A NACs to remember
Now that we have had a few days to digest what happened in Marblehead this past week, here's what I remember: NAC impressions 2006 – Chris Danilek – FS 5626 My wife Linda and I had a wonderful time up until the micro-burst. We reacquainted ourselves with a bunch of folks from previous Scot regattas and met many new friends. Measurement on Sunday at Marblehead High School went like clockwork – extremely well organized and painless process. Diane Kampf eased our minds when we showed up without our 2 kids crewing and made the adjustments on her computer pronto. We only had to measure our jibs and Jim Cavanaugh’s safety inspection became a social event. I stuck our assigned number 56 to each side of the bow. We proceeded to Corinthian YC for launching at our own pace, but let the Junior NAC boats cut ahead in the hoist line to get launched so they could get on the water. After being assigned a mooring, we rigged up and went sailing to check out the course area and watched the Juniors race. The Race Committee offered a practice start which only John Luard and we participated in. We both learned a few things, especially a reminder about the ½ knot current. I hailed “Nice start, John” as he pulled away. “Get used to it!” he shot back with a smile. We tacked away from his dirty air but then were ahead on the first recross. This was going to be a fun regatta! John later said that he retuned his rig, returning to his old settings. He later won the 1st qualifying race. Monday morning the skippers meeting was concluded with a weather briefing which was started off with the joke something like “One thing I can say is you won’t have snow!” At the mooring each morning before rigging up to race, I jumped in the harbor to rub the slime [real or imagined] off the bottom with a sponge. It was warmer than our Canadian lake and clean though a bit saltier. After climbing out, I stood on the after deck and poured a gallon of fresh water we brought for the purpose over my head, back and down my shorts to combat dreaded IA. The 3 qualifying races were terrific fun and made the whole trip worth the effort for Linda and me. All races were W-L-W-L-W courses. The racing was a blast, even though I touched the windward mark in Race 1 and had to do a penalty circle. The shifts were very subtle and the Tack-tick compass paid for itself when we went from 5th to 3rd on the final leg, finding we were competitive upwind and very fast downwind. In race 2 we had a long drag race out to the right side with Harry C. and found we were the same speed but he pointed a wee bit higher. I pulled on more vang than ever. Tuesday was a day to remember for a lifetime for many reasons. There was one qualifying race to go and we were in the 2nd Division to start. Linda wanted to be first on the water, so after bottom cleaning we headed out early. With the light ESE’ly and adverse current we only checked in 5 minutes before the scheduled start and the entire fleet was astern of us. Then the wind died almost completely and we hung around for over an hour. The sky was getting grey and it was pretty hot and hazy. Eventually a SE’ly arrived and by our start was up to 15 knots or so. The 1st Division start gave us a clue that the right side was favored upwind and we started 3 boats from the windward end and along with Josh Goldman, ducked Hans and Jim Cavanaugh to get right. As we rounded the weather mark 4th, I noticed the SW sky getting darker. Downwind the wind started to peter out and we cruised up even with the leaders, rounded the left gate to go right again, thinking we had a shot at winning. Josh hit the right gate mark, I assume, because he did a donut turn and initially followed us right. Jim and Larry Taggart went left off the right gate mark. Linda noticed Larry tack and get a 15 degree port tack lift way out on our hip. We should have tack right away and bailed out of the right side because Larry’s lift later became 50 degrees. Josh did bail and survived to round 3rd, passed Jim near the shortened downwind finish to get 2nd place behind Larry. We survived to get 4th, giving us a 3,4,4 for the qualifier which do not carry forward to the Champ division scores. Everyone starts even. So I figured we had had a good practice for the real racing to come. Little did we know this regatta was history. On the light spinnaker run home we started to see lightning way off to the west and it was getting darker. Linda started to paddle hard and I turned on VHF Ch. 72 the emergency channel which had only useless chatter on it when I needed someone to tell us what was on the Wx radar and how close the storms were to us. We got on a tow with 6 other Scots soon after, pulled by an RC boat. I rolled up the jib, bagged it and stowed it under the bow. In the harbor, I secured the mooring pennant to the mast base, thinking we would only see rain and lightning with little wind. This mooring was normally for a large cruising boat and was located out near the harbor entrance a hundred yards from the CYC docks. The pennant was over an inch thick and had heavy chafing gear which I lashed to our Scots bow eye. We quickly rolled the main, leaving it on the boom secured with 2 sail ties, bagged the chute without untying sheets or halyard, stuffed it forward, ahead of the seat, raised the rudder blade clear of the water but did not unship the rudder. After raising the centerboard all the way, we grabbed our gear and car keys, catching the first launch ride into the dock. Linda asked for the car key and vanished saying “I’ll explain later.” So I hung out in the CYC clubhouse watching the lightning and socializing. At some point it started hailing big time and Brian Hayes lobbed a snowball at me. Somebody remembered “One thing I can say is it won’t snow!” I didn’t know where Linda was and she had both cell phones in the car. I went out to the parking lot but no Linda. Melanie Dunham had her phone and dialed Linda for me. She was OK in downtown Salem in heavy rain. Back in the west facing dining room about 20 minutes after the hail, I was sitting with Scott and Natalie Mauney, Bill Drahiem and Ryan and Kimber Malgren watching tremendous amounts of rain water cascade over the gutters making the visibility fuzzy, when I saw this cloud of water vapor fly up the harbor from the south – my left peripheral vision. I exclaimed “Here it comes!” before