Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Where am I?

Where am I?

Clue #1: If you think the answer is the obvious one, then you haven't been following the other quizzes on this blog.

Clue #2: This is supposedly a sailing blog. So there might be some chance that the place I am at has some vague, tenuous connection to sailing. Maybe.

Clue #3: This will only make sense to readers who also follow the quizzes on Mitch Zeisslers's blog. This is not a Starbucks. It's not in Idaho or Maryland. But there is sort of a connection with space cameras.

Go for it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Maps on Monday

For today's Map on Monday, we have a current screenshot from the tracking page for Scout: The Autonomous Transatlantic Robot Boat.

She was launched successfully from the mouth of the Sakonnet River around midnight on Friday. The blue markers are her GPS waypoints and the line of small blue and orange dots is her actual track. The orange dots indicate the time when she is "drift mode" when her batteries are depleted (which happens at night time or on cloudy days).

Right now she should be headed to that blue marker, waypoint 012, in the bottom right hand corner of the picture.

Obviously she has decided to go somewhere else!

What happened?

The best guess of the team is that there is a bug in the waypoint handling code which is causing Scout to skip many of the waypoints that she should be navigating to. They think she is now navigating to waypoint 044, which is quite close to the Spanish coast, a few thousand miles away.

In any case she has gone too far for the team to go out and recover her now so they are going to let her go for it and hope she finally makes it to Spain.

Viaje Seguro!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Father's Eyes

Today would have been my Dad's 92nd birthday.

It's hard to believe I've been without him for 18 years.

He never met any of his American great grandchildren.

But he would have taken enormous pleasure in all of them.

As the sun set tonight, Isabel and I played some music for Dad.

Friday, August 23, 2013

SCOUT - Third Time Lucky?

Earlier in the summer I wrote some posts about SCOUT: The Autonomous Transatlantic Boat, an unmanned robot boat which has been built by a group of local young men.

Their first attempt to cross the Atlantic failed because the weather conditions offshore wore worse than expected and Scout wasn’t able to collect enough power during the day to meet its power budget. Eventually they went out and recovered the boat, before it could be washed into the island of Nomans Land

On the second attempt the boat was launched from a different site at a different time and when weather conditions were more suitable in order to give the boat the best chance to clear all the islands near the coast before it went into "drift" mode. It did get further this time but had to be retrieved again when the tracking showed that it seemed to have lost its way. It turned out that the control board for the rudder servo motor wasn't capable of handling the sustained loads that Scout's rudder put on it.

The third launch will be at midnight, tonight (Friday). Here is an email the team sent out yesterday...

Hello Scout supporters-  
It's that time again! After mending the rudder system, polishing up some of the programming, charging the batteries, and resetting the tracking page, ( Scout is ready to go!  
For those of you whom have lost track, this will be Scout's third launch (the tracking pages of the previous launches are and  
We have also made a number of neat improvements on our tracking page and have a few more coming! Look for enhanced smartphone support, expanded data viewing capabilities, and a neat little tool that lets you find the distance between any number of points on the tracking map. We have also added average speed and GPS course to the dataset that Scout sends to us; these metrics will be useful in helping us understand what Scout is experiencing during the attempt. The tracking page will receive a new data packet from Scout every 20 minutes.  
We plan on doing our last pre-launch test tomorrow morning, and have scheduled the launch for midnight this Friday (so 11:59 pm Friday night) launching off of Sakonnet Point in Tiverton, RI. We hope you can make it to the launch, it should be a great time!  
 The Scout crew

So, will I see you on the beach at midnight?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cooking on a Laser

This is so wrong!

10 Keys to Sailing Upwind Fast in Light Air - Maybe

Do you need a coach - or at least advice from a top-of-the fleet sailor - to improve? Or can average sailors coach each other? Or would that be akin to the blind leading the blind?

It was a perfect evening for Tuesday evening Laser sailing. It was sunny. The company was good. And I knew the beer at Aidan's would be cold.

The only slight problem was that the winds were light. Not even enough to stir up any waves.

As we sailed out to our usual race area it seemed like I was sailing upwind faster than my friends. I wasn't sure why but I wasn't going to complain.

After one practice circuit around the race course we started the first race with the usual rabbit start. The wind was dying and there was a left shift just after the start. Everyone flopped on to port tack except that I dug further into the header than the others and was rewarded with a slightly stronger wind coming in from the left side of the course and I was able to pull out a substantial lead. Race #1 to the Tillerman.

