Friday, April 30, 2010

Almost the End of the Future...

Only one more day left in our group writing project about the future of sailing, Sailing in the Second Space Age. Four more entrants crossed the finish line since our last report...

The Bursledon Blogger wants to take us Back to the Sailing Future with Tillerman's writing challenge. I have to admit that I have no idea what his post is about. He says that it wasn't written while "experimenting" with mind altering drugs, but you be the judge. Personally, I think he's way past the "experimenting" stage.

Then we have Andrew of Sadler Bootwerk who has submitted some Laser Maths. "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Thirdly, SailSox who writes AddJuncture has contributed Looking Backwards at Sailing. (Great title by the way. I feel like I've been looking backwards (or sideways) at sailing for half my life.) He foresees a divergence in our sport and concludes that he is "quite happy with sailing's stubbornness." Hmmm. Anyway, check it out.

Finally, Zen is Fresh from Japan into space age sailing in which he offers a uniquely depressing perspective on where our sport might be heading. I hope he's wrong.

Check them all out. And then write an entry yourself. Today is the last day. Full details of how to participate at Sailing in the Second Space Age.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Run, a Sail and a Pasty

On Saturday morning I went for a run along the roads bordering the Sakonnet River, from the Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge to Seapowet Beach and beyond. It is a corner of Tiverton where you are unlikely to meet many other visitors, a road that meanders through farmland bordering the river and past salt marshes, with views up and down the river. I could hear the calls of sea birds and the honking of geese, two of which flew low across the road in front of me as I pounded along. Not a Dunking Donuts, or a Rite Aid, or an Exxon station in sight.

After an early lunch I took my Laser back to Seapowet Beach for a solo practice session on the Sakonnet. The winds were initially in the 5-10 knot range from the NW and I worked for a while on some of the faults in my light air skills (of which there are many.)

At 2:11 pm precisely (I checked my watch) I saw the wind line of the sea breeze coming in past the peninsula of Fogland to the south of me. I headed for the line and was soon enjoying 10-15 knots and was able to stretch my legs on a long beat down the river, followed by a delicious run overtaking waves all the way back. Plenty of time to work on some of those faults in my medium air skills (of which there are even more.)

That's the good thing about being a crap sailor who has received feedback from some excellent coaches. You always know plenty of stuff to work on.

After I had had enough sailing in the sunshine I went home. As I entered the house my nose detected a most excellent smell drifting from the kitchen. Tillerwoman was making Cornish Pasties for dinner.


Some days are just beyond perfect.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Five More Futures...

Five more entries today in our April group writing project Sailing in the Second Space Age.

Welcome to first-time contributor, the author of Master of None, who describes himself as "an urban technophile with a music fetish who is also a finance geek." He has written a fascinating article on the predicted future rise of commercial sailing vessels in April 2025: Cargo Cat Debut Heralds Second Age of Sail.

Some_day_soling, who writes a blog called Skipper of the Starboard Racing Vessel, admits that there will be advances in the materials used in our boats but feels that the sport will essentially stay the same. However, she does predict that sailing will become more popular because the exploration of our solar system in the coming decades will awaken the spirit for exploring among the people left on the ground, and they will find an outlet for that in sailing. I hope she is right. Check out Maybe Sailing and Mars are Equally as Awesome.

Joe Rouse of The Horse's Mouth takes a shot at the subject in The Tillerman Time Space Continuum. What Will Sailing Be Like In The Future (2025)? in which he warns us of the dangers of "playing with the space and time thingy" and advises us to "be here be now".

David Anderson of David Anderson's Small Boat Sailing Adventures doesn't see a lot of change coming to Sailing in 2025 because "tradition and resistance to change are sailing's strongest forces." Hmmm.

Finally, the legendary (and possibly delusional), O Docker takes A Glimpse Into The Future and like David Anderson concludes that "sailing will be pretty much the same old same old." He would like to think that he and other keelboat sailors will have replaced their smelly, unreliable engines with electric motors, but based on his deep knowledge of electrical engineering warns us of the difficulties of solving the encabulation problem. Double hmmm.

