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your worst distance race experience! What happened?


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Racing to Maine from the Boston area in the Downeast Challenge, we managed to wrap the chute around the mast in the middle of the night after the wind did a 180, and put the boat on its ear and had to cut away the mess to be able to get the boat upright again.  Pretty scary as my wife and I were double handing with a 5yr old down below.  Good times.  

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Challenge Labatt final race into Charlottetown, PEI in 1984. We misjudged the tide crossing the strait, and lost so many places. The spinnaker sheet trimmer was swearing a blue streak and woking the sheet so hard I just kept the winch grinding continuously. Bits of blue braid all over the cockpit.

Don't remember much more. Woke up the next morning under some strange cradle I'd apparently passed out under. Great times.

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Owner forgot the charts on a race to Ensenada. Zero visibility in fog on a midnight arrival. Cannot find finish or port in very light wind. Hilarious six hours of wandering in the fog listening to other boats finish.

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Chicago Mac. We started off by forgetting the number 2 on the dock. We literally left it laying on the dock. Then while surfing along at 14 knots later that night, the nut that holds the wheel on came off, and so did the wheel. That led to a good and proper wipe out. Then we started blowing up kites. I was a late addition picked up from the crew forum here. It wasn’t til we had headed out that I found out I was the only one who knew how to do bow. On night two during light air, someone decided to be helpful and let me sleep, choosing to do their first ever dip pole jibe in the dark. I spent the rest of the night getting that kite (which was the last one we had left) unwrapped from the head stay. I’m probably forgetting all the minor snafus. 
 

Having said that, they were a great bunch to sail with. No matter what went wrong, we’d fix it, laugh about it and carry on. It was a ton of fun!

Edit: forgot to add the start. We had planned the usual conservative start. Instead we started at the pin end and port tacked the fleet. I got a little nervous yelling to keep going, but it worked out. 

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After doing a few TransPacs fully crewed at younger ages, decided to race my own Tartan 3800 doublehanded for my 70th birthday in PacCup 2016.  Well, where do we start:  first night out the autopilot went out so we started handsteering all the way to Hawaii, two hours on, two hours off, for two weeks.  I had put solar panels on the boat to help recharge the batteries, hardly ever saw the sun like the TransPacs I did; miserable weather, foulies came off only on the last day.  Four days out of Hawaii, the main halyard let go, so sailed the rest of the way with the 130, hit 12+ knots many a night in the squalls.  Last night out, winds 35 to 40 knots, thunder and lightning strikes a hundred yards or so from the boat.  Got there in one piece though.

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That WAS a freakish, and brutal weather episode for that Pac Cup finish in Kaneohe - some of the worst I've seen here outside of named storms.  0 visibility at times.

The last Around-the-State Race,  in the '88 KENWOOD Cup,  before they went to the Kaula rock course.

Waikiki start, round Koko head, get a kite on, sail around Kauai and Niihau and then put it on the wind, go through the wardrobe (#1, 2,3,4 and a reef)  and beat to weather for a couple days, headed to South point on the Big Island.   Somewhere south of Maui the other watch tacks in the dark and a late-add crewmember (associated with the sponsor,  but a good dude) slips and falls down (no biggie) but he grabs the traveler (mistake) and that costs him two fingertips.

Now,  we have 2 doctors aboard (the real kind) and a good med kit so they clean him up and dose him and put him in a rack and we call the race authority to have him med-evac'd.

But this is pre GPS,  and while we can provide a good positon for US via the SatNav,  the fishing boat they sent out has nothing of the sort (they carry a Loran,  essentially useless in Hawaii) and in the murky vog haze off of Kona they cannot find us.

At a certain point the skipper (a physician) says "Well,  at this point we will be compromising his health,  we are going to withdraw and will now make all speed for Honokahau (Kona) and there will be no discussion of this decision"

Boom.  Done.  Nobody says Jack-squat.  We drop sails, fire up the diesel and make best speed for the harbor.  I pop down to the nav station and our excellent navigator starts figuring out how much fuel we have and how long that's gonna last and...the conservative range arc comes up short of the target (on a jagged, rocky shoreline with fickle wind and a taste for boat hulls).

Nonetheless we DO make it,  under power,  at O'dark-thirty (total glass off) - and the sponsor has sent  a car for their guy (got the care he needed,  was alright) and a Limo for the boat owners and a couple of the crew.   I stay with the boat and the next morning when we go to get fuel at the fishing pier the motor won't even start - bone dry tank.  We came in on fumes.

We re-fuel, bleed the injectors and go down to the sponsor's resort and give them boat rides for the afternoon.  Then we stuff ourselves at the beach club, sign the tab to the boat and sail back to Oahu 3-up on a pretty big boat.  17 hours later we enter the Ala Wai and the race HQ hasn't gotten word to the announcer at HYC so we enter our homeport to a BIG announcement about our race finish and the courtesy boat comes alongside and chucks aboard the complementary race loot - case of cold beer,  jug of Mai-Tais, watch for the skipper,  etc.  all while we are kinda dying of embarrassment.

We suck down the Mai Tais and I wake up hours later in the sail locker with a terrible headache.  Ah,  the shit you can get away with when you are in your twenties.

 

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At end of race when we got to the famous restaurant the Owner said, "order anything you want" and then at end of meal, "oh, I didn't say I would pay for it."
Made for a pretty subdued ferry trip home the next day.