A couple of other sailors joined us and we did some more races around two other government marks that lined up better with the new wind direction. I still felt I was going faster upwind than my friends, and I managed to score two second places. Not too shabby. Probably best Tuesday results for me this year.

Over burgers and beer at Aidan's one of my friends wanted to know why he was slower than me upwind that evening, in conditions where we both expected he would usually have had the edge. None of us really knew of course, but various theories of how to go fast upwind in light winds and flat water were discussed and dissected. Here is what various members of the group said...

1. I had my outhaul set at about 7 inches of draft. That's about right for these conditions isn't it?

2. I had my outhaul tighter than that. I don't think you need it that loose on flat water. I prefer to have the sail flatter with less drag.

3. You seemed to be over sheeting. Trimmed too close to block-to-block for a lot of the time. I was easing my sheet every time the boat slowed down, and only sheeting back in again after I had got it up to speed again.

4. I had my vang looser than block-to-block.

5. I kept the vang set at block-to-block even when I was easing the sheet in the lulls.

6. I had one foot over the toe-strap so I had one foot to windward and one to leeward. I think that helps me to balance the boat better.

7. I tried to avoid steering. When I got a lift I would ease the sheet rather than steer up.

8. I was steering with the tiller extension behind me, locked by my hand to the deck, for some of the time. That helps me to avoid waggling the rudder around.

9. I was watching S (really good local sailor) a couple of years ago. He was using a lot of body movement even in these conditions.

10. I felt like I was pressing the boat flat all the time. Every time I senses a little heel to leeward I would move my shoulders further outboard so that I was pressing the boat down hard with my butt. Pressing down seemed to squeeze the boat forwards.

Too much information?

All 10 suggestions can't be right, can they?

Which of the above really work and which are most important?

Can the blind lead the blind?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What is wrong with this picture?

One of my favorite places to sail. Upper Narragansett Bay. I usually launch from Colt State Park in the bottom right of this map.

The Atlantic Coast Laser Masters will be sailed here in September, with launching off Barrington Town Beach at the top of the map.

But there is something seriously wrong with this map, a screen shot from Google Maps.

What is it?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

5 Reasons Why the 34th America's Cup is the Best Thing since Sliced Bread

Some people seem to be very cynical and negative about the Louis Vuitton and America's Cup racing in San Francisco this summer. I really don't understand why people have to be like that.

OK. OK. I admit it. I may have had an occasional dig at AC34 myself. Like this post here. And the ones here and here.  Oh yeah, there was also this one here - and the other one here. And how could I have forgotten this other one here. Wait, wait, there's also this one here.

Hmmm. Sorry about that.

Well, sure it is true that the price to play in this America's Cup has been too high for many syndicates that were initially interested, we have already had one fatal accident, the boats keep breaking, and we haven't had any close races... yet. But I am beginning to think that in a few years time we will look back on AC34 as a huge step forward for yacht racing in general and the America's Cup in particular.

Here are 5 reasons why I am thinking that way...

1. The wing sails. Who can fail to be impressed by this wonder of modern technology?  Wing sails are the future of high performance yacht racing for sure.


2. Foils.  It never ceases to amaze me when one of those huge 7.5 ton AC72 catamarans lifts up on to its foils. And when they gybe the boat without dropping off the foils? Wow!

We will see foils on many other kind of boats in the next few years. You can even buy foils for your Laser!

3. Speed. I'm sorry but I'm a sucker for speed. It's a lot more exciting to watch a huge cat, with a wing sail and foils, streaking along at over 40 knots than to watch those old leadmines lumbering along like they did in the old days of the AC.

4. Spectator friendly. The courses for this America's Cup are close to shore, enabling spectators on shore to see the action. I got a taste for this at the AC45 racing in Newport last summer. Other events (like the Olympic medal races last year) are going this way too.

5. Sexy uniforms. Last but not least, I definitely want one of those Prada chrome suits to wear at my next Laser regatta.

We have seen the future of yacht racing, people. Mark my words.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Maps on Monday

What's the longest straight line you can sail on earth?

Apparently it's almost 20,000 miles from Pakistan to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, via the Indian, South Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

I know it doesn't look like a straight line on the Mercator projection, but check out the video.

I wonder how long it will be before someone actually tries to sail it?

Source: kepleronlyknows on reddit

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

Swedish Meatballs

This week's Fish on Friday is the pacu.