Now it's your turn. Write anything you like about sailing (or any other aspect of recreational boating) in the years 2025 to 2035. Full details of how to participate at Sailing in the Second Space Age. Entries accepted up to the end of April.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Top Ten Thoughts That Went Through My Mind As I Tried To Think of Something To Write For The April Group Writing Project

10. Sailing in the Second Space Age? Who thought up that subject?

9. 2035? Let's see I'll be.... ummm.... 87.

8. What's the chance I'll still be sailing a Laser when I'm 87?

7. Maybe I could write about all the operations I will need... artificial hips, artificial knees, artificial eyes... to still be sailing Lasers then. Eyes? They will have complete artificial eye implants by 2035 won't they?

6. Let's see, Peter Seidenberg will be 97. He'll probably still be beating me.

5. Maybe I could just write about one of my grandkids? Emily 'Bones' Garvey - doctor of space medicine on the 2034 UNASA mission to Phobos - first woman to land on a Martian moon.

4. Or I could write about the continuing decline of sailing, and how the average of age of yacht club members is now 89, and how we need to find a way of attracting the youngsters in their 60's into the sport.

3. Or maybe a spoof on all those wooden boat nostalgia blogs with a post about how old duffers in 2035 are spending their time restoring classic fiberglass dinghies from the 1960's and 70's.... the beautiful sheen on polished gelcoat...
the evocative scent of polyester resin...

2. Geeze. This subject is hard.

1. Who said I have to write an entry myself anyway?

More Futuristic Sailors...

Three more entries today in our April group writing project Sailing in the Second Space Age.

Adam, who writes a blog about messing about in sailboats called Messing About in Sailboats, has given a lot of thought to what sailing will be like 15 to 25 years from now. He foresees major changes in the technology used for engines in sailboats, in communications and navigation technology, and in the information available to racing sailors. He predicts knock-on effects in the aesthetics of sailboats and in the skills required of sailors. Fascinating stuff. Check out Lighter, more efficient, smarter and a lot simpler.

My2fish, who writes a blog about Sunfish sailing called my2fish:a blog about Sunfish sailing, has offered a wild series of predictions about the possible consequences of "global schwarming." Sharks with laser beams on their heads to fight pirates, the death of frostbiting, the Great Lakes as the "new Cape Cod", and the continuing popularity of the Sunfish with over a million sold by 2025. But watch out for those carp! Crazy! It's all at sunfish sailing: 2025 and beyond.

Greg of Log of the s/v Clarity takes a different tack and simply tell us of his own plans for the sailing he and his wife Kris will be doing In the Year 2025.

So, in the six entries so far we have... three science-fiction-style stories about the America's Cup, the Racing Rules and Sunfish sailing, two personal dreams of future sailing plans from Sam and Greg, and some predictions about future sailboat design and technologies from Adam.

Great stuff.

Now it's your turn. Write anything you like
about sailing (or any other aspect of recreational boating) in the years 2025 to 2035. Use the first six entries as jumping-off places for your own ideas, or check out some of my suggestions for topics at Sailing in the Second Space Age, which has full details of how to participate.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cape Cod

"Cape Cod is not really a movable feast. It does not stay with you that way. It is not like Paris so much as like Lourdes. Being there is the important thing. It is more like a reliable dope connection: People keep coming back."


Saturday, April 24, 2010

In the year 2028...

This month's group writing project Sailing in the Second Space Age looks like it will break all records for lowest participation ever. Only three entrants so far... and I'm struggling to think of what to write myself after some Dutchman beat me to the punch on my first idea.

So I especially appreciate the effort made by Captain JP in his hilarious piece of science fiction sports writing America's Cup 2028. Classic!

Come on. What's so hard, people? Just write about sailing (or any other aspect of recreational boating) in the years 2025 to 2035. Full details, and plenty of suggestions for topics, at
Sailing in the Second Space Age.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I am an actor in Hollywood

“Being a sailor in Newport is like being an actor in Hollywood,” says Amanda Callahan, the Roger Williams University sailing coach in an article about the RWU sailing team published recently in Rhode Island Monthly.

Hmmm. I've never thought of it like that. Next time I'm thrashing around Newport harbor at the back of the Laser fleet on a cold, dark, Sunday afternoon in January I'll try and remember those words. I've never met the inspirational Ms Callahan, even though I can see RWU from my house and often see her sailing team out training or competing on the waters of Mount Hope Bay.

