Please select your home edition
Edition
SailX 728x90

Annapolis to Newport Race - Abrupt stop for Donnybrook

by Talbot Wilson on 6 Jun 2011
James Muldoon’s 73 foot Donnybrook at the start of the Newport Bermuda Race 2010. Talbot Wilson - Copyright
Our Annapolis to Newport Race on James Muldoon's Donnybrook started Friday afternoon and ended abruptly early Saturday morning when the keel of the big black boat met the rocks of the south jetty of the Chesapeake Bay tunnel near Norfolk, Virginia.

We were reaching up toward the channel at 6:45AM and bore off to cross over the tunnel. With all hands on deck, getting ready to launch a spinnaker for the next leg of our course around the 'middle ground.' The chart indicated 18 feet of water on the line we took, but the 12 foot deep keel proved the chart wrong.

We were doing 12-14kts when Donnybrook hit a solid wall of rock and the 73 foot 30 ton racer stopped in an instant. She spun to the right and bounced along in a jarring series of lesser hits. The crew were scattered in the cockpit and deck like fallen pins in the ally. Three of our mates were taken to the hospital as soon as the Coast Guard could get out to help us. One will have have surgery on a compound fracture of his forearm, the other two were treated and released.

I was trimming the mainsail, sitting on the deck in the cockpit and was thrown down on my right side. On the morning after 'Donnybrook on the Rocks' I've got a hangover-headache from the bump on my head and a pretty sore right shoulder.

Owner Jim Muldoon was driving. He practically went through the port side steering wheel. He caught the wheel on his throat. Captain of the Black Watch, Peter Manickas, was bruised after hitting the other wheel, bending some spokes and braking the weld at the hub. Will Keyworth, the Green Watch Captain, flew forward from mid-cockpit and hit his nose on the bulkhead above the starboard instrument displays. He looked like Rocky after the fifth round. All hands on deck were down and surely all eighteen of us have some pain somewhere today.

Abby Sayer was below fixing breakfast sandwiches. She hit the counter by the sink. Her glasses and the sandwich she was making wound up in a forward berth. She narrowly missed being bashed by the companionway steps which flew across the cabin after being driven off the bulkhead by the weight of three life rafts stacked behind them.

After the initial shock, the crew rallied and hauled down the jib. I trimmed the main all the way in to drive the boat back up into the wind to try to head back on a close reciprocal course. We checked for lines overboard and Peter started the engine, put it in gear. Mr. Muldoon drove back out, bouncing Donnybrook painfully through the rocks as the crew got the mainsail down to take pressure off the damaged keel and furled on the boom.

Crew who weren't hurt helped others who were, some crew checked for leaks at the keel bilge, others hauled the life rafts, ditch bags and medical supplies into the cockpit. Luckily, we were not taking on any water, but unluckily there were at least seven cracks around the keel bolts and their backing plate and at least one cracked stringer crossing over the front third of the keel. The boat's emergency plan, which we had discussed in our crew meeting before the race started, was put into action and worked smoothly.

Navigator Kurt Lowman called the US Coast Guard who responded promptly in their 45 footer from Little Creek. They offloaded our three injured and left us with two of their crew and a pump for 'just in case' as we motored to the Little Creek Marina which was now saving the t-dock space for us.

We were greeted at the marina by the Virginia Marine Police and were now the focus of a state required marine accident investigation. With 18 crew, it was the largest investigation these officers had ever dealt with. They had to interview each of us asking for a photo ID and written statement on the crash and asking questions like whether we were wearing a PFD, what type, where were we on the vessel and what we were doing, how much experience we had sailing on Donnybrook, if we had completed any boating and safety courses.

Donnybrook motored back to Baltimore later on Saturday and will be hauled there for inspection and repair. It will be interesting to see how high up on the keel the damage goes. That will tell us how high the rocks were and how wrong the 18 foot depth on the chart really was.
Kilwell - 5Bakewell-White Yacht DesignT Clewring AC72

Related Articles

Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 2
Yachting NZ's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is unprecedented Yachting New Zealand's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is without precedent. Subject to Appeal, the Kiwis have signaled that they will reject 30% of the positions gained in the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander in 2014.
Posted on 22 May
Gladwell's Line - World Sailing changes tack after IOC windshift
Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick. Every blow well earned over issues such as the pollution at Rio, the Israeli exclusion abomination plus a few more. But now World Sailing is getting it right.
Posted on 21 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 1
Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving its goals Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving goals set in the Olympic Commission report of 2010. Around 64 countries are expected to be represented in Rio de Janeiro in August. That is a slight increase on Qingdao and Weymouth, but more importantly a full regional qualification system is now in place
Posted on 19 May
Taming the beast-a conversation with Stuart Meurer of Parker Hannifin
While AC72 cats were fast, they difficult to control, so Oracle partnered with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way. If you watched videos of the AC72s racing in the 34th America’s Cup (2013), you’re familiar with the mind-boggling speeds that are possible when wingsail-powered catamarans switch from displacement sailing to foiling mode. While foiling is fast, there’s no disguising the platform’s inherent instability. Now, Oracle Team USA has teamed up with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way.
Posted on 18 May
From foiling Moths to Olympic starting lines-a Q&A with Bora Gulari
Bora Gulari’s is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class, along with teammate Louisa Chafee. Bora Gulari (USA) has made a strong name for himself within high-performance sailing circles, with wins at the 2009 and 2013 Moth Worlds. In between, he broke the 30-knort barrier and was the 2009 US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. His latest challenge is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class as skipper, along with his teammate Louisa Chafee.
Posted on 12 May
Concern for Zika at Rio Olympics is now deadly serious
Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, or the Rio Olympics. Many others have, and they were apt, but things have changed. So here now we have a situation where one man, Associate Professor Amir Attaran, who does have a more than decent string of letters after his name, is bringing nearly as many facts to bear as references at the article's end
Posted on 12 May
Zhik - The brand born of a notion, not its history
here is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline is officially marketed as Made For Water There is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline has been officially marketed as Made For Water, and this is precisely what the company has done for the last eight years before the succinct and apt strapline came from out of R&D and into mainstream visibility.
Posted on 8 May
Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May
Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted on 29 Apr
From Olympic flag to Olympic Gold and maybe another
The Sydney Olympics was a Sailing double 470 Gold event for Australia. Having won the 420 World Championship in 2000, the feeder class to the 470, while still at school in Australia young Matt Belcher was given the honour of carrying the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Posted on 28 Apr