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1 hour ago, P_Wop said:

1979 Fastnet.  Not much to say about that one, except that we did finish.

you win.

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As above, can't compete with that Fastnet

My somewhat lesser worst race, a 24hour race, in an open no cabin keelboat, rained heavily for the first 17hours, then broke the tabernacle lowering the mast for the last bridge, had to motor home.

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I've been amazingly lucky over the years - never really had a bad experience - plenty of things have gone wrong but none that weren't manageable. Closest we came to stepping up into a raft was a Hobart race on Joint Venture with a rock solid team of sailors....we'd managed to launch it off a series of backless waves and break 4 of the 5 ring frames resulting in a near water soluble, very spongy boat. These things only happen at 3am. Sails down...carbon pole cut up and using the cabin soles as pads we propped the hull to keep the bows from collapsing...grab bags on deck with liferaft ready and Securite radioed in...and back to Eden. We had plenty of company of the next 24hrs. There's footage somewhere in the archives of us being interviewed. Despite the obvious "drama" everyone was very chilled...just disappointed that our race was over....but we were young and that stuff was considered "part of the game".

Now delivery debacles....that's a whole different thread topic!!!!

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1977 Fastnet was also bad from the opposite extreme.

7½ days in near zero wind hot English summer, in an aluminum Italian 42-footer.  You know you're stopped when you have a final pee over the side before going below and attempting to sleep in the stinking heat, and come on deck 4 hours later to see your bubbles are still there.

Looking at the weatherfax chart at one point, there wasn't one single isobar between Scandinavia and Bermuda.

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'86 SORC on ONDINE. St P to Ft Liquordale. Split the main, genset leaked fuel throughout the bilges, no one could stand being below. Crew mostly made up of unpaid pro's (can't use the right terms anymore). We get into FL, owner, kid, sailmaker & friends vanish in a puff of taxi smoke. The rest of us get the main off & bricked, completely clean up the interior. About sundown we all look at at the two kids taking care of the boat & ask: Where we staying tonight?! The reply stuns us once we realize what they are saying: "anywhere you want". Know realize we just gone two days without a shower, lized on deck for a day, mucked out the oily bilges, bricked a maxi main & all the other details to put a boat up for a week. There were NO crew rooms set up, no reservations, nothing. The two kids were so bad they couldn't even tell us earlier so we could get rooms somewhere. Back then, not all working stiffs HAD credit cards. So we broke up into small groups where at least one had a card & went off to find rooms. Thank you, Huey & Russell

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27 minutes ago, longy said:

Thank you, Huey & Russell

I sometimes thought that Huey, Bevin and Sid Fischer must have shared an illegitimate grandfather somewhere.  Birds of a feather....

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fastnet. end of sea story. fuck that race.  

 

also major respect to those of you who lived through the 79 fastnet. the year I did it was considered average conditions and I swore never again. 

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4 hours ago, Great Red Shark said:

That WAS a freakish, and brutal weather episode for that Pac Cup finish in Kaneohe - some of the worst I've seen here outside of named storms.  0 visibility at times.

The last Around-the-State Race,  in the '88 KENWOOD Cup,  before they went to the Kaula rock course.

Waikiki start, round Koko head, get a kite on, sail around Kauai and Niihau and then put it on the wind, go through the wardrobe (#1, 2,3,4 and a reef)  and beat to weather for a couple days, headed to South point on the Big Island.   Somewhere south of Maui the other watch tacks in the dark and a late-add crewmember (associated with the sponsor,  but a good dude) slips and falls down (no biggie) but he grabs the traveler (mistake) and that costs him two fingertips.

Now,  we have 2 doctors aboard (the real kind) and a good med kit so they clean him up and dose him and put him in a rack and we call the race authority to have him med-evac'd.

But this is pre GPS,  and while we can provide a good positon for US via the SatNav,  the fishing boat they sent out has nothing of the sort (they carry a Loran,  essentially useless in Hawaii) and in the murky vog haze off of Kona they cannot find us.

At a certain point the skipper (a physician) says "Well,  at this point we will be compromising his health,  we are going to withdraw and will now make all speed for Honokahau (Kona) and there will be no discussion of this decision"

Boom.  Done.  Nobody says Jack-squat.  We drop sails, fire up the diesel and make best speed for the harbor.  I pop down to the nav station and our excellent navigator starts figuring out how much fuel we have and how long that's gonna last and...the conservative range arc comes up short of the target (on a jagged, rocky shoreline with fickle wind and a taste for boat hulls).

Nonetheless we DO make it,  under power,  at O'dark-thirty (total glass off) - and the sponsor has sent  a car for their guy (got the care he needed,  was alright) and a Limo for the boat owners and a couple of the crew.   I stay with the boat and the next morning when we go to get fuel at the fishing pier the motor won't even start - bone dry tank.  We came in on fumes.

We re-fuel, bleed the injectors and go down to the sponsor's resort and give them boat rides for the afternoon.  Then we stuff ourselves at the beach club, sign the tab to the boat and sail back to Oahu 3-up on a pretty big boat.  17 hours later we enter the Ala Wai and the race HQ hasn't gotten word to the announcer at HYC so we enter our homeport to a BIG announcement about our race finish and the courtesy boat comes alongside and chucks aboard the complementary race loot - case of cold beer,  jug of Mai-Tais, watch for the skipper,  etc.  all while we are kinda dying of embarrassment.