The pacu is a relative of the piranha.

One was recently discovered off the southern coast of Sweden.

"Keep your swimwear on if you're bathing in the Sound these days - maybe there are more out there!" cautioned the National History Museum in neighbouring Denmark.

The freshwater fish, which can grow up to 90 centimetres and weigh up to 25 kilogrammes, has been nicknamed the "ball cutter" for its attacks on the male genitalia.

In areas where pacus proliferate such as South American rivers, fishermen have reportedly bled to death after losing their testicles to the fish's crushing jaws.

Henrik Carl, a fish expert at the Danish museum, said. "They bite because they're hungry, and testicles sit nicely in their mouth," he explained.

"And its mouth is not so big, so of course it normally eats nuts, fruit, and small fish, but human testicles are just a natural target. It's not normal to get your testicles bitten off, of course, but it can happen, especially now in Sweden."

This has been a public service announcement by Proper Course for my Swedish readers.

You have been warned!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


How important is visualization to success at sailboat racing?

Can you "think" yourself into being a better sailor?

If you took a few minutes each day to use the power of mental visualization to improve your racing performance, what should you imagine yourself doing?

Should you create a mental picture of yourself crossing the finish line in first place?

Could you believe yourself if you did that?

Would it actually do any good?

Or should you visualize yourself making a small improvement?

Imagine yourself beating that guy who always just beats you?

Finishing a couple of places higher than you usually do?

Or are you wasting your time trying to visualize outcomes?

Should you focus instead on how you sail?

Visualize pulling the trigger on the start line a second earlier than you do now.

Visualize yourself hiking with straight legs all the way up the beat.

Visualize the smoothness of your roll tacks.

Would that work any better?

When is the best time to use visualization?

Before you go to sleep?

Driving to the regatta?

Before every race?

All of the above?

And how do you go about visualizing?

Do you literally "see" what you want?

Or is it more about "feeling" it?

Do you focus on your emotions in the situation you are visualizing?

Or do you talk to yourself?

Does music help?

What about you?

Do you use visualization?

Does it work?

What can you teach me?

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Next Home

Where is the best small town to live in the United States?

According to Money Magazine it is the town of Sharon in Massachusetts.

Money Magazine explains its pick of Sharon by referencing its proximity to major job markets, its diversity, its schools, its natural beauty and its open spaces. They also mention the "town jewel", Lake Massapoag.

But for a picture to illustrate the article about the best small town to live in the whole United States, Money Magazine shows a picture of a Laser on Lake Massapoag. (Yes, I know that's not an official legal Laser sail, but it's still a Laser.)

The Laser fleet at Lake Massapoag.

Massapoag Yacht Club.

Are these really the features that led Money Magazine to honor Sharon in this way?

Maybe they've been reading my blog?

Maybe they read my 2006 post about Laser Sailing at Lake Whippersnapper? Which of course was really about Laser sailing at Lake Massapoag.

Or my 2008 post about a regatta at Lake Massapoag, Just One of Those Days?

Or my 2010 post extolling the virtues of Massapoag Yacht Club?

Or my 2012 post about what might be the best day of my life so far, the day I took two of my grandchildren sailing for the first time (in Sharon)?

You heard it here first folks.

Sharon MA is the best small town to live in America.

Because of the Laser sailing.

Why else?

Money Magazine has a video about three homes for sale in Sharon.

One of these is a "compound" of three houses on the shores of Lake Massapoag.

Hmmm. Kennedy compound. Tillerman compound?

Totally out of my price range of course, but I can dream.

There are lots of pictures on the realtor's website of all the features of the future Tillerman compound. Sweeping lawns. Swimming pool. Luxury kitchen. Gracious reception rooms. Immaculate landscaping. But this is the one that grabbed my attention...

I can just see my Laser on that beach.

Tiller Extensions on the Beach

The three oldest tiller extensions are at the beach this week.

We will be joining them for a couple of days later in the week.

Why do human beings like the beach so much?

How Much Would You Pay for a Laser Foiling Kit?

There has been much interest in the last few days in the photos, videos and accounts of foiling Lasers coming out of Australia. I posted some of this information in Foiling on a Laser?

It was promised that the necessary foils to convert your standard Laser into a foiling boat would soon be available, but initially there was no mention of a price.