the moored boats right below us stretched out their mooring lines as they backed down in a huge gust of wind. Then the wind backed from South to East, to North to West in about 15-20 seconds and the closest boats we could still see disappeared in the water vapor cloud, trying to weathervane on their moorings. We were blind to the west for awhile. All of us in the clubhouse were trying to see our boats, peering through the water cloud. As the visibility slowly lifted, we could see the white bottoms of the closest Scots turtled at their moorings. Bow #19, the Malgrens #22 and John Luard’s #26 were first in sight, mast stuck in the mud. Dave Oslers was upright, but the mast was bent. Eventually as I strained I could make out our bow 56 in the haze. Whew! We were upright and OK! So was #52 next to us, Bill Ross. Amazingly lucky. John Luard asked me “So Captain Danilek, what did you do different than the rest of us?” All I could say was out of sheer laziness and haste I had left the main lashed to the boom and rudder shipped but blade up. This may have given our Scot enough windage to spin fast enough as the wind backed to present the bow to the wind instead of the beam. Or it may have been plain dumb luck that our boat did not get the same wind as the others 30 yards away. Eventually I counted 15 upright Scots out of a fleet of 63. Scott said “you sure called that shift!” Ryan was worried his rudder had sunk out of his cockpit as it wasn’t secured. As it cleared a bit we could start to see the extent of the damage. Unbelievable carnage. Harry C. was silent as I spoke to him. Linda finally made her way back to the club with her own tale of adventure, but then she showed me the parking space I had parked in that morning. It was now occupied by a huge tree limb which would have crushed our car. We dodged another bullet. The car had some hail damage on the hood. I grabbed my new digital camera. The CYC docks were covered in blown boats, an upside down, mastless mess. Trees were down, one had all its limbs lopped off up high. The grating to the ramp near the hoist was blown off into the trees, making the float only approachable by wading from the beach. The mansions had broken windows and missing slate roof tiles. CYC lost power. For safety, CYC roped off the waterfront with yellow tape, but Linda and I wanted to help rescue Scots. I returned the camera to the car, put on water shoes and headed around to the beach in front of CYC, ducking under a fallen tree across Corinthian Road. We waded out to the float and eventually talked a whaler driver into taking us out with Ryan, Harry and others. We righted Ryan’s boat first, rudder still on board. Ryan bailed like mad. Then the CYC driver said he was under orders to only drop off people on the boats not to start rescuing them. Dropping people on upside down boats didn’t make sense and I didn’t want to go back ashore so I had him drop me off on my own boat. As I bailed it out, another storm cell with heavy lightning went by just to the northwest and with my bucket in hand, I caught a ride with a woman member I waved down in a whaler. I explained our problem; that we needed help in the form of motor boats to assist in righting Scots. She was instrumental in getting us that help. We saw Woody Stieffel bailing a nearby Scot. We righted bow 39 Knot Guilty and Linda & I bailed it out. Then we righted 2880 [no bow bag] and had to tow it while Woody and I bailed. Then we towed 845 and bailed it out. Scots without an inflated bow bag hold about twice the volume of water, as they float bow down and must be towed. With a bow bag much of the forward half is above the surface and 2 people with buckets can beat the ingress from the centerboard trunk to get ahead without a tow. PLEASE INSTALL A BOW BAG IN YOUR SCOT IF YOU DON’T ALREADY HAVE ONE. While doing this, the Harbormaster was pumping out a swamped motor boat. When they finished I jumped aboard and we used their high capacity pump to empty 3 swamped Scots that had been righted by others, including another 2800 series Scot with no bow bag. The pump was strong enough to beat the ingress through the top of the trunk. The suction hose was designed to filter out debris but could not reduce the water level below about 10 inches, good enough to make the boats stable for the night. They then got a radio call and I was dropped off on the float where Harry and the gang picked me up in a whaler and we carried Harry’s twisted mast to the beach. Back on the float I bailed out Don Smith’s #5555 which was still up on the float, mast bent like a pretzel. The boom crutch had torqued over and cracked the afterdeck to the cockpit coaming edge. It was sunset around then. I noticed there were open holes in the float where the Opti racks had been ripped out by the storm and reminded myself to be careful of those holes as it got dark. Then I bailed out the Kampfs Brother Bill and helped Carrie Berger bail out #4181 at the float. Bow #34 was upside down on a whaler, mast gone, with it’s centerboard down and sheered off at the trunk next to the Strammers #5520 American Dream. They had both blown up in the air and over the float to land on docked neighboring boston whalers 30 feet from where they had been secured before the storm. Woody and I started working on American Dream with its centerboard stuck down into the whaler and a big hole in the deck, cause unknown. Wires and lines trailed behind and had to be untangled. [Next day we heard that some wires, shrouds and halyards were cut on other Scots. That wasn’t us, we had no cutters.] Woody finally got the centerboard up and we moved 2 whalers and 3 deflated rubber dinghies out of the way to get American Dream back in the water. Then Woody stepped through a loose dock board and got shook up but was basically unhurt. It was now around 2130 and we decided it was too dark to continue. We came ashore up the beach. I talked my way past security to get back to the waterfront, saw Scot class execs in the dining room, found an unlocked door and met Diane Kampf. She got Randy Williams to arrange for me to be able to take a shower. Linda and I met up and shared a boxed chicken dinner arranged by Larry Taggart and saved for us by Marcia from Cedar Point YC. We later went out for Chinese food with Woody and his sister Cindy and nephew Mack, the 2006 Junior NAC champion. What a day.