Check out The Great Race by Ged Carbone for one of the best articles I have ever read about college sailing, and specifically about the rivalry between two young Laser sailors.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fantastic Lifestyle Product

I don't understand Internet marketing...

Today I received an email...

It's from someone who claims to be a "co-founder" of a website which apparently is an online publication dedicated to covering a certain European luxury car brand, established with the intent of bringing content about the brand from across the globe to one centralized location... blah blah blah... etc. etc. etc.

This person (he/she has one of those androgynous first names so I don't know if he/she is a he or a she) wants me to tell you about a certain item they are giving away. A bag. Apparently they think sailors need bags. They say the bag is a "fantastic lifestyle product."

Actually there are two different bags. I suppose they do have a vaguely nautical theme. Or at least the name of the bag manufacturer does have a vaguely nautical slant. According to the aforementioned website the bags -- sorry, fantastic lifestyle products --- are worth around $200 each. Personally I might consider buying them if they were around $20 each.

Check that. I would not buy one of these bags. I have a closet full of similar bags. They were given away by sponsors to all the entrants at sailing regattas in which I raced; or I won them at regattas for such achievements as "Third Place Old Geezer Between 55 And 65 Who Was Wearing An Orange Hat"... or something similar.

Apparently the bags are "inspired" by an even more obscure and elitist sport than sailing. The aforementioned luxury European car manufacturer is sponsoring one of their obscure, elitist events.

To win one of these bags -- sorry, fantastic lifestyle products -- "all" you have to do is sign up for an account with the website that is an online publication dedicated to covering a certain European luxury car brand, established with the intent of bringing content about the brand from across the globe to one centralized location... blah blah blah... etc. etc. etc. and leave a comment on the website. Two of the people who leave comments on the website will be selected at random to receive a bag -- sorry, fantastic lifestyle product.

Of course you know how this goes. You never receive a bag. On the other hand you will receive about five emails a week for the next ten years telling you about all the reasons you should consider buying one of those European luxury cars and/or winning other fantastic lifestyle products.

I have no idea why I received this email. Do they think that the readers of Proper Course are a good target for emails urging them to buy luxury European cars, or that they will sell their mothers to win fantastic lifestyle products?

I didn't bother to respond to the email.

I didn't think you would be interested.

I don't understand Internet marketing.

Can someone please explain it to me?

Oh, and Happy Earth Day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Golden Cloud and E-Rules

Here are the first two entries in the April group writing project, Sailing in the Second Space Age, in which you were invited to speculate on what sailing on the waters of Earth will be like when human beings are landing on asteroids and exploring Mars.

Sam Chapin writes a blog called How to Sail the Laser, which is a wonderful source of sensible, practical advice on... well, how to sail the Laser of course. But for our futuristic writing project he has written a much more imaginative piece. The title LASER GUY STOPS WEARING HIS LIFE JACKET is an accurate, if somewhat misleadingly mundane, title for the account of how and where Sam imagines he will be sailing 15 years from now. He has even drawn a picture of his vision of his future. Actually I hope he's wrong, but if he isn't, I wish him fair winds racing into the sunset on his golden cloud with Chris, Francis and Arthur.

Jos Spijkerman writes Look to Windward, the best blog on the planet about the Racing Rules of Sailing, also full of excellent, useful information for the racing sailor. Jos has let his imagination run wild in speculating about how his field of interest will have changed in the next 25 years. Don't let the title of his entry Transcriptburst > 2034-10-21-14:03:09-LTW-RRS-P17-Mech12-v-Harder^2 scare you off from reading it. It's all about how systems for location tracking of yachts and automated rule interpretation will fundamentally change the Racing Rules and how they are enforced. Fascinating stuff. Except it was a topic I was thinking of addressing myself in the next day or two, before Jos beat me to it. Damn him!

There's plenty of time for you to write something for this group writing project. Give it a shot. Full details of how to enter at Sailing in the Second Space Age.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


It is very important, on any kind of boat, to wear appropriate footwear. Wooden shoes are very rarely appropriate.

