Solomons Night Race

Solomons Island Night Race

Eastport Yacht Club Bermuda Race Qualifier

18-20 July 2003

Updated 29 July 2003 21:12

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Spindrift envelopes the bow as Kuan Yin pounds her way up the Chesapeake Bay after the Solomons Island Night Race.  Sea Scout sailing as it was meant to be.

SSS YORKSHIRE - Sea Scout Ship 25’s participation in the Eastport Yacht Club 23rd Annual Solomons Island night race last weekend, 18-20 July 2003, went something like this:

The crew was:

George Hay Kain, Skipper

Steven Alexander, Tactician and embarked Flag

Lorna Brenneman, Committee person and XO (Executive Officer)

Mike Carew, Sailing Master and potential committeeman recruit

Drew, Apprentice, Boat Captain Specialist

Matt, Ordinary, SEAL graduate

Carl, Recruit, future fame predicted

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The crew left the Brenneman home in York, PA at 1500 Friday for the boat at Mill Creek.  We loaded gear quickly and got underway on diesel for the race starting line at Annapolis, about an hour away.  

DCP_3219.JPG (837278 bytes)  Arriving off USNA early, we did sail drills in preparation for the race.  The race itself is an annual race past specified buoys from Annapolis, MD to Solomons Island, MD.  For spinnaker boats, the course is 55 miles.  For non-spinnaker boats like Kuan Yin, the course is 45 miles.

DCP_3221b.JPG (642577 bytes)  Friday night there was almost no wind.  Our PHRF-N class started next to last anyway, at 1945, so all we saw were transoms going down the Bay.  The night was very pretty, though.  The lightning in the sky miles away was awesome.  By noon the next day, Saturday, the cut off time to finish, we were still about 1 mile short of the finish line, so they didn’t score us.  

DCP_3222a.JPG (339563 bytes)  However, in the spirit of “he who is last shall be first”, we got the best spot at Zahniser’s Marina, since the original committee boat had to leave and they put us in the prime spot the committee boat had just vacated.

There seemed to be copious consumption of alcohol among the non-Sea Scout adults from other boats, but we walked into town to see the sights so it didn’t bother us.  The Calvert Museum display of how watermen make their living fishing the Bay was neat.  We also priced Avon RIB 10’ inflatables at a boat store that was discontinuing the line.  $2,500.  We’d need a bake sale to raise that kind of money.

Perhaps the real excitement was a collision we were involved with just before the start of the race on Friday evening.  I was down below on Kuan Yin working on Sea Scout advancement with one of the kids, so what I know about it is what my crew told me as I rushed on deck after the “thud”.  Steve Alexander had the helm, and the rest of our crew was on deck.   We regrouped and crossed the starting line, with the other boat well ahead and hurtling off down the Bay.

We very carefully logged everything, and decided that we would wait until the end of the race to deal with the legal issues.  At the finish of the race, we reported immediately to the race committee and said, “We don’t want to file a protest again him, although we feel he had no right to make our duty to stay clear impossible to perform.  However, if he protests us, then we want to file a counter protest again him to protect our legal position in the event of a damage claim.”  The race committee replied, essentially, “Don’t worry about it.  ....  He did the same thing to other boats as well.  We know what happened, and feel he had no right to make you, as the less maneuverable vessel, take action beyond what you did.” That was good enough for us, so we moved on to other things and enjoyed the rest of the weekend.  We noticed that the other boat was listed as a “DNC” on the race roster, as were we, so I assume he didn’t cross the finish line in time either.  “Haste makes waste.”

That evening, on the pier, a nice older gentleman who had “DAVE” embroidered on is right sleeve, came over to our boat.   He was a Sea Scout himself long ago, and spent many years as a land Scout leader.  We were getting along great, and he was going to go get his wife and bring her over to see the interior of Kuan Yin, but he didn’t come back.  I’d like to find out who he was and get to know him better.

Racing seems to bring out the bad side of some people.  The other incident that left us perplexed occurred about one hour after dark on Friday night.  There were two other large boats bobbing about in the vicinity of Kuan Yin.  No one was going anywhere.  Based on observations of a crab pot buoy roughly in the center of the triangle Kuan Yin made with the other two boats, there was slight current movement up Bay.  We had our proper running lights on as did boat #2.  Boat #3, however, was showing only a stern light and a 32-point white anchor light.  I assumed that they were using the anchor light to illuminate their Windex, as were many of the other boats. 

In a friendly attempt to advise them that their red and green bow lights were not working, I called over to them, “I’m not complaining - I just wanted you to know your red and green lights aren’t working.”  He shouted back in a self-important snarl, “You’re the windward boat.  We’re at anchor on the starboard tack.  You have NO RIGHTS!”  Steve Alexander called back to them, “Well, we thought you were underway because you are showing your stern light in addition to your anchor light.”  We let it drop at that, but we felt perplexed because we were just trying to do him a good turn and advise him in a purely friendly way of a situation that was potentially bad for him, yet he replied in a nasty manner and also in a manner that made no sense (I don’t think you can be at anchor and on a starboard tack at the same time.)

