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CONTEST-Newport~Bermuda: tales and trials
Team McLube

 



SailTrim
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Feb 2, 2006, 3:42 PM

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Publisher ~ Since it is a historical running of the Newport~Bermuda Ocean race this year, can we start getting cool tales from those who have particpated in this awesome race?? How it has changed over the years, the perils and small victories, etc. OH . . and pictures from past years not including what is already on the events site . . .being from the New England region folks in town are already talking . . . so I just don't want to wait till May to start asking for this . . . sorry . . .


Note: Scuttlebutt has hijacked this thread, wherein the best tale earns schwag. See below.





PaulK
****


Feb 2, 2006, 4:44 PM

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They've messed around with the course a bit, making people swing west of the Island at one time. It was much more of a test when a sextant and RDF were all the navigation equipment allowed. Not only didn't you know where the Gulf Stream was - (the satellite pix were about a week old when you finally got them) - you had a hard time figuring out where YOU were.

We went for well more than a day without a sight at one point. Beating for what seemed like forever into an 8' chop in the rain at 8 knots and falling off the tops of the waves until the carlins were leaking great dollops of water. At 02:00:00, suddenly the rain stopped and the seas smoothed out a bit, though the wind held. We picked up a quarter knot because of the easier motion. We were ecstatic! Fifteen seconds later the navigator's head pops out of the hatch: " Tack. We're out of the eddy." Thirty seconds after tacking, we were slamming back into the same 8' chop in the rain at 8 knots. I think he finally figured that eddy carried us forty miles directly upwind. Won our division in 1972 on Seguin, a 40' S&S sloop.


The Publisher
*****


Feb 7, 2006, 9:59 AM

Post #3 of 25 (69033 views)
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Scuttlebutt has decided to hijack this thread and turn it into a contest, wherein the best tale earns schwag. We will start with our own story from the '84 race, which has the luxury of 20+ years to allow for embellishment:

I had just moved from SoCal to Ohio to work for Greg Fisher/Shore Sails in the fall of '83, but got the call from Bill Shore to join him in the '84 N-B race (something to keep my mind off the midwest winter). Mind you that all I knew about distance racing was what we do in California. The start is typically just north of the US-Mexican boarder, we reach for the first day and then pop the kite for big wind and waves, enjoying warm temps all the way to our finishing port in Mexico.

No one ever told me that distance races are not always like that, and the '84 Bermuda race was anything but. We were sailing a J/41, which was speedy for the time but with minimal freeboard, it was definitely not dry. John Kolius had one as well, and we bashed upwind with a #3 for a couple days, hopping the jetstream condos, totally soaked in a boat for boat dual. Near the edge of the stream, the wind got really light, we had eaked out a slight lead, but the race was far from over, and had yet to be much fun. As fate would have it, we got stuck in an eddy, and went backwards long enough for Kolius' team to crush us. With our fate sealed, the sun finally emerged for the first time of the race, and we had a light spinnaker reach for most of the way to the finish.

We finished in the early evening and enjoyed last call in town before heading back to the boat to sleep off the race memory. But the story doesn't end there. Since the boat insides reaked to high heaven, a few of us grabbed some sails and slept on the foredeck. The rest just capped it all off, as we woke up early, still dark and completely soaked. We were in the midst of a driving rainstorm, and by seeing how wet we were, must have slept thru it for awhile. Feeling doomed, I grabbed the first flight out, feeling like I'd had enough of east coast distance racing for this trip.

That's my story... who is next?

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt




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jrousmani@aol.com

Feb 8, 2006, 6:07 AM

Post #4 of 25 (68927 views)
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From John Rousmaniere: A whole site could be devoted to the wild 1972 Newport Bermuda Race, the roughest ever. Here's my experience in it:

We in the Swan 55 Dyna, owned and navigated by two superb seamen, Clayton Ewing and Dick McCurdy, respectively, approached the island just before at dawn. Our race until then had been plenty eventful but without excessive anxiety. After almost hitting a whale west of the Gulf Stream, we watched the barometer plummet just before dawn on the third day, and soon it was blowing a solid 35 gusting well into the forties. Shortened down to the number three jib and four rolls in the mainsail, we were regularly taking solid green water. One wave was high enough to reach the cowl of a ventilator rising two feet above the cabin. Like a firehouse, the vent redirected the water down into the cabin, right onto McCurdy as he was engaged in cleaning his sextant. Some navigators might take this as a personal insult, but McCurdy let out a loud guffaw.

