Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I blame Joe Rouse...
Joe and I have this long-standing running joke where he posts stuff on his blog about Force 5 sailing and I make fun of it. I don't recall how it started. Joe knows it's only in jest. I don't hate Force 5 sailors. Some of my best friends are Force 5 sailors. Hell, I even wrote a post about Seven Reasons Why Force Fives Are Better Than Lasers.
Joe on the other hand seems to be deadly serious about mocking Laser sailors in general and me in particular on his blog in posts such as this and this and this. Joe has never written a post about Seven Reasons Why Lasers Are Better Than Force Fives.
Part of my friendly joke is that I tease Joe about how few Force 5s are actually still sailing these days. So a couple of weeks ago when Joe posted a photo that amazingly had two Force 5s in the same frame I couldn't resist being a smart ass and commenting, "I actually saw a Force 5 this week. First sighting in Rhode Island in two years living here. It was at the boat ramp when I returned from my sail on Monday."
And then someone called Mark replied and said he might have been the Force 5 sailor that I sighted. Mark described himself as a "sailing buffoon" so, sensing a kindred spirit, I started an email exchange with him and set up a date to go sailing with him on Monday of this week. Turns out that Mark wasn't actually the guy I spotted. Wow, that means there are at least two Force 5 sailors in Rhode Island. (Only joking, Joe.)
We agreed to meet at the public boat ramp in Wickford which is on the opposite side of Narragansett Bay from where I usually sail but nearer to where Mark lives. Sure enough when I rolled into the parking lot just before 1:30pm there was the "sailing buffoon" by the ramp with his Force 5 already rigged. Actually Mark turned out not to be a buffoon at all but a really friendly, interesting, smart, cool dude... for a Force 5 sailor. (Only joking Mark.)
The winds were pretty light, only around 5 to 8 knots I would guess. We sailed upwind and against the incoming tide out of the harbor. It was just after low tide and, being unfamiliar with the area and never one to follow a marked channel, I managed to run aground on the way out. I guess the Laser sailor is the sailing buffoon today.
Once out in the bay we agreed to sail upwind towards Fox Island. Mark learned to sail as a teenager but hasn't sailed much since. He recently restored his father's Force 5 and is just getting back into sailing. He seemed to have a bit of difficulty staying with me upwind so I circled back and gave him a couple of tips, based on my vast experience of having sailed a Force 5 once before. (Don't tell Joe.)
The tips seemed to help and we carried on upwind in a breeze that was slowly dying. Eventually we decided it would not be a good idea to be over two miles from the launch ramp if the breeze totally disappeared so we headed back downwind to the area just outside the harbor. Mark asked some questions about why I was heeling so much to windward on the run and I answered based on my vast knowledge of physics and aero-hydrodynamics culled from once having seen a book by Czesław Marchaj in a library.
We did some windward leeward laps around buoys for a while. There was a class of Optimists training in the same area. I just had to comment to their coach about how amused I was by the way the kids were constantly screaming and shouting at each other all the time they were racing.
"At least I know where they are," he replied.
"Yeah. Even in the fog."
I worked on my roll tacks and gybes, trying to remember what Kurt Taulbee had taught me at the Sailfit clinic in March and what Rulo said on the Advanced Laser Boat Handling DVD. I'm getting better (I think) at timing the "shoulder bump" in the tacks but there's still room for improvement. I think they'll probably write that on my gravestone... still room for improvement.
I finished off the afternoon with another long beat and run, and then suggested to Mark that we head in. The wind inside the harbor had died almost completely and I showed off my light air technique for a while as Mark took out his paddle, for which he was severely mocked by a group of little kids on the dock. It's good for them to learn early how to treat Force 5 sailors. (Only joking Mark.)
Eventually I gave up sailing myself, and stood up and rocked the boat the last hundred yards or so to the boat ramp.
Mark and I had a good chat about various stuff after sailing. He even mentioned that he reads my blog. But then he went out of his way to say how much he enjoys Joe Rouse's blog, and how one of his best friends would write a blog just like Joe's if he decided to write a blog, and how Joe's blog is full of such interesting stuff...
Damn you Joe Rouse.