Unplugged Sailing

More than just a boat

Mack Race 2007 Epilog

Yessiree, we gots our money’s worth.  74 hours on the boat.  It’s the same way that I feel when I golf – my cost per stroke is really low.  Our 2007 edition of the Mack race was one for the records.  Just getting to the starting line this year was a challenge.  Cancelled plane flights, blown tires on I-696 during rush hour, an overheating diesel engine on the way to the start line all consumed a good deal of our usual concentration and focus getting ready for the race.  However, we made it to the start line just in time, scoped out the competition, and got a pretty decent start. 

Beginning of the race, winds were out of the north and a good chop had built up overnight – a beat into these types of conditions is not Unplugged’s best point of sail!  This lasted most of Saturday and we beat up the side of the Thumb, continually tacking closer to shore where the seas were somewhat smaller.  We knew we were going to get passed by most of the boats, and we did.  By late Saturday, the bottom dropped out of the wind and the forecasted high parked itself over the middle of the lake which would sit there for the next several days.  This gave us a chance to fix the engine and replace the raw water impeller that had disintegrated. Everything seemed fine…..but not quite as we found out on the return trip. 

We sat in sight of Harbor Beach for what seemed like forever (well, 12 hours anyway).  GPS even recorded us going backwards for a while.  Mercifully, a bit of air got us moving and heading up the rhumb line and we were able to launch the spinnaker. Now this is where Unplugged starts to come into her own (remember, this is a Catalina 30) and the crew goes to work catching other boats.   We decided to go a bit east and see if we could pick up a bit more air and take advantage of the expected wind shift.  As we crossed the 45th parallel (as in latitude) we heard 3 boats in our class ahead of us during the call-in to the Coast Guard and expected a couple more were ahead of us that we missed.  By the time we reached the Weather Buoy our better position on the course had allowed us to move ahead of the other 3 boats and focus on the other 2 that we thought were ahead of us. 

A great breeze pushed us up the rhumb line to Mackinaw Island on a close reach and some of the finest sailing there is.  That lasted till Monday night and the wind, again, disappeared about 20 miles from Spectacle Reef (a lighthouse on a reef in the middle of Lake Huron which you don’t want to run into.).  Monday night we managed to eke out a few more miles to get close to Bois Blanc island and we entered the windless parking lot of becalmed vessels sitting on a perfect plane of deep blue glass.  We appealed to the wind gods, loudly playing authentic Dakota Indian war chants and were rewarded with a small bit of wind.  Most of Tuesday we fought for whispers of air, constantly moving sails to catch each zephyr.  Furoughed brows began to appear on the crew as our supply of Tootsie Roll Pops dwindled and we wondered if we would ever finish.  Finally, a 10 knot breeze came through the Straights and we finished to the cheers of the crowd that were already at the awards party.  We were pretty confident that we had earned a spot on the podium as James Brown’s “I Feel Good” blared on the speakers pulling into the docks right in with the GL 70’s!



August 1, 2007 Posted by | Captain Tim, Mac Race, Race Results | Leave a comment

Mac Race Track

Our track to 3rd place.  

Mac Race Track

Starting out from Port Huron, we were able to carry a close beat up the lake to about Port Sanilac. From there, we broke out the chute as the wind backed and we jibed up the lake passing Yare and Talaria in the process. We arrived at Harbor Beach in time to see the fireworks which is always pretty cool to see from the water. About that time, the wind piped up to upper teens/low twenties out of the south and we went on a sleigh ride up the lake rarely falling below 7kts. We decided to stay offshore hoping for the stronger winds, which seemed to bear out. We had to drop the chute to reach towards Thunder Bay light but it came up shortly aftwards as the wind backed further and we ran under the spinnaker continuing at 7+kts until Presque Isle.

Then the wind disappeared.

Late Sunday afternoon and through most of Sunday night we fought to find wind and keep the boat moving. At one point, we had a south wind with mid-80’s temperature and the next moment a north wind at about 50 degrees. Winds came from every direction except the one that was forecast. Finally, the wind filled in from the Southwest and we were on a beat to the finish.

After 200 miles, dawn’s light revealed the top 4 boats within a few hundred yards of each other. We carried a beat into the finish with all crew on the rail in 20 kts of wind.

The Captain

July 25, 2006 Posted by | Captain Tim, Mac Race | Leave a comment

We’re on Speed Dial

A couple years ago when we won our class in the Mac Race, our local newspaper ran quite the epic story about us. Now, apparently, we’re print-worthy before we even start the race! Check it out:

Win or not, Tim Clayson of Farmington Hills says “it’s a good adventure for family and friends to go on.” He and sons Christopher, 24, and Brian, 22, will compete with his 30-foot Catalina Unplugged. This is Clayson’s seventh year in the race. In 2003, he took first place in his class.

“Other than the Chicago-Mac it’s one of the longest fresh water races in the world,” said Clayson, a member of the Bark Shanty Sail Club in Port Sanilac.

“You’re presented with different challenges at different stages of the race.”

Indeed. Challenges like:

  • Do I listen to Tim or do I listen to Bruce?
  • Flying the spinnaker while asleep.
  • How many hours until Lasagna?
  • Many, MANY sessions of “And the beat goes onnnnnnnnnnn” sing-a-longs.
  • Is that freighter going to hit us? 

Read the entire article (including a picture!) here.

July 9, 2006 Posted by | Captain Tim, In the News, Mac Race | Leave a comment

The 2-Headed Captain

Debating their next contradictory orders

Trim in!

Trim out!

July 7, 2006 Posted by | Bruce, Captain Tim, flickr, Photographs | 2 Comments