Navigating solely on dead reckoning, McCurdy told us to start looking for the island before dawn. Luckily, the low cloud cover briefly opened up to allow us a bearing on Gibbs Hill Light. Our depth sounder and other electronic instruments had shorted out, leaving us to find the finish line by eyeball and feel. We held in on port tack until the waves became shorter and steeper (a sign of shoal water), tacked out quickly, and when the seas lengthened again, tacked back. In this way we felt our way around the reef, yet without knowing exactly where we were until we could find and identify one of the dimly-lit buoys through the gloom.

After what seemed like an age of fruitless searching by our watch, the other watch captain, a burly Australian fisherman named Sid Brown, stuck his head out of the companionway, looked around, and, pointing almost abeam, announced, “There it is.” We had no idea which buoy this was until McCurdy and Ewing instructed us to circle it and read its number. It was Northeast Breaker, and from there our path to the finish was relatively straightforward.

That's from my history of the race, BERTH TO BERMUDA, which has plenty more about that and other Newport Bermuda Races, or what our 'Mudian friends call "the Ocean Race."






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talbot@talbotwilson.com

Feb 8, 2006, 2:54 PM

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In 2002, Roy Disney had been setting records in the Pacific and the Caribbean in his new and then radical 86’ Pyewacket I, the one with the fixed keel. He sailed to Bermuda in the IMS Racing Division. The wind, weather and Gulf Stream gods were with him that year. Pyewacket caught all of a 100-mile meander and a lot of fair wind on her way to Bermuda.

Disney set another record in the race, finishing in Bermuda after only 53hr 39mm 22sec. They brought Pyewacket around to the RBYC marina well after midnight and I stepped out of my role as press officer and interviewed him for local TV since they only sent a cameraman at that early hour.

As he stepped off the dock I reached out with the microphone to get the first question. Mr. Disney,” I asked. “Now that you have set record in the Pacific and the Caribbean on your way to Newport and now that you’ve just smashed the Bermuda Race record by about four hours, where do you go from here?” Without hesitation, and with a friendly grin spreading on his face, he said, “I’m going to Disneyworld!”




The Publisher
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Feb 9, 2006, 9:01 AM

Post #6 of 25 (68775 views)
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We are in for the shwag. Just got this email from Bill Barton, Chairman, Newport Bermuda Race 2006:

"We would be happy to donate something for the competition. We could do a shirt or jacket of some sort with the race logo if that seems appropriate. Do you have any particular thoughts? When do you need it by and where should we send it? If you are interested, I could also see about getting a signed copy of John Rousmaniere's book on the history of the race as a second prize."

Play on...




- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


bobcolpitts
**

Feb 9, 2006, 12:09 PM

Post #7 of 25 (68750 views)
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Who could ever forget the stormy 1972 Bermuda Race, with the 24 hour delayed start and the crash of a news helicopter into the water just minutes into the race. The pilot apparently lost tail rotor control, and the chopper did a flat spin into the water 100 yards to port of "Charisma". The moment the skid hit the water the helicopter capsized and a rotor blade broke off, whistling high over our heads to land in the sea to starboard, narrowly missing a competitor.

The Gulf Stream was "wind against tide", and the square seas became immense as a secondary low developed on the heels of the depression that caused the delay (see Yachting Oct. 1972). We were five hard days to Bermuda. With the engine running almost continuously in an effort to maintain our failing electronics, and the boat buttoned up solid to keep out the seas that washed the deck, temperature below soared into the nineties. Most of the crew stayed on the rail except for the navigator (me) and two injured crewmembers disabled by the gale.

Our landfall was uneventful, lights appeared in the right place and on time, but when we touched the dock, all healthy crew jumped ship without waiting for customs. Some did not reappear for days.


Hypotenuse
***


Feb 9, 2006, 7:46 PM

Post #8 of 25 (68708 views)
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Well, this isn't about me and it isn't an offshore-in-the-&#$%&%#-Stream-on-a-wet-boat voyaging story. But it's about a guy on a boat that did the race. And (I think) it's a classic sailing tale in so many ways. I heard it first hand from the subject while sharing a spot on the rail in another bluewater misadventure. But that's another story.

So there's this guy. He'll remain nameless, since this was a hugely embarrassing moment for him then, and would surely be even more so today. So I'll respect that. Doesn't matter who it was, really. But you should know he's one of those people that are always in a "situation" and if you knew him you'd appreciate it even more.

Anyway, there's this Guy. He's captain on a biggish race boat, 60+ something or other. Probably a Frers, given the day. They've got a real crew, new stick, new sails, new bottom, fancy hydraulics (first time around, not like today), some of them fancy new 'lectronics, and a full freezer of pre-made, pre-bagged goor-met meals all made up for the sloppy slog South.

