Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Perfect Vacation

We just got back from our vacation. We sailed to Mattituck for 2 days, then spent 5 days in Block Island, and hit Mattituck for the final weekend on the way home. It was fun. But our camera went bye-bye in the middle of the trip.

Let me explain the drawing. We took a bunch of pictures during the first 4 days of our trip, but sadly, one afternoon my trusty digital camera met with an unfortunate accident. After returning from an afternoon swimming at a perfect beach, we were climbing back into the boat, which was moored at Block Island in roughly 25 feet of water. The camera somehow managed to pop out of the backpack, bounce once on the deck, and tumble just out of reach into the Great Salt Pond. Hence the drawing above.

We watched in stunned silence for a few moments, while a tiny trail of bubbles marked the spot where the camera disappeared into the briny deep. True, the camera WAS seven years old; it WAS a sub-megapixel model; and now I'll have a valid reason to buy a decent camera...but still, we had this thing for ages, and it took a lot of fun pictures (some of which are in this blog and others); I felt a bit sad.

So we decided the best course of action was to pour us a couple of drinks and get ready to go out to dinner. Because after all, it WAS an old camera, and we were on vacation. It'd be silly to let something like that ruin our good time.

And "The Oar" restaurant at Block Island Boat Basin makes a great Mahi-mahi sandwich! Not to mention a slightly toxic but wonderful rum drink called the "No Problem".

So, for the balance of the vacation, I actually had a better time than I would have, because I was freed from the responsibility of taking pictures all the time.

We had a great time.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Woman at the Helm race #3

Tonight was the final Woman at the Helm race of the three-race series.

Adam Westerman and his co-worker Chris surprised us by showing up tonight. Adam used to crew for us a few years ago, but his job has kept him working late most Thursdays, so he hasn't been on the boat for a long time. It was great to sail with him again.

Oh, did I mention they work for North Sails? Adam was the bowman, while Chris did sail trim. We got some great advice from them, although I feel that I must say I did a good job calling tactics. Hey, if I don't mention it, how are you supposed to find that out? Do you think Joyce is gonna email you? Huh?

There were a total of maybe 32 boats tonight; there may have been 8 or 9 in the WAH class, but I don't really know. It was an exciting start for us. We held our own, and Joyce did real good, especially when somebody on another boat tried to scare Joyce by saying he wasn't going to let her get by. She was awesome though, and ignored him. It turned out he couldn't do anything to stop her. She kicked his butt. Joyce rules.

We're heading for Welches after rounding the E mark at Charles Island. We stayed left on the course, and as I expected, it paid off. Like I said, I'm great. Oh, and so's our crew. Yeah, they're great too. We're all great. OK?

Post-finish, it's Happy Hour! Lori enjoys a beautiful sunset while Adam inspects the rig. You can tell he's a sailmaker.

Ho-hum...these sunsets are getting SO boring.

How come Joyce looks so sweet and lovely, and I look like every guy you see sleeping on a park bench? I guess I'm just not very photogenic...but I DO call great tactics! HAH!

I'm guessing we pulled a 3rd or 4th place; we don't know because some of the boats we raced against last time went with the 27+ class rather than the WAH class. I'll have to wait to see the results probably after we get back from vacation, since we're gonna be gone next week. When I find out I'll post the results.

Joyce, Lori, Chris, and Adam all did a super job tonight, and the race, although short (about 35 minutes) was great fun and exciting. Way to go, crew!

RESULTS UPDATE: We ended up with a 5th place finish; we missed 4th place by 12 seconds, 3rd by 33 seconds, and 2nd by 39 frickin' seconds! Oh well, preliminary results put us in 5th place overall for the season, as opposed to 3rd place if we'd been 40 seconds faster. It was still fun.

Now it's vacation time. YAY!

"At least nobody got killed"

Sometimes, everything that goes on in a race is absolutely perfect. The wind is ideal, we have a great start, the crew work is awesome, and we take the gun at the finish.

Tonight...well, tonight that didn't happen.

I'll try to ignore all the terrible and horrific details, and focus instead on all these wonderful positives:

1) Lightning DIDN'T strike us.

2) We DIDN'T collide with a nuclear submarine.

3) A gigantic meteor DIDN'T fall from the sky and obliterate all life on Earth as we know it.

See? I can be a positive person. Don't ever accuse ME of being negative, no sir-ee!

Aw, I'm just kidding. We had fun. Really. Take a look at these fun pictures.

Look at the sun. Nice, huh? Fun, too.

Tim and Pete are having fun. Can't you tell?

Isn't that a pretty sunset? I'm telling ya, it's FUN!

Tim, me and Paul are having fun on the rail. Sure, it might look like we're beaten down and depressed by the events of the race, but you're just being silly if you think that.

The moon was fun, too. And after dark, when our motor didn't start, we had a FUN tow back to the dock. I've always wondered what the phrase "going from insult to injury" meant. Not anymore.

Of course, I'm kidding. We really did have fun tonight. And there was a lot of really good pizza and chicken wings at the yacht club after the race. That WAS fun.