How much would it be worth to the average Laser sailor to add foils to his or her boat? Remember that this is a community that balks at the price of $565 (US) for a legal standard Laser sail. It would certainly be fun to put on the the foils and fly around the bay for an afternoon. But, at least in the short term, there probably won't be much in the way of racing events for foiling Lasers in your back yard.

So how much?

500 bucks?

1000 bucks?

Maybe. I don't think I would be pay any more than that.

How about $5,800 (Australian dollars)?

The foils are now available on the Performance Sailcraft Australia website for the price of $5,800. But that does include covers and GST.


American Rivers

I came across this map of American rivers where river symbols are proportional to the “gage-adjusted flow.” The rivers on the map drawn here have widths proportional to the square root of the rivers’ estimated average annual discharge. Only rivers with discharge above 1,000 cfs are shown.

The original map and an article about it can be found at American Rivers: A Graphic on the Pacific Institute Insights blog and the authors are Peter Gleick, President and Matthew Heberger, Research Associate.

How big is your local river?  Does anything surprise you about this map? How would the Amazon look on the same scale?

I am sharing this work under a Creative Commons License.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dead Polar Bear

The climate is changing.

Sea ice in the Arctic is at record low levels.

Polar bears feed mainly on seals and need sea ice to capture their prey.

Because of the retreating sea ice, this bear had to go searching for food far from his normal habitat.

And he starved to death.

Full story here.

Friday, August 09, 2013

More Cheaters

Alex Rodriguez

Cheater #1 - Alex Rodriguez, a baseball player, was penalized by Major League Baseball this week for use and possession of banned performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, and for engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct or frustrate the investigation into the matter.

Penalty - suspension for 211 games (through to the end of 2014.)

Larry Ellison

Cheater #2 - Oracle Team USA, a sailing team owned by Larry Ellison, was found guilty this week of cheating by illegally modifying their AC45 catamarans used in the America's Cup World Series. See video about the cheating.

What do you think the penalty should be for Oracle Team USA's cheating?

How about a suspension for the team for a certain number of "games"?

It doesn't even have to be as draconian as the 211 games that Alex Rodriguez was hit with.

It seems to me that a reasonable penalty would be to suspend the team for their next 17 scheduled races or 9 days of racing, which would only be to the end of next month.

Wouldn't that be fair?

What do you think?

Monday, August 05, 2013

Cheats Never Prosper

This fine fellow is Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht von Preußen, better known as Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor.

Back in 1905 he presented a solid gold trophy, the Kaiser's Cup, for a race across the Atlantic Ocean from Sandy Hook to the Lizard Light. The race was won by the American yacht Atlantic in a record time of 12 day 4 hours 1 minute and 19 seconds, a record which was not broken by a monohull until 1997.

Atlantic was owned by Wilson Marshall but skippered by the famous Captain Charlie Barr, already at that time a three-times winner of the America's Cup.

What a glorious summer that was for American yachting. Atlantic won the Kaiser's Cup. And Fred A. Mabbett sailing on Iroquois won the Canada's Cup.

Except that somebody in this story cheated.

It wasn't Wilson Marshall.

It wasn't Charlie Barr.

And it certainly wasn't Fred A. Mabbett.

It was Kaiser Wilhelm.

You see his "sold gold" trophy wasn't really solid gold at all.

Wilson Marshall lost a son in the Great War (as it was called then) and soon after he decided he didn't want the Kaiser's Cup any more. So in 1918 he donated the trophy to raise money for the Red Cross. It was auctioned and re-auctioned and returned to the Red Cross a number of times, raising a total of $125,000. Eventually at a Red Cross rally in the presence of President Wilson it was smashed with a few blows of a hammer, with members of the audience paying $5 each to come on stage and witness the destruction.

The scrap metal was sent to a dealer to raise more money for the Red Cross. It was then discovered that the Kaiser's solid gold trophy wasn't solid gold at all. It was actually pewter with a thin veneer of gold. Far from being worth $5,000 it was only worth $35 to $40. See New York Times article.

In 1918 Kaiser Wilhelm had somewhat weightier issues to deal with than being caught out as a cheat and a fraud in the matter of a yachting trophy. Later that year, at the end of the war, he was forced to abdicate and he spent the rest of his life in exile in Holland, dying in 1941.

And now a bonus question for my clever readers...

How many degrees of separation was Charlie Barr from Fred A. Mabbett?

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Foiling on a Laser?

According to a report via SailCoach on Facebook by Chris Caldecoat of Performance Sailcraft Australia, it will soon be possible to buy a set of foils for the Laser.