They start well, lead the fleet out off the line and don't look back. Nothing special about the race, particularly. Usual slog/beat/heave/drop/bang/splash through the Stream and then cracked-off slide into the Patch. Get a pickle dish, eat a fine dinner, drink lots of Stark and Dormy's. Life is good.

Gets better for Our Guy, too. He meets A Girl at a post-race event. Pretty Girl...a very (independently verified) Pretty Girl indeed. They dance. They talk. They dance some more. They walk on beach. They go back to party. Our guy is smitten. She is...well, let's just say she's cautiously interested. (He is a boat captain, after all. And she, as it happens, is The Owners Daughter.) They part ways as the party ends with earnest plans to meet for a late breakfast and explore the island tomorrow. Scooter rides. Golf. Late lunch. A pink sand beach? Mmmmm...

Unfortunately for Our Guy, the Friendly Owner has observed said interactions. And he knows his Boat Captain all too well. So at O-crack-sparrow-fart next morning, the FO steps aboard His Yacht on which our Boat Captain is sleeping.

"Return My Yacht to Newport immediately, please. Obtain all necessary crew and supplies, and shove off in 24 hours. I want My Yacht back in time for The Cruise.

Our Guy is crestfallen...so much to do, so little time. And what of The Girl!? No scooters, no golf, no pink beaches. Ah, #$%&.

So off he goes, victualling and assembling a press-ganged crew for the delivery. Takes all day; got to fix the water pump and get the freezer element replaced. No laundry, no dry clothes, only one quick grocery run, no time to spare. Finally, end of the day, it's 2230 and he's ready for a quick drink and a bite before everything's closed.

Now 2315 and he's heading back to the yacht, dog-tired and depressed. He's leaving in hours, hasn't seen Pretty Girl all day, had no way to call (no cell phones yet) and nary a moment to find her and explain... And then... She rolls by on the back of a scooter, hitching a ride with some Other Guy. She gives Our Guy a look that says it all in one wordless blazing glare... "Where were you? I thought we...Who do you think...You're a jerk!..." then she gives her hair a flip and rides off into the night. Life is no longer good for Our Guy. This will be a long, slow sail back north.

Days later, and Our Guy is stateside, standing in a coin-op laundry on Thames Street. His sea bag has finally come ashore, and he's unpacking after two wet rides...out and back. The funk is phenomenal. Truly rank, but in a salty sort of way that's familiar to us all. Down at the bottom of the pile, he comes across the linen shirt he wore at the party where he met The Girl. He takes it out, all bunched and dirty, and holds it up to the light to see if it's worth saving...and just then The Girl walks in.

Their eyes meet, and all is forgotten. She's smiling. He's smiling. She sees the shirt, blushes a little; he starts to explain. She stops him...

"I know, I know, it's Daddy. He's always like that. But I wasn't sure if you..."
"I couldn't reach you...you weren't at the hotel...busy getting food...water pump..."

They laugh. All is right with the world again. She asks, "can I help?" He warns her away, says "this bag is toxic, it's really not a problem, I've got it, really, you don't have to..."

"No, no" she says, "let me help anyway"...and reaches in, grabs an item...and pulls out a pair of BVD's. She chuckles, and he blushes.

Then she blanches...and looks at Our Guy in horrified, open-mouthed, accusatory disgust. She drops the undershorts, grabs her bag, and in a near-retching panic runs out the door. Our Guy is completely stunned. What could have happened?

He picks up his underwear from the floor. He finds that Cadbury's bar he stashed for an off-watch snack. It has become one with the cloth, as it were. He looks at this mess in his shorts...in his hand...and then up out the window.

By now The Girl is across the street and behind the wheel of her 325i convertible. She starts the car, turns, and while driving off gives him That Look, flips her hair, guns the engine, shifts...and down the street she goes.

Our guy is left standing in the window of a Thames Street coin-op with a chocolate mess in his shorts and a roll of quarters in his pocket. Welcome home, sailor.

True story.


SailTrim
*****

Feb 13, 2006, 5:13 PM

Post #9 of 25 (68559 views)
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SO ~ does anyone dare to tell us their scariest Newport ~ Bermuda experience?? Who has had to break out the storm tri-sail or really question whether or not they were going to finish, a tale that really puts into perspective one's respect for these off shore events.

OR ~ how particpating in this historic event has changed your or someone close to you life . . .


SailTrim
*****

Feb 13, 2006, 5:15 PM

Post #10 of 25 (68557 views)
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Sorry ~ I had meant to mention how much I have really enjoyed the current contributions ~ even the broken hearted sailor one . . . though I question the fiction vs non-fiction (smile), still an enjoyable read!!