Check out this accident report from the Danish Maritime Authority. An overweight chief engineer slightly the worse for drink, a makeshift gangway and snow on the quay may all have partly contributed to the unexpected swim by the aforementioned chief engineer. But what was he thinking? Wooden shoes?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sailing in the Second Space Age

"By 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the Moon into deep space. So we’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it."

President Barack Obama, 15 April 2010.

Wow! Land on an asteroid 15 years from now! Go to Mars and back 10 years later! I hope I'm around to see it too.

But what will our beloved sport of sailing be like 15-25 years from now? That's the challenge for this month's group writing project. Write about any aspect of the topic that interests you.

I've touched on one or two issue related to the future of recreational boating in recent posts, specifically the impact of rising fuel prices and social pressures on the the use of fossil-based fuels in boating. But there are many other factors to consider.

What kinds of boats will we be sailing on the waters on Earth when men and women are landing on asteroids and exploring Mars? What advances in technology will we be seeing, and how will they impact sailing? Will there be more spin-offs from the world of space technology that will be as significant for us as GPS and satellite phones? Will climate change have had a major impact on how we enjoy recreation on the water? Will we have more leisure and disposable income to enjoy our sport, or less?

What changes will we see by then in the Olympics, the America's Cup, in other major sailing events? What will have happened in the world of long-distance ocean racing?

What new formats of recreational boating will we see? What comes after kite-boarding? Will sailing reverse its decline? Will it be a mass participation sport, a spectator sport, or a pastime for a rich elite? In the age of travel to Mars and back, will sailing be seen as an exciting, vigorous sport or a nostalgic pastime for old duffers and history buffs?

You could write about what you think will happen. Or what you hope will happen. Or what you fear will happen. You could write about the sport in general, or one aspect of it; or you could tell us about your own personal sailing ambitions for 15-25 years from now.

Same rules as usual...

1. Write a post on your blog on the topic of the future of sailing (or whatever other form of recreational boating interests you) in the years 2025 to 2035.

2. Once you've posted your article, let me know about it by sending an email to including a link to your post. If you don't have a blog just email me the story and I will post it here. Please let me know about your post, or send me your article, before the end of April. Choose a unique title for your post please.

3. I will post here two links to your article. Every day or so I will write a post listing any new entries in the project. Then at the end of the project I will provide a summary post with links to all of your articles about sailing in the second space age.

Please participate in this project.

Let your imagination run wild.

Surprise me.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dare to be Different

Break out of your routine. Do something different this weekend.

Here are some suggestions culled from the blogosphere...

1. The author of Outer Life recommends that you should plan a vacation to a country that could be a "back-up" should you ever need to leave your current country of residence for any reason. He's dead serious. When he's on vacation he doesn't "do sightseeing" and he doesn't like "meeting new people."

Partly this is because I am not a meet-new-people kind of person, but mostly it’s because my view is that people are pretty much the same wherever you go, so if you really want to meet someone new, walk down your street and introduce yourself to the people you meet there. You don’t need to travel halfway around the world to do that.

This anonymous author is the best blogger I have found at documenting the inner life of the "grumpy old guy" persona. Better than me, even. Damn him.

2. The author of my2fish makes a somewhat adventurous suggestion: swim until you can't see land. Yikes. It's a bit cold for that around here right now but it might be fun (if not a bit foolish) on a hot summer's day. Actually, as I always take off my glasses when I swim and I'm as blind as a bat without them, it's not a very difficult feat for me to achieve.

3. My third suggestion for your weekend fun is the most outrageous of all. Make friends with a jet skier! Come on. This guy can't be serious. Can he?

So which one are you going to choose this weekend? Or are you planning something even weirder?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Water Access Under Threat: Poll

Is your access to the water for boating under threat? Please answer by voting in the poll near the top of the sidebar over there >>>>>.

I wrote last week about how a former sailing club of mine had to close down because they effectively lost access to their sailing waters, a victim of a financial deal between the owners of the water and a commercial water-ski operator. Since then a couple of other bloggers whom I follow,
Bonnie and O Docker, have also written posts about current and potential water access issues.

