"Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester when asked why he carried so much alcohol on his solo sail around the world.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Letter From the Mac Race Committee

Fellow Mac Sailors and Friends:

On behalf of the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac Committee, I am pleased to announce that the Notice and Conditions of Race (NOR) for the 2012 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, presented by Veuve Clicquot, is now available on our website. Simply go to, click on Race Documents, and click on Notice of Race (2012). The committee has been very hard at work in the off season preparing the infrastructure for the 104th. The volunteer hours are already off the charts!

It goes without saying that we had to make some difficult decisions in organizing the 104th running. The changes that we have implemented were made with careful cooperation and consultation with naval architects and US Sailing. As it has always been, our goal is to run a safe, quality event for all yet preserving the tradition of the MAC. We will be releasing a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide to the changes implemented, and we will be running a couple of seminars that we will host to answer some of your questions.

One of the many areas that we have addressed is the issue of minimum stability for a boat’s eligibility to compete in the race. ORR has adopted the new version of the Stability Index discussed in the US Sailing report of the 2011 Race, and this will appear on your 2012 ORR certificate. The minimum Stability Index required has been established at 103. Owners of boats from the 2011 race affected by this requirement have already been contacted. If you have specific questions about the Stability Index for your boat for 2012, these should be directed to the Offshore Office at US Sailing.

The Mackinac Safety Regulations (MSRs) have been published and are available on the Race Documents tab of the website as well. Automatic Invitations which, with a few exceptions, go to competitors who have competed in at least one of the last four races, will go out on or about February 5, 2012. We encourage you to accept your invitation and pay your entry to assure your place on the 2012 race. Invitations to those going through the RFI process will start going out on or about February 20, 2012. If you are Requesting an Invitation, please be sure your information is as complete as possible so that the Selections Committee can review your request without delays and without having to come back to you for more information. Pleas also make sure that you have reviewed the NOR for eligibility requirements.

As previously mentioned we will be hosting two seminars at Strictly Sail his weekend to help guide you through the changes for 2012. Don't forget Strictly Sail this weekend in Chicago, at Navy Pier and the Pink Pony Party at the CYC clubhouse in Belmont Harbor on Saturday, January 29, 2012 from 6:00PM till Midnight.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact our Race Coordinator at

We look forward to seeing quite a few of you this weekend and in the months to come.

Best Regards,

Lou Sandoval

In the letter they make reference to a minimum stability index of 103, that's of no concern to us as Bootlegger's stability index is well above the required minimum.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Request For Invitation - Mac Race

Our Request for Invitation for the 2012 Chicago Mackinac Race was submitted today. The following is from the email that the race committee send me:

 "We will also notify you via e-mail if your RFI is accepted or declined. We anticipate invitation decisions will be made and the first batch of invitations issued in mid-February, depending on the availability of openings after our returning competitors have been issued their invitations. If, after returning competitors have been invited, space still remains, invitations will be issued in the order of date of acceptance of an RFI."

I have no reason to think that we won't be accepted.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Crew Member for Mac

Jason Wiggins will join us for the 2012 Chicago - Mackinac Race bringing our crew numbers to seven. I know that in the past I've been adamant about going with six, but I think that Jason will bring a lot of energy, and will fill a hole that we had at the pointy end of the boat.

The Mac Race Committee has finally posted the NOR (Notice of Race) and is now accepting Request for Invitation.

If you go to page 8 & 9 of the 2012 Mackinac Safety Regulations for Monohulls you'll find the "Personal Equipment & Training" that each crew member is responsible to supply. I'll have PFD's on the boat, but everyone should supply their own inflatable PFD.

Refer to my earlier posting, "Tentative 2012 Schedule" for information on the race and the return trip.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crew Recognized for Rescue Made in Chicago Race to Mackinac

Apparently, WingNuts wasn't the only boat during the 2011 Chicago Mac Race that was in need of a rescue. The story below highlights why it is so important for us to actually practice MOB, rather than just sign off on it.

I love the fact that they still had their chute up in 40 knots; a lot easier with a asymmetrical than with a symmetrical, but still awesome.

Jake Fish
US Sailing Communications Manager

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (January 18, 2012) – US Sailing has awarded an Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal to the crew of Mosquito, a Farr 395, for rescuing the life of a fellow crewmember who fell overboard during the 2011 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac.

