DNF

OK, so I’ve now done about 1/2 of a Great Lakes Challenge. Making progress 🙂

The start was at 1000 and was light air downwind. I had two issues immediately before the start. My autopilot stopped working, and as I was clambering around inside the boat checking connections I somehow turned my phone into some sort of device for the hearing impaired. It kept talking to me instead of letting me unlock the screen so I could get the time. Anyway, I crossed a minute or two late without a working AP.

Downwind is fun and fast in Tin Lizzie. I knew that, but hadn’t paced anyone before this. I had the A1 up, and the racing main.

I didn’t really have a plan at this point. Many went north, Ratso went south, and Schock and All went down the middle. He’s local, and I figured the Schock 35 was the best pace boat for me in those conditions. I sailed by him pretty quickly. Not much wind.

After a few gybes coming off the start it turned into a long starboard tack spinnaker reach to Pelee Island. I had strayed south chasing VMGs and had to throw in a quick gybe to get inside Pelee Island.

Coming by Pelee Schock and All was several miles back, but in from the left came Thunder, and farther inshore was Coconut Telegraph. I crossed close ahead of Thunder before gybing back onto starboard. Thunder is a Peterson 34. He was sailing very well.

As I reached away from Pelee Island I was feeling pretty good. I had paused briefly in a light patch and crawled back to fix my faulty connector (see this earlier post on what that entails), and after much frustration had my phone restored to normal operation. So I made this video.

I had sporadic Canadian cell service at this point and updated my weather information. The wind had picked up a bit and I was making good speed with the A1 in the right direction. The forecasts called for more wind inshore, then going light SW after several hours of S. So I decided to sail VMGs and stay to the left side going down to Long Point. Here’s a sunset shot.

It was a nice ride, but the wind increased as it went south, up to 10-15 knots. As I was getting headed I went from sailing downwind VMGs to sailing as high as I could. But with the big spinnaker I couldn’t reach very high in the breeze. There were thunder cells all around for a couple of hours. Wind was all over.

I kept waiting for the wind to go light and right, which would have allowed me to stay under spinnaker, but it didn’t happen. So when I eventually got up to 50-60 degrees off the rhumb line I dropped the chute and headed up for Long Point. Sailed under main alone for a while then hoisted the genoa. And the wind kept going left. For a while I was sailing close hauled while pointing at Long Point. I got a flash of internet and saw that the whole fleet had been straight lining it down the middle of the lake. Didn’t look like I’d lost a lot, but I hadn’t pulled away either.

A couple of miles off the western end of Long Point the wind finally went aft and freshened a bit, and I was jib reaching parallel to the shore. Feeling a little beat up but good. I ate and tidied up a bit, sun had come out and we were going 8-10 knots in the right direction.

It was sudden and unexpected. About 10:30 there was a sudden cracking sound, and when I looked back I saw the rudder blade pop to the surface. And then we tacked and I got to work getting things sorted. Wind was 10-15 knots with a short chop. Windward ballast tank had been full. Apart from a broken checkstay no harm done to the boat.

Once I had all secure I drifted for a while waiting for cell signal. Tried calling the fleet on the radio without success, and thought about calling the coast guard. But I wasn’t in any immediate danger. Eventually I got through to Canadian Coast Guard in Port Dover on my phone, and they immediately suggested that I anchor if I had the chance, and that they would dispatch assistance within an hour. I was slowly drifting towards shore, so when I got into about 40 feet of water I anchored.

The rescue went off relatively smoothly. They put someone aboard my boat who deployed a large drogue from the stern, and with a long nylon tow line we managed to keep straight, although the motion was violent at time as the stern skidded around.

It was a long ride in at 5-6 knots, but we got into Port Dover around 6:30. Thanks Canadian Coast Guard!

Samantha and Sarah arrived by car shortly after we got tied up, and after a perch dinner I collapsed for 14 hours.

I write this from the train Monday evening en route to LaSalle (Windsor) to retrieve my car. Then back home to Guelph to borrow Kathleen’s van to drive to Chicago tomorrow to retrieve Tin Lizzie’s trailer. Then hauling Lizzie in Port Dover Thursday morning.

Go Tin Lizzie in 2020! 2019 was a blast. I’ll try to write a season review some time, but the boat is fabulous and I’ve had a great time sailing and racing.

I’ll be heading back to Mazurka this weekend.

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