Saturday, September 24, 2005

Thursday 9/22

So far, there's no definite word on where or when the '05 NA's will be. They might throw together something down at Cedar Point, but I'm hoping they don't, because I'd prefer to see them there next year when we'll have the time to get a committed team together.

Tonight the wind was HONKIN'! Before the race, Jim from "Spirit" stopped by the boat while I was putting the #1 genny on the deck. The wind seemed to be moderating from earlier in the day, and was averaging around 8-10 knots in the harbor. I thought, "Hey, it'll probably die towards sunset, so we'll be in good shape."

(Photo shamelessly stolen from

Jim looked at the sail, and asks, "Is that your number one? Have you SEEN the Gulf tonight?" I muttered a non-reply, not really worried. He kind of laughed and told me he'd see me out on the water.

Later, when we exited the harbor and our wind gauge topped 23 knots, we decided to go with a full mainsail and the number 3 jib. I haven't even SEEN the #3 in about three years, but I figured that it still worked. So we jumped the main and jib, and got ready to start.

Of course, Jim and "Spirit" comes sailing by, and he yells, "Where's your number one?" I smiled and said, "Maybe tomorrow." I would have thought of something funnier, but the boat was in danger of broaching and I was a bit distracted.

Our crew was Tim, Mike Kivell, Matt (Rob's friend from "Bayou Blue") and Joyce. We managed to start the race slightly late due to a problem with the main sheet, which caught on a winch when we tacked from one reach to another. We ended up in irons (momentarily, since the wind was still fresh as hell), and tacked back onto the original course, then (finally) tacked back to where we wanted to go originally. That put us about a minute late for the start; still, we were moving pretty good and the crew was having fun.

That is, they were, until we caught a wicked roller halfway to the first windward mark; the bow crashed through the wave and tossed up about 40 gallons of water. Which cascaded down the windward rail of the boat; the screams of the crew should have tipped me off to stand up before getting soaked. But my pinpoint laser-like focus on making the boat perform resulted in me getting a wet ass along with the rest of the crew. Or possibly it was my lack of a quick reaction. Either way, my butt got least the water was warm.

We sailed to maybe 60% of our capabilities tonight. There was just too much of a breeze to want to knock ourselves out; in fact, we hit 30 knots of apparent wind several times. While we were dropping the sails after the race, we were motoring broadside to the waves. Mike was driving, Joyce was working with the traveler, and I was leeward, crouched on the deck holding the mainsail down, when I felt the boat drop into valley and Matt exclaimed "Jesus Christ!". I held on, expecting to get launched over the side. We heeled way over to starboard, and righted again.

Judging from what I heard, I was expecting worse. But then again, I wasn't looking at it as it rolled in. Tim and Matt were commenting on what a big wave it was. A scary wave isn't as exciting if you don't see it.

Anyway, we had fun tonight. Next week is the last Thursday race, the Harvest Moon Race & Raftup. The raftup is a party where we all raft up to each other and drink heavily while sharing food. Should be good, especially if we have the same weather that we had tonight!

But I'll settle for 8-12 kts...yeah, that would be just fine with me.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Thursday 9/15 Race and J/30 NAs talk

Here's a picture of last year's J/30 North American championship, held in Rhode Island. Sadly, this year's NAs were scheduled for New Orleans in October, but obviously it's cancelled. There is some talk about moving the championship to Long Island Sound, but it's getting late in the season to do that, and besides, I'm hoping they get to host it here next year, so I'll have enough time to get a crew together and compete. So far, there's no definitive word about what will happen yet.

BTW, that photo is "Blue Meanie", the J/30 we collided with during the 1998 NAs at Cedar Point. It wasn't much of a collision; during the start, they were just behind us and to leeward, and tried to push us up. We didn't have room and were afraid of going over the line early, so we came down slightly. Suddenly their bow pulpet bounced off our port stern rail. I was steering, and I reached over, grabbed their rail, and shoved their boat about three feet to leeward.

I've always wondered what their protest might have been if the entire start wasn't recalled. "Unlawful shoving"?

Tonight was the first of the last three races of the Thursday night season, and all three races start at 6:00PM instead of 6:30, since sunset is around 7:00 these days.

It was also a spinnaker night, but we had some cancellations and it turned out that only Rob (from "Bayou Blue") showed up, so with only three of us we had to sail in the 27+ class.

Because of the crappy weather we had earlier in the day, coupled with the early start time, there were only about 10 boats total out there. There were NO boats sailing in the 26- class, and only two or three boats in the 27+. That left 7 or 8 boats sailing with chutes.

The wind dipped almost to nothing just before our start, so we got caught late and took about 3 minutes after the gun to cross the line. But the wind came back enough for us to do the course (WNWNS), and after a great sunset, we finished the race and headed in. I think we won our class, but I'm not sure if the committee boat knew that.

The motor was running funny tonight; every time I idled it, it died. Which made it difficult to switch between forward and reverse. But then, coming back in, I made sure we had a good amount of speed as we turned into the docks. I shifted the throttle/shifter combo into neutral, and the motor vibrated like it was going to die, but then started running fine while idling. So I don't know what was causing the problem. But it's fine now.

I hope.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Thusday 9/08 race

Tonight the wind was fresh. By fresh, I mean it was honking! While the breeze averaged maybe 12-15 over the course of the evening, we registered 23 knots apparent wind a few times. Which makes it interesting if you have a full main and the big Number One genny up.

This is an archive photo that I'd never posted, from a previous race. I don't feel like messing with MS-Paint to draw a cute picture right now. I'll have a digital camera soon, don't worry.

Joyce, Pete and Teri, along with Rob from Branford (he's a new owner of "Bayou Blue", a J/30 with a great paint job) joined us as crew, and when the wind kicked up we could have used a couple more chunks of rail meat.

The course was right into the southerly to the Chas. Is. bell buoy, then out to Pond Point, back to Start, up to the green Chas. Is. can, and back to start. Those long reaches out and back from P.P. were fun! We passed the Frers 33 "Audacious", and kept ahead of the First 32 "Le Arche de Noe" for an exciting race.

The next three Thursdays are spinnaker nights, so we're gonna have some FUN out there! Sadly, the season ends on the 29th. I'll have to race with "Wild Eyes" on Sundays to get my racing fix in October.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Race Committee Night 9/01

Tonight "Full Tilt" was RC boat. We were representing "Sea Hound", Mike Kivell's boat, since it was much easier for us to just take our boat rather than go out to the mooring and picking up his boat. Joyce, Mike and me were RC.

In this artist's rendition of the finish, you can see "Full Tilt" with the RC and WSC flags waving in the gentle breeze, with the New York 40 "Defiant" just edging out the Pearson Flyer "Kari" and J/27 "Relentless" at the line for an exciting finish. Of course, I'm just stating the obvious, as you can easily tell from the picture.

Last night was the last Wednesday night at "Around the Bouys" racing in Branford; next week they go to Sunday afternoon races. But the wind was so strong and the waves were 4-6 feet and steep, so we decided after reaching the channel to turn around and go back. Then we decided to turn around and go back out when some other boats headed out. Then we decided to turn around again and go back in. Then we decided to go out and get pizza. THAT decision, we stuck with! And it was delicious.

We also went to PJ for the Labor Day weekend. No artist's renditions available, because I get a headache when using MS-Paint with a trackball. But I took a lot of video with my new mini-DV camcorder. Maybe eventually I'll post some screen-caps from the footage.