Clogs and Newport Bermuda Race

Published on June 8th, 2020

While the 52nd edition of the Newport Bermuda Race was cancelled in 2020, there remain 51 editions of memories that have come from this 635nm course. Scuttlebutt is celebrating this history by sharing the stories … here’s one from Mike Silverman:

In 2002, I was racing to Bermuda on a Maxi with 28 of us onboard, and with about 100nm to go, the navigator was trying to check the sea water temperature and accidentally dropped the thermometer down the head.

We had two heads, but the thermometer quickly made it way down and got stuck at the Y fitting at the outlet for both heads, putting both out of commission. Do the math: 28 crew, 100nm to go, and 0 heads = bad situation.

So a team quickly organizes to unclog the hose, and while they go to work, up on deck a trimmer starts commenting, “Hmm… I’m getting unusually wet.” I was in the center, trimming main, so I look and see the problem: “Uh, you’re getting hit from the scupper output… and, um, you know what they’re working on, right?”

You could see his face change the moment he realized what that meant… and quickly wants to wash away whatever is on him. (Turns out, it was just benign bilge water, nothing head related, but still.)

Well, we were in heavy seas and waves were crashing on the bow pretty regularly. He sees them breaking on the high side, clips in, and waits for a wave. Everyone on deck is commenting and cheering him on. Then they started breaking on the low side… so he switches and waits. They start breaking high side.

Finally, he times it right and takes a wave. He stands afterwards, raises his hands in the air and shouts “I HAVE BEEN CLEANSED!” The whole deck was in tears; it was amazing.

Good news, a few minutes later, the Y valve was cleared, and all was good again onboard.

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