Posted by: First Mate | April 29, 2010

More on MOB

After I posted our tale of woe regarding the dead cushions, a close friend and experienced captain sent me the following story.  I am always up for more stories – especially when everyone lives happily ever after.  So Kudos to Captain Ron and his crew.  Enjoy.

We used to sail  the MORA race from San Francisco to San Diego each July 4th weekend in my Merit 25 Half Fast. I believe it was the 1983 race with my crew consisting of: Mike DeVries; his half-brother Tom; Christine (Chris) Peterson and myself.  At 0100 of the second day, we were 20 miles off of Big Sur in no-moon conditions with coastal clouds.  The wind was in the high teens/low 20’s and we were surfing on waves out of the northwest on a starboard tack.  I came up on deck to take over on the tiller from Mike.  The weird thing was, every once in a while as we surfed down a wave, we’d hit a wave coming out of the south (there had been a hurricane off of Mexico and it had generated some northbound waves) and it would push our bow to leeward.  Before taking over from Mike, I put my hand on the tiller to see if I could get a feel for how he was driving as we couldn’t see the waves we were surfing on and we definitely couldn’t see the waves coming out of the south.  After about 10 minutes with my training wheels (hand on the tiller while Mike drove), I told him I had it and he could get some sleep.

Chris was trimming the kite and I was driving.  The fun meter had us surfing in the low teens and every minute San Diego was getting closer.  About an hour in to my stint on the tiller, we dropped into a wave, excellerated, and wham!  The bow was driven to leeward and we rounded down.  I could see the spinnaker pole digging in to the water and creating a wake.   I had been sitting to leeward and Chris had been sitting on the windward side trying to see the shoulders of the kite.  As we rounded down, I was pitched over the tiller in to the water.  We were wearing foulies and we were harnessed in.  We wore no flotation devices as that wasn’t real popular back then and the jackets weren’t real comfortable.  When my head popped out of the water I was at the end of my tether.  I remember yelling, “Chris hold on” as the boat was pinned on its side. Funny because she was still on the boat and I was the one in the water.   I swam over the lifelines to get back on board.

Once on board and on the high side and with the main sheet released, the boat started coming back up.  As the boat righted itself we released the spinnaker guy.  At the same time the hatch board popped open and Mike and Tom popped up on deck wearing white T-shirts and white boxer shorts.  They were yelling something about what the heck was going on, but we had a hard time hearing anything as the chute was flogging itself to death.  We pulled the chute back on board around the headstay and the shrouds.  We put a total of nine holes in the all-but-new kite.  The boat suffered no damage and the spinnaker pole was unharmed as well.

We quickly put up a number three jib and poled it out.  Within seconds we were back surfing at nearly the same speed as we’d been doing with the kite.  There was something terribly wrong with the windex though as the arrow seemed to have a limited range of motion.  At dawn we put up a new kite and picked up the little bit of extra speed.  With the new light we could see that the arms of the windex had been bent upwards when the top of the mast had dragged through the water, trapping the arrow in the middle.

A number of boats had lost either masts or rudders that night and some had retired in Moro Bay or other places further down the coast.   We did the race in four days, twelve minutes and twelve seconds.

Upon our return to the bay area the crew  made a trophy for me out of the windex mounted in a piece of drift wood with the two arms bent up and the arrow in between.  MORA was great!

Ron Landmann

Minden, NV


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