An Optimistic Aftermath

What a great article [“Gone Girl” by Andrew Shemella; November 2014]. Very well written. I’ve found that, when engaging the elements, one has to be humble. Survival in a storm at sea, or in the Bay, is not always assured. Nature reminds us, all the time, of how vulnerable we are. Yet, with knowledge, we can survive most anything. Hey, this is what adventure is all about. The boat will be replaced. Thank God no one was lost. And congratulations on your win.  Howard Marks, via email

Optimistic went down about 100 yards Southeast of MOA, and that location was given to Douglas Marine. They went out on Sunday and tried to locate her by sonar. They were not successful. On Monday they brought two boats. They stretched a weighted line between the two boats and dragged the line across the bottom, starting approximately where she went down. Within 15 minutes, the line caught on something. They sent a diver over who confirmed that it was Optimistic.

She was sitting upright on her keel in 50 feet of water approximately 150 yards  Southeast of MOA, sails still up. The top of the mast was only a few feet below the surface at low tide. On Monday afternoon, they returned to the site to raise her. They attached balloons to the boat and inflated them. With the weight of the boat somewhat neutralized, they were able to raise her by towing her forward. Once surfaced, they put pumps on the boat to remove the water.

On Monday evening they towed the boat to Orient and on Tuesday morning they towed her to Brewer Yacht Yard. By Tuesday afternoon, Brewer had stripped the boat of its contents, including the interior floor and V-bunk plywood. They had already un-stepped the mast. Also, and importantly, they were able to start the engine and flush out the salt water. The engine will not need replacement. The boat is covered in silt below decks, but nothing that a good scrubbing won’t take care of. The boat, the mast and the rigging look structurally undamaged. Optimistic will sail again next season.

Steve Weiss, Whitebread 21 Committee Chairman

Andrew Shemella replies: Thanks Howard for the kind words. I’m glad my article conveyed the dual nature of adventurous undertakings to you. While I haven’t particularly liked windy sailing conditions, I find myself looking forward to the next breezy adventure. And, I’ve been following the Volvo Ocean Race and dreaming about a ride on one of those boats. 

All Whitebread participants cheer this good news from Steve Weiss. Willie Fisher, who was on one of the boats used to locate Optimistic with Bill Archer, the owner, recounted this anecdote: The diver came up and shouted to Bill, “Is your sail number 148?” Bill deadpanned to the diver, “No, it’s 646. Keep looking.” That’s the kind of humor that we know and appreciate Bill for.

Whither the Cup?

Editor’s note: The news that “Bermuda is the Home of the 2017 America’s Cup” has not been universally well received.

George Schuyler must be spinning in his grave. How far are they going to deviate from the original Deed of Gift? This is part of the reason the America’s Cup is a joke. The Cup was defended in San Francisco. It should be sailed there again until another yacht club based in a different city or country wins it, as was originally intended by the members of the syndicate who originally won the 100 Guinea Cup in 1851.

Ed Weglein, via email

Ed – A list of questionable decisions in the history of the America’s Cup would fill this magazine, although we think the action on  San Francisco Bay during AC 34 was some of the most exciting sailing we’ve ever seen, and we hope Bermuda will deliver more of the same.

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