We suck down the Mai Tais and I wake up hours later in the sail locker with a terrible headache.  Ah,  the shit you can get away with when you are in your twenties.

 

was in poipu that year, watched some of you go by late afternoon relatively close to shore. appeared to be the bigger boats, lots of kevlar, thought it was so cool to see. of all places to be at the time.

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Sliced a hole in my ball sack when we capsized during a distance multihull race....

Other than that I agree with Couta, plenty more shit seems to go wrong on deliveries.

5 hours ago, Couta said:

Now delivery debacles....that's a whole different thread topic!!!

 

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5 hours ago, Couta said:

 

Now delivery debacles....that's a whole different thread topic!!!!

 

5 hours ago, shaggybaxter said:

This!!!

indeed , lets take that downhill weapon uphill with a minimal crew ....

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Pittwater Coffs a couple of years ago, had never sailed on the boat but knew the crew, boat not setup at all for offshore, no pipe cots, lee cloths or enough bunks for the off watch.  Was promised lots of food but chicken sandwiches and lollies the whole way.  Worst of all it was 260 miles upwind and we did over 120 tacks to keep out of the current, every half hour.  Only eased the sheets to cross the line.  Weird dynamic between the owner who rarely sailed on the boat and the others that always sailed it. Only positive was the beautiful NSW coastline

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Pulled the forestay chainplate cleanly out of the bow on a 34 footer when cranking on the windward runner winch after a spinnaker take down and mark rounding in a distance race. It had a keel stepped mast  so it didn't come down and luckily the noodle mast didn't bend.

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3 hours ago, Mid said:

 

indeed , lets take that downhill weapon uphill with a minimal crew ....

So you were on Charley in the Transpac '83 delivery? As I said, I'd been lucky...... and had got a 2IC gig on the 67 Holland only to get a last minute better paid skippering job on another boat leaving a week later....got to watch Charley waddle back up the Ala Wai a few days later and see Ron H do the survey of the keel bolts....good times!

 

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Cowes - Rotterdam August '96.  OOD-34.  Wind gear at top of the mast gone but reports of 50+ knots.

First and last time I had to rig a trysail and storm jib.    Half the crew down feeling iffy.

Dodging car carriers that were proceeding to Rotterdam from the anchorage areas was a scary affair with limited manouverability and low viz.

That was the same race Rear Commodore of the RORC and son-in-law of Nick Greville, Duncan Munro Kerr, was lost overboard off Trocar.

 

 

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Yea  two years ago took an all girl  crew from the all girls college soccer team  on a slow  overnight distance race and they forgot to bring the xtra large condo.......... oh wait  gotta go EAZE is at the door 

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17 hours ago, Senator Seditious Maximus said:

Racing the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West.  Hour outta the marina, a brutal Northern hit making sea state just perfect for puking conditions. Would have been OK if the front bothered pushing us along to Key West in record time, but hell no.  Just blow through, shake the hell outta the crew and then evaporate leaving us with 30 hour drift fest.  Upon arrival, the owner came down with acute kidney stones and had to be airflighted to Miami for emergency surgery.  Had we been 6 hours later he would have died.  The trip from HELL.  Top THAT one!

Would that be in 2012?

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Worst one for me was 2013 Annapolis to Newport race.  Delayed start which set us up to get whacked by a tropical storm going down the bay.  Pissing down rain in the dark with a surprising amount of commercial traffic close by.  Round the Chesapeake Light and the wind machine shuts off.  For two days.  Made something like 54 miles in 48 hours.  Then a nice nor'easter filled in so we could beat the rest of the way to Newport.  In the rain.  By far the wettest and coldest I have ever been.  Crew fell off one by one until there were only 3 of us who weren't sick or too scared to come on deck.  Yet despite all of that I have done the race twice since then and signed up for it this year as well.

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My first Chicago Mac (of 43), 1975.

Night before the race we're at the pump out dock, sun setting, fire up to go to the mooring, put it in reverse, the boat doesn't move. Put it in forward, the boat doesn't move. I dive quick and see the Martec blades have fallen off, into deep weeds on the bottom. Race requires boat to move under engine for 40 miles.

Call a diver who reluctantly agrees to come in the am at 6. Contact Gary Comer, friend, who owns a boats parts store in Chicago called "Lands' End" who thinks he's got a replacement in the store and will meet early.

Get the prop installed, load the boat and people, put it in gear and.... in reverse the boat goes forward!  Reverse twist on the blades, so we reverse going forward to the starting line.

Big non-moving high pressure system, no wind.

Rule was that the time limit was 24 after the first boat in your section finished. On a Cal 40, "Duet" lots of wetted surface. IOR (little wetted surface) boat "Tyche" all orange, finished after 72 hours. We hear it on a Detroit AM radio station after 96 hours. TLE

We flip on the motor, put it in reverse going forward and go into Harbor Springs, in deep fog.

Huge disappointment for me having waited 15 years to do my first one.  No party.

 

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Anyone who has done a Chicago-Mackinac will know this one.  We always broke the race into sections, Chi to Betsy, Betsy to Grays, Grays to the Bridge, and Bridge to the Finish.  

