Sunday, December 30, 2012

My 2013 Sailing Goals

Here is why I am NOT going to blog about my goals for 2013...

 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Downhill



I think my blog is going downhill.


R.I.P. That Guy 1948-2012

Long time readers of this blog will be familiar with a character I called That Guy. I introduced him in 2007...

There's this guy. About my age. Good Laser sailor. I've known him for years and after we moved to this area he was one of the first to welcome me to the local fleet. We've raced in a few regattas together this season. And every single time he finishes in front of me. Not by much. A place or three. A few points maybe. And it's driving me crazy. 

And he made regular appearances over the years in my accounts of Laser racing on this blog. Almost always the same story. I was forever chasing his transom around the race course and could hardly ever finish ahead of him.

I haven't mentioned him for the last couple of years as he had to give up Laser sailing because of health problems. Then earlier this month, actually while we were away on our vacation in the BVI, I received the sad news. That Guy passed away on December 9 after a long battle with cancer.

That Guy was the well-known and much-loved New England Laser sailor John Bentley. Here is his obituary.

One of his many sailing friends wrote that "John was the best thing about Laser sailing." There's a lot of truth in that. It seemed like he befriended everyone with whom he sailed and his outgoing personality and sense of humor livened up every regatta in which he sailed and every party he attended. He knew how to have fun and he helped everyone else to have fun.

He wasn't the kind of guy you expected to be winning every regatta but, all the same, he was a hell of a good sailor, full of enthusiasm, always working hard on the race course, and always sailing fair. He almost invariably finished a few places in front of me when we raced and I never really minded because he made me try harder and, in any case, he was so likable that everyone enjoyed his company.

I think the last time I talked to John was when we did race committee together one Sunday last winter for the Newport frostbite fleet. By then his illness had already forced him to give up Laser sailing, but he still showed up on a cold winter's day to do RC duty for others. That's the kind of guy he was.

Here are some pictures of John...

 How I will remember him. 
Big smile after a day of sailing.



John on the left wearing his trademark 'do-rag' 
at the Caribbean Laser Midwinters Regatta in Cabarete in 2007.




Frostbiting at the New Bedford YC in the winter of 1992/93.
Ted Scott, John Mayer, Bob Saltmarsh, Peter Seidenberg, Mark Bear, John Bentley.
The photo is from the Spring 1993 edition of The Laser Sailor.



John on the left with Mark Bear and Peter Seidenberg again
at the Laser Masters Worlds in 2009.
Thanks to Kim Ferguson for the photo.


There will never be another "That Guy."


Saturday, December 08, 2012

I'm Going Out In Style





I've seen a lot of sights and traveled many miles
Shook a thousand hands and seen my share of smiles
I've caused some great concern and told one too many lies
And now I see the world through these sad, old, jaded eyes

So what if I threw a party and all my friends were there?
Acquaintances, relatives, the girls who never cared
You'll have a host of rowdy hooligans in a big line out the door
Side by side with sister barbara, chief wells and bobby orr

I'd invite the flannigans
Replace the window you smashed out
I'd apologize to sluggo for pissing on his couch
I'll see mrs. mcauliffe and so many others soon
Then I'll say I'm sorry for what I did sleepwalking in her room

So what if I threw a party and invited Mayor Menino?
He'd tell you to get a permit
Well this time tom I don't think so
It's a neighborhood reunion
But now we'd get along
Van Morrison would be there and he'd sang me one last song
With a backup band of bass players to keep us up all night
Three handsome four string troubadours and Newton's old Fat Mike
I'll be in the can having a smoke with Garv and Johnny Fitz
But there's a backup in the bathroom 'cause the badger's got the shits

You may bury me with an enemy in mount calvary
You can stack me on a pyre and soak me down with whiskey
Roast me to a blackened crisp and throw me in a pile
I could really give a shit - I'm going out in style

You can take my urn to fenway spread my ashes all about
Or you can bring me down to wolly beach and dump the sucker out
Burn me to a rotten crisp and toast me for a while
I could really give a shit - I'm going out in style

Make me up dress me up, feed me a big old shot
Of embalming fluid highballs so i don't start to rot
Now take me to Mcgreevy's, i wanna buy one final round
What cheap prick would peel an orange in his pocket
Then hurry up and suck 'em down

If there's a god the girls you loved will all come walking through the door
Maybe they'll feel bad for me and this stiff will finally score
You've got the bed already and nerve and courage too
Cause i've been slugging from a stash of desi queally's 1980s bathtub brew

You may bury me with an enemy in mount calvary
You can stack me on a pyre and soak me down with whiskey
Roast me to a blackened crisp and throw me in a pile
I could really give a shit - I'm going out in style

You can take my urn to fenway spread my ashes all about
Or you can bring me down to wolly beach and dump the sucker out
Burn me to a rotten crisp and toast me for a while
I could really give a shit - I'm going out in style

You may bury me with an enemy in mount calvary
You can stack me on a pyre and soak me down with whiskey
Roast me to a blackened crisp and throw me in a pile
I could really give a shit - I'm going out in style

You can take my urn to fenway spread my ashes all about
Or you can bring me down to wolly beach and dump the sucker out
Burn me to a rotten crisp and toast me for a while
I could really give a shit - I'm going out in style

You may bury me with an enemy in mount calvary
You can stack me on a pyre and soak me down with whiskey
Roast me to a blackened crisp and throw me in a pile
I could really give a shit - I'm going out in style

You can take my urn to fenway spread my ashes all about
Or you can bring me down to wolly beach and dump the sucker out
Burn me to a rotten crisp and toast me for a while
I could really give a shit - I'm going out in style

You may bury me with an enemy in mount calvary
You can stack me on a pyre and soak me down with whiskey
Roast me to a blackened crisp and throw me in a pile
I could really give a shit - I'm going out in style

Spread all my ashes about
Dump the sucker out
Toast me for a while
I'm going out in style

End of World Confirmed






It's official.

