March 1, 2003: The final race in Sale Creek Marina's Shackleton Series was forecast for light winds from the south and a stiff current from the north. The crew of our own Possible Mallard, who had missed the last race due to a conflict with a Chattanooga peace march, listened to many tales of woe about that adventure...boats drifting helplessly downstream, anchored for hours against the current, locked in by fog...until one by one every skipper was forced to fire their engines and quit the race. This time, Captain Freye of Banana Split was adamant: "I am going to finish this race no matter how long it takes!"
Race favorite Maniac demonstrated the tactic of anchoring just upstream of the starting line. However, when the horn sounded it apparently was not so easy to pull a 29 foot boat upstream against the current.
A few minutes into the race, Possible Mallard was drifting in good postion, fighting for first place with Banana Split, who was hoping for better wind over on the east bank. Maniac (far left of photo) is apparently still weighing anchor. (Other boats from left: Dutchess, Enchantress, Katzenjammer, Icebreaker, True Blue.)
Not everyone agreed on the best course necessary to pass the first green can (eventually everyone was forced to tack over).
Apparently, there was a bit of current. The knotmeter on Possible Mallard was showing a pace of 1.1 knots through the water, but the GPS showed 3.8 knots over the bottom.
Just around the first mark, it was Possible Mallard, Maniac, and and Banana Split trying to ferry upstream across the current to the red nun on the other side as the light winds grew ever fainter.
Three hours later, Possible Mallard, having gone aground once, anchored three times, and drifted a half mile downstream, finally crept upstream past that Nun. Most of the rest of the fleet, having been pushed even further downstream, had by now retired and it was a three boat race: Maniac, Split, and Mallard.
Sometime after 4:00 PM the winds had increased to a steady breeze. Maniac was across the finish line and Banana Split was roaring in that direction. Unfortunately, having battled the fickle winds and strong current for hours to make the journey, Split ran hard aground about 200 yards short of the finish on the infamous Sale Creek Shoals. Possible Mallard was second over the line with an uncorrected time of 5 hours, 23 minutes. And yes, we did go help Captain Frye off the shoals--after we finished the race, of course!