PaulK
****


Feb 13, 2006, 6:09 PM

Post #11 of 25 (68554 views)
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My scariest part was on the way back. Going through the Stream we had three waterspouts in sight at the same time. Random lightning, thunder and rainsqualls here & there as well, though the wind was spotty. Went forward to change the jib... just in case... and was bent over at the forestay busy undoing hanks when we buried the bow into a wave up to my waist. I hung on tight, and have been more likely to wear a harness in the daytime since then.


SailTrim
*****

Feb 15, 2006, 1:16 PM

Post #12 of 25 (68490 views)
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Very glad you held on tight! Note to participants playing on the pointy end!!


Hypotenuse
***


Feb 18, 2006, 1:58 PM

Post #13 of 25 (68366 views)
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Oh ye of little faith...yes, Cadbury's is a true story. Embroidered a bit, but that's what makes it a story.

I could've said: "Hey, I knew this guy who went to Bermuda and thought he was getting somewhere, but later he got shut down by a candy bar in a Newport coin op."

But that wouldn't have captured the flavor, so to speak.


SailTrim
*****

Feb 21, 2006, 2:55 PM

Post #14 of 25 (68270 views)
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Hmmm . . . this is a safe forum, it is OK to admit you are Cadbury sailor . . . I really did enjoy the story.


Hypotenuse
***


Feb 21, 2006, 3:59 PM

Post #15 of 25 (68263 views)
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A Cadbury's sailor? Me? Oh heck no.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...Wink


SailTrim
*****

Feb 21, 2006, 7:35 PM

Post #16 of 25 (68255 views)
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I just can't imagine such a well spoken tale could come second hand . . .I wonder how the race coordinators would feel about stuffing the skipper bags with Cadbury chocolates. Where would be the best place to pick up a supply Hypotenuse and will you be sailing this year's event?


Hypotenuse
***


Mar 8, 2006, 5:16 PM

Post #17 of 25 (67838 views)
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What people do with their skipper bag is their own business.


H.L. DeVore
*

Mar 18, 2006, 9:31 AM

Post #18 of 25 (67553 views)
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Kudos to Scuttlebutt for attempting to extract from us all some of our tales and recountings.

Personally I would hope that those with nothing more than simple reflections of significance to them might share whether they be "contest winning" stories or not. Though more humurous and "embroidered" stories like the girl and the Cadbury bar of a great interest too!

Snippets of my personal remembrances of the past decade of races are short and less than storybook, but filled with imagery of dolphins and whales, sunfish and portugese man-o-war. In some ways today I almost pity the guys that "get there too fast" as I wonder if they don't miss some of the sites...but then I always remember that year I was becalmed for nearly 48 hours...We were seriously starting to lose it on board. Our GPS unkindly was set to draw our track and compute our time to finish, including the date. We thought it was bad when it said we wouldn't finish until sometime in July, then it computed to December then it just stared back at us with all zeros. Boats around us started dropping out as they were running out of food. We were still 300+ miles from Bermuda. The sun was bearing down on us relentlessly. At one point the evening before the main was slatting so badly in the rolling glass seas that we just took it down. This was not the kind of bare pole sailing I anticipated enroute to Bermuda.

The sun shone on. Spirits were low. Everyone stank. One of the guys decided to stand on the rail and wash himself down with a bucket. Immodestly he stripped stark naked and lathered up. We were thankful, but the site wasn't pretty...but then a huge white puff of smoke literally shot out of his ass. Half of us fell over laughing and the other half were stunned asking what the *&%!# was that!!!!!??? Quickly someone yelled out "There's a new Pope!" All was well after that, morale improved, and the lesson of a bit of a humor brightening the day and pulling the crew together was learned again. The vatican tradition of white smoke for a new Pope is forever ruined for me and my crew members.

FYI, Turns out said gentleman had been liberally Gold Bond for the past three days and the build up in his shorts was significant. Gold Bond users beware!

Go Team Gold Bond!


randytank
*

Mar 22, 2006, 11:17 AM

Post #19 of 25 (67380 views)
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I can't resist adding this anecdote to the scariest Bermuda Race thread.

I went the first time as a 15 year old on the 71' Fife yawl Cotton Blossom IV in 1962. The race was like a Sunday afternoon sail on Long Island Sound in August. Not knowing any better and being kind of a scrawny kid I now considered myself a famous ocean racer.

In 1966, the year of the Cal 40's, the late Bob Berglund convinced me to go with him on a 38' light displacement boat designed by German Frers, Sr, and built of wood in Argentina. We raced the spring series in Long Island Sound but never saw much weather so I arrived in Newport before the race still as a famous ocean racer and just as scrawny.

