Commodore’s Comments – July 2019

Marty SweiterlichCommodore Comments, Hoover Sailing Club, Leadline

Angel on Our Shoulders A regatta is always an adventure but some are more challenging than others both on and off the water. Team Helga went to Deep Creek Maryland in July for the 2019 Sandy Douglas memorial Regatta where 30 to 40 boats in 4 fleets participated. Saturday evening we were mid fleet in the Silver Fleet with a potential for hardware if we sailed well on Sunday.   Then, of course, the sailing gods took their revenge and prior to the last race the rudder head bail broke (who knew that was even possible), freeing our boom and main to tack and jib at will!  We dropped the main and began our return to base on the jib but decided the race traffic and moored boats in the area made a tow the wiser course of action.  Then the fun began. We got blown into a private dock where  I attempted to hang on while my skipper disembarked to secure us while the rescue boat figured out what to do. The wind was too strong for my grip and off we sailed to the next dock, stranding Stephanie Bahr. A nice fellow on the next private dock caught us and tied us off while we waited for the rescue boat, a pontoon boat with what turned out to be limited agility. The first line they threw us landed in the water but Peter Rothman and I grabbed it. Unfortunately, the rescuers had failed to secure it on their end!  Line number two worked and off we went, leaving Stephanie behind, secure in the knowledge she would soon be back to the yacht club as the dock owner had offered to give her a lift. For reasons we may never fully grasp, a race committee boat waived off the volunteer and picked her up, and then promptly wrapped a stern line around its prop! I leave the rest of that story for Stephanie to tell. Peter and I had the boat squared away and out of the water and still no Stephanie…. The good news is that breaking your boat at the venue where the PRO is your boat builder and comes with a truckload of parts means you still get “hardware”. In this case Tyler Andrews of Flying Scot, Inc. already had a new bail in his pocket for me by the time I made it to the beer cooler.  

The story does not end here. On the way home to Westerville, on a stretch of I 70 just west of Zanesville, our trailer fell off the car while traveling 70 miles an hour downhill. Stephanie Bahr did an amazing bit of driving , the security chains held and we came to a stop by the side of the road with no carnage and with the boat and car undamaged. The mast missed piercing the back windshield by inches. The hitch nut, something that is usually so tight we can’t remove it when we want to, came loose and fell off somewhere along the road, causing the hitch to pop out.  Adding to this miracle, while we were frantically calling our relatively nearby friends for help (kudos to Frank Walburg, Ben Blee and Peter Rothman who were organizing a rescue), a man came across the highway and tapped on my window to ask if we were ok and could he help. He had a wife and 6 kids in his car heading home from a church camp. He had suffered two flat tires and was waiting for a friend from Zanesville to come to his rescue. Once he learned our dilemma he called his friend to bring a hitch ball and nut. When the friend arrived our “angel” came back over , installed the hitch ball and hooked up the trailer. He refused any compensation even for the parts and never told us his name. He crossed the highway 3 times to check on us and I was terrified for him each time. We did learn he was from Minerva, near Canton where I grew up. Such a kind and generous man who is simply an angel.