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Storytelling Time... Mackinac


What was your best Mackinac Race. We all have stories about that one race we'll never forget. Or maybe you do want to forget about it. How about that time you were screaming up wind at midnight watching the Northern Lights.

So why do you do these races? Have you ever said, "I'm never doing this race again." And you find yourself doing the exact same race the next year?

Tell us about it.  - editor

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Posted for Big AL Jaroszynski - My first Port Huron Mackinaw race. Three friends bought a 38 ft Yawl built in Abo. Finland. They entered the 38 ft wooden yaul in the Mackinaw Race. I was invited to crank the winches and do other heavy work. The start was in light air in the early afternoon that kept building until we were dragging our sails in the water. Around midnight, pitch back, I heard the owners talking about a red light that we could find on the charts. The opinion by the navigator was that the red light was going to be taken to starboard. In about ten minutes, the good ship, TEHANI, was driven on the rocks on the northeast shore of Michigan. One ofthe owners suggested that we start the engine. I informed that the proppler was out of the water. The sails were taken down and one of the owners attempted to operate the radio. We found that all the batteries were dead.Tehani was being lifted and dropped on the rocks however the lead keel balast was taking the worst of the pounding. Dawn came and not a boat insight to call for help. After the crew and owners plans of getting Tehani off the rocks failed, I suggested to take the anchor line to the top of the mast, make it fast, and take the other end around a huge rock, through a block around the rock, and bring the other end to the winches and start cranking. We cranked and watched the mast bend and cranked some more. We got Tehani off the rocks and finished the race. The race committe went home the day before, waiting to take our time. I bought out two of the three owners of Tehani and with the last owner, a beautiful friendship was made. I owned Tehani for forty years and sailed her to the Bahamas at least a dozen times. When I reached 80 years of age, I sold my beautiful Tehani. Tehani and I sailed the Mackinaw race about a half dozen times and the Chiago Mackinaw at least two times. Tehani was moored at the Vero Beach Yacht Club untill I sold her. Before that, Tehani was moored at the Bayview Yacht Club Detroit Michigan for many years. Mieczyslaw Big AL Jaroszynski3/21/2005 9:51:44 AM
Posted For Mike B. - Great Newsletter! You cover all the topics. Relaying my MAC story, and I have Bob Smith owner of USA 295, New World, J-105 and MAC Co-Chair to thank, was from 2004. I have done my share of MAC races but sailing along with the chute up at 3am in the morning, reaching along doing 6.0 knots and passing red and green lights every 5 -10 minutes was something to behold. What made it so spectacular though was the Northern Lights showing their luster. It was difficult to drive because I wanted to keep looking at these pockets of light. An awesome place to be at the right time and what better thing to be doing than racing a sailboat in the middle of the night to Mackinac Island! Any racers last year that witnessed it will have a permanent photograph that they can treasure forever. Mike B.3/21/2005 9:52:35 AM
Posted for Will Gorgen - I can’t remember the guy’s name who said it, but the best quote from the mac race was when we were all sailing on Lee Sutton’s J-35. The other helmsman who was along on that race remarked (as we were getting close to the island): “Every day when I am on shore I gotta do something. But I come out here and for 3 days I don’t gotta do something.” Remember the time we were on Jaeger and were sailing in the fog where you could barely see the bow of the boat from the helm? We were going upwind on port tack fully powered up with everyone on the rail except Smitty. I was driving. Smitty was trimming Genoa and I told him to stay on low side and keep a constant watch to leeward for starboard tackers. I told him “Smitty, I don’t want to hear you say ‘ uh… I think I see a boat coming’ I want to hear ‘TACK!!!!’ “. About half an hour later I see the transom of an NA-40 pass by about 10 feet off our bow and then disappear back into the fog. I turn to Smitty and said “Smitty! You didn’t tell me about that boat!” Smitty looked at me white in the face and said “I never saw it!” We all realized that if we were on a collision course with another boat, we were not going to see them until it was too late. I looked at Lee and asked him what he wanted me to do. We talked about the possibility of stopping and waiting for the Fog to clear but decided that we would be just as vulnerable if we were stopped as if we were sailing. And if we were moving we would at least have a small chance of a crash tack at the last second. If we were parked, we would not be able to maneuver at all if another boat came upon us. So we kept sailing. About 2 hours later, the fog cleared. We looked around and there were probably 20 boats all around us. Do shore stories count? Remember the time we got the 2nd slip on the breakwater and I still felt I needed to load the boat position into my GPS so that I could find my way back to the boat from the Pink Pony? As memory serves, I won the “bet” that year…. I’ll see if I can work up a story from the ’94 mac on Jazzy. That was an awesome race. Lot’s of good stories there…. - Will 3/27/2005 11:05:22 PM
Aboard Diversion, Charlie Miller's C&C, another foggy Tobermory rounding approach with boats coming right at us out of the soup! This race was many years ago when loran was a new gadget. We had one aboard, but no one expected it would work very well. After all, we needed to visually round which meant getting within 50 feet of the bouy and much of the time, we could hardly see our own bow from the cockpit! Our navigator spent much of the race below reading up on the book that came with the new toy. He was convinced he needed to call out position numbers from below for several hours. As I recall, we were making around 7 kts, close reaching. It was pretty obvious most of the fleet was in search of the bouy as well, since they were coming out of the fog from every angle as we neared the rounding. Calls over the radio had navigators arguing with each other. One said they just rounded, and another responded he couldn't have since the responding yacht had just seen the 1st yacht going west and the 2nd said they were still a mile south of the bouy. Navigators were calling each other on the carpet asking what color and color sceme they saw. I knew we were headed for the same senerio when suddenly our navigator began a litany: Mark at 120 off port bow; mark at 105 off port bow; mark at 91 degrees to port;.... Just then I heard: ding-ding. To my amaizment, there it was, about 40 feet dead abeam! We made the left turn and celebrated the accomplishment of our navigator and had a new appreciation for the few thousand dollars our skipper spent for the gadget. The next day the fog lifted and during call in, we realized we were near the front of our fleet, obviously saving a lot of time not having to do a "grid search" for the visual rounding requirement the day before. Fast forward to the finish approach: Port tack, close hauled, 2pm Monday, clear skies, wind 10-15, laying the finish according to the coordinates entered by our navigator into our new trusty electronic device, we were in 3rd place with time saved on everyone behind us! I remember talk from the rail about checking below for starboard tackers and someone getting a visual on the finish line. Our skipper decided that we trusted our loran so much, there was no need to get off the rail! Suddenly, we could see rocks below us, the size of Mt Clemens! During the panic crash tack, the boat came to an abrupt and noisy hault, still on about a 20 degree heal. We were in fact, inside the Mackinaw Island shoal bouy, a couple of thousand feet from the RC TENT on THE ISLAND! There was nothing wrong with the loran. The navigator entered the finish coordinates, which happened to be for the RC tent on shore! This was the most embarassing event I could ever imagine, sitting on the rocks in 6 feet of water with a 7 foot draft boat, in broad daylight, watching at least a dozen boats in our fleet sail by us to the finish. GB3/28/2005 11:22:19 AM
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