Start

The start was set for 8 June and tried to take the ice limits into account. Rod had already consulted with Casey Baldwin, the "Sage of Baddeck" in Nova Scotia, who had just crossed aboard Bluenose and had counseled in a telegram from London that the best policy would be either to hug Cape Race to the north or to keep well south. Rod had prepared Stormy meticulously - he had removed the engine, embarked a sewing machine, a 16mm cine camera, three sextants, radio-receiving equipment for the ice forecasts and personal messages via Ham radio, and an impressive sail inventory. In fact, the quantity and quality of the sails on many of the boats were the subject of one comment in Rudder in October of that year, ‘the overstocked sail lockers of many of the competitors’ would lead to ‘expense, that bug-bear of all racing’ which ‘must not be allowed to restrict this sport to the rich man’. The modern racing sailor will sympathize.

Also on the start line that day, were the 70’2" trisail ketch, Vamarie, owned by Vadim Makaroff, with Sherman Hoyt aboard; George Roosevelt’s 60' Bermudian schooner, Mistress; Roger Robinson’s 50' gaff schooner, Vagabond; Robert Ames’ 54' gaff ketch, Hamrah; and Ludwig Schlimbach’s 50' gaff yawl, Stoertebeker sailing as a cutter without her mizzen.

Fog and Ice

It would appear that Rod and his crew had the idea of beating Vamarie boat for boat - or at least so it seemed at the start with Stormy leading the much bigger ketch, and Mistress in third place. That night the winds were light, and in the current in Vineyard Sound the leading boats had to anchor to avoid being set back. But the next morning, towards Pollock Rip, the breeze freshened and the bigger boat finally got ahead. For the next several days Stormy Weather sailed against light Easterlies in the fog, listening to the radio for the ice reports. With few opportunities to use the sextant, Plugety’s radio messages were plotted by Ken Davidson. They crossed the Gulf of Maine, passed Cape Sable, and believed there was an ice-clear passage only sixty miles wide just south of Cape Race. It’s a tiring job sailing under such conditions, cold, and nerve-wracking, and, on top of it all, the winds were variable. Spinnakers were torn while slatting in calms, but Stormy Weather nevertheless averaged nearly 180 miles a day - and a week later she emerged from the fog and the ice.

On Vamarie, 20 June, running down-wind at 10 knots in a Force 7, the sailing master, Alexander Troonin was knocked over the side by the spinnaker pole. He passed under the keel - all 10' draught of it - surfaced astern and grabbed the patent log line which snapped. On board, Sherman Hoyt was at the helm; all sails were on preventers, so he tacked with everything aback, made sternway while the crew sorted the guys and vangs, and then returned to Troonin. Within ten minutes Troonin was back on board, resetting sails. In his log, Hoyt noted, "We lost, or, rather did not try to recover, both ring buoys and waterlights (only one lit), and now have only the rather inaccurate Kenyon speed gauge and our own estimate of speed to rely upon, for dead reckoning. Our spinnaker booms are gone, but can probably fish and repair the solid one for light weather. Day’s run, 215."


 

Page 2 of 3