Mayan archaeologists have met in Guatemala and confirmed that the end date for the Mayan Prophecy is December 21, 2012.

The world will end in 13 days.

How will you spend the last 13 days ever?

Reading blogs like this one?

I hope not.

Wake up and smell the bougainvillea, people.

In any case, I'm certainly not going to spend the last 13 days ever writing more utter nonsense on this blog.

I plan on going out in style.


It's Time for a Change




It's time for a change 
I'm tired of that same old same 
The same old words, the same old lines 
The same old tricks and the same old rhymes

Friday, December 07, 2012

Web Orgy

On Wednesday evening this week I participated in a Laser racing webinar.

For those not familiar with the term "webinar', it means a web-based seminar. An interactive presentation over the web using videoconferencing.

Tillerwoman wasn't familiar with the word "webinar." One of her most endearing features (especially to someone like me who spent all of his career in technology) is that she is an old-fashioned girl and she is into all the old-fashioned pursuits like gardening and cooking and knitting. She is not into technology. She does not use a computer. She does not have a smartphone. She never (knowingly) uses the Internet.

She seemed to have a lot of trouble with the word "webinar." On Wednesday she kept referring to is as a "webology." As in, "What time is your webology? Will you want dinner before it?"

Then on the following morning as we were driving to Massachusetts to see our grandsons, she asked me out of the blue, "So how was your web orgy last night?"

Web orgy! What is she talking about? What does she think I am doing on my computer down in my basement man cave? Having orgies????

I almost drove the car into the ditch. But just in time to save us, I realized she was talking about the webinar.

Phew!

The Laser webinar was conducted by Javier Borojovich, universally known as Rulo, who is the head coach at the Laser Center at Cabarete in the Dominican Republic. I understand that Rulo will be launching a range of sailing webinars in the near future, but this week's event was a bit of a dry run with a small group of four sailors to test out the concept and fine tune it for future sessions.

The topic was "How to sail your Laser fast upwind" concentrating especially on techniques for strong winds. God knows this is an area I need to improve.

Topics covered included...
•How to improve your hiking technique

•How to steer on the waves

•Torquing and body movements

•How to trim your sail for different wind and waves conditions.
•Sailing high mode vs. Sailing on low mode

Rulo covered all these subjects in depth using bullet point slides, photographs, and a lot of video footage. Most of the videos showed top sailors demonstrating excellent technique, but there were also shots of not-top sailors demonstrating poor technique as a contrast. I kept expecting to see myself in some of the shots in the latter category.

Rulo did an excellent job of pointing out all the finer points of technique and then at the end we could submit our own questions (in a text window) for him to answer.

One of the topics was how to avoid hiking injuries, including my own bête noire, lower back pain. Rulo ran through four things to do to avoid back pain. I now understand that the reason I hurt my back in May last year (and missed out on most of the summer's planned sailing as a result) was that I had been breaking all four of Rulo's rules for avoiding lower back pain.

Hmmm. The webinar was worthwhile just for that.

If you want to know more about Rulo's future plans for webinars, check out Rulo Sailing.

I think I will go and have a web orgy now.

Helle Mardahl - The Orgy - 2009

Summer Salon 
 July 16 - September 7, 2009

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Some Random Thoughts on Blogrolls



Most blogs have blogrolls.

A blogroll is just a list of links to other blogs that the blogger likes, almost always in the sidebar of the blog.

A blogroll is a reflection that, for most of us, blogging is not just about spewing out our thoughts and photos down a one-way pipe to all the great unwashed on the Interwebs; it is, at least in part, about connecting with other people with similar interests, being social, making online friends. It is about saying, hey I am not just a writer, I'm a reader too and here is what I like to read.

It's part of the Blogger's Code that if some other blogger includes your blog on their blogroll, you should at least consider adding that blog to your own blogroll.  Just like if someone sends you a Christmas card it is polite to reciprocate. But just like the Pirate's Code, the Blogger's Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. So you don't have to reciprocate.

Personally I put blogs on my blogroll if I find them interesting and if I think my readers will find them interesting too. I do prune my blogroll from time to time. If someone's content is not so interesting to me any more I take their blog off my blogroll. If someone doesn't post anything for many months I drop them from my blogroll. Please don't beg to be on my blogroll, or whine if you get dropped. Some people do. For christ's sake people, get a grip. It's only a blogroll.

I use the feature in Blogger that sorts my blogroll by the date of each blog's most recent update. That way I see blogs with new posts at the top of my blogroll, and the ones that haven't had a new post for several months near the bottom. Every so often I lop blogs off the bottom of the list. Let's see who is there now. Apparent Wind and O Dock. Hmmm. It will be a shame if those blogs really are defunct and have to be pruned.