Hmmm. Losing access to the water? It's not an issue I think much about, but apparently it is a threat in some parts of the world for some recreational boaters. Perhaps I'm complacent because I am blessed to live in a place, Rhode Island, which has such a wealth of places to access the water -- state parks, town beaches, sailing clubs, community sailing centers, etc. -- not to mention a strong culture that supports boating of all kinds, that it is difficult it imagine us losing the ability to launch our boats somewhere. Or maybe I'm oblivious to the problem because I am a Laser sailor and I can launch my boat pretty much anywhere I can wheel a dolly to the water's edge; it's not so easy if you own a 30 foot yacht, I guess.

It's an issue I would like to understand better. So please educate me.

Please vote in the poll. (It's near the top of the sidebar.) Tell us whether you perceive any current or future threats to access to the water for recreational boating in your area.

And if you do think there is a threat, please leave a comment explaining more. Where are you talking about? What kinds of boats are affected? What is the source of the threat? What can be done about it?

Look forward to hearing from you.

Update: For what it's worth in this totally unscientific poll, the final votes were that 20 answered YES to the question, "Is your access to the water under threat?" and 19 said NO. Thanks to everyone who voted and especially to those who left a comment. I, for one, understand this issue a little better now.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tilly's Forester Frolics

My daughter-in-law is a very lucky woman. And not only because she is the mother of the two cutest and smartest grandchildren in the world.

She is also lucky in the sense that she wins things. Last year she won an all-expenses-paid trip to LA for her and her husband to be in the audience for the recording of one of those daytime TV talk shows. Of course, I never watch such shows myself. This particular show was hosted by a lady whose name is Helen the Generous. I think she is called Helen the Generous because sometimes she gives away cars to people in her audience. Anyway, a lot of girls like her.

Then, in some way connected with winning the trip to see the Helen the Generous Show, the TV people asked my daughter-in-law if she would like to appear in some TV commercials for a car. Next thing I knew they had given her a lease on a brand new car in exchange for making a few commercials and writing a blog. And not just any car. It's made by that famous American car company that we all own now, thanks to Mr.G.W.Bush and Mr.B.H.Obama, and it is what they call a "crossover" which (I think) means that it's a cross between a small school bus and a portable movie theater. It's huge.

Wait a minute. Write a blog? I thought I was the blogger in the family. How did she snag a sweet deal like that? She now has a new car with twin gauge clusters trimmed with chrome accents, rear parking sensor, rear view camera, power lift-gate, remote start, heated and cooled front seats, navigation system, DVD entertainment system, and best-in-class cargo space! Hey, I would write a blog for
a car that only has twin gauge clusters trimmed with chrome accents (if I knew what the hell they are.)

My DIL's blog is one of those Mommy Blogs which features the happenings of everyday family life as the Mommy of the two cutest grandchildren in the world... and which also mentions, in passing, how much fun they are having in their new car
with twin gauge clusters trimmed with chrome accents, etc. etc. etc.

She's very good at it. I'm very happy for her.

But I could do that. I could blog about my Laser towing machine, my little 5-year-old Forester Subaru. I even have a perfect name for the blog...

Tilly's Forester Frolics.

Maybe if I did it well enough, Mr. Subaru would give me a brand new Forester to play with?

For example, if I were a TV celebrity blogger endorser like my DIL, I would have written about my trip over to Bristol to go sailing on Wednesday something like this...

Forester Subaru - Chick Magnet

On Wednesday I threw all my sailing gear into the back of my Subaru Forester with impressive maximum cargo capacity. As I drove over Mount Hope Bridge I was grateful for the pulling power of the naturally aspirated horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine. And as I cruised down Hope Street I enjoyed listening to the sailing songs that Adam sent me on the 6-disc in-dash CD sound system.

I pulled into the parking lot at Independence Park and started unpacking the boat. As I did so, a woman in a Honda drew up next to me, wound down her window and asked, "Is that a Forester?"

"Sure is," I answered. "Did you know that it has a viscous limited-slip differential, side-impact air bags, and a powered moon-roof?"

I could see by the sparkle in her eyes that I had made an impression. "Wow!" she said. "I am thinking of buying one. How do you like it?"

I looked at her more closely. Somewhat younger than me. Not unattractive. Something about her clothes suggested that she might even be a yachtie.