"Went foiling today on the first production set of Kirby Sailboat foils (being politically correct) my first time ever foiling, never thought I would as a 96kg Finn sailor. I foiled first go, learnt a bit and on my second sail after a turn or two on adjustment on the rudder I was smoking across the bay, a brand new boat, no holes, just a cassette in the case, rudder goes on a current rudder head and is held down the same way as current boats. Pull it all off in one pin and you can go do Kirby/ Laser Worlds in your boat. Future, it's not to replace current racing, just to let everyone, with old or new boats to get out and try foiling. Stay tuned as soon to go public, cheers from PSA and the Glide Free team".


I wonder if they will be available in the USA.

Or is this just some elaborate hoax?

What do you think?

Update Mon 5 August: another photo from the same source...

Updated Tues 6 Aug: video of Laser foiling.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Sailing is Dying

Ham String

Apparently we have a tendon or muscle or something in the back of each leg that's called a ham string.

Or maybe a hamstring.

I've never given it much thought before.

But I have read that runners can injure their hamstrings.

And I have read that Laser sailors can injure their hamstrings.

I've never had a problem with my hamstrings.

Through running or sailing or too much sitting at a desk or pulling up a little weed or putting my socks on or some other similar dangerous activities, I have at times hurt my ankles and my knees and my lower back. About once every year or two I do something stupid like that and end up having to lay off sailing and running for a while.

But I've never had a problem with my hamstring.

At least not until this week.

I went for a run on Thursday. Not a particularly strenuous run. Some half mile intervals on the East Bay Bike Path. I've done this workout many times before.

But this time I started getting a pain in the back of my left leg. And every interval I did it was getting worse. So I eventually gave up and walked slowly back to the car.

I guess I had done something bad to my hamstring.  The left one was very tight and sore.

So I looked up on the Interwebs what to do about a hamstring strain, as one does.

Apparently there are lots of causes for a hamstring strain.

For some of the causes, some gentle stretching is recommended.

For other causes, then stretching is apparently the worst possible thing you can do.

Thank you Interwebs.

So I decided to treat myself with some rest and some gentle stretching.

And rum.

Mainly rum.

I'm not sure why I've messed up my hamstring after so many years.

Maybe I overdid it in the 10 mile road race I ran last Friday evening. It was hard going in the heat and humidity.

Maybe it was from trying to modify my Laser hiking style from type 1 to type 2 as I discussed in my post, Paul Goodison on Hiking Style. I did go out and practice this a bit on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Damn you Paul Goodison.

Or maybe it was from sitting around doing too much blogging? Damn you Fred A. Mabbett.

In the latest North American Laser Class newsletter, Ari Barshi from the Laser Training Centre in Cabarete wrote an article about feedback he received from some ISAF coaches. Apparently they told him to work harder upwind. (Although Ari is already so fast upwind and downwind I really wish he would ease off a bit so the rest of us have a chance of staying anywhere near him.)

Ari also learned from the coaches that the way to avoid injury is to warm up before sailing, stretch on the water between races and drills, and most importantly stretch after derigging the boat.

Ah ah! I have been neglecting my stretching routines lately.

Maybe I should have stretched my hamstrings after that road race.

And maybe I should have stretched my hamstrings after trying to hike differently on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

So, as it turns out, it's a good job I didn't register for the Buzzards Bay Regatta this weekend. I wouldn't have been able to sail anyway.

I just did some gentle stretches. Now I think I will do some gentle exercise. Perhaps mow the lawn.

Or go to the store and buy some more rum.

Why is the rum always gone?

Friday, August 02, 2013

Bloggers Make the Big Time

I see that a blog post by Pam of Improper Course has now been included by Bruce Kirby's lawyers as an exhibit in one of their filings in the lawsuit against Mr Rastegar of LaserPerformance.


What is the world coming to? Blogs are evidence? Are Kirby's lawyers relying on Pam's research into the structure of Mr. Rastegar's companies as the authoritative source? If so, kudos to Pam.

I'm glad I didn't leave any snarky comments on that post. But I see that one commenter did describe one of the parties to the lawsuit as a "crook." And that comment has been submitted to the court too. Hmmm. Rather him than me.

My only appearance in the court submission is in the blogroll where Doug and Pam very kindly describe Proper Course as the "blueprint for our blog but way better." I hope the judge likes that bit.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

It's A Small World After All

First of all I have a long rambling story about yachting history.