Hanson MosquitoWhile sailing into the Manitou Channel on the afternoon of July 17, 2011, in a strong southwest wind gusting to 40 knots and 4 to 6 foot waves, Mosquito was running at high speed under an asymmetrical spinnaker when the boat was knocked over while jibing. Mosquito was knocked over so far that the spreader tips were touching water. Co-skipper Dave Radtke immediately took notice of co-skipper Steve Laughlin in the boat’s wake. Radtke recalled thinking to himself, “I hope everybody remembers their job.”

Radtke would not be disappointed in his crew. After shouting "man overboard," Radtke moved to the stern and deployed the boat’s Lifesling as crewmember Bob King served as spotter, pointing at Laughlin and waving to him to assure him that he was not out of sight. At the helm, Peter Gibbons-Neff brought the boat’s bow into the wind and the crew got to work dousing the spinnaker, which was a demanding job in these conditions. One crewmember suffered a third-degree rope burn on his hand during this process.

By the time the spinnaker was below, crewmember Geet Sharma had pushed the MOB (man over board) button on the boat’s chart plotter and Radtke made a mayday call over the boat’s radio. After the crew checked for lines in the water, the engine (which was running to charge batteries) was put into gear and the boat headed towards Laughlin in the direction King was pointing. Laughlin occasionally dipped out of sight in the trough of a wave, but his bright orange inflated life jacket was a visible target. Mosquito dragged the Lifesling into Laughlin’s hands and he was pulled to the boat, where he climbed up the stern swim ladder. Radtke assured the Coast Guard that all hands were on deck. After the boat was cleaned up and a dressing was applied to the injured crew member’s hand, the crew hoisted a spinnaker and resumed racing. This accident occurred six hours before the fatal capsize of WingNuts that was the subject of a US Sailing Independent Review Panel's inquiry.

Craig Warner, who nominated Mosquito for the Hanson Rescue Medal, reported that the crew had three valuable takeaways:

1 - Preparation and Practice Are Key: Mosquito’s sailors bring their own safety kits, including their preferred inflatable life jacket/safety harness, tether, and personal strobe light, as well as recharge kits for the inflatables. They practiced man overboard drills periodically during the season and discussed the procedure in detail during a mandatory team meeting before the start of the Chicago-Mackinac Race.

All of this preparation became necessary. “The incident occurred in a heartbeat. Laughlin went over the side so quickly that he had no time to worry about falling overboard,” said Warner. “His first recollection of the incident is being under water and seeing the hull of the boat spinning over him from below the surface.”

2 – Inflatable Life Jacket Lesson: A second lesson learned is that a crotch strap is a good thing to have on an inflatable life jacket. Mr. Laughlin was not using one and the life jacket slipped up his torso and over his neck, making his maneuverability and swimming difficult.

3 – Importance of Sail Handling: The boat’s initial trouble occurred because the crew was attempting an inside jibe, with the asymmetrical spinnaker’s clew between the sail and the headstay. This is a demanding, split-second task. “When sailing a sprit boat downwind in heavy air, you should rig the spinnaker for an outside jibe,” Warner said in his nomination form. “The kite could have been allowed to ‘flag’ off of the bow until the main had been safely jibed and then trimmed in.”

Mosquito Crew:Dave Radtke - co-owner/skipper
Steve Laughlin - co-owner/skipper
Amelia Radtke - owner's daughter
Jim Hall
Art Macaw
Mark Keast
Peter Gibbons-Neff
Robert King
Geet Sharma
James O'Sullivan

Because one of the purposes of US Sailing’s Hanson Rescue Medal program is to gather information about what works and what doesn’t in emergencies on the water, these lessons learned are sure to be passed along at US Sailing Safety-at-Sea seminars, detailed in publications and discussed in sailing classes.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Scheduling Issue

I just found out that May 19-21 Chicago is the host of the NATO/G8 Summits, and that they are expecting "tens of thousands of demonstrators." In the past Grant Park, right across from our mooring, has been a place for protesters to gather. Needless to say that makes the boat is an easy target and by being on it we represent the 1% that they oppose. I have no concerns about the boats safety or ours while at the mooring, it's the trip to the boat and getting the boat to Chicago that concerns me.

We'll want to make sure that the boat is in Chicago before the protest began, take the train instead of driving for any practices to avoid car damage, skip sailing that weekend, or maybe plan on doing an overnight sail. Right now I'm very flexible and open to any suggestions, but we probably shouldn't schedule anything until we see how this plays out.