Some bloggers have cutesy names for their blogrolls. O Docker has Blogs Way Better Than This One. Baydog has My Daily Bread. I call my main blogroll Elite Media. What's in a name anyway?

Blogrolls vary in length. Some people seem to have hundreds of blogs on their blogroll. I have about forty. One blog that I really like, Improper Course, has only one.

Some blogs don't have blogrolls at all. I guess the authors have a different purpose for their blogs than most of us. Often they are blogs that are clearly designed to make money through advertising and sponsorship, or are written to promote an author's books, for example. I still think it's a bit of a shame that those folk don't at least make an effort to tell us what blogs they like to read. For some reason, a blog with no blogroll always reminds me of this...




But, hey, I'll get over it.

What do you think about blogrolls?


Incredibly Below Average Day of Sailing



"Sorry for an incredibly below average day of sailing today," wrote our race officer in a message publishing a link to the results of frostbiting on Sunday.

I know what he means. The winds were extremely light and patchy and shifty. It was a real challenge to set courses and run fair races in those conditions, but all things considered he did a damn fine job, as he always does.

But let's look on the bright side. Just as half of Americans are of below average intelligence, so are half the days of sailing in Newport, yes even Newport, below average.

And I learned a lot...

In the first race I learned that if I am on a run in incredibly light air and the wind dies altogether and my light wind cassette tape wind indicator hangs straight down, it doesn't help at all to do a couple of random gybes just to see if it makes any difference, especially if I am totally crap at doing roll gybes like the kids do that can actually accelerate the boat (leaving aside the issue that that would be totally illegal anyway.)

In that same race I also learned that if the 20 boats in front of me are going around the left hand leeward gate and I can't work out why they are all doing that, then there probably is a very good reason why they are going that way but it can't be all that significant a reason or I would have spotted it, so I might as well go round the right hand gate and sail in clear air instead of sailing in dirty air from 20 boats, and if I do so I can easily pass 10 boats on the final short beat.

In the second race I learned that in very light winds the boat does actually go faster upwind if I sit on the daggerboard in front of the mainsheet.

In that same race I also learned that if the wind goes hard left just before the start and I go off the right hand end of the line, then I may be going relatively fast doing my scrunched up yoga imitation squat on the daggerboard but that doesn't help much when there are 35 boats inside me on that shift so I was toast anyway.

In the third race I learned that if I can make a decent start and then tack away in a clear lane to a little more pressure on the right I might just get lucky and round the first mark with the leaders.

In that same race I also learned that if the final beat is longer than normal there are people in this fleet who are seriously fast and will be able to pass me, and I will end up 15th but, hey, that's not too shabby in a 45 boat fleet and it will be my best finish of the day, so look on the bright side.

And I learned that the progress I had made in the summer in learning to do not at all bad almost decent roll tacks was totally irrelevant because doing roll tacks in a T-shirt and shorts is totally different from trying to do roll tacks in a clunky big drysuit and clunky oversized hiking boots - (oversized in order to fit over my drysuit bootees and thick socks.)

So it was all (well mainly) good.

And I see my overall score for the day was 22nd out of 45 boats.

Which by my calculations is above average and incredible.

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Wisdom of Crowds?



Last week everyone was buying into the idea that Sunday was going to be an "epic" day of frostbite sailing in Newport. 

It was going to be warm, way up in the 50s!!! (That much was true.)

It was going to be blowing 12-15 knots from the S or SW.  "All" the forecasts said so. Champagne sailing conditions. Woo hoo!

When I arrived at Newport at around 11:45am there as no wind at all. Zero.

One of my friends was very confused. What's going on? All the forecasts say there should be 15 knots.

Well. Not quite all the forecasts.

As I wrote last year in All Weather is Local (I Hope), just because the overall wind forecast for Narragansett Bay is X it does NOT mean that your little corner of or sheltered harbor off Narragansett Bay will see X. And the higher the resolution of the weather model you use, then the more likely you will be reading an accurate forecast for where you actually sail.

True, most weather forecasts had been forecasting 10-15 knots from the S or SW for Narragansett Bay on Sunday. But when I checked SailFlow on Sunday morning and looked at the WRAMS 2km model (instead of the default that SailFlow uses) it did predict that there would hardly be any wind at all at Rose Island before 4pm.  Rose Island is the closest SailFlow site to our sailing area in Brenton Cove but it is outside the harbor so, if anything, I would guess it has more wind than our racing area.

Here is what was actually recorded at Rose Island.



We raced from just after 1pm to about 3:30 pm. There was no wind at all as we rigged from 12-12:30pm. We launched in a SE zephyr just before 1pm. There was a very light breeze from the SSE for our first race. Then the wind went round to the SW but shifted back to the S as we started our second race around 2pm. And then there was a reasonably steady and slightly stronger S wind for our third and final race around 3pm.   I think the winds we experienced where we were racing were actually even lighter than the winds recorded at Rose Island.

What do you think?

Is there a wind forecast that you trust?

Do you have the same suspicion as me, that for short course racing the higher resolution models are more useful?


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Photo Quiz




1. On the date this photo was taken, who was Prime Minister of Israel?

2. What team won the World Series that year?

3. What was the most popular site on the Internet that year?

4. What song was #1 on Billboard's Top 100 Hot Songs that year?

5. What major American city is on the same longitude at which this photo was taken?

6. What is the unique historical distinction of the city nearest to where this photo was taken?

7. What am I drinking?

8. Who gave me this drink?

9. Who was the future Olympian who also sailed in this event?

10. In how many races in this event did I finish higher than the future Olympian?


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The History of Climate Change Negotiations in 83 Seconds



What do you think about the controversial topic of climate change?