Maybe 25yrs ago, we sail a really good race and have separated from our class and know we are doing well.  We are reaching at a good clip and then we go under the bridge and STOP.  This was early Monday morning.  We had a great seat for viewing literally a 100 boats coming up over the horizon to the west, and seeing us and maybe 10 others, sailed north and rocketed past us.  Painful.  Also, did this same dance a different year hanging out under the Grand at night watching the world go by.  One race where you hold your breath until you hear your finishing gun.   

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I did a Cabo on a Swan 36. I was pick up crew from a local sail loft along with two other guys. So, the crew consisted of a hired skipper from England, the three of us, the owner, his brother and a buddy. Blew like stink at Cedros. Skipper decides to cut the corner and go inside. I told him not a great idea. There were breaking waves and lobster traps all over the place. We got through that night and I was off watch below in a bunk when I start to feel an uncomfortable roll. So, I pop up on deck to find one of the sail loft referrals driving. Problem is while he was probably a good dinghy sailor, he'd never driven a wheel and was getting it backwards.  I'm sitting next to the owner on the rail trying to talk the guy through his situation when he throws it into a full round down. I feel the boat rolling and jump off the quickly becoming leeward rail. The owner not so much. So, now we have the owner barely hanging on under water. Everyone forgets the boat and starts going for the owner.  But, we're on our side with water flooding down the companionway. So, I blow the halyard and start getting the boat back on it's feet. The rest of the race was slow long and miserable.

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15 hours ago, longy said:

'86 SORC on ONDINE. St P to Ft Liquordale. Split the main, genset leaked fuel throughout the bilges, no one could stand being below. Crew mostly made up of unpaid pro's (can't use the right terms anymore). We get into FL, owner, kid, sailmaker & friends vanish in a puff of taxi smoke. The rest of us get the main off & bricked, completely clean up the interior. About sundown we all look at at the two kids taking care of the boat & ask: Where we staying tonight?! The reply stuns us once we realize what they are saying: "anywhere you want". Know realize we just gone two days without a shower, lized on deck for a day, mucked out the oily bilges, bricked a maxi main & all the other details to put a boat up for a week. There were NO crew rooms set up, no reservations, nothing. The two kids were so bad they couldn't even tell us earlier so we could get rooms somewhere. Back then, not all working stiffs HAD credit cards. So we broke up into small groups where at least one had a card & went off to find rooms. Thank you, Huey & Russell

Sure that wasn’t 1884 when we broke the boom and the hydraulic fluid tank leaked into the stew?

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50 minutes ago, Sail12m said:

Sure that wasn’t 1884 when we broke the boom and the hydraulic fluid tank leaked into the stew?

We've got some seriously old anarchists around here!!:blink:

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I know this will pale in comparison to a lot of others, but the "worst" one that comes to my mind...

Invited to do a Cabo race on a relatively recent and well-kitted Davidson 44.  Had a couple of crew sessions before the start, it all seemed pretty good.

1st night out, about 50 miles outside the Coronados, got a big shift and it became obvious we needed to gibe in.  So I suggested it.  And got crickets.

Finally asked the owner what the hesitation was about, his answer was "none of us have ever done a gibe at night before, I think we should just wait until morning".

<O_O>

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Long ago was part of crew delivering a 10 meter from S.F. to Marina del Rey. Was initially a nice trip - great stopovers in Monterey and Morro Bay. Pushed out of MB in the morning and faced building wind from there to Conception. Great for a while and we were making good time under spinnaker for a few hours. Finally built to an estimated 35 or 40 from offshore and the spin came down. Time to jibe and with the seas and wind opted for a chicken jibe w/ engine support. Rehearsed the move with all onboard a couple times then stationed everybody and went into the maneuver. All went well until it didn't. Someone didn't release the old runner and suddenly we were trimmed to go upwind on a 60 ft. boat in big wind and waves. Laid the spreaders in the water and watched a lot of water "ingress" into every available opening. Lots of nasty words and a grim finish to the trip.

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3 hours ago, sledracr said:

Finally asked the owner what the hesitation was about, his answer was "none of us have ever done a gibe at night before, I think we should just wait until morning".

Did a buoy race years ago and it was my first day on the boat and I came out of retirement due to the prodding of a good friend, great sailor, to do bow on a 30' boat.  The boat was very much coed and very pretty coed, alas, I was still married and not ready to quit.  Anyways, we get halfway up the first leg and the wind shifts and we are close reaching to the mark.  I look back and say, show of hands, who's done a gybe set?  One hand went up...my buddy.  But, it worked out.  Turns out all the girls knew was their one job to do.  One was in charge of the topping lift, one jumped the halyard, etc.  We rounded 10s behind the lead boat (1d race) and beat them by every second they spent on the bear away set.  

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Small potatoes compared to the above.

DTB Annapolis to Hampton.  First attempt at DH class in an Express 34.  Leading the class after the first 4 hours.  Wind getting lighter so time to change from #2 to #3.  #2 goes overboard.  Took almost an hour to get things right again.  Now back of the pack.  Called it quits at Point Lookout, but good learning experience.  Don't get hammered the night before a distance race and don't secure sails to stanchions that are not secured to the boat!

 

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29 minutes ago, .......................... said:

I have raced/survived in 25,35,45 and 55 knots , befor I write my whole story out, did anyone here do the 1993 distance race at the MORC Internationals in Lake Erie? 

