Monday, October 31, 2005

Do Not Attempt This At Home

Some people think sailing is dangerous. And I guess offshore sailing does catch the headlines from time to time with news of disasters and a number of lives lost every year. But the kind of sailing I do -- racing dinghies close to shore or on lakes -- is relatively safe.

There are a lot more dangerous things you can do in water. Standing submerged up to your waist while using an electric appliance is surely one of them. But apparently this is common practice among leaders of a certain religious cult in Waco, Texas. On Sunday morning, a pastor was electrocuted while performing a baptism and holding a microphone. Duh.

Broken Neck

Man it was good to be again. And Sunday was a perfect day for it. 60 degrees and a gusty north-westerly at 10 to 15 knots. After 4 weeks with no sailing I was psyched up and rarin' to go.

It looked like there were over 40 Lasers out for the first race. This is a tough fleet with guys who have done Olympic campaigns and qualified for the US team at the Worlds. I usually think I am doing well if I am in the top half. My objective for the day was to get front-row starts, to get acquainted with the boat again and to have fun.

Race one I line up next to my friend D. towards the starboard end of the line. I am able to work out a nice gap to leeward. As the countdown gets to 10 seconds D. bears away giving me an even bigger gap. I reach into it, sheet in, head up and am off like a bullet when the starting horn goes.

Snug up the vang. Hiking hard. Looking good. Level with D. but with a nice sized gap between us giving me plenty of space to foot. Bow out on the boats to windward. Sailing flat and fast.

Halfway up the beat D. tacks away and ducks me. I look back and see one of the kids that did well last week several boatlengths behind and in my bad air. Threequarters of the way up the beat I dig back in. Still looking good. Might be in the top ten at the windward mark.

Tack back out to the left to avoid all the traffic mid-course. Getting close to the layline so tack back on to port for my final approach. Still in clear air and going fast. Bit of a gust, tighten the vang a bit so I'm not overpowered. I see a whole crowd of boats on the starboard tack layline. This could be ugly. Might have to tack below them and with the current pushing us downwind that could make for a dangerous mark rounding.

Getting closer now. Catch a bit of a lift. I'm just going to cross the lead starboard tacker. Cross him and tack. Ease the vang, downhaul and outhaul. Roll the boat to windward and round the first mark in the lead.

Wow. How did that happen? I haven't sailed for four weeks. I'm even using my old sail. Maybe the old guy hasn't totally lost it.

Sail the run with a big smile on my face. Go close to the committee boat so they can get some good photos of this most unusual turn of the events. Approaching the leeward gate I decide to go right. Set the downhaul and outhaul before the mark. Nice rounding. Sheet in. Hike hard.

BANG. What the hell was that? I look at the mast and see that the gooseneck is no longer attached to the mast. All the rivets have sheared and it's just sitting in more or less the right place held by friction. Geeze. This is not good. Can I finish the race? I stay on the same tack until I'm on the layline for the finish. Tack. Boom drops to the deck. Race over. I'm DNF.

A rescue boat comes over and helps me detach the clew of my sail from the boom. They tow me back to the club. I'm laughing all the way. At the club I find a friend who will lend me her mast bottom section for the day. Rerig the boat and head out to the course again.

Man it's good to be sailing again.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Brits Are Coming

If you wonder why the British do so well in Olympic you can get more than a hint of the answer by reading this article from the website of the Times of London.

Note first of all that Ben Ainslie, already the holder of two Olympic gold medals in two different classes and the winner of the last four Finn World Championships, is not just focusing on Beijing in 2008. He's already looking ahead to the London Olympics in 2012.

Then note his training program, with the Olympics still three years away.

"Wakes at 7 in the morning and does 90 minutes of stretching before heading to the water for an hour of boat work and four hours of punishing water-based training before finishing off with an hour of weights. Romantic it ain'’t."

It's also significant that the article is really about how this sailing rockstar is taking time out to inspire and coach kids who are interested in sailing.

But maybe the most basic answer to why the UK has been the most successful nation in Olympic sailing in recent years is to be found in the footnotes to the article. According to the article, since 1994, the National Lottery has invested more than 78 million pounds in sailing at elite and community levels throughout the UK and has invested 3 million pounds into the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy a venue for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

That's some serious investment. Watch out for the Brits in Beijing.

