By Kevin Gregory
I was 19 during the 1974 Erie Dover Cruise. I had signed on with PC Carl Smither, co-owner of THERMIS (BCC). In Maitland, I met Bob and Peg Way, owners of the new 69′ ketch MASKER (EYC) and was invited to join them. My skipper gave me permission and the next morning, I was aboard MASKER, heading out the slot in 20 knot winds and 6′ seas. It was quite an experience for someone who never sailed a boat larger than 40′! I marveled at how the “hi-tech” mast was able to bend so well with every plunge of the bow over the wave tops and down into the next trough. Then the unthinkable happened; the mast broke just above the middle! Crewman Steve Yetman went aloft to belay the swinging mast top and we headed back into port Maitland to wait out the blow. That was the first day of my 3 years aboard the legendary yacht MASKER. Over that time (and beyond) dozens of young crew from EYC, BYC and BCC would race her across Lake Erie, to Port Huron, Mackinac Island, Chicago and beyond.