"I love it," I answered. "The newer models have redesigned independent double wishbone rear suspension and in-dash, touch-screen satellite navigation systems. But I expect you knew that already."

Her eyes lit up even more and she gave me a big smile. I know this script. If I were single, this is when I would have offered to take her for a drive in my Subaru and impressed her with my low center of gravity and computer controlled, continuously variable, multi-plate transfer clutch.

But I am very happily married so I resisted the temptation and carried on preparing my boat for sailing. She put out a deck chair and sat in the sun and watched me. Was she attracted to me, my boat... or my car? Who knows?

I rigged my Laser. I changed into my sailing clothes. She continued to watch me. As I wheeled the Laser down the beach to launch it, my admirer gave me a friendly wave and wished me well. I'm pretty sure now that it was the car she was ogling, not me or my boat. After all, what woman could resist the Forester's leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob?

What do you think? Can I score a new car with a blog like this?

Mr. Subaru, if you are reading this, let's do lunch. Have your people tweet my people.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Sailing Bristol Harbor

Easter weekend was glorious weather. And the warm sunny weather continued through the first few days of this week. On Wednesday, a sea breeze kicked in around lunch time and as I watched it build up to a juicy 15-20 knots, I decided that I could delay no longer. Today would be my first solo practice sail of the year.

Going Laser sailing by yourself in early April in Rhode Island is, of course, a totally irresponsible thing to do. The water temperature is still decidedly chilly though I suspect the warm weather of the last few days may well have pushed it over the 50 degree mark. It is the time of year when bonnie of frogma is always writing her cautionary tales about how EVEN THOUGH IT IS SUNNY YOU WILL PROBABLY DIE, and cheering us up with a story of someone who actually did. And, of course, as I discovered a couple of years ago and wrote about in So Where the Bloody Hell Are You? nobody else in Rhode Island goes out on the water in the middle of the week in April in any kind of craft whatsoever.

So I checked out Tillerman's Top Five Tips On How Not To Die On Your Laser. #1 and #5 (wear a PFD, and a drysuit or wetsuit if it's cold) were definitely applicable. I would hope I was OK on #3 and #4 (hang on to the sheet and make sure you are not to fat, unfit or weary to get back in the boat if you fall out.) And I chose to ignore #2 (sail with a friend.) Hey, if you can't ignore your own advice what's the point of writing it?

I added another safety factor that I like when sailing alone in early or late season in conditions that are fairly windy: I headed over to Bristol Harbor. As you can see from the picture it is enclosed by mainland on three sides and Hog Island on the fourth; you are never very far from shore; even though no other idiots will be out boating, there is a busy town on one side so there is a chance that some kind soul might spot a Laser with a broken mast, say, and think to call some help; and in a southerly (or south-westerly as it was on Wednesday) I figure that if something breaks and my boat is disabled I will wash up sooner or later on the rocks at the north end of the harbor, hopefully before I do the "cheat the nursing home" thing.

Maybe my logic is faulty, but for all the aforementioned reasons I feel safer in Bristol Harbor early and late in the season than I do at any of my other sailing spots on the bays around here. It was, for example, where I sailed in December 2008 when I stretched my number of sails in the year to #93 and #94 in Paint it Black and If I Had a Boat.

So I blasted around the harbor for an hour or so. Tried to shake off some of the cobwebs after not sailing for a few weeks. Pretty much sailed at every possible angle to the wind on both tacks in a lumpy sea and a shifty south-westerly. The wind direction was over 45 degrees away from the direction the waves were running which made for some strange sensations. It is noticeable how quickly I lose the comfort level for sailing in waves and chop after a few weeks off, but it comes back. I hope. It always has so far.

As expected, nobody else was out sailing, or kayaking, or fishing, or stink-potting. The only other boat I saw all afternoon was the Prudence Island Ferry, whose operator gave me a nice loud blast on his horn as he pulled out of the dock at 3:30. Maybe he does it every time, or maybe he was saying, "To that old geezer in the blue Laser sailing erratically all over the harbor... keep out of my bloody way!"

I sailed back to the beach. There were some teenagers in swimsuits sitting on the dock. (It was a very warm day.)

"How cold is that water?" one of them shouted at me.

"Very. Much too cold for swimming," I replied.

