Sunday, August 2, 2015

Finding a solution for 'Solution'

Solution seen on the YB tracker in Horta.

Pico seen from Horta, spinning off lenticular clouds.
Our friend, Carter Bacon, had been planning this trip across the Atlantic for years.  His classic yacht, Solution, is a wooden 50 footer built by Nielsen in Maine in 1963.  He entered the Transatlantic Race of 2015 as a means by which to get her across the pond to sail the other side for a while. His wife, Peggy, would join him  in Ireland where her parents had a home; they intended to cruise for a few weeks before bringing her up to Scotland for the winter and next year's cruising.

The TR had a record number of entries with starts in three classes staggered over six days:  June 28, July 1 and July 5. Solution was among the first to start on the 28th of June together with the beautiful  125-foot Herreshoff Mariette of 1915 and the 53-foot S&S Dorade built in 1930 which won the race in 1931. The weather was proving to be rather boisterous. The faster yachts took advantage and rode the systems to record breaking results.  Kenny Read aboard the 100-foot Comanche set a new world record for a monohull, crossing in just over seven days.
Whaleboats alongside Solution in Horta.

On the 13th of July, having sailed 2100 NM with 1209 to go to the finish, Solution, along with two other yachts, retired from the race.  She had been knocked down in a storm in which she took on some water and sustained damage to her wooden rudder. Carter made the decision to divert to the Azores where Solution could be hauled and temporary repairs could be made. We went to work in the background organizing OCC contacts in the Azores to assist when they arrived.  Alex was asked to fly in to Horta to help bring the yacht over to Ireland from the Azores as the rest of the crew had flown on to the celebrations in Cowes.
Jaoa seen working on the rudder with his whaleboats in the foreground

Metal straps were secured to the rudder.
Carter figures it is stronger than before.
The travel hoist was pressed into commission and hauled Solution almost immediately upon her arrival in Horta. An expert woodworker, Jaoa, was brought over from Pico the next island over. The decision to use metal reinforcements to secure the rudder was made quickly. And Solution was back in the water on the third day.  It was an amazing story and could not have been accomplished without knowledge of the people on the ground.

Jaoa is a highly skilled craftsman.  The whaleboats in the picture were all built by him. The solution for Solution was expertly handled.  It may not be the most elegant fix but it was certainly effective.

Alex flew into Horta from Ireland via Lisbon on Friday the 17th of July. Carter's eldest son Cap, flew into Horta from California via Lisbon where he met up with Alex.  His young son, Sam, who had been part of the crew in the race, continued on.  The crew of four departed from Horta on the morning of the 18th bound for Cork in 7-10 days.  Alex barely had time to say hello and snap a picture of our wall art from our own transatlantic stopover in 2010. Of course he did manage libations at the legendary Peter Cafe Sport.

I received a position report about three days into the voyage and they were about 1/3 of the way there. That was good; they were making good progress. We thought that if they could hitch a ride on the small low that was passing through they might be able to ride it all the way in.

We were planning to leave August 1st heading down on Aleria to Spain for the Astilleros Lagos Rally. So while Alex was gone, I was fitting out Aleria for the trip.  Scrubbing decks and hull, provisioning, topping off batteries, and bringing dive gear, towels and linens aboard.
Sam, Cap, Carter and Alex, the delivery crew of Solution

Then I got a cryptic note from Peggy...

Hi Daria,
Solution was in another storm. Won't be in Crosshaven until Sunday-ETA.
Everyone ok.

Naturally, "another storm" got me a bit worried.  But the ETA of Sunday was good. I had been watching the Atlantic on Passage Weather and it didn't look like there was too much that was bad out there, but there were small lows forming in the Atlantic rather than the usual of spinning off Canada.
Our wall art in Horta is still there. Alex added a note
about Onyx and his repeat visit.

Sunday evening I received a phone call from Alex via Carter's phone. "What's a good hospital in Cork?" So asking what the problem was, "I fell and bruised a rib" was the answer, which I immediately envisioned as a broken rib.  That storm they were in tossed Alex across the cabin and he fell against a wooden railing on the bed.  He wondered if he should get a bus to Galway or get it checked out in Cork. I texted the numbers of three hospitals.  They were anchored off Crosshaven in nasty winds. The following morning, they brought Solution into the Royal Cork Yacht Club docks and Alex called for a taxi.  They sent him to Cork University Hospital and I got in the car and drove down to Crosshaven to pick him up. 

A very nice doctor diagnosed 3 or 4 broken ribs, but no internal damage confirmed by ultrasound. He prescribed 4 weeks of rest with no strenuous activity and no sailing for a month.  There went our sailing trip to Spain.  How on earth was I going to keep him from doing stuff for a month?

It turned out they had had three beautiful days of sailing followed by three storms that hit them out of nowhere. One of them, the second one, was bad with winds Alex estimated of about 50 knots at its worst. That was the one in which a wave tossed the boat, and Alex got tossed like a rag doll across the cabin. The third one hit them as they were approaching the coast their last night at sea.

The yacht club was entertaining yachtsmen  who had come to compete in the National 18 class.  We were invited to join in on the free oyster shooters with Bloody Mary and freshly steamed mussels.  We had dinner at the RCYC with Carter and the boys (fortunately the club had an event and was serving dinner, otherwise there is no place to get dinner on a Monday night in Crosshaven), then a nightcap in the lovely bar. Armed with a collection of prescriptions and a reservation at a very nice local B&B, Whispering Pines, Alex got his first good night's sleep in several days. It was very good to have him home again, even though we weren't quite home yet.

The following morning after a lovely breakfast overlooking the Owenabue River, Alex and I dropped the boys off at Cork Airport just 10 minutes from Crosshaven, then continued on toward home. The forecast for the coming week was dire. More heavy winds and storms with heavy rain. Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing not to be sailing to Spain next week. 

PS: It is howling out today.  I am quite glad not to be en route to Spain. And more of the same for the rest of the week.  Peggy, Carter and young Marcus Ryan on leave from the Navy are bringing Solution up to Mayo. I wish them a safe and pleasant journey.

Notes to self for update of Cruising the Wild Atlantic Way:  There is a lovely biking/walking trail along the Owenabue River. Cork Airport is very modern, has every car rental imaginable and is only 10 minutes from Crosshaven. Cork is a good half hour from Crosshaven. There is a Lidl at Carrigaline, about 8 km from Crosshaven.

View of the Owenabue River from Whispering Pines B&B
Looking down river toward Crosshaven

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