Me - I'm off to do some stretching.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Here Come Da Judge

Sailboat racing is sometimes lauded for being one of the few sports that is entirely self-policing. There are no umpires and referees on the course. If a competitor breaks one of the rules he is obliged to take a penalty or retire from the race. If he does not do so, another competitor may bring it to the attention of the offender so that he can exonerate himself by taking the penalty. If these two competitors disagree on what happened or whether a rule has been broken or who broke the rule, then a protest hearing is held after racing to determine the facts and who, if anyone, is at fault.

One exception to the self-policing philosophy is that at major regattas there are sometimes judges on the water to ensure enforcement principally of one rule -- the infamous Rule 42. This rule essentially says you are supposed to use the natural actions of wind and water to propel the boat; not sculling, pumping, rocking, rolling, ooching, mooching, smooching or any other unnatural acts. Or something like that. It's actually a lot more complicated (and a lot less fun) than that with detailed definitions of what is and is not legal to do to make the boat go faster. And on top of that the international body of sailing, ISAF, has published some even more complicated "interpretations" of the rule. Most racing sailors have a rough idea of what constitutes illegal propulsion; but the subtleties of the interpretations of Rule 42 are so hard to understand that there is even a training video for judges to help them to learn what to look for.

At the US Laser Masters in Annapolis this month we did have judges on the water looking for Rule 42 violations. They did call about 10 of the 80 sailors for breaking the rule. One very good sailor, a former national champion and renowned coach, was flagged by the judges for doing an illegal tack right next to me on the start line. Illegal one presumes because his tack was so good that he accelerated out of it (into a gap between boats on the start line) faster than he should have done. Another sailor, actually a little old lady from Philadelphia (no kidding), was called for "body pumping".

There was some grumbling among the sailors who had been caught and afterwards there was a spirited debate on the Laser Forum about the issue. Some wanted all Masters regattas to be self-policing. Others felt it was good that the judges kept the racing more fair. Others worried about the competence of judges at some regattas.

Rule 42 tends to be a heated issue because it carries with it an aura of "cheating" If I misjudge an attempt to cross you while I am on port tack and you have to bear away, you may be temporarily angry with me, you may even swear at me, but we both know that I am guilty of nothing more than bad judgment or too much aggression. If you deliberately rock your boat to make it go faster downwind and I ask you to stop, it will seem like I am calling you a cheat. For this reason competitors don't often protest other sailors for Rule 42 violations.

It's a difficult area, not only in interpreting the rule but also in handling the ill-feelings sometimes caused. There has been a festering issue at my summer club for a few years now with some of the old guard believing that one of the newer sailors is winning races through illegal propulsion. But they just grumble; they never call him on it to his face.

Personally I'm for use of judges in major regattas. At other races I think all of us should be prepared to warn a fellow sailor when we think he is breaking the rule and to protest him if he persists. I want the racing to be as clean and fair as possible, even if a few feelings are hurt in the process.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Slip Slidin' Away

You might think that with 185,000 boats sold, 35 years of collective experience and dozens of books and CDs published, there is plenty of good information available on how to sail a Laser properly. Actually there is too much information and not all of it is consistent.

Take the advice on how to sail a Laser in light airs. Conventional advice is to sail a dinghy flat. Everyone knows that. Or do they? Not even World Champions agree.

Glenn Bourke in Championship Laser Racing says "in light air there's a great technique where you heel the boat to gives tremendous height."

Ben Ainslie in The Laser Campaign Manual says "the best trim for light airs is dead flat or a slight heel to leeward.......heel to windward is slow as it induces lee helm."

OK. So do these two champions really sail their boats totally differently? Or is one of them under some illusion and not able to accurately describe how he sails?

At the US Laser Masters in Annapolis a few weeks ago, I did experiment with slight variations in how I sailed the boat upwind in light winds. I noticed that, at first, I was sailing with a few more degrees of heel to leeward than the surrounding boats. I think I was unconsciously heeling the boat enough to generate a small amount of weather helm because I had become comfortable sailing the boat with that slight tug on the tiller.

So I tried flattening the boat until the feel of weather helm disappeared. Not so much as to get lee helm and certainly not heeling to windward as Bourke appears to recommend. It felt strange at first. Almost as if I wasn't really steering the boat. It was a bit like the difference in skiing between carving a gentle turn on your edges or turning straight down the fall line with the skis flat. Less control but faster. The boat seemed to slip and slide over the chop. And I was able to sail faster and higher than the boats around me and had some of my best ever finishes in a major championship.

