Please select your home edition
Edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

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.
Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best EyewearNaiad/Oracle SupplierBakewell-White Yacht Design

Related Articles

Bella Mente Racing starts 2017 season with major victory at RORC C600
Bella Mente Racing starts 2017 season off with major victory at RORC Caribbean 600 Bella Mente Racing, led by owner/driver Hap Fauth, launched its 2017 campaign season with a major victory this week, winning IRC Overall, CSA Overall and CSA 1 at the RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua; The team took home coveted RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy for the IRC win as well as the Bella Mente Trophy, the team’s namesake award, for being first IRC yacht to finish that is wholly manually powered.
Posted today at 4:54 am
Cool drone footage of Dongfeng Race Team on the water
Dongfeng is back in the water and training is well underway for the returning Chinese campaign. Dongfeng is back in the water and training is well underway for the returning Chinese campaign. Stunning drone footage of the re-fitted Volvo Ocean 65 has been released as the team hit the water off the coast of Lisbon.
Posted today at 3:52 am
49th Transpac early entry deadline approaches on March 1st
Planning for the 49th edition of the Los Angeles-Honolulu Transpacific Yacht Race is well underway Planning for the 49th edition of the Los Angeles-Honolulu Transpacific Yacht Race presented by the Los Angeles Times and organized by the Transpacific Yacht Club is well underway, with 52 monohull and multihull entries from nine nations already signed up for this biennial 2225-mile ocean race, one of the world's oldest having first been sailed in 1905.
Posted today at 3:36 am
18ft Skiffs - JJ Giltinan Trophy - LIVE Coverage - NOW SAILING
Live coverage of Race 1 of the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiffs from Sydney harbour - sailing in the wind and rain Live coverage of Race 1 of the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiffs from Sydney harbour - sailing in the wind and rain
Posted today at 3:25 am
Hat-trick all around for Phaedo^3 in this year Caribbean 600
Lloyd Thornburg and crew of Phaedo^3 have gained not only line honours each time but also three wins in their class. Lloyd Thornburg and the crew of his MOD70 Phaedo^3 for the last three editions of the RORC Caribbean 600 have gained not only line honours each time but also three wins in their class.
Posted today at 3:16 am
Vendee Globe - Conrad Colman's thoughts on his incredible performance
Colman was the first boat in the history of the race to finish using only natural energy, no fossil fuels After finishing 16th in the Vendee Globe, crossing the finish line under the jury rig which had carried him the final 720 miles of his race since he was dismasted, Conrad Colman was greeted by a hero's welcome into Les Sables d'Olone. The first New Zealander to complete the race he was also the first boat in the history of the race to finish using only natural energy, no fossil fuels.
Posted on 24 Feb
More winners announced in RORC Caribbean 600
As dawn broke on day five, crews who had finished the race were beginning to arrive back in Antigua. At Dawn on the fifth day, the leading Class40s were approaching the finish. Throughout the race, the battle in the class had been intense, with three yachts taking the lead at various points along the course.
Posted on 24 Feb
Vendee Globe - Conrad Colman finishes under jury rig
Colman constructed and stepped a remarkable jury rig which has allowed him to sail the final 740 miles of 27,440nm race New Zealander Conrad Colman wrote a new chapter in the storied history of the Vendée Globe when he crossed the finish line of the eighth edition of the non stop solo round the world race under a makeshift jury rig.
Posted on 24 Feb
Vendée Globe – Romain Attanasio takes fifteenth place
French skipper Romain Attanasio, sailing Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys, took 15th place in the solo race around the world French skipper Romain Attanasio, sailing Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys, took 15th place in the non stop solo race around the world this morning (Friday 24th February) when he crossed the finish line at 1006hrs UTC.
Posted on 24 Feb
Vendee Globe - Conrad Colman finishes under jury rig - First images
New Zealand solo sailor Conrad Colman has finished the Vendee Globe race under Jury rig. New Zealand solo sailor Conrad Colman has finished the Vendee Globe race under Jury rig. Here are the first images from the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne
Posted on 24 Feb