Aug 19, 2009, 11:04 PM
Post #5 of 55
Growing up at Newport 50 years ago, Santana winds always provided memorable sailing for those who could launch and get away from the dock. Inland of Beacon Bay, there wasn't much more than sand dunes and sage to disrupt the hot NE gusts.
Re: [skipallan] Remembering Tom Blackaller - 20th Anniversary
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Santanas also provided the perfect conditions for honing heavy weather vanging and feathering skills, as well as getting whatever you could muster into the water up on a plane....You were likely to encounter Sprague, Ullman, Schock, the Twist brothers, Beek, Ficker, and Edler reaching down the Bay....Snipes and Metcalfs were jury rigged with traps, and Hickock and Carter Pyle match raced their Wildcat and P-Cat, for unofficial "fastest in the Bay."
So Blackaller is living in his Starboat at NHYC, while working at Rockwell. It's a full on Santana, and Emerson the dockmaster has pulled the plugs and sunk all the NHYC docks, standard procedure in those days to protect them from damage. Wind is E, 20 gusting 45.
Chuck Cotton shows up with an E-Scow he plans to break the Ensenada Race record with. They waste no time getting it rigged and launched. With Blackaller in command on the tiller-linked twin rudders, and Cotton, Yorston, Beek, and Lewsadder manning the sheets, running backs, and centerboards, the E-scow takes off towards Lido.
They manage to get it about, after going twice in irons in spume rising gusts. Blackaller now steers for the NHYC docks at a Mach 1 clip, and the E-Scow accelerates through the mooring field, much impressing the gathering spectators behind the sliding glass doors of the Pirates Den bar.
One of those 35 knot Santana gusts arrives just as Blackaller puts the helm down to tack. Instead of tacking, the E-Scow hull disappears in a cloud of speed and spray. Now Tommy is screaming "I can't steer!, "I can't steer!" not realizing the rusty weldment holding the starboard iron plate rudder has failed, and he is driving with nothing but a naked shaft.
With a mighty crash, the scow mounts the NHYC main float at 20 knots, and careens like a 28 foot skateboard across the dock, ripping off the remaining rudder. Emerson goes apopleptic. The spectators in the bar applaud. The mast falls forward in slow motion. For a brief moment in his life, Blackaller is speechless.