Newport/Bermuda 2000

by Stef and Mary

Stef: Hi Mary! You ready to go? We'll be in Providence Airport on the flight arriving at 11:55pm.
Mary: Hi Stef! I'm all set and will be there to pick you and Tom up!
Stef: This is so nice of you! We'll get to spend the $65 worth of cab fare on rum and partying instead ;)
Mary: No problem! Happy to do it.

(several hours later)

Stef: Hi Mary, you won't believe this…we're at the airport in Fort Lauderdale and they've cancelled our flight to Providence! The only thing that will get us even close is a flight up to Boston. We'll arrive there at 11:30pm. Do you know of any trains or buses that we can catch to get to Newport from there?
Mary: No… nothing runs that late at night but don't worry…. I'm driving back to get you!
Stef: But you just DID that trip! Are you sure? There must be some easier way! It must be an hour and a half drive each way!
Mary: There is no other way so just stop worrying about it. I'll be there to get you!
Stef: How did we ever get through times like this before we had cell phones??????

So that is how the 2000 Newport to Bermuda race began for us. Mary was at the Boston airport to pick Stef and Tom up as she promised, and we went to a little place for a Pizza and then headed back in the dense fog to Newport. We arrived at about 2:30am and some of the crew was aboard and all sleeping. We tiptoed aboard as quietly as we could and went to sleep wherever we could find an open spot.

Friday morning was busy with last minute prep and shopping and returning of rental car and such. We also had a last minute FedEx arrive with the new running light, which had been on order.

Finally all of the crew was aboard, ice was loaded, the new light was wired and working and we headed out to the start line. It was a glorious day with about 25k of wind… just the way Javelin likes it! We were all psyched for a great race!

Time to hoist the main and the trouble began. The pocket ripped out of the lowest batten and we had to drop the main back down and take out the batten. We then hoisted again. The start was pretty exciting with boats close on both sides. Credit to our helmsman and bowman for great communication and no crunching sounds! Then the trouble continued…we looked up to notice a rip in the main at the leach just above the batten pocket that had ripped. It was a nice "L" shaped tear about 1 foot long in each direction, and the guys started to discuss the options. Finally it was decided that once we cleared the first mark and got clear of as many boats as possible, we'd drop the main and start the repair. The guys were discussing sewing the tear and not bothering with the batten but Stef went to the deck boss and captain and suggested that as long as the sail was coming down, we should put together 2 sewing parties and do both repairs at once. This idea was accepted so down she came and the patching and sewing began. We had 2 guys on the port side working on the tear and 2 in the cockpit working on the batten pocket. It took one person on each side of the sail at each repair spot to pull the needle through and push it back the other way. Quite a project!

While all this sewing was going on, the wind went a bit lighter so it was time to change gears. We were changing from the #3 to the Heavy #1. The #1 was hoisted and before the #3 could come down we heard a nasty bang! Rip! Head to Clew! That #1 had just come from the loft and had been repaired in exactly the same place! As she ripped, she took part of the Tuff Luff with her so now we were also down to only one groove that we could use. Also Tom's quick thinking to cut the foreguy that was now holding it down since the shackle had come apart at the tack, may have saved Mary from getting wrapped in the quickly running line and going overboard! If there were to be any more sail changes they would have to be done bareheaded (sigh). This was not a great way to start a race of over 600 miles! Also, as the jib ripped, it seems we had a sheet run the wrong way through the lifelines (not surprising since we still had the main lying on deck all over everything), and so the lower lifeline on the port side went "bang" too! Too much strain on it.

Times like this we remember why we sail with 22 crew! Lots of hands were busy getting the #1 back on deck and flaked and not letting it become a sea anchor! Sewing teams still sewing and trimmers were still trimming and driver still driving the boat fast in the right direction! Pretty busy on deck for sure!

Things settled down and after 3 hours the Main was back up and drawing. We spent some time hoisting the stays'l when the angle was good for it and taking it down when it wasn't. Keep the boat fast and keep the crew's tummy's full! Mary found she's a one tack sailor! She was able to handle 20foot seas on the previous race but had some hours of gingerale and ginger snap cookies on this trip in only 5foot seas or so! We deciced that starboard tack just didn't agree with her but she still managed to keep us all fed. She had some great help from Craig and Tom P. in the Galley for sure, filling in and helping out when Mary was topside getting fresh air!

We still had boats all around us at about 1900 when the fog rolled in so thick we could barely see the bow. When it lifted at about midnight, we were amazed that there was not a single boat in sight…. even on the radar set at the 24 mile range! We wondered if we had sailed into the infamous Bermuda Triangle but our navigator (John), who was hard at work plotting our course, assured us that we were where we were supposed to be. He'd brought with him a great color poster of the Gulfstream with all the currents and eddies in thermal photography so he knew exactly where the fast water would be!

We sailed through the night under a beautiful full moon. When it was surrounded by clouds, it threw a spotlight on one patch of water surrounded by darkness, making it look like a broadway stage. We made good time as all went well.

Saturday brought another beautiful windy day and we noticed some delamination beginning on the #3 on the radial seams near the clew. Jan went forward with his sewing kit and started to sew while being doused time and again with blue water. He learned that his water activated PFD works! When it finally got wet enough with one big wave it went POP and inflated itself (Wish I had a pic of that one!) Nice to know it works but this was not great timing! So he took it off and we handed him a plain harness instead and he clipped in and got the job done. We learned that 3M 77 (spray on adhesive) is wonderful stuff!

Sunday the wind was a bit lighter and we were able to change to the light #1 and it was a wonderful day of sailing with a beautiful sunrise and sunset. I spotted a shark and one of the other crew saw a sea turtle in the incredible clear blue water.

Monday dawned with very light air. This was not what we needed but at least we didn't miss not having a heavy #1 to use and we were able to sit on the low side in the shade of the main. We spent some time switching from the light #1 to the windseeker and back…just trying to keep the boat moving. Seeing 1.4k on the knot meter was not what we were hoping for on this trip but at least we had some current with us so we were still headed for the finish line. Craig volunteered to go to the top of the mast and hang out there to look for wind. He did a great job of trying to keep us out of the dead spots and headed for the darkest water.

There is something about going below during a race to find the off watch teams lying about in the air conditioning eating popcorn from the microwave and watching "Something About Mary" on videotape that is a bit disconcerting! Towels over the portholes and hatches completed the theater effect of the scene. Aren't we supposed to be racing here? That little party ended when the generator died so the team that was still on watch didn't get to enjoy the cruise when our watch was over. We got to suffer in the heat instead!

The light air continued on through the night and we started to see other competitors appear around us. We knew we had to make the finish line before sunrise or we could be out there several more hours waiting for wind again so we all worked hard to keep the boat moving while we had some air. We managed to finish just before the sun came up on Tuesday and after getting the boat cleaned up and sails flaked and stowed, Mary and Stef broke out the secret stash of cold beer and Rum and Cokes on ICE! We had stashed the last block of ice down in the freezer where it would go unnoticed and hidden the last case of coke for the finish line so of course it was a great treat to have a cold one!

Our results, thanks to the mysteries of IMS rating, were less than impressive. 14th in a class of 17 and 127 in a fleet of 132 even though we crossed the line 17th of 176 boats entered.