Friday, January 13, 2012

2011 Chicago-Mackinac Storm

"Here's edited footage shot from a helmet camera aboard the J109 Realt Na Mara during the 2011 Chicago to Mackinac Race in 50-60+ knots. The worst of the storm hit just after midnight which made bolts of lightning our only light source. The evening's weather reports indicated winds were not expected to exceed 30 knots. As the wind built, our tack line exploded; we were knocked down immediately and stayed horizontal from winds of 54 knots for about 15 minutes. Shortly after being knocked down, with no steerage, lightning flashed and another boat, just to weather, without sails was planing right towards us. Thankfully, they managed to alter course and avoid a collision. Once the winds calmed a bit, lights shined on our boat followed by the release of an emergency flare. We approached the vessel we now think was the Sociable who was first at the scene of the capsized WingNuts. They told us there were 8 people in the water. We began searching the area immediately. In a short period of time, more than a dozen boats were at the site; and, after about 45 minutes, the rescue helicopter joined the search as well. We received word that 6 of the 8 crew were rescued. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who were lost."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Changes in Sister Race - Bayview (Port Huron) to Mac Race

Below is an article from the Detroit Free Press about the change of rating system in the Bayview (Port Huron) - Mackinac Race. As much as I would love to see the change on the Chicago side, I think that it is doubtful.

WingNuts, which capsized during the Chicago-to-Mackinac race in July, was determined to be too unstable for a race that long. / John L. Russell/Associated Press
After several years of newer handicap rating systems, including last year that saw a slew of normally long-course boats defect to the shore course to sail under the PHRF system, the Bells Beer Bayview Mackinac Race is returning to the PHRF rating system for all classes.

Also this year, host Bayview Yacht Club is making a couple of minor safety changes in the wake of WingNuts capsizing in last year's Chicago race, killing two Michigan sailors. This year, all sailors will be required to carry a knife that can be opened with one hand, and have a quick release tether with the quick release end attached to the sailor, not the boat.

Using PHRF, which stands for Performance Handicap Racing Fleet, is a nod to popular demand, said race chairman Greg Thomas. The problem with newer rating systems is that initially they work well, but eventually boat designers and builders start to figure out the type of boat that will receive a more favorable rating and build to the system, Thomas said. The newest rating systems were supposed to change as that happened. But the reality was they didn't change.

"The high-end grand prix sailors, they've got all the money in the world, they like that kind of rating system," Thomas said. "But our bread and butter in this race is the guy who's been doing it for 42 years with his grandfather and grandson. We put a lot of thought into it, and in the final analysis, we needed to play to our constituency."

The only wrinkle is there is no stability index under PHRF. U.S. Sailing, after examining the WingNuts tragedy, put the onus on the clubs sponsoring regattas to consider the stability index of each boat in deciding whether to permit them to enter.

U.S. Sailing, the sport's governing body, determined the ultralight monohull WingNuts was too unstable to enter a race as long as the Chicago to Mackinac Race, with unpredictable Lake Michigan weather and no safety boats along the course. WingNuts, however, passed the stability rating in ORR, the handicap rating system used by the Chicago Yacht Club.

Bayview's solution is to consider each type of boat individually. The only exception will be multihulls, in which case Bayview will bow to the class' own determination.

"We have enough gray hair and experience around that club to take a look at the boat and determine if (its stability index) needs to be looked at," Thomas said. In those instances, Bayview will convene a panel of experts to make the final decision.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

MOB QuickStop

Here's a video of the US Navy demonstrating the MOB QuickStop method to recover a man overboard at a Safety at Sea Seminar in 2009. In the video you'll hear them say to pick the MOB up from the leeward side, and then demonstrates the opposite. Just goes to show how difficult the timing can be, even on a calm day.

The Chicago-Mac Race requires that we sign off that we have practiced the QuickStop method.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tentative 2012 Schedule

April 2012 – Move the boat to Chicago via the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. The trip is about 300 miles and should take about 4 days. We’ll leave early on a Friday to minimize the amount vacation time.

Crew: Jim, Janet, Hannah the dog, Joe, David S.(?), myself, and anyone else that’s interested.

May 2012 – Put mast up at Canal Street Marina on the Chicago Canal, tune rig, finish details for 15th Chicago to Mackinac Island Solo Challenge, and move to mooring at Monroe Harbor.

During late May or early June we’ll try to find a weekend that everyone can make so that we can sign off on the MOB and other requirements.

June 27, 2012 – Awards Luncheon to be held at the Mackinac Island Yacht Club at 1200 hours.