I don't remember exactly when it started to blow in that race but I think we were at the top edge of the stream when it got windy and nasty. Right then I got sicker than a dog and spent the rest of my watches on deck huddled cold, wet, sick and scared in the open lazarette. Needless to say some of my memories are less than complete but over the years the high points of the story include a triple reef main with no headsail sailing upwind and literally accelerating off the top of the seas to land hard chine and all in the trough and then up the next wave to repeat the beating. These bone jarring flights seemed to last for weeks.

During one down cycle the head in the forepeak sheared off its bronze bolts and landed in the main cabin with its occupant. The intake hose was left trying to fill the boat up with water. This was one of the few times I was below and I managed to get forward to the seacock to close it only to find the the ceiling planks inside the frames had been put in after the seacock and no one ever checked to see if you could actually close it. While I had my hand in the dike another intrepid soul managed to hack away the ceiling so we could close the valve.

Even after closing it the boat continued to leak. Seems we had sprung a garboard plank. We further reduced sail (I say "we" but I was probably back in the lazarette sick again) to a trysail and pumped 30 minutes each hour for the rest of the race. Meantime the owner's son (the owner having decided just before we left the dock that he would fly to Bermuda) started having conversations with the dolphins swimming alongside. In my sick and dehydrated state I was pretty sure we weren't going to make it and would all be swimming with the dolphins. It's a tribute to Berglund and the others that we actually finished without sinking.

The weather finally moderated as we closed Bermuda and our spirits rose for the last few miles. We finsihed about midnight after what I still tell people was 6 days, 16 hours and 34 minutes (I have no idea if this was our actual time but it rounds out the story). We were second to last to finish so even missed getting the Cook's Prize.

To top if off, about 2 am we ran out of gas 50 yards off the dock in St George's. A member of the dinghy club saw us from the 2nd floor window of the bar and swam a line out to us. The members tied the boat up for us and poured us into the dinghy club bar. The closest any of us got to Hamilton was going to the airport to leave. I've no idea how the boat ever got back to the states!





tomsel
**


Apr 27, 2006, 9:19 PM

Post #20 of 25 (64656 views)
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there's no way we can top the "Cadbury bar" story, but here goes anyway
...the 2002 race was pretty wild...with a long meander in the stream, quite a bit of wind, and seas that made the gulf stream a real washing machine...anyhow we were doing quite well until we hit the meander, just where we wanted to, and got a couple of knots favorable current...but no wind. The boats only 15 miles on either side of the meander had less current, but 15 knots of breeze and just blew us away. We played catch-up the rest of the way, worked the boat real hard. the watches were real tired, and just flopped down as soon as they came down the companionway steps...the floor of the cabin was full of sails, and one of the guys on the off-watch was sleeping on them when the biggest guy in the watch that just ended flopped right on top of him, wet gear and all. We learned a lot of new words that night.
The next night one of the crew caught the lanyard of their PFD on the companionway, and blew himself up right in the cabin...
But the best story was told by the skipper of one of the boats that won a class. Toward the end of the race the wind picked up and they decided to reduce the jib from their big No. 1 (which wa spretty old) to a smaller sail...when the halyard jammed and they couldn't lower the # 1, so they kept going, expecting the sail to blow out any minute. It didn't...the boat went like a scared cat...and they won.


SailTrim
*****

Apr 30, 2006, 5:28 PM

Post #21 of 25 (64485 views)
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This is going to be a bit of a challenge for you . . . which will you choose, so many great tales! I am sort of partial to the Cadbary story . . . I can't wait for the post regatta tales to come out!! If I may volunteer . . . I would love to put together something good to elicite post Bermuda stories!!

Thank you everyone who contributed ~ I loved reading every one!

~SailTrim


SailTrim
*****

May 12, 2006, 2:03 PM

Post #22 of 25 (64040 views)
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The winner is????


Hypotenuse
***


May 31, 2006, 9:26 AM

Post #23 of 25 (63553 views)
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And winner is....a boat formerly known as "satan's mercy"...which now rests considerably below sea level somewhere between Newport and Bermuda.

What addle-pated twit would think to name their yacht after The Devil?


SailTrim
*****

Jun 7, 2006, 12:11 PM

Post #24 of 25 (63374 views)
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The suspense is killing me . . . who won?


The Publisher
*****


Jun 8, 2006, 9:02 AM

Post #25 of 25 (63358 views)
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Sorry for the delay. And the winner is.... http://sailingscuttlebutt.com/...m.cgi?post=2119#2119

Look for this to be announced in the Friday issue of the Scuttlebutt newsletter.


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