If it wasn’t for the nice way this Dave fellow talked to us at Zahniser’s and for the nice way John McLeod has gone out of his way to make us feel welcome (and to accommodate our newbie problems of late entries, no firm PHRF rating data, etc.), we’d probably abandon all further thought of having anything to do with these racing people.  However, we’re willing to hang in there and at least continue with the items we need to do to qualify for the Bermuda BOR race, as that is a goal we are definitely shooting for.

Our youth crew thought the whole race was fascinating, as none of them had ever raced in big boat races before.  It got a little boring about 9 a.m.  Saturday morning just bobbing around in the hot sun off Calvert Cliffs, but we told them, “What we start, we finish,” and they were content with that.

The pool at Zahniser’s made up for the heat, and the bands were great.

We saw Garth Wells briefly.  He had been navigator on ELVIS.  They had come in 4th last year, and were hoping to place in the top three this year, but Garth said they made some bad tactical calls and came in 10th this time.  C’est la vie.

The trip back to Annapolis on Sunday was really more the highlight of the trip.  We got underway at 0700 when most of the other crews were sleeping off the effects of their arrival celebration.  We pumped out at the state pump out station.  Drew did an excellent job of getting us underway on diesel from the pump out, and the kids did all the navigating up the Bay. 

We were north of Calvert Cliffs when we received a “Pan - Pan - Pan” on channel 16 from Coast Guard Activities Baltimore.  “A 12’ Jon boat is reported adrift at position latitude __ longitude ___.  Report all sightings and render assistance if possible.”  In all my recreational boating, this is the first Pan Pan I’d ever heard.  Our crew quickly plotted the position, and came up with a new course to intercept.  It was slightly to the left of our original intended track, but with the motto of the sea firmly in mind, we charged ahead to investigate and render assistance if possible.  It took us about an hour and half to get there at our full speed of 7 knots. 

We called the USCG just prior to our arrival on scene, and the CG confirmed the reported position.  Upon arrival at the scene, we found nothing, so we started an expanding square search in the direction of the presumed set and drift from the current since the time of first report.  We found three other small fishing boats during our search, and relayed the CG message to them. 

After expanding the square almost to the point of land, we notified the CG of our lack of results and of our notifications to other vessels in the vicinity.  We asked the CG whether they wished us to remain on scene or whether we were free to proceed on our way.  After a “wait one”, the CG came back and said the Jon boat had been found, they thanked us for our assistance, and said we were free to proceed.  We rang up all ahead full and came back on a new course for home.  We were proud that we had done our “good turn”, but were perplexed that the CG didn’t advise vessels that the boat had already been found and also that they didn’t tell us that when we had earlier told them we were en route and asked them to confirm the reported location.  We were also perplexed that the CG rebroadcast the Pan-Pan for the Jon boat three more times AFTER they told us the boat had been found.  Oh, well.

About an hour after the search, I suddenly threw the white throwable cushion overboard for a man overboard drill.  The helmsman promptly executed a 360 turn and the bow lookout snagged the cushion with the boat pole.  I was pleased as far as it went, but pointed out to the crew that humans don’t have loops to snag with a boat pole, and that you can’t jerk a 250 # person out of the water if you are going by them with any appreciable way on.  I bided my time for the moment.

The wind started to pick up, so we hoisted sail, shut down the engine, and proceeded merrily on our way.  About 10 minutes later with the crew feeling very smug and self confident, I suddenly threw one of the boat fenders over (that had no loops on it), shouted, “Man overboard, starboard side”, and proclaimed that for the purposes of this drill, the engine “was inoperative”.  Now it was a different story.  The kids made about 10 passes trying to get close enough to the fender with no way on the vessel so as to be able to retrieve it by hand.  No luck.  They quickly realized that a true man overboard drill is not just snagging a boat cushion at high speed.

I finally showed them how to do it under sail, but even I had to make three passes for the fender.  We did get the MOB pole, horseshoe, and light on the first pass, though.

Now it was time for swim call.   We anchored about a mile offshore in 25 feet of water.  The wind and waves were continuing to pick up, so we did “swim call” in life preservers with a 50’ line astern buoyed by a fender in case we couldn’t get back to the boat.  I cleaned the waterline while the kids played.

Then we got underway again with sail and took advantage of what where by now 20+ knots of wind and 2-3’ waves.  Where was the wind on Friday and Saturday when we needed it?  Oh, well. Running up the Bay on a SW wind was sort of boring, so we reached over to Bloody Point Light and back.  Now THAT was sailing - green water over the bow, lee rail under, spindrift, etc.  Yahoo!  It was GREAT to be at sea again!!

During the windiest part of the afternoon, we heard about 10 more Pan-Pan’s from USCG.  They ranged everywhere from a capsized 30’ sailboat to a cabin cruiser out of gas in the shipping lane under the Bay Bridge.  There were also women and children in the water without life preservers.  All incidents were too far away for us to even consider going to assist.  It did, however, make the point that recreational boating is not always a kid’s game.