So have I been sailing wrong these last 25 years? Maybe. But next time I go out in light air I'm going to see if I can recreate that same feeling.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Someone has tried to work out how much any blog is worth based on the value of the AOL-Weblogs deal. If it's true, I've "earned" over $1600 through my blogging efforts during the last 6 months. That's probably a return of around $10 an hour for my work.

Only problem I have to declare this on my tax return?.

My blog is worth $1,693.62.
How much is your blog worth?

What I Wore

A few days ago Scheherazade wrote a post about what she wore while coaching in the rain. Someone made a comment on her blog questioning whether anyone was really interested in how she dressed, but I found it interesting.

Then a few days ago I found a UK sailing blogger who likes to post pictures on his blog of the sailing equipment he buys such as his buoyancy aid and trapeze harness.

So in those traditions, here are is a picture of what I normally wear for frostbite sailing. When I showed up to do RC duty for the frostbite fleet on Sunday, the guy in charge "motivated" us by saying, "You're gonna be cold. You're gonna be miserable. If you have a drysuit, wear it."

So I did.

My Henri-Lloyd drysuit. Goretex so when I sweat my clothes underneath don't get soaked. Latex booties so my feet stay totally dry and warm in two pairs of socks. Seals at ankle and neck to keep the water out. I've had it several years now and it is incredibly durable. I do look after it, always rinse it in fresh water after use, oil the seals and lubricate the zipper occasionally and it is holding up well.

I generally wear thick neoprene gloves or, if it's really cold, latex gloves with glove liners in which case my hands stay totally dry. A ski hat to keep my head warm. So the only part of my body exposed to the elements is my face.

Next week I actually get to sail. Can't wait.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Club Colonna

I received an email today from Sunsail promoting various sailing vacations. But the one that caught my eye was for their watersports center in Antigua, Club Colonna. Apparently they have spent $3 million on various upgrades and are offering 25% off their already very reasonable rates for certain dates.

I'm tempted.

My wife and I spent a week at the club a few years ago after a sailing cruise from Grenada to Antigua. For a dinghy sailor it's about as good as it gets. 20 knot winds every day. Big range of toys to play with including Hobie cats, Lasers and various asymmetric rig dinghies such as the Topaz. Laid back instruction if you want it. Friendly racing several times a week.

And of course all the usual ambiance of a Caribbean island. Steel bands. Golden beaches. Coral reefs. Drinks with fruit in and little umbrellas on top.

Hmmm. I see that the low rates are only offered until the end of January. I'm running the Disneyworld Marathon on January 8 followed by a few days R&R in Florida. Can I persuade my non-sailing wife that it would be a good idea to leave the frozen north-east again about a week after returning from Florida so that she can sit on a Caribbean beach for 10 days and sip margaritas while I go sailing?

Weather Underground is saying there is a chance of snow tonight. I bet that if we do wake up in morning to see some wet white stuff it will be an easier sell.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Thumb Cramps

I did my race committee duty at our Laser frostbite fleet yesterday. It was a challenging day for some of the sailors with the wind gusting over 20 knots at times. In the changing room afterwards one of the sailors complained to me he had been suffering from "thumb cramps".

I sympathized because I've had that experience myself. Or at least I think that he was talking about the same thing. Sometimes towards the end of a hard day of Laser sailing my hands and forearms cramp up. The worst symptom is that my thumb and fingers freeze up so I can't open them. So there I am happily sailing along and then when I want to tack I can't let go of the tiller. Occasionally it's so bad that I actually have to use my other hand to prize my fingers and thumbs off the tiller. Not exactly the most efficient way to tack.

I think it's usually caused (at least in my case) by holding the sheet too tight. I use a fairly thin line for my Laser mainsheet and, even with a ratchet block, it requires a fair amount of grip tension to hold it when beating. I don't like to use cleats because it prevents me from sheeting out quickly in gusts. Strangely enough though, the cramps usually hit me first in the hand holding the tiller but I can't believe that my light, relaxed grip on the tiller is causing the problem.

It happened to me once at a Laser regatta at Marsh Creek Sailing Club. Going into the last race I was tied for first place. Just had to beat one guy and I would win my first Laser regatta ever. It was cold and windy and my arms were getting tired. And then the cramps hit me just at the start of the last race and that was enough to lose me the race and the regatta. At the time I wondered how much of the cause was psychological. Did I choke?

After a few such incidents I decided to do something about it. Classic ways of avoiding cramps are to stay well hydrated and to ensure that your potassium level is high enough. So I try and remember to eat a banana before sailing and to drink plenty of water between races.