We'll do better next time I'm sure.

(hopefully I'll be away on vacation before Teri reads this!)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Weekend at PJ

I didn't take a single picture this entire weekend. It was a relief to NOT have to deal with that stupid camera for a change! So, I'll attempt to describe the weekend by painting a picture with a list of things we did:

Left Milford around 11:00
Picked up our mooring at 3:00
Inflated our Achilles dinghy
Watched a sudden rainstorm sweep through the harbor
Dried out and enjoyed happy hour
Grilled a T-bone steak with garlic/herb marinade
Listened to the Mets win the game on the radio
Waved to our friends as they came by
After dark, we read our books and dozed on the settees
Fell asleep to the sound of gentle waves lapping at the boat

Woke to the sound of ducks quacking
Brewed and drank a pot of black coffee with Hershey's syrup in it
Ate some muffins for breakfast
I dove with my scuba gear and cleaned the boat bottom
We took the dinghy for a ride to the dock in Sautucket
Borrowed 2 dollars from Celeste to buy a bag of ice
Came back to the boat and dropped off the ice
Visited Gary and Carol on "Shameles"
John and Celeste sailed over on the Dyer Dhow to visit
Paid Celeste her 2 dollars back
Took the Dyer out for a sail
Jumped in the water for a cooling swim
Motored over to the beach and walked across to the Sound
Back at the boat we put away the dinghy
Swam for a while, then Joyce and I lounged in the inflatable fish
Packed up and sailed out the harbor
Dodged scary thunderstorms all the way home
Got home by 6PM

Who needs pictures?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Thursday Nite Race: August 11th

It must be August in Long Island Sound...temps in the 90's, winds around 4-7 kts., lots of boats. Yup, it's that time o' year!

The course tonight was Start (in the Gulf), to E (green can NE of the island) to Welches Point, back to Start, back to E, then back to Start. The wind started out of the South (what there was of it), then in clocked to West, died, was reborn out of the NW, died again, came out of the SW for a few minutes, then settled on the West when we finished. Yup, it's August alright!

Joyce is steering because next week is the "Woman at the Helm" race. She did good. Pete's ready on the winch for a quick least I think he is. He may LOOK like he's relaxing, but I can see he's ready to pounce on that winch the SECOND we need to tack. Trust me.

"Audacious" is right behind us as we approach the mark.

It got a bit crowded at the windward mark (as usual).

"Caliente" passes us going toward the 2nd mark.

A couple boats decided to fly their spinnakers...we would have too, if I brought it! I guess we're going to keep it on the boat from now on to stave off mutinies.

"Gael Wind" is trucking toward the finish in the 26- class. We had two more legs to go in our class.

Joyce helms us towards the finish, seconds behind "Schock Therapy"...I would have taken a picture of the finish, but our bow was mere inches from their stern, and I was busy looking for our insurance policy at the time.

After the finish, the fun doesn't end! Here's the crew rolling up the main, as the skipper enjoys a mini-cigar and a brewski. Ah, the benefits of racing a boat (and providing beer and pizza to the crew!)

We had a good race, and Joyce kicked ass helming us...she's getting both braver at the helm, and more assertive when she doesn't agree with us. When we were all screaming at her to try to push some boats off the mark (wrongly, it turned out), she snarled at us "I'm falling off whether you like it or not!"

Good lord, I've created a monster! But if she keeps sailing like that, it's fine with me. I'm proud of you, babe.

Tonight the crew was Joyce and me, along with Teri, Pete, and Tim. Great job guys! Always a pleasure to sail with you!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"Wild Eyes" Wednesday

Another evening off of Branford. Light winds from an awkward direction caused a downwind/beam reach start.

Lori works the bow during the pre-start sequence.

Tim works the winch after we gybe.

Pete and Teri concentrate on the starting strategy.

Most boats, including "Golden Rule", flew the spinnaker for the first leg.

I got to trim the spinnaker tonight. It was fun. But the winds died and they finished the race at the third mark. The course ended up being Start-N36-10A.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Milford Yacht Club Invitational

We entered the race in the cruising class since we were 'shorthanded". As in, only TWO sets of hands. That's pretty damned shorthanded by any definition of the phrase!

Joyce and I were in the last class (who am I kidding? we have no class) to start. The winds were light and the course was long, so we knew it was gonna be a brutal race. But that's whatcha get on the Sound in summer! Hey, I'm NOT complaining here...

I had to take all my pictures before the race, 'cause we were so busy DURING it. Here's me with "Wild Eyes". The picture above that features "Golden Rule", the winner of Class B.

The Race Committee had a long day along with the rest of us. They kept a good handle on the race on VHF channel 72. Because we were monitoring 72 all day, we heard "Sagacious" report that they had to drop out due to a "freakish" gear failure. We wondered what could have happened.

After the race we enjoyed the party at Milford Yacht Club. Tim and Lori chow down on BBQ chicken and ribs. Joyce drank a lot of beer. Well, a lot for her. For me, it would have just been a warmup. But I was cool, seeing as how I had to drive.