All good things must end, and so we turned again and ran up past Annapolis, then came about and doused the sails for our entrance into Mill Creek.  We tied up at Cantler’s Riverside Inn on Mill Creek and had crabs and our own libations.  Steve Alexander’s friend John and two other pals joined us for a jolly celebration of the end of a Sea Scout sailing weekend against which all others will be judged.

We proceed up to our berth on Mill Creek, secured the boat, and got home by 0130 Monday morning.

Our original main objectives in entering the race were fulfilled: 1) complete the race with no personnel injuries, 2) complete the race with no damage to our boat, and 3) have fun.

Respectfully Submitted, 

George Hay Kain, III - Skipper, SSS YORKSHIRE - Sea Scout Ship 25

DCP_3217a.JPG (620082 bytes)  XO Lorna Brenneman, Tactician Steve Alexander, and Sailing Master Mike Carew keep a sharp lookout at the start of the race. 

DCP_3223.JPG (522634 bytes)  The "Men in Black" from SSS YORKSHIRE await the announcement of the official race results at the  Zahniser's Party Tent. "By the way, Skipper, who was the genius who selected BLACK as the color for Ship 25 polo shirts to be worn in 105 degree heat?  Skipper?? Hello ???"  Next day we headed back up the Bay.

DCP_3247.JPG (1170511 bytes) NOW SWIM CALL!

DCP_3239a.JPG (322045 bytes)  Boat Captain Drew ascends the boarding ladder and heads for the bow to take another flying leap.

DCP_3245.JPG (718839 bytes)  ~~ International playboy Carl Chindblom cavorts with unidentified female onboard his yacht in the Chesapeake.  ~~  "Carl? Carl!  Wake up!  You're dreaming again.  Let's get back to swabbing  the decks, shall we?"

DCP_3252.JPG (820266 bytes)  Underway after a refreshing dip in 25' of water a mile off shore, the winds start to pick up.  "Where was the wind Friday and Saturday when we needed it? Hello??  Anybody listening???"

DCP_3256.JPG (936838 bytes)  "Yee haa!" says the Skipper.  "It's GREAT to be at sea again!!"  Kuan Yin seems to agree.

DCP_3260.JPG (767168 bytes)  Sailing Master Carew and Skipper Kain seem well pleased with Kuan Yin's performance when there is sufficient wind to move her 16 tons of net weight.

DCP_3264.JPG (824476 bytes)  Sailing Master Carew seems to be enjoying being at sea again, too.

DCP_3273.JPG (919706 bytes)  Boat Captain Drew poses as "Mr. July" for the upcoming  Sea Scout Swim Suit Calendar.

DCP_3288.JPG (805743 bytes)   A sailor belongs on a ship, and a ship belongs at sea. This is Sea Scouting as it was meant to be - 20 knots of wind, two foot seas, a stout ship, and a GPS to steer her by.  Oops, that was supposed to be a "star" to steer her by.

DCP_3293a.JPG (850339 bytes) Skipper "Mellon Man" Kain models his new EYC Solomons Race polo shirt.

DCP_3295.JPG (677441 bytes)  ~~Millionaire yachtsman Carl Chindblom entertains the creme de la creme of  society onboard his yacht the Kuan Yin.  Chindblom, who made his fortune from the patent he holds on the now-famous "underhand double Chindblom knot" he invented when a young Sea Scout, now jets between his camp in the Adirondacks, his yacht in the Chesapeake, and his horse farm in Pennsylvania.  The "double Chindblom" has found wide application in industrial, commercial, and marine applications.  Chindblom expects to enter his yacht in next year's Annapolis-Bermuda Race. ....~~ "Hello, Carl - wake up!!  You've been dreaming again.  Great hat, though!  It's a start."

DCP_3306.JPG (876665 bytes)  Safe and sound at Mill Creek once again, our intrepid sailors prepare to celebrate the Ship 25 weekend sailing trip against which all future ones will be judged with crabs and [root] beer at Cantler's Riverside Inn.

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Home Up MD Maritime Fest Wills-Kain Eagle Canoe Race D.C. Visit Bo'sun's Project Chris's Eagle Eagle Dinner Nygard Regatta Eco-Challenge Program Launch Chesapeake Regatta Windrose Arrives Willit Work Party NER Regatta Admission Ceremony MS Bike Tour ScoutFleet ScoutFleet2 Wizard Cottage Lot SEA EAGLE COPE Corn Roast Kipona Canoe Race Liberty Ship Catoctin 2003 Mall Show Council Dinner Garrod Hydraulics Tuckahoe Landship Semper Paratus First Bridge of Honor NER BOH Wizard Cross-over HMS SULTANA Greg's Eagle Kuan Yin Rock Hall Herrington Harbour Solomons Night Race USS SEQUOIA Harry's Eagle Project Maritime Day SULTANA Long Cruise Christmas Party Tim's Bridge of Honor USNA SAS BOR Boat Preparation BOR2004 Koch Cup Hospital Ship COMFORT DE Beaches Troop 25 Sailing SASW-2004 Shiloh Fundraiser Adirondacks Halloween Parade Cook-Off VSE Snow Ball


This page is from the website of SSS YORKSHIRE - Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA, USA -