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Posts Tagged ‘mackinac race’

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As the first finishers cross the line in the Bayview Mack race, SA’er Doghouse has provided one of the most comprehensive debriefs of a near-death incident we’ve ever read after their MOB in the Chicago Mackinac. For anyone going out on the water beyond their little harbor, this is MUST READ stuff.  And hey US SAILING- because we know you’re listening – this should be sent out to all of your membership, and its lessons incorporated into the Safety At Sea program.  Thanks to Graham and the entire crew of Meridian X for their openness, and if you have questions for the crew, hit them up in the thread.

I’d like to preface this by stating this is only one man’s perspective, mine and mine alone. As I said up thread, there will be a full article coming out that we are working on, will probably hit the shelves in a month. This is to give everyone a narrative of what transpired, and I think it will answer a lot of the questions I’ve seen posted here.

I am the bowman and boat captain for the Farr 400 Meridian X. Approximately 11:15pm on Saturday night I was off watch in the port quarter berth, when someone said they were asking for me on deck to get the A2 down, and I anticipated the wind must be building as the hull noise below was increasing.

Halfway into my harness and gear I heard massive stomping on the deck to get up, which indicated it was getting bad rapidly so I rushed into my boots and threw on my pfd and went above just after Mark Wheeler who was running on deck for the all hands call as well. At this point everyone was on deck. Before going off watch, I had set the foredeck in the ready position for a quick drop, martin breaker on kite, drop line tied off, J3 lashed to foredeck, which is pretty standard practice in an offshore big boat.

I made about three steps forward when the MOB call came. Mark had gone over the side as described by him in his letter. His light was initially spotted and followed. At the time I had no idea who it was. Luckily everyone was in the back of the boat for weight, and he was seen as he fell over and the call came immediately. Unfortunately, everyone was in the back of the boat, and I was solo upfront with the kite. The trimmer came to the pit and blew the tack, immediately tripping the breaker and freeing the kite.

With no one else around I went straight past the mast and gather the kite foot until more hands made it forward and could help drag it down. It took around three minutes to get the kite completely off deck and attempt to turn back. As we came back up into the wind we were knocked over by a 45-50 knot gale and completely flattened for several minutes, ripping the staysail out of the furler and shredding it.

Eventually the wind abated enough for us to turn back into the wind and begin sailing a reciprocal course, we estimate we were over 2 miles away at this point as we’d been traveling 18+ kts. A few of us wrestled the staysail pieces off the deck, and I had to use pliers to get the tack shackle off as it had distorted in the storm. We proceeded to clean up lines and continue our mayday broadcasts, with the skipper Sledd Shelhorse on the VHF and myself on the hand held.

At this point we were actively looking for the strobe, not knowing it had failed. This led to a lot of wasted time, as there is a fleet of lights out there, and ended up being a huge distraction from getting back to where we needed to be. We realized that there was no light after probably 15 minutes of looking, and began working our way back up wind in a search pattern. We get the main down to hear better. This point was absolutely the most terrified and helpless I have ever felt in my life. I know the clock is ticking, and a person in the middle of Lake Michigan at midnight is beyond a needle in a haystack. The fact we were at the forward end of the fleet means a lot of other boats are coming through, but still crazy long odds.

At this point we think we have heard a faint whistle, but was so far away we are having trouble knowing. We swing slightly to port, then one crew man calls out hard to starboard. As we come around, several of us definitely hear a whistle. We begin to motor, then pull back to listen and make course corrections. We see Aftershock coming at us and begin to hail them. They have apparently heard the whistle just before this, and their jib drops and spotlight immediately comes out. At this point, the whistle is very clear, and I absolutely know we are going to get him, it’s an intense moment, but in a positive way. We pick him up on spotlight rapidly and begin setting up for the grab.

Our helmsman teaches heavy air sail handling and boat handling for Safety at Sea, so we are well versed in what is getting ready to happen. We set up about 30 degrees on the breeze, and grab him on the starboard side around the primaries, then fireman bucket brigade him down the side to the transom where it will be much easier to get him in the boat. We know after an hour in the water he won’t be able to assist. I get him at the back, get the lifesling on, and two of us haul him into the boat. A huge cheer erupts from Aftershock, which I will never forget. He is awake and cognitive at this time, which is good, though not really shaking which worries me. After getting him stripped and down below in blankets, he begins to shake which is a good sign and I know he will be ok.

I am the only other one on the boat who does the navigation, so I go quickly below and start looking for harbors. We are almost due west of Muskegeon, at a range of ~34 miles, so we immediately head that way. I make some hot water for Mark, then climb on deck with the tablet to navigate us to port. Approximately two hours in Mark pokes his head up, and starts chatting, and huge amount of tension finally unwinds. We are gonna make it.

A lot of you guys have asked specific questions, and if I don’t answer them here, just let me know. As far as boat setup, the boat is prepared to the letter of the law on safety. We carried a MOM8, we have four locations to signal MOB, we checked all life jacket lights pre race. We did not have an AIS receiver, and we are absolutely installing one. Mark had a PLB, as did I, and that would have been a boon. I really hope they become required equipment, the cost versus benefit is laughable.

As described above, the kite was set for an immediate drop which is best practice in any offshore event. Windquest had practically an identical situation as us minus losing someone overboard after getting caught with A2 up. They had minute plus knock down, but they were able to blow the kite and get the boat back up because they could release the tack. I don’t believe it’s a stupid question at all to ask about the quick stop (I bring up what we feel the max breeze for a quick stop in every prestart safety briefing, including this one), but it is absolutely not feasible in this breeze. The boat was knocked over with just the main up, you’d end up on your side with a bigger mess and possibly more people ejected off the boat.