Tamarisk - 'Round the World





Regular readers of this blog will know that I am not usually a great fan of so-called cruising blogs. I have come to the conclusion that most of them are not really blogs about sailing at all. They are blogs about what people who live on boats do when they are not sailing.

Actually, come to think of it, that's a criticism that could just as easily be leveled at this blog. As I have never sailed my Laser as much as 100 days in any year, and as I usually rack up over 300 blog posts a year, I guess most of my posts must be about stuff other than sailing. Like nippies on bikes. Or an ocarina. Or quidditch.

Be that as it may, I do like this cruising blog that was just brought to my attention: Tamarisk - 'Round the World.

Maybe it's because the blog is about a round the world voyage by a couple of brothers who are British by birth and who have spent most of their lives in the USA, and they happen to be about the same age as my own sons.

Or maybe it's because the photographs on the blog are absolutely superb. And there's lots of them.

Or perhaps it's because the brothers are refreshingly honest about how little they knew about a boat like Tamarisk when they first took possession of her. "The problem is that we don’t know what anything on the boat does, other than the beds.... Our jobs are being made easier by the owners manual we found this afternoon.... We jammed the pulley at the top of the mast while trying to rig the spinnaker halyard (the string that holds up one of the big white flags at the top of the flag pole.)"

But I think the thing I really like about Tamarisk - 'Round the World is that a high percentage of the posts are actually about actual frigging sailing.

Unlike my blog.

Enjoy!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Photo Quiz



Where?

When?

Who?

Why is this site historically significant?

What does this all have to do with the history of computers?


Friday, November 23, 2012

Sailing the Seven C's

I signed up to sail with the Newport Laser Frostbite Fleet (aka Fleet 413) again this winter. I missed the first week of racing when I went back to sail with my new friends at Duxbury so I first showed up in Newport on their second Sunday, a couple of weeks back.

I have to confess that what I remember from previous years of sailing with Fleet 413 early in the season like this is that there have usually been huge fleets (sometimes around 60 boats) on relatively small courses meaning chaotic starts, overcrowded mark roundings and lots of "interactions" with other boats (not in a good way), leading to what has not always been a very rewarding experience for me. I wrote about this in 2008 in At Last and in 2011 at Ida. On such occasions I have always felt like a fish out of water, as they say.

On the other hand I have immensely enjoyed sailing with this fleet later in the winter when the fleet size is down and I am more attuned to the challenges of this style of racing again. In fact, I think on those days when I have raced with the fleet on the first or second week of the season, I have always given up before the end of racing on each occasion. I know. I'm a wimp.

There were (only) about 35 or boats racing on my first day with fleet 413 this year, but in the first couple of races I still went through the same experiences that I had had in other years. I was not mentally tuned in to racing even in a fleet of this size on such a small course. I was getting blown away at the starts in spite of my best efforts to win a front row start. All the way up the beat it was hard to find a good lane and I was constantly meeting other boats and having to make those "should I tack, should I cross, should I duck" calls. The flat water and medium winds meant that most of the fleet was arriving at the windward mark at pretty much the same time leading to yet more close encounters at the mark.

I was getting round the course without any major issues but I did not feel in control. Things did not feel right. There were just too many damn boats coming at me from all directions and my brain was working overtime to cope with all the traffic and avoid hitting anybody. There was no bandwidth left over to actually think about actually racing. If I had to chose two words to describe my mental state in the first two or three races it would be clumsy and confused.

I was tempted to call it a day after three races. That little voice in my head was saying. "Hey, you had a good workout. You got some practice. You're not really having much fun. Why do any more?" But then the other voice said, "You know you really enjoy frostbiting once you get back into the swing of it.  The only way to get comfortable with racing in a fleet of this quality and size is just to keep on doing it."

So I lined up on the start for the next race, determined to be more aggressive and to accelerate off the line with, or even slightly bow out on, the boats around me. And I did. And I had a lane I could hold. And I was able to gain on the boats around me. And I was actually able to choose the moment for my first tack when I wanted to do it and find a good lane going back to the middle of the course. And I was able to make sensible tactical decisions going up the beat and play the shifts a bit and position myself properly relative to other groups of boats, instead of just being bounced around like a ball in a pinball machine. And I arrived at the windward mark in a not totally humiliating position and was able to find some clear air on the run and position myself for a good tactical leeward mark rounding. I was really "racing" again instead of just sailing around the course trying to avoid crashes. I think I finished around the middle of the fleet in that race. Woo hoo! Now I was actually feeling confident and almost competent.

That good state of mind didn't last too long as towards the end of the afternoon I started becoming more and more physically tired. I think it was in the fifth race that I considered quitting again. But then I asked myself, "If you were running a half marathon and you were this tired after two hours of running and you still had a few miles to go, would you quit? Of course not. You expect to be more tired in those last 3 or 4 miles so you push on through. So why don't you do the same with sailing?" So I carried on.