Trust me child, you are not the first to feel the wrath of Lake Erie.  

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Just now, Cal20sailor said:
31 minutes ago, .......................... said:

I have raced/survived in 25,35,45 and 55 knots , befor I write my whole story out, did anyone here do the 1993 distance race at the MORC Internationals in Lake Erie? 

Trust me child, you are not the first to feel the wrath of Lake Erie.  

And trusste me, notte the laste ethere...........                :)

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34 minutes ago, .......................... said:

I have raced/survived in 25,35,45 and 55 knots , befor I write my whole story out, did anyone here do the 1993 distance race at the MORC Internationals in Lake Erie? 

My mom did, said  only pansy asses would bring it up.  

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1 hour ago, Left Shift said:

'Nuff said....

7.08 Cold Food Ucluelet Leg 2019.jpg

 

That's living large!! '82 Clipper Cup all our diners were pre-cooked and then sealed into 3 compartments of a plastic bag. Cooking was simply boiling salt water, then toss in as many bags as would fit. Once cooled to where one could handle them bare-handed they were passed up to crew (usually fully hiking thru ll) on the rail. Eating consisted of tearing a corner off the pouch, spitting it out (to blow into someone else on the rail) squeezing something into your mouth, & deciding if it was edible. For some reason we never ate in daylite. Yucky food was spat out (to be worn by those downwind) & you started in on another corner. When done (notice I don't say full) the pouch was squeegeed empty & tossed below.

 

We did win our class

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2 minutes ago, Snaggletooth said:

 

Mom soundes licke a keepere, I woude be afraide to try run herre offe.............               :)

Kid sounded like Chris Farley talking to Paul McCartney.  

Do you remember that time on Lake Erie...that was awesome.  

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5 hours ago, sledracr said:

I know this will pale in comparison to a lot of others, but the "worst" one that comes to my mind...

Invited to do a Cabo race on a relatively recent and well-kitted Davidson 44.  Had a couple of crew sessions before the start, it all seemed pretty good.

1st night out, about 50 miles outside the Coronados, got a big shift and it became obvious we needed to gibe in.  So I suggested it.  And got crickets.

Finally asked the owner what the hesitation was about, his answer was "none of us have ever done a gibe at night before, I think we should just wait until morning".

<O_O>

Ha ha ha!!! I know who that was!!! The boat name, owner, etc!! Ha!

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1984 Newport to Bermuda Race, 5 days. 

10 onboard a C&C 40 that I was the yachting domestic on. 35 knots for 2+ days dead on the nose... Diesel tank leak, lots of vomit! One dude slept with a plastic bag, lots of water pumping, I spent off shifts ondeck, not pretty!

Day 3 I heard a weird noise in the head to find fuckface pounding his foot on the head pump handle. Clogged the head, we shit in bags and tossed them out the little hatch. Not all bags made it over the rail tho!

Whilst unfucking the boat I had the pleasure of ramming a broom handle up the head through hull. Then a very rapid water extraction and an airborne cabin entry to turn off the seacock! That stream of water was WAY bigger and scary than expected!! Then I found the shit...

Delivery home with 4 others and 1 tack. Very pleasant!

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3 minutes ago, Liquid said:

1984 Newport to Bermuda Race, 5 days. 

10 onboard a C&C 40 that I was the yachting domestic on. 35 knots for 2+ days dead on the nose... Diesel tank leak, lots of vomit! One dude slept with a plastic bag, lots of water pumping, I spent off shifts ondeck, not pretty!

Day 3 I heard a weird noise in the head to find fuckface pounding his foot on the head pump handle. Clogged the head, we shit in bags and tossed them out the little hatch. Not all bags made it over the rail tho!

Whilst unfucking the boat I had the pleasure of ramming a broom handle up the head through hull. Then a very rapid water extraction and an airborne cabin entry to turn off the seacock! That stream of water was WAY bigger and scary than expected!! Then I found the shit...

Delivery home with 4 others and 1 tack. Very pleasant!

Winner in my book.  On the boats I sailed, if you use the portapotti you clean it out right after.  Trimming the main and in safe territory, I swear I saw one guy cleaning hay out of it!

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On 2/25/2021 at 5:58 PM, fingerbang said:

Aside from the typical "we ran out of booze" response, I think we'd all love to here what when down and how!!!  Let's hear your story!

 I have several but this was the best.  80's  something I signed up for a 200 miler on a Peterson 34. I didn't know the owner well and had just begun sailing. Forecast was for possible remnants of a tropical storm hitting the fleet.  Decent start in NY harbor at 2 pm with winds of about 15. Its one long reach  to the first mark about 100 miles away on the ocean, at the tip of Long Island.  About 10 pm  I'm down below and I hear the skipper  yelling that were  nearing a mark ....and "gentlemen we are flying". Not a mathematician but i knew we weren't doing 12  kts. Skipper tacks, against all advice, and heads to shore, about 5 miles away. Turns out the  light he believed was Montauk light was coming from an airport...a nice 40+ mile navigational error taking us out of the race. Rounded Montauk the following morning in time to be blasted by the tropical storm. Winds in the 40-50 gusts were more.  Boat lost its hydraulic backstay adjuster so the backstay was like a rubber band. We got beat up as it poured and blew like hell. Batteries died so no navlights, no vhf...and the cell phone had yet to be invented. Convo on deck was where to go and how to pull out. Owner insisted we would  be just fine and wind up on a lee shore 'surrounded by mermaids' if the boat sank. Not sure when but we took the wheel and sailed into the only harbor available where we ran aground, got towed off...picked up a mooring and went to the closest bar.

