Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays long-distance sailors from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. Chicago-Mac race sailors stand a pretty good chance of running into bad weather, so I picked up a set of foulies.
Pictured here: bibs, just one part of the foul weather gear. Sailing in foul weather has its own unique set of needs. Of course the gear has to be waterproof because sailors get soaked from spray and rain, but the bibs also need heavily reinforced knees and rear ends. (Insert sailor joke here.) Sailboats have rough non-skid coatings all over the deck so folks don’t slip off the boat. Unlike powerboats, sailboats spend long periods of time heeling sideways due to the strength of the wind, so traction is important. The same rough surfaces that help Brent stay on the boat also wreak havoc on knees and butts.
The overalls make me look like a circus freak. The photo would lead you to believe that I’m seven feet tall. Everybody looks this way, though – at least, that’s what the salesman said when he wasn’t laughing.
Not pictured: a red foul weather jacket. Word has it that yellow attracts biting flies. We’re doing 4-hour shifts, and if it’s raining, that means four straight hours of trudging around a sailboat in the rain and spray. To make that misery more enjoyable, the jacket has a built-in interior iPod pocket with cable routing for headphones.
Other goodies: 3/4 finger gloves (to keep your fingertips free to tie knots), boots, and a Tyvek jumper to keep the flies off in light weather.
All in all, I spent a disturbing amount of money, but I want Mother Nature at my side at the gambling table. I don’t want to bet on dry, calm weather in Lake Michigan. To find out how my bet went, let’s take a look at the current satellite map for the first leg of our journey, going from Whitehall (top right of the map) to Chicago (bottom left) for the race start.
Yep, looks like I did okay there.
Tracking Our Progress
We’re heading out late this afternoon from Whitehall, Michigan to Chicago. Google Maps shows the car route, but they don’t have routes for sailors, oddly. I’ll check in when we get to Chicago in a day or so.
Starting Friday at around 3pm, you’ll be able to track each boat’s progress. We’re aboard the Hannah Frances. When in doubt, look towards the back of the pack. Don’t let Friday’s progress fool you – we’ll be pulling ahead only because they let the cruising boats start a day early. (I wouldn’t be surprised if tracking wasn’t turned on until Saturday morning for the race boat start, either.)
- WeatherUnderground satellite map for Lake Michigan
- WeatherUnderground radar map from Chicago and from Gaylord
- Sailing Weather Service for the race (if you’re a landlubber, you won’t like this one)
- The official @RaceToMackinac Twitter account (seems a little light on info though)
- American Sailors – a show on WGN on 7/26 about last year’s Chicago-Mac race. You can watch the trailer.
- For more information like the schedule, history and participants, check out the Chicago-Mac official site.
And now, I’m off to the sailboat!