I knew this particular day could be a real ordeal for the teams. Westerly Breeze is never fun. In addition to being dangerous to disabled boats getting blown out to sea, it also has a nasty habit of being very unstable and “puffy”. The south Floridian high-rise condos that dot the beaches along West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale provide what we call “gonzo blasts” where the westerly winds get funneled between two buildings and the wind velocity is amplified. Westerly breeze also means reaching. This means that there is a lot of mainsheet work for the crew who is trying to keep the boat balanced on the edge of pure power and self-destruction. Its very physically challenging.
Today started with an exciting pushoff. The team considered backing the boat in, since we weren’t sure that we could keep the boat on the beach. Everyone got involved, even Trey’s grandfather, to hold the boat down prior to the start. When the horn blew, I was slow getting off the boat and got a nice roll around in the sand.
Ryan and I hadn’t been on the road for more than a couple minutes when we received a phone call from Judy Bargeron of the race organization. She infomed me that she got a call from Brian Karr who had just got off the helicopter pad and said that our boys were in trouble just south of the Fort Everglades Inlet. From what they could make out from the air, the tiller crossbar was broken and Trey was in the water. The guys carry a cell phone and VHF radio on board the boat at all times, and we knew that if they needed our help, they would get in touch with us.
We never got a call from the boat. We assumed that silence was a good thing and we proceeded to Jupiter beach.
Only an hour had gone by when the first boat arrived. Team Tybee, keeping up their string of impressive victories and had squeezed in just a little early of Marley’s Yellow. When Steve Lohmayer was done dealing with his boat I approached him and asked him if he knew anything about it. Apparently he was right next Trey and Alan when they had their incident. Jay and Steve on Marley’s Yellow hailed Trey to get room to go around a freighter and when Trey went to make the maneuver, he lost his footing on the trapeze and swung around the back and slammed into the tiller crossbar, breaking it in half. Trey was also separated from the boat in the ordeal. When the crossbar fell apart, he apparently had to dive underwater to save the (very expensive) tiller extension that was sinking fast. When he got it, Alan was already using both tillers (one in each hand) to tack the boat back to him. They finally got back together again and made the repairs.
I’m waiting for pictures of the repair they fashioned, but needless to say that it was quite impressive and would make any boy scout blush. Two wrenches, two screwdrivers, a tiller arm connector and two rolls of electrical tape and the guys had a functioning crossbar. It got them to the beach but it was slow going having mis-aligned rudders. The guys are tired tonight and we’re going to get a quick bite to eat before going to catch a movie and then make it an early night.
Picture of the boats leaving Key Largo on Sunday. Velocity is on the far left without their spin (this was when the tack line broke)