Capsizing of Stormy

Posted in: 2010 Race Results, Racing Stories
By Ted Weihe
Jun 28, 2010 - 9:53:07 AM

Suzanna Hartge Recounts Capsizing of Stormy


Ted Weihe asked me to crew for him on Stormy (built by Suzanna’s father, Cap’n Dick in 1939) at last Sunday's WRSC race...I told him he MUST be desperate for crew, but I said yes before he could reconsider the offer.  I also told him that I have zero experience on the trapeze and certainly hoped he wouldn't expect me to do that...WAY too clumsy by nature, In spite of the adventure of it all, I don't think anyone (including Stormy) would benefit from that experiment. He was fine with that.


There were only 4 Twenties racing:  Gracie (Blomquist), Osprey (Klose), Contrary (Resnick...Robin was crew) and Stormy.  Clay Taylor was RC. 


The race course: windward/leeward (2 times around) from off West River Marina up Tenthouse Creek toward Alex's Hartge Yacht Yard. The wind, flukey and 10 knots max.


Ted and I did NO warm-up maneuvering...guess he just assumed he'd get what he got from me and not worry about performance.  Sad to say, he got what he got!  To windward, handling the jib was second nature...but I think my version of alzheimers was evident in nomenclature, though.  Downhaul (oh god, which line is that??), outhaul (crap...), cunningham (you've got to be kidding me).  To leeward, the damn whisker pole was the limit.  It has to be thirty-five feet long.  It jammed in the floorboards, snarled the jibsheets, and threatened to gore Ted at every downwind leg...I must have apologized 43 times a leeward leg for my inadequacies.


PLEASE tell me why it can't be telescoping?...!??! Getting it in the jib and hanging onto it while braced by the mast is the ONLY way I remember doing it on Endeavor with Mary Tod Hartge....45 years ago, I might add (which is the LAST time I raced on a Twenty). 

After the third race, I assumed we were done, and satisfied that I had at least not been told to swim home. 


Clay announced a fourth race, and I figured MAYBE I could collect whatever energy I had left to at least do no worse than I had been. Hah.


Before we started, Ted mentioned that his mainsheet was too long and he'd have to shorten it after the race.


I noticed that Osprey had dropped out (found out later that their halyard had popped) there were only the three of us racing.  The wind was REALLY uncooperative sailing up the creek.  What Ted had assumed (correctly for the other races), that keeping to the Cumberstone shore and avoiding the headers, was not working this time.  We got around the windward mark and I was in my predictable snafu with the %#@* whisker pole.


Wham.  We came to a total stop.  It was a slow-motion dream state of looking straight up thru a watery film at Ted directly above me.  I was sprawled out on the mainsail.........HUH? Had we run aground? Couldn't comprehend any of it immediately.


Ted told me to swim back to the mooring behind us and free the mainsheet  In trying to help me deal with the wing-and-wing struggles, apparently the mainsheet snagged the mooring, which brought us not only to a screeching halt, but caused us to capsize.

I worked my way back to the mooring, and after several attempts, FINALLY freed the mainsheet...which also freed Ted and Stormy.  He was on the centerboard, which was hardly down at all due to the downwind leg.  I swam back and got my hands on it, but had NO leverage and was just hanging like that "hang in there, it's Friday" cat. 


Fortunately, Clay had the committee boat close by and yelled that he was bringing me a life cushion...He swam it over to me and he and Ted got the centerboard down (actually, at that angle, OUT) and they got Stormy back up in no time.  Not ONE DROP of water in her.


She did get water slopped in getting Clay in the boat.


I had been keeping clear on my cushion, and decided to just work my way to shore...which was a ridiculously slow process...but my thought was that facing the mortification of dragging this out of shape, overweight old lady onto the boat was far less appealing than drifting to Middle Ground.


Clay and Ted came to get me...and even though I told them to just sling me a line and tow me in, they weren't having any of it. They got me in the boat (with much more water added to the bilge).


The thing is...West River tasted GREAT!  No sludge, no sea nettles, no icky brown mustache...I felt like I was back in Jr. Fleet.


WRSC got a great show....the first Twenty capsizing experience not only for me but Ted, too.  I'm not sure how desperate he is to repeat this foolishness...but he sure was gentleman enough to act like he might be.


Naturally, if you capsize you need a large crowd to watch the ordeal.  In our case, there was a wedding party at the club, and we graciously entertained them since the bride was late.  She says that they got great pictures of Stormy on her side.

Suzanna Hartge

Response by Jane Hartge, Widow of Cap’n Dick and Suzanna’s Mother


Dear Ted Weihe…


Have you seen Suzanna’s account of the First Race of the season capsizing in front of God and everybody off WRSC?   She had so much fun telling me about it, I asked her to write it down.  Should go into the Twenty Footer files…


Capt. Dick and I capsized the First Race after we were married June 1941, along with some others who wouldn’t give up to a line squall right there in the River off Shadyside.  We had been racing together the season before … he was kidding about giving me a SOFT introduction before serious racing.  There were no newsletters then, but later in the summer there was a spectacular capsizing in Annapolis harbor.  I had a huge battle with the 200 foot CG “cutter:” I demanding a pump to get the water out of the “CHESAPEAKE.”  They were intent on saving me – deal with the boat later.  Balto and DC papers loved it.  Maybe someone kept the brow sheet …rotogravure photos.  I have it if you haven’t seen it.


Take good care of dear old STORMY.  Keep her tidy and ready to go.. she obviously wants all best from “Big Ginny.”


Jane Hartge (Big Ginny is Jane's nickname)