Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea....
Crossing the Bar
Charlie Steigerwald had a premonition about 10 minutes before it happened.
"Where are the flares?" he asked Tom Lowry, owner and skipper of Tomahawk.
"Portside drawers, in the forepeak. Why?"
"I don't know. Just wanted to find out.... And the life jackets?"
"Underneath the forepeak bunks."
It was asphalt black that night, Sunday, July 21, 1985, at the top of Lake Huron in the 61st Port Huron ( Mich.) to Mackinac Island Yacht Race—the Kentucky Derby of freshwater yachting. The largest fleet in the race's history, 305 yachts, was strung out all over the second and final leg of the 259-mile Lake Huron course. The weather at 10 p.m. was nasty and getting nastier.
This was only my second Mackinac, and it was a rough ride. The seas were as high as a 1�-story building; the winds on the nose of our sturdy C&C 35 were between 35 and 40 knots; and the combination of wind noise and the relentless pounding of the waves on the hull made casual conversation impossible. We knew that the night was not going to get any calmer, but with a double reef in the mainsail and a veteran crew on board, we figured that we were prepared for just about anything.
Suddenly the unthinkable happened. A particularly loud impact of boat and wave was followed by Mike Cazabon's shrill scream from below in the cabin, "There's a hole in the boat!"
"Oh, god!" shouted Skipper Lowry, conveying equal parts prayer and alarm. "Can you fix it?"