So they jumped in...

Monday, April 05, 2010

Flat Wakes and Blessed Quiet

"My starting premise is the prediction that ten years from now, the recreational use of carbon based fuels on the water will be accorded the same level of social scorn and rejection that smoking now receives... just as we have come to resent smoking as an intrusion on our fundamental right to fresh air - so we are now empowered to newly aroused indignation over the loss of our original and fundamental right to flat wakes and blessed quiet on the water."

Not my words, but a quote from Garry Hoyt's new book Go For The Green.

Wow. Strong words. Do you think this is really going to happen?

Will the addicts of jet-skiing and water-skiing and the like be confined to small, unattractive areas of water designated for carbon hogs? Will we sailors think nothing of complaining to a power-boater about the health dangers to us of his "second-hand gasoline fumes"? Will socially responsible sailors forgo the use of auxiliary carbon-fuel based engines and actually learn to "sail" their yachts?

Of course, we have touched on this subject before. A couple of months ago I
gave you 23 Reasons Why Putting an Engine in a Sailboat is the Worst Sailing Innovation Ever. And, a few weeks before, in $20 Gas and the Future of Sailing I reported on Christopher Steiner's prediction that, once the price of gasoline reaches $10 a gallon as it surely will one day soon, the "giant fleet of motorboats, speedboats, and ski boats that crowd our waters will be thinned to a tiny convoy. Sailboats, canoes, kayaks and rowboats will rule the waves."

The future is coming faster than you think. Personally I can't wait for the era of "flat wakes and blessed quiet" that Hoyt foretells...

However, in another report from the front in the war between real sailors and carbon hogs, I read some disturbing and sad news this week. I have written before of my delightful experiences at my first sailing club in the UK, Taplow Lake Sailing Club which is Where It All Started for me. I even wrote to my former club members a thank-you letter for inspiring in me a life-long love for sailing. As you can imagine I have a special affection for this club.

I didn't mention before that the sailing club at this lake shared its waters quite amicably with a group of water-skiers. The lake was way too small for sailing and water-skiing to take place at the same time, so the two clubs agreed to use the lake on different days. As I recall, when I was a member we sailed on alternate days each weekend, Saturday one week and Sunday the next and so on; and I assume the water-skiers used the other day each weekend.

However time moves on. The owners of the lake decided to increase the rent for use of the lake and the water-skiers negotiated a lease solely in their name. No big deal initially, because the sailors were still allowed to use the lake under a sub-lease on several days each week including all day Saturdays and afternoons on Sundays, and the sailing club continued to flourish.

However, when the sub-lease came up for renewal recently, the ski club (which apparently is changing its status into a for-profit business) decided it needed to use the lake at all prime times during spring, summer and autumn including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. This made it impossible to run a viable sailing club and Taplow Lake Sailing Club had to shut down at the end of last month.

Very sad.

On a brighter note, the former members of TLSC have all been invited to join a similar lake-based club only a mile or so away, with the added advantage that the new club has a bar!!!

So the carbon hogs won this particular battle. Or did they? Maybe they just created for themselves one of those "designated polluting areas", and eventually all the petrol and diesel addicts from other nearby waters will be forced to go and pursue their filthy habit on Taplow Lake, leaving the rest of the area's waterways free for sailors to enjoy Hoyt's "flat wakes and blessed quiet."

We can only hope.

Friday, April 02, 2010

It's a Buoy

I don't know if I mentioned before that we are expecting the arrival of our third grandchild in about three months. Thanks to the miracles of modern ultrasound technology, the parents have been informed that it's a boy. According to my niece in Australia who is in the business of using miscellaneous radiations to look inside people's bodies, the sexing of babies by this method depends on being able too see the appropriate boy bits. If they can't see the necessary male paraphernalia with the ultrasound, they can't really determine the gender. But if they can see the usual boy bits, they know it's a boy.

I'm not entirely convinced of the accuracy of this technology, but my daughter-in-law is. This week she even went shopping for clothes for her future son. She obviously agrees with me about how important it is to indoctrinate children in all things nautical from an early age. Which is why I heartily approve of the "It's a Buoy" garment in the photo. Even if it turns out to be a Guirl.