I also wondered if I was holding the sheet too tight. So when practicing I try to consciously relax my grip until just tight enough to prevent the sheet slipping. But in the excitement of the race I am sure I forget to relax.

And I reasoned that if my muscles were stronger they wouldn't be worked so hard that they would cramp. So I started exercises for my forearms -- curls and extensions of the wrist using light dumbbells. And I bought some devices to exercise my grip.

Over the years these methods seemed to have reduced my tendency to experience the dreaded thumb cramps. But not entirely eliminated them.

I just googled "thumb cramps". 95% of the results were related to cramps caused by repetitive use of devices such as play consoles and cell phones. Too much text messaging can cause thumb cramps, apparently. This seems to me to be a totally different kind of action from tightly gripping a sheet but, hey, I guess cell phone usage may be as strenuous a workout as Laser sailing if you overdo it.

I found one report of thumb cramps by a kayaker and a few by musicians, violinists, guitarists etc. These sound as if they may be similar to what sailors experience. Gripping something hard, for hours at a time maybe, while involved in doing an activity that engages you passionately so you forget how much you are working your muscles.

Today I came across a blog by a sailor in the UK who has just purchased a new gizmo called a Powerball to exercise his arms and hands. It has a gyroscope inside and claims to be the latest wonder device for building strength in these areas.

Maybe I'll put it on my Christmas list. It does say it is the ideal gift for the man who has everything.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Rule Of Three Quarters

For reasons I explained in an earlier post, there was a lot of time at the US Laser Masters for hanging out at the yacht club, catching up with old friends, swapping stories and chatting about sailing. I probably learned more from these conversations than I did from the actual sailing.

One tip on large fleet strategy I picked up from an overheard conversation. A certain former Laser hotshot, who now sails Snipes seriously, was sailing in the regatta. Someone asked him why he was sailing in Lasers again. He explained that he had been disappointed with his result in this year's Snipe World Championship. Only twentieth.

"We've been training with the top guys. We know we're as fast as them. Then I realized we were lacking recent experience in big fleets." So he decided to sail in some big Laser regattas (there were 80 sailors at this event) to get back his feel for big fleet strategy.

His questioner pressed the point. "So what do you do different in big fleets?"

"Well, you have to get out to one side and then dig back in three quarters of the way up the beat. Then you have to get out to the side again."

Hmmmm. Interesting. It wasn't totally new to me. But it was expressed in a way that was new to me. I knew that in a big fleet you rarely get near the leaders by tacking up the middle of the course. You have to choose the side that you think is favored and go for it. I also knew that you don't want to "bang the corner". Once you're on a layline you can only lose to the competition on every shift. So digging back in about three quarters of the way up the beat makes sense.

But then why did our expert say that then you have to get out to the side of the course again? I discovered the hard way in one race on Saturday. I went out to the right side of the course in a clear lane, and dug back in three quarters of the way up the beat. Looked to be about 20th out of 80. Not bad for me. But then I started playing the shifts up the middle. Bad idea. There is so much confused air dead downwind of the windward mark in a big fleet. Boats coming in to the mark on both laylines, leaders already coming down the run. Not a good place to be. I rounded the mark in about 40th place and never recovered.

Well, at least I learned a lesson. Free seminar from a former Laser World Champion. And then reinforced it by learning the hard way. Won't make that mistake again.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


It was good to see in the news this week that US Sailing has awarded its C.R.E.W. award to Sandy Grosvenor. In the usual bureaucratic language of our sport's governing border they say that "The C.R.E.W. award recognizes US SAILING volunteers and staff who effectively set clear expectations, show mutual respect, and are committed to collaboration within the organization." Whatever that means.

All I know is that Sandy is a damn fine race officer and deserves an award just for that. She was the PRO for the Laser Masters US Nationals which were held in Annapolis over 3 days at the beginning of October. It was obvious at the skippers' meeting on day one that Sandy was on top of the job and was committed to keeping sailors informed.

Conditions were not easy. Winds were light all weekend. Every day Sandy was faced with decisions on whether to launch the fleet and, if we did launch, whether to race. In such circumstances there's nothing worse than sitting around at a yacht club wondering what the hell is going on. Sandy avoided that trap through regular announcements over the club PA system.

On the Friday we did launch and sail out to the racing area on Chesapeake Bay. But the winds out there were too patchy and light for fair racing and Sandy wisely avoided forcing us to race in such conditions. Better to have 3 or 4 good fair races over a 3 day regatta than 7 or 8 bad ones where luck is more important than skill.