Then I have a challenge for you...

In Monday's photo quiz and in a longer post on Tuesday, I introduced my readers to Fred A. Mabbett.

I bet you had never heard of him before.

But in his time and in his particular corner of the sailing community, he was quite a big deal. Commodore of Rochester Yacht Club, one of the crew that won the Canada's Cup in 1905, and according to fellow blogger Tweezerman one of America's first dinghy champions.

Isn't sailing really a small world? Surely none of us sailors are many degrees of separation from Fred A. Mabbett? After all, it is said that everyone in the whole world is connected to everyone else by no more than six degrees of separation. So all of us sailors must have a closer connection to Fred A. Mabbett.

You would think so.

I set out to find how closely connected I am to Fred A. Mabbett. This is the shortest chain I could find.

25 years after Fred A. Mabbett's epic Canada's Cup win in 1905, Rochester Yacht Club was still the holder of the Canada's Cup, and Fred A. Mabbett was part of the club's Canada's Cup Syndicate for the defense of 1930.

A fellow member of the syndicate was a fine fellow called Walter L. Farley. Here is a list of all the syndicate members from the Canada's Cup Committee bulletin of March 1930.

That is how Fred A. Mabbett is connected to Walter L. Farley.  One degree of separation.

Now Walter L. Farley was the skipper of one of the yachts that was competing for the honor of defending the cup for Rochester Yacht Club. That yacht was called Conewago and it was designed by Olin Stephens. Here is a picture of the launch of Conewago from the Canada's Cup Committee bulletin of May 1930, showing Olin Stephens with Walter L. Farley.

That is how Fred A. Mabbett is connected to Olin Stephens. Two degrees of separation.

Now Olin Stephens was only 22 years old in that picture and he lived to be 100. So he met a lot of people in the sailing world and his longevity also helps us to span the many decades separating us from Fred A. Mabbett. One of the many people Olin Stephens met in his lifetime was fellow yacht designer Bruce Kirby. I suspect they knew each other well, but here is one documented account of them meeting, from an article written by Bruce Kirby for the Cruising Club of America to honor Olin Stephens on his 100th birthday.

That is how Fred A. Mabbett is connected to Bruce Kirby. Three degrees of separation.

And several years ago, it was my pleasure to meet Bruce Kirby. It was at the Bitter End Yacht Club and a mutual friend introduced us, knowing that I was a Laser sailor and that I would be thrilled to meet the designer of the Laser. I remember boasting to Bruce that I owned three Lasers at the time.

Bruce Kirby

Bruce also contacted me after my post in 2011 Three Laser Classes?  and we had an email discussion about the background to the dispute over design rights in the Laser world that is still rumbling on.

And so that is how Fred A. Mabbett is connected to me. Four degrees of separation.

What about you? How many degrees of separation are you from Fred A. Mabbett? Extra points if you can trace a connection without using any of the people in my chain


Yesterday was my 43rd day of Laser sailing in 2013.

In some ways it was nothing unusual or spectacular. I launched from Fogland Beach on the Sakonnet River and sailed upwind to the south for a couple of miles or so, to the point where Indian Avenue starts on the Portsmouth side of the river. Then I sailed downwind back to my starting point.

But it was about as perfect a sail as I could ever wish for. Enjoying the quiet and solitude and relatively rural surroundings of the Sakonnet. Seeing an occasional yacht or two but otherwise pretty much having the river to myself. Beautiful warm sunny afternoon.  I am so lucky that I live in a place where I can enjoy an afternoon like that. And that I still am fit and able to sail a Laser whenever I want.

When we moved to Rhode Island I don't think I had quite realized that I would be spending summer afternoons in this way.

We moved to be closer to our eldest son and his family. We didn't know that our younger son would settle in New England too and that a few years later we would have four grandchildren, and that we would be able to spend so much time with them.

I wanted to be near Newport so that I could race in the Laser frostbite fleet there. And I have sailed with that fleet, but not as much as I expected.

I knew there were plenty of Laser regattas around southern New England. And some years I have sailed in a lot of regattas, but I feel that my appetite for competitive Laser racing every weekend is waning as I get older.

These days I mainly get my sailing kicks from solitary afternoons in various scenic corners of the bays. Some days I tell myself I am "training". Working on improving my sailing skills. More and more I do it for the simple pleasure of being close to nature, enjoying the sky and the wind and the scenery and the waves... and the solitude.

Mostly the solitude.