 

 

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I was 22 or so when I lead my first delivery (RI to NY) boat out of the rehab shed with a near complete electrical failure night 1 during a lightning storm and the wind spinning around the compass - the 30 minutes of terror. Then an 8 hour tidal stress drift fest until we got a tow in.

Bolts dropping everywhere. We were scared shitless!! You could smell the lightning! That we didn't get struck is amazing. 

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I've had a few less than pleasant races and deliveries but three from friends eclipse mine for misery.

1. The first was a friend who sailed with Dick Carter on [probably] Red Rooster for Cowes Week and Fastnet. Before the Fastnet, Carter gave each crew member a 4 ounce / 113 gram jar of peanut butter and a single apple with the words "Make it last..."

2. Another was a Transpac story where the spinnaker pole fitting on the mast of a 37-footer was a cast aluminum ring. Nearing the finish and setting up for the gybe, the pole is loaded up and the cast ring disintegrates, sending the inboard end of the pole -- like an arrow from a bow -- through the skull of the mast man. Head wounds bleed a lot and bad head wounds bleed a fuck of a lot. They get the guy down below and are using every scrap of absorbent material to apply pressure and mitigate the bleeding before the wounded sailor gets evacuated off the boat and to a hospital. He survives and continues to sail, albeit with a steel plate in his head (and he always wears a helmet.) This incident resulted in changing offshore regulations for spinn pole fittings.

But... the story doesn't stop there...

The crew is pretty bummed out and no one is in a mood for celebration. They deliver the yacht to a commercial ship to be taken as deck cargo back to Los Angeles. They just throw everything down below... wadded up sails, bloody towels and cushions, etc. Then seal the boat up. They were not expecting the stow-away...

A large owl got inside the boat before it was buttoned up. The boat was put on the carrier and off she went. The sequence went something like this: the owl got hungry but there was nothing to eat but blood-soaked cushions so the owl tore apart all the bloody fabric and ate it. Then pooped it all out. Everywhere. Then died. Then rotted. During the hottest part of the summer. Once the boat got back to California, they opened up the boat to an olfactory and visual nightmare. Basically, they sawzalled out the entire interior and rebuilt it from scratch.

3. This 3rd story comes by way of Salmon Jack and I have to believe the original is on a server somewhere but it's long lost. Some race down to Mexico -- a typical wonderful sleigh-ride to the tropics! The story involves a very overweight owner who became sick and went into the head. After an hour or so people start getting curious and start knocking on the door. No answer. They try to open the door but it's jammed shut. Eventually they bust it down and the huge owner is lying there, dead of a heart attack and covered in diarrhea and vomit. And it's hot. At this point the interior of the yacht is unbearable. I forget how the owner's corpse is removed and a lot of the other details. The original story was long and written well enough that I remember most of the story somewhere around 30 years later.

I've had it easy in comparison...

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da fucke?

Set screws I bet, fucking drill those fuckers through everyone!  Those are truly your life lines!

Nope.  for some reason the Express 34 just has slots about 6" deep for the stanchions. Very sturdy except for "up".

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2 minutes ago, Somebody Else said:

He survives and continues to sail, albeit with a steel plate in his head (and he always wears a helmet.)

I think I've sailed with that guy.

Hadn't heard about the owl, though.  that's awesome, in a horrifying sort of way.

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Early 2000's, Sydney to Lord Howe Island, 400 nm or so, two-handed on a 43 footer. Race starts in 20-25, soon up to 30 plus, from the north east, so a beat to windward. Up to 4 knots southerly current, so reasonable sea state. First night owner decides to leave cockpit hatch open, allowing water to short out battery management system. I go down and hard wire alternator to battery bank so we have power for autopilot and nav gear. Owner refuse to go down below.

Next day or so, reaching into LHI about 100nm away, I decide to hand steer for a while, turn off pilot, boat crash tacks as wheel spins in my hands.

I decided I wanted to get back as we all know things happen in threes, so put autopilot back on (quadrant okay) and back we head. Then it really starts blowing - 50 plus for over 24 hours. Boat. handled it beautifully - 3 reefs in main and broken vang, maybe 8-10 metre seas. Owner now not wanting me to go below, so a hard day or so. I wasn't even allowed to go forward and save the No 4 which was tearing itself apart on the foredeck.

Breeze dies as we enter Pittwater, only for a 25 knot westerly to hit us - right on the nose.

I lost 7 kilos in 4 days. Never raced shorthanded again on that boat.

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22 hours ago, Livia said:

I have been listening to LB 15 same jokes in long races since about 1978!

What do I win!

....... colossal amount of pity from here.....

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A personal experience was horrific but only lasted about 4 hours and when it was done there was plenty of alcohol to wash away the scarring on my brain.

It was on one of my earlier skippering jobs in the Med. A young family of 4 from Belgium had figured out that it was cheaper to charter a boat for a week than to stay in hotels and take ferries to the Greek islands. So they chartered a Dufour 24. They hired me as skipper since no one knew how to sail. The teenage son actually learned to sail quite well in a week. The weather was lovely and I didn't mind sleeping in the cockpit but 5 aboard a 24-footer for a week is pushing it.