The  race officer announced the last race and I mentally raised a cheer. Actually I may have audibly raised a cheer. Part way up the first beat I started to get severe cramp in my left forearm. Probably caused by my old bad habit of holding the sheet too tightly. It was excruciatingly painful and I considered leaving the race and sailing back to the beach. But the stubborn voice in my head was causing trouble again. "Hey, when you used to run marathons and you sometimes got cramps in the last six miles, did you quit? Of course not. You massaged away the cramp and kept on going all the way to the finish line." So I kept going.

Approaching the windward mark I realized I had a knot in my mainsheet. It wasn't one of those triple buntline carrick bend double surgeon's clinch knots inside a double fisherman's alpine butterfly rolling hitch that I have written about before. No it was just a simple "slip knot".

I tugged and tugged and tugged at it. That's supposed to undo a "slip" knot, right? That's why it's called a slip knot isn't it? I still hadn't undone it when I arrived at the mark and couldn't bear away with the knot still in the sheet so I had to luff up and use both hands to undo it and by the time I had done so I was at the back of the fleet. Again.

I tried to ease the cramp in my arm on the run, but was not entirely successful. I can't remember exactly how I managed to  sail the long final beat. I tried holding the sheet and tiller in the same hand. I tried cleating the sheet. I know I wasn't hiking properly and was pinching too much. It was a very defensive (and slow) mode of sailing. But I did finally cross the line and I wasn't even last. Woo hoo! I can beat a couple of boats even with one arm tied behind my back (almost literally.)

So it was a good day. I did feel very satisfied about finishing all the races. Seems like I may have finally conquered that "quitting" issue that I attempted to justify back in August with my post Sailing Philosophy with Crappy Chart

The old Tillerman is back. 

But if I had to choose two words to describe how I was feeling in those last couple of races it would be conked-out and crampy.

Am I crazy?


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Cooking Tip #2 - How to Cook a Turkey




 Step 1: Go buy a turkey

 Step 2: Take a drink of whisky

 Step 3: Put turkey in the oven

 Step 4: Take another 2 drinks of whisky

 Step 5: Set the degree at 375 ovens

 Step 6: Take 3 more whiskies of drink

 Step 7: Turk the bastey

 Step 8: Whisky another bottle of get

 Step 9: Ponder the meat thermometer

 Step 10: Glass yourself a pour of whisky

 Step 11: Bake the whisky for 4 hours

 Step 12: Take the oven out of the turkey

 Step 13: Floor the turkey up off of the pick

 Step 14: Turk the carvey

 Step 15: Get yourself another scottle of botch

 Step 16: Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey

 Step 17: Bless the dinner and pass out


Commandeer

"It is my intention to commandeer one of these ships, pick up a crew in Tortuga, raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasely black guts out."

Thus spake Captain Jack Sparrow in this scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

    



Commandeer. 

 Verb:

  1.  Officially take possession or control of (something), esp. for military purposes.
  2.  Take possession of (something) without authority. 

There's not a lot of commandeering going on these days. In fact, as far as I can recall, I have never commandeered anything in my life. Certainly not a ship or a boat. It's not a word you see very often.

But I did come across it in another sailing blog today. Taru Tuomi of worldtourstories.com announced today that she and her cruising buddy Alex Psaroudakis have been appointed global brand ambassadors for Tommy Hilfiger Freedom fragrance for Men.

Woo hoo!

How cool is that?

Now all of us males who like Taru's blog can buy some "fragrance" that will make us irresistibly attractive to young ladies like Taru.

But wait.

It gets better.

The global press release about Taru and Alex being appointed global brand ambassadors for Tommy Hilfiger Freedom fragrance for Men goes on to say that Tommy Hilfiger Freedom fragrance for Men was "created for the man who lives life big, and dreams even bigger. Freedom Tommy Hilfiger epitomizes the charisma and captivating confidence of a man – managing business at the office or commandeering a boat on the open ocean."

Wow.

A fragrance for the man who commandeers a boat on the open ocean!

I can't help but wonder that the market for a fragrance for guys who commandeer boats on the open ocean must be pretty small. But then what do I know about marketing?

By the way, in case anyone thinks I am making fun of Taru's English (which is not her first language I believe) nothing could be further from the truth. That really is how the folks at Tommy Hilfiger describe their Freedom fragrance.

In fact, Tommy Hilfiger (or their ad agency) is very fond of the word "commandeer." They even use the word in their ads for ladies' swimsuits, one example being for their Bermuda Stripe Soft Cup One Piece W/ Tummy Control. Apparently if you wear the Tommy Hilfiger Bermuda Stripe Soft Cup One Piece W/ Tummy Control you will be able to "commandeer any passing vessel."

I guess it's all to do with the tummy control.

Or maybe the soft cup?

So there you have it, dear readers. If you fancy a bit of commandeering this weekend then

a) if you are a man don't forget to splash first with some Hilfiger Freedom - Eau de Toilette or
b) if you are a woman then slip into the Hilfiger Bermuda Stripe Soft Cup One Piece W/ Tummy Control.


I think I'll go and pilfer my weasely black guts out now.


Thanksgiving Cooking Tip #1

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Photo Quiz

Having discovered a satellite image of one of Larry Ellison's old IACC yachts moored on a tiny pond outside of Oracle HQ last week, I started wondering what other sailing boats I could discover on Google Earth. But then I thought, hey I'm a dinghy sailor not an America's Cup sailor, I should search for dinghy sailing venues.