Our MOB buttons are on the tablet/computer, handheld GPS, GPS head unit below, and VHF radio. The MOB locations we have became very redundant as one went over the side with Mark, one nobody knew the location of the tablet other than Mark, one was triggered, the VHF, and the other was part of VHF chain, the Simrad. We were able to start spitting out coordinates over the VHF fortunately.  Our MOM did not get deployed immediately, we thought about deploying late, but felt it would be a distraction from getting back to his immediate vicinity.

The AIS receiver and placing MOB buttons in the reach of the helm are the two biggest hardware changes that are necessary, one to track, and one to get a quicker MOB target on the GPS. The bigger changes have to be procedural. We were properly set up for sail handling, which is critical and I can’t emphasize enough. If you get back footed trying to take down a 2000 SF  kite in a gale it could wrap you up for half an hour and cause more carnage in terms of boat and crew.

The issue that needs to be drilled relentlessly is what was mentioned above, you have to practice with crew minus 1. In this case a critical component of our process went over the side, and it negatively impacted our ability to respond. It’s also critical to practice minus the bowman, and have the rest of the team be comfortable in getting the sails down in extreme conditions.

For crew, mandatory to carry a secondary light. As a bowman I have always carried a second light, as I’ve run through this very scenario in my head countless times. Everyone on the boat needs to as well. Whether it be glow sticks or strobes or torches, always have backup. A PLB is a good idea as well.

We are very fortunate to have gotten our man back. Mark and I have done thousands of miles together, in everything from dinghys to 52’s to Vipers to everything in between. I couldn’t imagine losing him, and implore everyone to take this seriously. Our crew collectively has Whitbreads, IACC sailing, Sydney Hobarts, Transatlantics, Newport Bermudas and countless Macs, among many others under our belt, and this is by far the most dangerous situation we have been a part of.

The biggest challenge is that there is very few people with real world experience in dealing with it, so you have to rely on drilling relentlessly and strict adherence to best practices, along with gleaning all you can from people who have dealt with it. I hope this little bit is helpful to anyone who is reading.

Graham Garrenton, a/k/a doghouse

 

July 23rd, 2017 by admin

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The Michigan-based 1D48 WhoDo definitely did, and this John Quinlan (crew on Pterodactyl) photo from a Blake Arnold Facebook post shows her slipping beneath the Lake Michigan waves during this weekend’s Chicago Mac, reportedly after a broach in a squall led to a broken rudder and a big hole in the bottom of the boat.

All crew safely offloaded to their liferaft and they were picked up by Mark Bremer’s City Girl with Eric Oesterle’s Heartbreaker  standing byWe don’t know how much water she sank in or if salvage is possible, but we hope so.  Whodo’s crew list and boat details are here.

While storms beat up the middle of the fleet, the Detroit TP52 Natalie J flew down the course, finishing just 3 hours behind the ORMA 60.  Still plenty of racing to pay attention to (track ’em), but she looks good for yet another overall victory.  Daily report over here.

This post has been edited to reflect City Girl as the rescuing vessel.

July 24th, 2016 by admin

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Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 7.33.06 PMSailing Anarchy is certainly the world’s best source of sailing stories, the best place to buy or sell a racing yacht or sportboat, and a great place to find crew or a boat, but only when the community comes together to do interesting things does the SA community really shine.

One of those shining projects comes thanks to SA’er “MidPack” and his obsession with what we’ve (incorrectly) called the longest recurring freshwater race in the world – the 500-mile Midwestern hate mission known as the SuperMac – we’ve now got a comprehensive history of one of the most unique racing challenges in the US.  Head over here for the short-form history and pics of all the winners, and thank MidPack for the public service!

THE EVOLUTION OF THE “LONGEST FRESHWATER RACE ON EARTH”

The Super Mac is a non-periodic 568 mile (about 500 nautical miles) sail race from Chicago, IL to Port Huron, MI, or vice versa. Recent editions have been jointly sponsored by the Chicago Yacht Club, Bayview Yacht Club and Port Huron Yacht Club.

As of 2015, there have been 10 “Super Mac” sail races since 1975 of roughly 500 nautical miles. However, only the last 2 races were officially known as Super Mac sail races. Earlier editions varied slightly in name, start & finish locations, courses have evolved over many years as have the sponsoring yacht clubs, and only recently has the race actually been officially known as the “Super Mac.”

The Super Mac has been run as an extension of the annual Chicago Race to Mackinac, with boats continuing directly on to Port Huron after crossing the Mackinac finish line, OR an extension of the annual Bayview Mackinac Race, with boats continuing directly on to Chicago after crossing the Mackinac finish line. For many decades, the Chicago and Bayview Mackinac races have been held one week apart, Chicago first and then Bayview in odd years, and Bayview first then Chicago in even years.

History

1975: The 1st Race – Port Huron, MI to Chicago, IL

The 1st race was known as the “Centennial Race” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Yacht Club. The 1st race was the longest at 632 miles due to rounding Cove Island, and began in Port Huron, MI on Saturday, July 19, 1975, finishing in Chicago. All participants first competed in the annual Bayview Mackinac Race, and after crossing the Mackinac finish line continued on directly to Chicago. The race turned into a long wait on Wednesday night with only 8 of the starting field of 160 yachts finishing before dark.

Chuck Kirsch’s Scaramouche, a Frers 54 from Chicago Yacht Club, was the overall winner on corrected time. Lynn Williams’ Dora IV, a Sparkman & Stephens 61 footer, was the first to finish in 104.006 hours. Dora IV was followed across the finish line by Frank Zurn’s Kahili II, W. Bernard Herman’s Bonaventure V, G. Craig Welch’s Ranger, Scaramouche, Phil Watson’s Namis, Joe Wright’s Siren Song and Don Wildman’s Heritage, a 12-Metre.

Read On

December 17th, 2015 by admin

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