One of the characteristics of this boat was the enclosed head in a 24-footer. As you can imagine... not a lot of room. It's a very hot day and everyone is glad to be outside enjoying the breeze. We'd just transited the Corinth Canal east to west and were going to hang out in the small yacht harbor in Corinth.

Then mom disappears down below to use the head. First she deposits her tampon in it and pumps just enough so it disappears from the bowl before she poops. Then she pumps like crazy but the poop won't disappear. So she pumps harder to the point where the tampon and poop become bricked under about 2,000 psi pressure. She admits defeat and comes up to tell me that the toilet is broken. I take one look and I know I'm in for a serious hate mission. I tell the family to take a long dinner and don't come back for at least 3 hours.

The enclosed head required about 5 minutes just to shoehorn my 6'2" self into a pretzel shape to put a wrench on the fittings. Then I figured out that I had to have every tool, plus bucket, plus paper towels within like 2 inches because there was zero room to maneuver so I had to take another 5 minutes, extract myself, set everything up, then wriggle back into position. Oh yea... it's about 95°F/35°C in the shade.

When I was finally able to work on the hose fittings I was only able to turn about 5-degrees at a time. Excruciatingly slow progress. All the while breathing this unholy atmosphere. When the main discharge got loosened enough I got treated to this 2,000 psi putrid mist being sprayed uncontrollably on me.

Eventually everything got unplugged, reassembled, and cleaned up. Then I dove into the water fully clothed to wash everything off. When the family returned, I didn't have a word to say. I just went ashore and drank myself stupid.

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1 hour ago, sailholley said:

da fucke?

Set screws I bet, fucking drill those fuckers through everyone!  Those are truly your life lines!

Nope.  for some reason the Express 34 just has slots about 6" deep for the stanchions. Very sturdy except for "up".

I'm lucky given the times I've leaned against them for support.  I'm starting a new thread, worst crews you've sailed with.

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1992 Toyoko Cup - Tokyo to Guam Race.

We finished. 15 souls didn't finish or make it home.

Not much out there on it. Someday I plan to write up a Wikipedia page with the articles and photos I have. The Japanese seem to care more about forgetting it. 

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4 hours ago, sailman said:

Was not aware that Big Tom was on that race course

You are correct. But it was on the way to the starting line for me. 

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36 minutes ago, Bitter Gnat said:

1992 Toyoko Cup - Tokyo to Guam Race.

We finished. 15 souls didn't finish or make it home.

Not much out there on it. Someday I plan to write up a Wikipedia page with the articles and photos I have. The Japanese seem to care more about forgetting it. 

Never heard about this, sounds like something that should not be forgotten

FB- Doug

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Delivery home after a long race and party at YC. We put the boat away and had a dry driver for the long night motor home. We all just settled in when the owner shorted out the whole system including the fuel pump. No engine, lights or nav. we had to all put gear on and sail the boat home. lost wind after a few hours and just drifted till it came back. had to shine a flashlight on the sails when there was traffic on the water. wind picked up as we came home and sailed into slip at sun up. We had to put some crew to bed because they were drunk and in danger on deck.

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22 hours ago, Glenn McCarthy said:

My first Chicago Mac (of 43), 1975.

Big non-moving high pressure system, no wind.

......that race was miserable.....start on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning the lake is a mill pond, the sun intense, swatting flys all day.  We could still see the Chicago skyline on the horizon.  We finished Tuesday night at 2300hrs.....quickly clean up the boat and head into town as the bars are still open.  In a rare episode of good judgement, I counted the number of crew onboard and the number of berths....someone was going to be sleeping on the cabin sole and it was not going to be me so I headed back to the boat and grabbed an upper bunk in the saloon.  Next morning I wake up and my buddy is sleeping on the cabin sole with his foul weather gear on.  Turns out another mate who was in the bunk right above him stood up in his stupor, thought he was at the stern and proceeded to give a golden shower to my buddy.....he thought it was raining out and put on his foul weather gear.....  

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8 minutes ago, Huggy Bear Brown said:

......that race was miserable.....start on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning the lake is a mill pond, the sun intense, swatting flys all day.  We could still see the Chicago skyline on the horizon.  We finished Tuesday night at 2300hrs.....quickly clean up the boat and head into town as the bars are still open.  In a rare episode of good judgement, I counted the number of crew onboard and the number of berths....someone was going to be sleeping on the cabin sole and it was not going to be me so I headed back to the boat and grabbed an upper bunk in the saloon.  Next morning I wake up and my buddy is sleeping on the cabin sole with his foul weather gear on.  Turns out another mate who was in the bunk right above him stood up in his stupor, thought he was at the stern and proceeded to give a golden shower to my buddy.....he thought it was raining out and put on his foul weather gear.....  

I forget, but it was the first ever super-mac from PH to Chicago. So the Chi Mac started in the middle of the week, maybe a Tuesday?

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2 hours ago, Bitter Gnat said:

1992 Toyoko Cup - Tokyo to Guam Race.

We finished. 15 souls didn't finish or make it home.

Not much out there on it. Someday I plan to write up a Wikipedia page with the articles and photos I have. The Japanese seem to care more about forgetting it. 