So for today's Photo Quiz, I challenge you to name these five locations, all clearly hotbeds of dinghy sailing...

















Saturday, November 17, 2012

National Balaclava Day



With the frostbiting season in full swing it's only a matter of time before I will have to start wearing a balaclava for sailing.

I guess that is why today, November 17, is National Balaclava Day?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why I Sail a Laser




“If she's amazing, she won't be easy. If she's easy, she won't be amazing. 

If she's worth it, you won't give up. If you give up, you're not worthy."

- Bob Marley




Quote and suggestion that it could apply to boats shamelessly stolen from H2uho - Bonehead Moves on the Water. Picture shamelessly stolen from Laser Center, Cabarete. The photo is of a typical situation near the leeward mark during the 5th Caribbean Laser Midwinters Regatta 2007, which was also reported on this blog at Broken Record.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Larry's Office and Larry's Yacht



Where is this?

This is where.


Photo Quiz





What is this?

To give you a sense of scale, it's about 6 or 7 inches long.

It's shaped a bit like a boat, but it's clearly some kind of musical instrument.

The fingering is a bit like the recorder I used to play in school, but not exactly the same.

Tillerwoman bought it at her favorite thrift store today.

What is it ?

And where can I learn to play it?


No Blagging Allowed

If you go to Fort Adams in Newport next weekend you will see a very strange sight. People who otherwise appear perfectly sane will be donning special costumes and participating in some sport that is almost impossible to understand for the casual observer. The folk playing this mysterious game will mill around and then go zooming off in apparently random directions occasionally converging and even colliding with each other. There will be much shouting and even some occasional cursing perhaps.

No, no, no. I am not talking about the Newport Laser Frostbite Fleet, although they will be racing in the waters off Fort Adams on Sunday. (Unfortunately I will probably not be racing with the fleet next Sunday because I will be in Connecticut for the weekend celebrating my youngest granddaughter's first birthday.)

No. The even stranger game at Fort Adams next weekend (yes even more strange than Laser frostbiting) will be Quidditch.

Yes. Quidditch. The game in the Harry Potter movies.

Harry Potter devotees will know that Quidditch is an extremely rough sport played by wizards and witches riding flying broomsticks, using four balls (with various magical properties) known as the Quaffle, the Golden Snitch, and the Bludgers.

Wait a minute, you may well say. How can ordinary people fly on broomsticks and where do you buy magical balls?

I have no idea. But apparently Quidditch is now a real game in the real world and is especially popular with college kids. The Northeast Regional Quidditch Championship is coming to Fort Adams next weekend and will be held rain, snow or shine - just like Laser frostbiting.

Maybe this video will give you an idea of what Quidditch for Muggles looks like....





Ouch. Those broomsticks must cause some very unusual injuries.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Go Fly a Kite



Go fly a kite.

Or maybe not.

First we heard that kiteboards will be in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Now ISAF has reversed that decision at their conference in Ireland this week.

Kiteboards are out. Windsurfers are back in. At least for 2016.


The final classes for sailing in the 2016 Olympics are...

Men's Board - RS:X
Women's Board - RS:X
Men's One Person Dinghy - Laser
Women's One Person Dinghy - Laser Radial
Men's 2nd One Person Dinghy - Finn
Men's Skiff - 49er
Women's Skiff – 49erFX
Men's Two Person Dinghy - 470
Women's Two Person Dinghy - 470
Mixed Two Person Multihull – Nacra 17 5


What do you think of these classes as representative of our sport?

Will these choices be good for the future of sailing?

Which one are you going to be sailing?


Heavy Weather Racing Goals



Looks like we will have 10-15 knots from the S for frostbiting in Newport tomorrow, but I'm sure we will have some heavy weather days before the end of the season. We always do.

When it really blows I must admit my racing goals tend to be somewhat.... ummm let's say "conservative." The chart above pretty much sums up how I feel on those days.

Full disclosure: the graphic was shamelessly stolen from a relatively new Sunfish sailing blog that I came across the other day. Hmmm. Some of those guys look awfully familiar.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Movie Review - Hide Away



A lot of my readers have cruising boats and/or enjoy reading blogs by people who own cruising boats. I don't often review movies here, but I have to report that I have found the perfect movie for all of you aformentioned readers.

It's called Hide Away.

No, no, no. Not Hideaway, the 1995 horror movie starring Jeff Goldblum. I am talking about Hide Away, the 2011 movie starring Josh Lucas which was originally titled A Year in Mooring.

I know you are going to like it because it reminds me of every cruising boat blog I have ever read. Without giving away too much of the plot (on second thoughts I am actually about to reveal about 95% of the plot) the movie has all the exciting action-packed adventures that you love to read about on your cruising blogs including...

  • fixing the bilge pump
  • fixing the head (complete with shit explosion)
  • fixing the shower
  • fixing the engine
  • sanding the decks
  • staining the decks
  • mending the sail

As if that isn't enough of the thrilling stuff that fascinates all you cruising blog followers, the emotional climax of the movie that brought a lump to my throat was when one of the characters actually made a Flemish coil.



Wow!

What could be better?

It sent a thrill up my leg.

I almost thought I was reading O Docker's blog, it was that good.

I won't reveal the end of the movie, but I don't think I'm giving anything anyway when I tell you that with all that boat maintenance, our hero doesn't get to do any actual sailing for most of the film. In fact his boat doesn't leave the frigging dock for most of the movie. Isn't that just like most cruising boat blogs?

