The Spellbinding Tale of a Miracle at Sea

Mention SORCERY around C&C Yachts and the first thing that come to mind is a C&C 61 with an incredible history at sea.

Find SORCERY in any modern book of words and you'll find that it equates with magic, enchantment, miracle, and spellbing.

When you hear this saga of seafaring adventure you will readily see the connection.

This is, of necessity, a piecemeal presentation, which we'll start with a letter from George Cuthbertson to Dariend Murray, publisher of The Dinghy, a magazine from Venice, California and development of the first C&C 61, and Cuthbertson replied, in part:

You will notice that on various drawings reference is made to C&C 61 design. SORCERY, for James F. Bladwin, and CAMPAIGNE for T.K. Fisher. It's all the same!. The design was originally commissioned by Tom Fisher of Detroit whose object was a fast cruiser capable of handling the 12 meters of the day on a bot-for-boat basis. Specifically, he had ideas of being consistently first to finish in New York Yacht Club cruises, which of course meant getting there ahead of the 12's. However, since his home waters were to be Lake St. Clair, he imposed the stringent draft restriction of eight feet. In the longer term, he had hoped to campaign the yacht internationally - hence her name.

Mr. Fisher did not proceed with constructon as crew "complications" set in. At that time (196), this firm, C&C Yachts Limited, was being "assembled" from four small firms and we took the decision to go ahead with tooling for the 61 - to the best of my knowledge the largest production fibreglass boat of the time.

The first C&C 61 was ordered by James F. Baldwin of Oyster Bay, New York, and named SORCERY. In her first race (St. Petersburg to Venice) she fulfilled her initial objective, finishing first by about a two-hour margin.

She went on to achieve distinction in SORC and in may other events around the world, from the Solent to Australia to Japan, etc. - certainly the most travelled of any of our yachts and thereby, as it turned out, fulfilled Mr. Fisher's other objective for CAMPAIGNE.

Of her sisters (or near sisters, since all 61's varied as they were tailored to their owners' particular objectives) mention should be made of ROBON, built for Bob Grant of California, which was first to finish in a heavy upwind Bermuda race in a fleet which included six "maxi's". Other particulary well-known 61's are SASSY (now (BRASSY) which also had SORC success but has spent most of her career on the Lakes, and TRIUMPH ex JOLI which is doubtless familiar to you. They have been a colourful series of jachts! I should also mention HELISARA which we rebuild for Herbert von Karajan.

To return to SORCERY, she grounded heavily while making her original delivery cruise to Florida prior to SORC. There was little evidence that any real damage had been done.

Neither she nor any of her sisters has ever encountered structural problems of any consequence and SORCERY in particular has been more than tested - as you are well aware - through her extensive travels and campaigning including her 360 degree rollover in the North Pacific and Mexican grounding to which we refer."

Darien Murray was quick to reply, enclosing the photograph which accompanies this story. The picture of SORCERY aground, the keel completely submerged in the sand, was taken on the beach at Abreojos (translation: Keep your eyes open) Mexico which is actually Baja, California, the coastline facing the Pacific.

In her letter Darien says: "Skip Jordan and Ray Hayes are standing in the bow. Ray is an engineer who helped work out the successful rescue, an effort headed by Captain R.I. Wakeland, a marine surveyor, Jake Wood. Jordan, Hayes, and Wakeland basically lived on the beach for a week while struggling to save the boat. For a long time afterwards SORCERY did not move without Jake aboard.

Rich Baker, who took this photograph, is a sailor, a yacht broker, and a private pilot. He flew Jake, Skip Jordan and Ray Hayes down to Baja, California to find SORCERY.

The Mexicans in the photo were trying to dig out the rudder but whenever they got close to the bottom of it the tide would come in."

Further to that, Dariend held a fun contest, featuring this photograph on the front cover of the Dinghy, and inviting readers to send in appropriate comments. The winner was "Beatsa hell out of me, skipper ... it was all around us just a minute ago".

Runners-up were:
"As soon as they bury the treasure we'll head out to sea." "We may be aground, Cap'n., I threw my cigarette over the side and it's still burning." And another favorite entry "Have you loaded all the animals?"

But for sheer, terrifying, gut-wrenching drama, read the article by Aulan Fitzpatrick, writing in Sail Magazine, titled "ROGUE WAVE". Mr. Fitzpatrick was aboard SORCERY and the title of his story tells it all.