"Wild Eyes" motors into the sunset upon leaving the dock. Then they turned around and headed out the harbor channel, because the sun sets in the WEST and Branford is in the EAST. Being experienced sailors, we make it our business to know these things. Sometimes it scares me how much we know about things like that. Like where the sun rises and sets, and how many beers we can fit into the ice box. Trivia like that. It's important.

The results are posted in the WSC forum, but we finished 4th overall in our class of seven boats. We're fairly pleased with how we did, considering it was just Joyce and me...although I tended to replay the few mistakes we made in my head while trying to get to sleep last night. Sheesh, it's just a stupid race; nothing to lose SLEEP over, is it?

Friday, August 05, 2005

Thursday Nite Race: August 4th

Nice race tonight...we had Tim, Pete, Teri, Joyce and I on the boat. Jeff Stuart and "Schock Therapy" did a great job as race committee. The wind was out of the ESE, so the course was set from just north of the island to Pond Point, back to the start, then to Welches' Point and back twice. Excellent course, Jeff!

We were a little late on the start (on purpose) because the wind was a bit strong and a LOT of boats were piled up on the line. We made decent time towards the first mark in some light chop, although when I asked Pete where the mark was, he pointed somewhere forward of the PORT beam and said, "Around two o'clock."

TWO o'clock? Obviously something was wrong, so I checked my nautical almanac to convert PST ("Pete Standard Time") to the local time zone, and came up with 10 o'clock. Then I set my watch to reflect the time difference so we'd tack at 9 o'clock. Or do I ADD an hour for Daylight Savings Time? I forget...

The wind was a little variable, especially as we approached sunset. At the pin to start the last round the wind died almost completely for a few minutes, but then picked up again more out of the south, enabling us to do the last to legs as broad reaches. We finished just as it got dark, and motored in. Fun night.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Wednesday night "Around the Buoys"

Last night on "Wild Eyes" was another scorcher; 90+ degrees, awful humidity, and light and shifty winds. And we had a brutal start due to some barging at the pin (*COUGH* black diamond *COUGH*). We spent the whole race trying to catch up with the fleet after that. Bleah!

During the prestart, I was trimming the starboard winch. The countdown timer is located on the starboard bulkhead. With about 2-1/2 minutes to go, the clock suddenly goes blank.

"Holy shit! What happened to the timer?", somebody asked.

"I don't know!", I cried helpfully.

"Somebody must have hit one of the buttons!", somebody else said.

Everyone stopped and looked at me, as I was bumbling around maybe six inches from the timer. I gulped. Sweat broke out on my forehead. I panicked helpfully for a moment, and then hit the chrono function on my watch, hoping to sync up with the one-minute warning. I'm imagining laser-beams shooting out of Pete's eyes, burning into the back of my skull.

Fortunately (for me), the timer mysteriously started working again. I still don't know if I caused the thing to hiccup or not, but I DO know that I'm going to keep well away from the son-of-a-bitch from now on. At least until AFTER the race starts!

Paul trims the spinnaker as we slowly make way downwind against the tide.

Lori and Tim enjoy a moment during our run. They look terribly relaxed, don't they?

We did catch up to some boats as we all converged on the finish at the same time.

They oughta charge admission for this.

Wasabi sail up the channel under spinnaker as we head in after a shortened race; one lap up to "10A" and back (I think).

Monday, August 01, 2005

Another weekend in PJ (am I being redundant?)

Man, I love the routine of summer...another weekend, another trip to Port Jefferson. The weather Saturday was sunny and hot, with little wind. We ended up motoring over and we arrived around 2PM.

Joyce relaxes in typical "Joyce-like" manner, before taking a swim. The water was amazingly clean this weekend; I have no idea why it was so much clearer than last weekend.

Shit, when will I stop with the stupid self-portraits? (maybe when Joyce volunteers to take a picture of me someday...that sound you don't hear is me holding my breath)

Saturday the Housatonic Boat Club had their cross-Sound race and beach party. Vern and Sheila from "Pegasus" picked us up in their dinghy and gave us a ride to the beach. We ran into Bruce and Judy from the HBC cruise two years ago, and it was nice to see Bill there also. Fun party. The phosphorescence in the water that night was amazing!

Sunday morning Joyce finds a spot on our genoa bag to apply suntan lotion. I don't like the idea of suntan lotion on our sail, but I've learned to stop telling women what they can or can't do; it's easier that way. Trust me.

Later, the wind kicked up nicely out of the east. It was choppy, but we only set the #2 genny and trucked across the Sound in about 2 hours. We let Otto (our autohelm) do the steering.

At one point Joyce lost her balance while going below, and she pitched backwards into my lap, dinging her tailbone slightly but managing to stay on the boat. Unlike the book that I was reading. Which was a very rare hardcover. All about the history of New England whaling. I'm sure it's out of print and more than likely very valuable.

But I'll never know. Because Joyce sent it to the bottom.

At least she felt bad about it. For a while.