main and jib, we put up the spinnaker, when that was dragging us faster sideways than forwards, we put up the code zero. The wind came up a little and we could sail a little, but always the wind would shut off. Finally in the night the rainstorm came. The water poured down like the cold tears of the guardian angels that watched over us, snot dripping out of their holier than though noses. Keep safe the angels cried, we’re keeping the water and the air still so you will be safe. Stay right here where we can see you, they called, as they shushed the wind and opened their protective wings around us to shelter our sails. 

In the morning, everyone was drenched with the cold snot and tears of angels and feeling quite demoralized that all the other boats in our fleet, save the one we could see near us, were 100 nautical miles ahead of us, having managed to sneak through before the big bridge hole. No one wanted breakfast. No one wanted to talk. No one wanted to do anything other than turn around and go back to Mackinack Island, or transport themselves magically into their own bed at their own home as they slept. It is hard to win a race, but it is so much harder to lose.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

When the wind picked up, she picked up big time. We put our spinnaker up and made 8 to 11 knots. At one point a 700 foot long laker boat radioed us to ask if we were going to try to pass in front of them. I bit my tongue and did not answer with “I really do not have any aspirations to become a bow ornament on your boat”. “Affirmative”, I answered instead, “we will pass you port to port, we plan to take your stern.” Then I went out to watch all 80,000 tons of her steam by at 20 knots.

By the evening we were screaming downwind in 30 knots, vaulting over seven to eight foot waves. We had broken our speed record on the boat, and then broke it again and finally again. Our top speed was 16.6 knots that night, with a double reefed main and jib. We blew out the spinnaker, but not even in a big gust, or broach or anything. The wind was actually down to about 20 knots when it blew. 

We reached 16.6 knots that night, with a double reefed main and jib. Tony, Greg, Trevor and Andrew Becker took turns steering, and everyone was troopers, outside on the rail, grinding, trimming etc. By the time the sun came up we were all exhausted. When the entrance to the Detroit River was in sight, everyone was quite relieved. We sailed down the river and finished the race. 

At Port Huron Yacht Club, we had hot showers and drinks and then cleaned up the boat and had dinner and more drinks together, and said our goodbyes. Andrew will go home tonight with his wife. Tony, Becker, Dan and Trevor will get a hotel room tonight and head out in the morning. Jack will stay over on the boat and head to the Detroit airport in the morning. 

We went around and chatted with other competitors and toured some of the boats like Equation, a TP65 and Gauntlet, which is a Kaufman45. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

In the morning we sailed the boat over to Sarnia, Ontario and checked in to Canadian Customs. We are really looking at the time it will take us to sail the boat home and realizing that it will potentially take several more days than we want. We looked into the cost of trucking the boat back. Brad Boston suggested that it might be easier to have someone skipper the boat back. He recommend “Gutsy”. (That is actually the name of his boat). He is a Lake Erie sailor, so he will know the waters. I will go over and meet him at the Welland Canal, since it requires two people on the boat to go through. 

Greg and I booked Via tickets, and let someone else do the driving for the next few hours. Greg slept and I chatted with a woman’s volleyball team that is coming to Toronto for the PanAm games. Their team is called McCarthy’s Rough Chicks! Brenda, Chris, Bev, Barb, Cindy, Sandra, Linda and Greenie! This rough and ready group of rabble rousers was already heavy into the drinking at 9am… I am sure there was more in those cups than just the coffee they insisted was there. They are coming to Toronto to play, but maybe not Volleyball… As a suggestion to the hotel these hot chicks stay in, you might want to get some video cameras installed in their rooms - apparently there will be bed swapping and sloppy seconds… sounds like some of this might end up on You Tube!  

Anyway a lovely quiet end to this adventure. What will be next…


iain said…
Congrats on a successful race, no one drowned, no one died, you all seem to be speaking to each other at the end :))
Onward! Many more challenges ahead!