 

1 hour ago, Steam Flyer said:

Never heard about this, sounds like something that should not be forgotten

FB- Doug

Second that...

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23 hours ago, Cal20sailor said:

Anyone who has done a Chicago-Mackinac will know this one.  We always broke the race into sections, Chi to Betsy, Betsy to Grays, Grays to the Bridge, and Bridge to the Finish.  

Maybe 25yrs ago, we sail a really good race and have separated from our class and know we are doing well.  We are reaching at a good clip and then we go under the bridge and STOP.  This was early Monday morning.  We had a great seat for viewing literally a 100 boats coming up over the horizon to the west, and seeing us and maybe 10 others, sailed north and rocketed past us.  Painful.  Also, did this same dance a different year hanging out under the Grand at night watching the world go by.  One race where you hold your breath until you hear your finishing gun.   

Ummm... ahhh... yeah, speaking of that race...we, not having had a particularyly good early part of the race, lying deep in our class, noticed this south-side parking lot from a few miles away and managed to scoot past y'all by pointing the boat into the puffs we saw in front of us... finished first in class elapsed, corrected to 4th I think... which was good.. owner said if we would have ended up with a podium finish after our early race debacle, he'd have been too embarassed to attend the awards!

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14 hours ago, Somebody Else said:

I've had it easy in comparison...

So have I .  The worst experiences I have had in offshore races is the typical drifting all night with the sails slatting and condensation raining down off of them.  I actually haven't done an offshore race in 15 years, and after reading this thread, I think i will keep it that way. I think I will stick with daysailing and buoy racing.

 

Now, if somebody decides to start a "delivery debacle" thread, THAT I can contribute to.

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OK, I've been asked for my 1979 Fastnet story, so here goes...

I spoke reasonable Italian (that's why Bob Cooper nicknamed me 'PseudoWop', as I wasn't a real one) and had a fair bit of big boat experience, so I was invited to race Cowes Week and Fastnet on the first Il Moro di Venezia, a lovely timber-built Frers 68 with a huge Mediterranean rig.  

All well out of the Solent with a medium #1, and Raul Gardini said it was good to see Tenacious behind us.  I replied that it was Kialoa III.  We led the fleet all the way to the rock, and rounded with a 3/4oz kite in the late afternoon.  Then it started to build, so it was heavy 1, then 2, 3, 4 and a reef, 5 and two reefs, storm staysail, main down.  We were thinking trisail, but the B&G windspeed meter was pegged on 60.

The big worry then was about running into one of the 300 smaller boats coming the other way in the night, but we soon had other problems.  We took two big knockdowns, with the mast in the drink, and had 2 of the 3 steering compasses swept away.  So much water went below that the batteries shorted, and so no way to start the engine.  No nav electronics either.

To add to the fun, a significant percentage of our 17 crew crawled into corners below and just "switched off."  I was really worried how we would get them into rafts if we had to.

Finally in late morning the gale had abated, but we were still limping along with just the storm staysail.  In frustration the four of us who were on deck (Tilly, Anatra, Angelo and me) put up a spinnaker and turned to the north east.  Bashful heads started appearing on deck and got the main up.  

We had no idea at all where we were, as there'd been no DR plot for 18 hours.  So I brought out my trusty sextant.  I'd been given grief in Cowes from several mates in the Admiral's Cup fleet as I walked down the dock with it.  "Hey, Magellan, looking for the New World?  Haven't you heard about electronics?"  My reply was that electronics and seawater don't mix too well, which was a bit of a chilling prognostication.

Anyway I got a noon latitude, which put us half way across the Channel, so we gybed for the general direction of Plymouth.  Not the finest race conclusion for that lovely boat.

I did get to read my own obituary in the Isle of Wight County Press, which was interesting.

Props to Michael Kurtz for the recent pic.

Les Voiles de St Tropez, 2018, St Tropez, France - Michael Kurtz

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31 minutes ago, JoeO said:

Ummm... ahhh... yeah, speaking of that race...we, not having had a particularyly good early part of the race, lying deep in our class, noticed this south-side parking lot from a few miles away and managed to scoot past y'all by pointing the boat into the puffs we saw in front of us... finished first in class elapsed, corrected to 4th I think... which was good.. owner said if we would have ended up with a podium finish after our early race debacle, he'd have been too embarassed to attend the awards!

'94?  I was on Vagary.

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55 minutes ago, P_Wop said:

Not the finest race conclusion for that lovely boat.

You had quite a different race than my dad, mum,  brothers & crew on a Carter Tina 37ft.    I was just a smidgen too young for that one.

Dad called it a day on the way to the rock on hearing about the loss of life.    Boat & crew were fine in the horrific conditions but he felt he had nothing to prove.

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1 hour ago, Cal20sailor said:

'94?  I was on Vagary.

Probably, somewhere thereabouts, I don't specifically remember.  Figured you were on the 43 at that time. Probably in our section, no? (and therefor kicking our butts until the bridge magic...)

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3 hours ago, Glenn McCarthy said:

I forget, but it was the first ever super-mac from PH to Chicago. So the Chi Mac started in the middle of the week, maybe a Tuesday?

Yes, I believe it was.....Wiki even has a write-up on it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Mac_Race  I did the first and second one....after that I got smart and started racing one designs.....race hard and sleep in my own bed.

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