Monday, March 01, 2010

Am I Strange?

Am I strange?

Is it strange for a 61-year-old grandfather to enjoy sailing a Laser on a chilly February afternoon in Rhode Island.

You would think so to read some of the other blogs...

Tweezerman, who is about my age and writes a blog called Earwigoagin, admits he likes reading my frostbiting posts but says in Frostbiting vs Anything Else that he cannot summon up the enthusiasm to actually do it himself these days...
Frostbiting in small sailing dinghies is something I did in my twenties but now, at this stage in life, I cannot drag up any great enthusiasm for ice cream headaches, complete numbness in hands and feet, and having to pee, all the while encased in a waterproof suit that takes 20 minutes to put on or off. I must be approaching "old codgerism" where it is easier to relate tales of "when I used to chip ice out of the bilge and then brave multiple capsizes in gale force winds and frigid waters" than it is to actually go out and do it.

Even bonnie, the intrepid cold water kayaker from New York who writes frogma, failed to find the Motivation to get out on the water this weekend.
I don't like cold weather, I hate all the extra gear & there's a part of me that really just wants to go full couch-potato in the wintertime.

In the past few winters I've been more couch potato than intrepid frostbiter myself, full of excuses for not going sailing, and skipping sailing even when I had no excuse as in Blah!

But this winter, for whatever reason, I've rediscovered my appetite for frostbite racing and have been blasting around with the Newport Laser frostbite fleet on six of the eight sailing days this year.

Yesterday was typical. I was excited from the moment I woke up. Today is Sunday! A day to go racing! What will the wind be like?

A leisurely morning putting my kit together and then a short drive down to Fort Adams in Newport. I'm usually one of the first to arrive, just before noon. I'm starting to know some of the other regulars and we enjoyed some of the usual pre-race banter as we rigged our boats and changed into our winter sailing gear. One of the women on the race committee introduced herself to me and asked, "Are you Tillerman?" I guess my days of blogging anonymity are long gone.

Then it's the sail out to the race course and a few minutes of warm-up sailing before the first race. I knocked my hat off doing a practice tack and it fell into the water. As I put it back on I thought about Tweezerman's phrase "ice cream headache." Ouch!

This week we had 5-10 knots out of the NW and the race committee started the afternoon with three two-lap windward-leeward races, which I found much more entertaining and rewarding than the usual menu of one-lap races that we have had most weeks. I guess it's because my starts are still pretty awful but I do have decent boat speed in these conditions. So even though I may be well down the fleet at the first windward mark I have plenty of time to pick my way through the fleet and improve my position before the end of the race.

I had three of my best results of the winter in those first three races. I slipped back a bit in the final two races which were one-lap Harry Anderson courses, but the wind was just strong enough to enjoy some planing and surfing on the reaches. I ended up with an overall score for the day equal to my best day of the season.

Sailed back to the beach with a huge smile on my face, exchanging comments with the other sailors about what a great afternoon we had all had, and feeling sorry for all the sad couch potatoes huddled inside watching TV. My limbs and back may have been aching but I was still pumped up on the drive home, going over the races in my head, thinking what I could have done differently, trying to learn the lessons, looking forward to more fun next week -- and perhaps even better results. Can't wait.

Is it strange for
for a 61-year-old grandfather to enjoy sailing a Laser on a chilly February afternoon in Rhode Island?

Am I strange?

Is the pope catholic?


Antolin said...


you are unique!! I had a great regatta weekend on the was cold, almost miseraable cold and blustery...very exciting racing. I could not imagine being on the laser at hat off to you boss.

be well


ps I may do the club's sunday race on the laser...we'll see

Baydog said...

Glad you had a good day yesterday. Now on Sundays in winter, I think of Tillerman, especially when it's a nice day. It's not strange to brave the elements if it's something you really love to do, but don't all of those piercings get caught in your cap?

O Docker said...

Yes, you are strange.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Tillerman said...

Thank you O Docker. That's the nicest thing you've ever said about me. How do you do it?

bonnie said...

You are an inspiration to us all.

You inspire me to want to be retired!

Now the person in your picture, with the face so pierced it resembles permanently implanted chain-mail? That person (he? she?) is strange.

BeachComber said...

Tillerman, can you write another post so that hideous image gets pushed down from the top of your page? Please!

I'm about to write a post myself. A book review no less.

Tillerman said...

Beachcomber - your wish is my command. It's done.

BeachComber said...

Looks like you beat me to it as well!

Pat said...

But if you were really strange wouldn't you live in someplace near San Francisco?

Not that there's anything wrong with living near San Francisco or with people who live near San Francisco.

In fact, some of those Bay Area residents even seem to be sailors who are hoping to have some sort of "Cup Regatta" or "AC 34" in that area.

Isn't frostbiting something involving sipping on a frozen Slurpee or Icey frozen beverage to cool off?

Tweezerman said...

Not strange, Not crazy. Plenty of oldsters out Lasering in Annapolis this time of year. Just not me! As you eloquent posts on weddings and grandkids points out, more to life than one passion. This past Sunday was a rare spectator sports day. Donned claret and blue to root for Aston Villa vs the Borg (Man U.) in the Carling Cup. Watched it at Fados Irish Pub. Villa played hard and gave as good as they got. They lost. Damned Rooney. Took a walk with the missus through the slush at the local park. Daughter and her fiance came over in the aftenoon and we watched the gold medal hockey game. Cheered lustily for the scrappy USA. Great game, they say one of the best ever. USA lost. Miller, Parise, Johnson, Kessler et al, What heart! Don't always need water to make me smile.

Joe said...

Watchout Pat, you're cruisin for a bruisin. Of course, if the Tillerman lived in San Francisco, he would not have to don a drysuit to go sailing or experience an ice cream headache. I wonder where Larry likes to sail? Hmmmm.

Zen said...

"Hinjing" or unique is a better word for you.

Bonnie is right the person in the picture IS strange!

PeconicPuffin said...

There are plenty of strange people in Rhode Island.

Meanwhile getting on the water in winter is lots of fun, the views are spectacular, the sailing fine, and we don't get rusty!

Anonymous said...

Curious to see the "extra gear" you wear to keep warm. Could you post a photo??

Antolin said...

well, two sundays ago, I decided against going out on the laser...instead I went sailing with my wife on the Lippincott 30, we had a good time, I stayed dry and cozy and enjoyed seeing the racing boats doing their thing. Followed a couple, including my buddy Colin on his windmill. But, tomorrow is going to be around 64 which is almost deceent, it will blow under 14 which is civil enough...I plan to race the laser named CHEESECAKE tomorrow Tillerman!! I'll think of you if I capsize into that cold water :)

be well


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