June/July 2012 – After conclusion of Solo Mac, Bonzon family cruise back to Chicago (appx. 333 nautical miles from Mackinac Island) from Mackinac Island, stopping at Beaver Island (appx. 35 nautical miles from Mackinac Island), Harbor Springs (appx. 42.6 nautical miles from Mackinac Island),  Leland (appx. 75 nautical miles from Mackinac Island), Frankfort (appx. 106 nautical miles from Mackinac Island), Holland (appx. 225 nautical miles from Mackinac Island), and then  St. Joseph or Chicago, who knows.

Early July I would like to find a weekend that we can either enter a short distance race or maybe sail overnight on our own to St. Joe’s or other destination.

July 14, 2012- 2012 Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race  maybe do the doublehanded race with Joe? The doublehanded boats do the shore course, and under PHRF. We would need to deliver the boat to Port Huron the previous week.

July 21,2012 – 104th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac  I’m only going with six crew members; Joe Levanowicz, Jim , David Stevenson, Cody Stevenson, Mike Tomsu, and myself, in a gamble that most of the race will be in light to medium air. The boat is easy to sail and if we tack the off watch crew onto the windward side berths we should be able to minimize our lack of crew weight. Should the race turn into a long upwind heavy air beat, well, then we’ll get our asses handed to us. I’m going to request that after the race that we are berthed at the island and because of our draft we should get it.

A couple of crew members have already booked a room at the Quality Inn & Suites in Mackinaw City. I think that they said it was $119 per night, a whole lot cheaper than the island. Here’s a link if you’re interested in a room in Mackinaw City and here’s one if you’re interested in staying on Mackinac Island. You can make your Mackinaw City reservations now, but will have to wait till after January 2, 2012 to make your island reservations. Keep in mind that there is the added expensive of the ferry and that it takes anywhere between 16 and 30 minutes to get to the island if you stay off of the island.

I’m going to stay on the boat and anyone that wants to stay on the boat is also welcome. BOOTLEGGER sleeps eight unless you stack’m, then 16.

BOOTLEGGER will leave the island on Wednesday, July 25 and head back to Chicago. Joe is the only one that has committed, or he should be, to doing the delivery back to Chicago, and that should be enough, but anyone is welcome to join us.  We’ll stop in CHARLEVOIX (appx. 48 nautical miles from Mackinac Island) to see my parents and Rosemary and Sam Hardy. After that we’ll head south and stop either in Muskegon (appx. 195 nautical miles from Mackinac Island), Grand Haven (appx. 205 nautical miles from Mackinac Island), or Holland (appx. 225 nautical miles from Mackinac Island) so that I can catch up with my parents at the 2012 National Model Railroad Convention in Grand Rapids. I don’t need to be in Grand Haven until the 29th, so I’m open to stopping anywhere along the way.  We’ll probably head back to Chicago on the evening of the 29th or the morning of the 30th, weather permitting, and should make Chicago on either Monday July 30th or Tuesday July 31st.

The race also has a bus that will take you back to Chicago for $85 (2011 rates). If anyone has room in a car that’s going back to Chicago, please let me know.

I would ask crew to supply their own personal gear, including Foul Weather clothing, PFD/Harness and Tether, a personal knife to be carried at all times (this is to be used to cut a safety harness tether, so a serrated edge might be best), and any other required personal equipment, all in compliance with the requirements of the NOR and OSR (look under the heading “Personal Equipment”). Make sure to get a refill kit for your inflatable PFD! (We do have a limited supply of some gear that you might be able to borrow if this is a real problem.) In addition, please bring (and use, as necessary) whatever anti-seasickness treatment is most effective for you -- some of which may require a prescription from a doctor, e.g. scopolamine patches.

I will take care of provisions on the boat during the race, although you are most welcome to contribute in-kind if you wish (I think Joe is bringing Chili). On the other hand, meals out on shore -- such as the Mount Gay Rum party, our island crew dinner, or during work and training weekends, for example -- would normally be each crew member's responsibility.

It should also be understood that BOOTLEGGER is intended to be a smoke and drug-free environment, and we drink alcoholic beverages only after we're done sailing.

August 31 – September 3, 2012 (Labor Day weekend) – Tri-State Regatta

Crew (those who have committed or have given a strong maybe):

Dave B

Joe L

Jim S

Janet S

Matt R

Joy R

Jason W

Cathy W

Dan L

This is one of my favorites. We start Friday night in Chicago and race to St. Joseph, MI., usually arriving around sun rise. Then we party; beach volley ball, tug-of-war, dance and dinner at the club, all day and night Saturday. Sunday we race to Michigan City, IN where they have dinner and dancing waiting for us. On Monday we race back to Chicago and then head home.