Of course not everyone appreciates the charm and attraction of boat maintenance in a (not very) exotic location.

One reviewer on Netflix said....

This is about the most boring movie I've seen in a very long time. I rented it because of Josh Lucas, but omg, the music was boring, the reason for his disappearance from life was totally predictable, and I just thank goodness that it wasn't longer! 

And the New York Times described it as "a ponderous piece of allegorical kitsch about grief and healing." But then those liberal elite media types never did understand the joys of fixing a bilge pump.

So if you love cruising boat blogs, watch this movie. You won't be disappointed.


Small Craft Advisory


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Weather on Steroids

Last week we had a hurricane. You may have read about it.

As I write this we are experiencing a major nor'easter which is bringing rain and high winds to the mid-Atlantic and New England coast, and snow only a few miles inland from us.

Is this all caused by global warming?

If you ask the experts this question they will confuse you with by telling you that it is the wrong question, or by telling you that all weather events are affected to some extent by climate change, or that you are misunderstanding the difference between "direct causation" and "systemic causation".

Hmmm. What the hell does all that mean?

The answer I like best is the analogy to baseball that one expert drew. I like sporting analogies. They make things simple for a simple-minded fellow like me. This expert said...

"We can’t say that steroids caused any one home run by Barry Bonds, but steroids sure helped him hit more and hit them farther. Now we have weather on steroids.”



Seems like the weather hit a grand slam last week and another home run this week.

Are we in for a record-breaking season?

Is this the new normal?

Are storms and floods and hurricanes going to cause even more devastation along our coast in future years?

And, if so, what are the implications for how we rebuild from last week's mess?

And how bad do things need to become before a consensus emerges in this country that we have to get serious about dealing with climate change?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Time for Real Change



I've put off the decision too long. But today, Tuesday November 6, I have had to make up my mind.

For many years I supported the same crowd. Everybody in my social circle did the same. We trusted them. They were on our side.

But in recent years things have changed. I have noticed that more and more of my friends have been switching their allegiance. At first there were just one or two, but there are some days when I feel like it is me who is the odd one out by continuing to be loyal to our old friends.

Some say it's about jobs. But I'm not so sure. American manufacturing jobs have been shipped to Asia. This is true. But I'm not convinced that either bunch is going to be able to change that. It's just the way things are.

Four years ago we were promised change. A new direction. Solutions to all the problems we had been bitching about. But we are still waiting for the change we hoped for.

At the end of the day it's all about money.

One lot is promising to continue take more and more money from people like me and give it to... ? I don't know who they want to give it too. Not people like me, for sure.

The other guy says he will take less money out of the pockets of people like me. Today, for the first time in my life, I have decided to go over to the dark side and give him my support.

Yes, people, I have finally switched. Today I place an order with Intensity Sails for a Laser "practice" sail, the first time in my life I have ever bought a non-class-legal Laser sail.

Let's hope I made a wise decision.


Monday, November 05, 2012

American Toast Council 57th Laser Sail of 2012

It was the first day of frostbiting at Newport on Sunday.

But I decided to join the Duxbury Bay Laser Fleet for the last day of their frostbite season instead. I had such a good time sailing with them the previous week, and their fleet captain is doing such a stellar job of building and growing the fleet, that I decided I would show my support by going back a second week.

In passing, I guess it says something about the relative "hardcoreness" of the two fleets that one is just starting their winter season as the other finishes theirs.

Oh well! It is what it is.

Yesterday the wind was coming off the shore in Duxbury and, as one would expect, there were huge variations in wind speed and velocity. There were gusts coming in from both sides of the course and it was impossible to predict in advance which side of the beat would pay. At least it seemed impossible to me. At times I would be doing great on one side of the course (due to my superior wind reading and race strategy skills of course) but then all of a sudden the bozos who had gone the other way would get lucky and experience a huge puff and a favorable shift and I would be toast.



Sometimes I had only myself to blame for doing badly in races. A couple of times when I figured I wanted to go right I tried to do one of those fancy squirrel starts at the committee boat end of the start line, partly to test how good I would be at stealing a hole in the line at the last second and how aggressive the sailors to leeward of me would be at protecting that prime real estate.

They were plenty aggressive enough.

Lesson learned.

But I did get plenty of practice at doing penalty turns and staging major comebacks from last off the start line to only third from last at the finish.

Then there was the time that I fouled someone right on the finish line. I retired from that race.

We did 12 races in all I think. A nice mixture of triangles and sausages, one lap and two lap races, upwind and downwind finishes. I think I like sausages best.




After a while I was getting decent starts and was only choosing the wrong side of the course about 25% of the time. I was even first at the windward mark in a couple of races (once again due to my superior wind reading and race strategy skills of course) but then half a dozen sailors would get lucky puffs and pass me downwind.

(Or maybe it's because I'm so fat and heavy from eating too many sausages.)

After racing, one of the local sailors invited us back to his house for a few beers to celebrate the end of the season. But it had been such a rewarding day of sailing that some of the fleet members didn't want to hang up their drysuits just yet. They were hassling the fleet captain for some extra bonus days of racing. Next Sunday? The Friday after Thanksgiving? I also got some questions about the Newport fleet so perhaps some of the Duxbury guys will be sailing there in the coming weeks.