Be warned that this race is definitely NOT kid friendly, on more than one occasion I’ve seen pretty, and not so pretty, women go skinny dipping in the St. Joseph’s Yacht Club pool, which is where you’ll find me once it gets dark.

The crew is responsible for their own meals, drink, and lodging (I like to stay on the boat and everyone is welcome to join me) while on shore. I’ll have some food and drink on the boat for the sailing portions of the weekend. Lodging close to the yacht club in St. Joseph isn’t hard to find, but it is in Michigan City, and to make matters worse Michigan City doesn’t have a taxi service. The good news is that during the Joe and a few others were able to find a ride to the hotel, so all hope is not lost.

For this race you’ll want to have a set of foul weather gear, safety harness and tether (with whistle and light), and any sea sickness remedy that you might need.

We usually have a car that follows us around that will carry our clothes and extra gear, so if anyone wants to jump ship during any of the legs they’ll have a ride to the next destination.

Here’s what the St. Joseph Yacht Club had planned for the 2011 race:

Saturday (09-03-11)

The fun begins early as we will open the bar at 7am with Bloody Marys, Screwdrivers & Mimosas available for our early arriving sailors and anyone who wishes to come down and watch the boats come in.

Also at 7am the club will begin serving its traditional breakfast that includes pancakes (with and without blueberries!), scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits & Gravy and more!

 Still Hungry? The club will have no shortage of dining options available to you as we will begin serving our "Cheeseburger in Paradise Lunch" at 11am.  For only $6 you can enjoy a burger with all the fixin's and potato chips.

 The party really gets started at 5pm when Steve Foresman takes the stage to entertain us with a mixture of rock, folk, classic country, and rhythm & Blues.  Steve will play until 8pm and will be sure to have the crowd rockin'!

The event's amazing, annual dinner starts at 6pm and will be served until 10pm.  This delicious meal includes your choice of Grilled Steak or Chicken ($18/$13) in addition to Sweet Corn, Caesar Salad, Fresh Local Fruit and more!

 The Award Ceremony will be held at 7pm and is a great opportunity to cheer for your favorite yacht or find out how well you and your team sailed.

 You'll know that the party is in full swing at 8pm when our headlining band (Libido Funk Circus) takes the stage.  We are proud to welcome back last year's extremely popular band to our biggest party of the year and are extremely excited to hear what promises to be a great performance!  Don't forget that we will have two bars in service and a beer truck pouring your tapped favorites.  Be sure to invite your friends, family, neighbors & co-workers to the club to enjoy this exciting event with you! 

Sunday (09-04-11)

The Sailors will rise on Sunday morning (clear headed and energetic) to ready for the second leg of their journey.  They will be met at the club with fresh donuts, coffee and juice to give them a proper send off.  Watching the boats sail out to the lake makes for an exciting family outing.  Look to this section in the coming days for information regarding the ships anticipated departure times.”

The Moonshiner’s   (crew for 2012):

Matthew B

Kathryn B

Dave B

Joe L

Jim S

Janet S

Jason W

Cathy W

David S

Cody S

Matt R

Joy R

Dan L

November 2011

BOOTLEGGER is put away for the winter and the endless list of projects must now resume.

·         Replace cabin sole (started 01/2012)

·         Rebuild hydraulics, with exception of backstay

·         Re-stitch horseshoe holders

·         Buy and install GPIRB (completed 12/2011)

·         Buy and install VHF/AIS and remote in cockpit

·         Install shelves in storage behind stove and icebox

·         Replace spinnaker pole end

·         Replace all bulbs with LEDs

·         Replace roller furling cage

·         Replace 3 DC panel switches

·         Find leak in fresh water system

·         Replace/change oil, antifreeze, all filters, and alternator belt

·         Replace hose clamps below waterline

·         Replace automatic bilge pump switch

·         Replace two Ockam LCDs

·         Replace Treadmaster at stem

·         Clean and grease winches

·         Install lazyjacks

·         Re-bed handrails and toerails

·         Replace chart storage and head zippers

·         Replace aft lifelines

October 2011

A musical group by the name of “Sing Me A Fiction” used BOOTLEGGER in a music video for their new release, “A Part of the Crew”. It was a fun project and I had a small cameo.
 Bootlegger in Castine - ME May 2011
Just launched - Aug. 2011