Then home to Tillerwoman for a hearty dinner of Cornish Pasties. Yum.


I was pretty tired last night. Even fell asleep in front of the TV machine. So unlike me.

I'm still aching this morning. But in a good way.

I think I'll go for a run now.

This post was sponsored by the American Toast Council - protecting the quality and reputation of American toast since 1797.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Forty is the Magic Number

Forty years ago today, on November 4th 1972, I took my girlfriend out to dinner at the same restaurant that we had been to on our first date almost a year earlier. Then we went to a bonfire and fireworks party. It was the closest Saturday to November 5th, Guy Fawkes Day, after all.

Later that evening we went for a walk by the River Thames and I asked her to marry me.

She said yes.



Little did we know that on the other side of the Atlantic at the New York Boat Show earlier that year a little fiberglass sailboat called a Laser had been unveiled, and that the little boats had been selling like hot cakes. Why would we know? As she often reminds me, I wasn't a sailor when she agreed to marry me.

Fast forward ten years. We took a trip to Minorca Sailing. We learned to sail. I tried out a Laser for the first time. She decided she didn't like sailing after all. I came home and bought a Laser. It changed my life. Our lives I suppose.

In the next thirty years she has tolerated my disappearing at least one day most weekends to go Laser sailing. And she has let me drag her to various places all over the world to satisfy my sailing addiction. Florida, Australia, Canada, South America, Europe, various Caribbean islands. Life is hard for the wife of a Laser sailor.

Today on our anniversary we will celebrate by....

No. Wait. I'm going Laser sailing.

But she doesn't mind. When I haven't been sailing for a while and on some chilly winter morning I am debating with myself whether to sail or not, she will always encourage me to go sailing. I don't think it's because she just wants me out of the house; in reality she knows that I will be happier and easier to live with if I've had my fix.

Later this month we will celebrate the first birthday of our fourth grandchild, Isabel.


Life is very good.

Forty is the magic number.

I think I'll go sailing now.


Friday, November 02, 2012

Who Said It?



Who said it?


"Not bad when half your race committee for Sunday frostbiting has America's Cup experience."


"Climate change is a threat to our children's future, and we owe it to them to do something about it."


"I have never eaten or even nibbled a live hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, mouse, shrew, vole or any other small mammal."




Thursday, November 01, 2012

Brick



This picture is for my friend Baydog.

A lot of people have seen the aerial shots and pictures taken from the New Jersey mainland looking east towards the point where the Mantoloking Bridge used to connect to the Barnegat Peninsula, showing the new inlet through the peninsula created by Hurricane Sandy. It seems as if the bridge and the road across the peninsula in some way focused the storm surge and the waves to destroy all the houses between the bay and the sea on both sides of the road.

Today Baydog wrote a post about his favorite boatyard, Beaton's, which he believes is now "scattered in the back marshes."

This picture (looking west) was taken from a helicopter behind the helicopter carrying President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, as they viewed storm damage from superstorm Sandy yesterday. I am pretty sure that Baydog's favorite boatyard, or what is left of it, can be seen in the top left hand corner of the photo.

What do you think Baydog?


Ladybug



Granddaughter Isabel.

First Halloween.

She was walking at 10 months old.

All my grandchildren are above average (of course.)


Duxbury



I've known for a while that there's a Laser fleet on Duxbury Bay in Massachusetts.

Some of my friends sail there.

I know the guy who is the fleet captain there. He's one of those enthusiastic, tireless cheerleader types who is always encouraging new people to come and sail with his fleet, the kind of person that every fleet needs in that role. He has been trying to persuade me to come and sail at Duxbury for a couple of years now and I have even half-promised to do so on one or two occasions, but never actually did follow through.

But on Sunday, the day before Hurricane Sandy was due to arrive on the coast, I did go and race with the Duxbury Bay Laser Fleet.

The wind was already building from the north-east in advance of the hurricane and by the time we launched it was blowing force 4-5, gusting to 6 on occasions (on the Tillerfort Scale.) We raced short windward-leeward courses until it was decided that we had had enough. I was able to hang in as part of the top three in every race, but never actually won. The closest I came was on the last race when we did a downwind finish and I was dueling with the guy who was winning most of the races all the way down the final run, and I was ahead with about 10 yards to go, but he got a mystery puff that missed me and he beat my inches. A fitting end to the day's racing.

I felt like I was getting good starts, and the race officer confirmed afterwards that I was dangerously close to being OCS at times. Great! I wasn't pointing as well as the two guys who beat me though. Maybe it's time to retire my old sail that I've been using for practice and frostbiting for (too many) years now.

It was one of those days where it was key to keep the long pointy thing aiming at the sky. Most of the fleet had some problems in that area. I managed to avoid capsizing but some of my boat-handling skills could have used some improvement, specifically...

  • I was coming out of some tacks heeling too much or sailing too slow or desperately trying to avoid a capsize.
  • When rounding the windward mark in a big gust I was often heading off on a broad reach instead of turning down towards the leeward mark.
  • I went back to my old habit of kicking the sheet around the cockpit in tacks instead of leaving it neatly piled at the front.

That's OK. Gives me a few more things to practice.

After racing some of us went off for burgers and beer at a local tavern. Good bunch of guys with some interesting sailing backgrounds.

I think I will go and race at Duxbury again.

Life is good.