On Saturday we completed 4 races in light but reasonably consistent winds. More on that in another post.

And on Sunday, Sandy kept us on the beach. It was frustrating because there was actually a decent thermally induced wind in the harbor. But Sandy was in touch by radio with another race committee trying to hold some races out on the bay. From them she learned that there was hardly any wind out on our racecourse. So she had the sense to keep us ashore and did a great job of keeping all 80 competitors informed as the situation developed. Or sadly and more accurately did not develop.

Also, on Friday and Sunday, she chose to abandon all hope of racing at a reasonably early time rather than keep us waiting around till the bitter end of the day.

It's one thing to have a race committee that knows how to run good races. It's also gratifying to come across a PRO who also knows when NOT to race.

Thanks for a good job at the Nationals Sandy. And congratulations on the C.R.E.W. award. Whatever it is for.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Sex in Prison

The New England Laser Masters back in September was sailed off Third Beach in Newport, RI. In previous regattas in Newport I had sailed on the "civilized" side and well known side of the town where the relatively sheltered waters of Narragansett Bay are crowded with yachts of every description and the shoreline is packed with tourists and cars and restaurants and shops.

Third Beach is different. We approached down a winding country road with potholes and huge puddles. (The aftermath of Hurricane Ophelia had been soaking the area for 24 hours.) The regatta site was a parking lot, a beach, a launching ramp and some portajohns. That's all. Not exactly the New York Yacht Club.

The beach is near the mouth of the Sakonnet River. Actually "river" is really a misnomer; at this point it is better described as a bay of the Atlantic. Looking across the bay we saw the strangest site. There were huge white plumes of spray apparently on the other side of the bay, as if there were some rocks on which waves were breaking. But as we watched for a while it was apparent that the breakers were not always in the same place. And then at times we could actually see the foam and spray moving upwind. How could that be? For a while I wondered if I was looking at a distant group of speedboats or jetskis that were powering up the bay.

Then one of the locals explained. Ophelia had generated some huge swells that were rolling up the bay from the south. And the wind from the north at 20 knots plus was blowing the tops off the waves. For an inland sailor like me it was one of the weirdest things I had seen. Someone asked the race officer if he was going to set the course in the "breakers". He laughed.

Sailing in those conditions was weird too. Plenty of wind on the tops of the swells and not enough down in the troughs. Beating on starboard tack, the waves were running in roughly the same direction as we were sailing so on the upwind side of the wave you could actually catch a long ride down the front of the wave. Strange sensation. Can't ever remember surfing upwind before.

Port tack was a different story. I guess we were sailing in a direction across the swells because it was difficult (at least it was difficult for me) to pick up a pattern. Some times I was in a lull and sometimes in plenty of wind but I could never find a way to really use the waves on that tack.

After racing one of the other sailors summed it up perfectly, if somewhat profanely. "Starboard tack...oh man...that was so was like sex. And port tack....." he searched his brain for the right analogy "....that was like sex in prison."

He started to explain what he meant but we all got it the first time.

OK - I know this post is going to generate some unintended hits from search engines for people who are not at all interested in sailing. To those folk I can only say, "get a life".

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Skip's Blog

There aren't many high quality blogs by racing sailors out there. But I found an excellent one the other day... The Skip's Blog. It's written by a J24 sailor from Toronto and is fast becoming one of the best sources of racing instruction in the blogosphere.

He has recorded in the blog post-race analysis of races he sailed this year with comprehensive information on wind shifts, courses and all significant events, good and bad, during each race. Each report includes a chart of the race area with a compass rose. I know I ought to do a better job of analyzing each of my races if I want to identify weaknesses and work on them. His example might actually inspire me to take some action.

Many of his posts such as Thinking Inside The Box cover advice on racing techniques that is original as far as I know. At least it's not stuff that I've come across in that form before. And I'm a voracious reader of any scraps of information that might be of help to me on the racecourse.

And he's also built a set of links to all sorts of useful racing resources on a diverse set of subjects including weather, sail trim, rigging and tuning and all sorts of other good stuff. Many of these are new to me so I'm slowly working my way through them and learning all kinds of good stuff.

Not to mention he's also compiled a list of other sailing, racing blogs. And surprise, surprise... Proper Course made the list. What a guy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Back in January, one of my favorite bloggers, Outer Life, wrote a post about superfluidity. He defined it in these words..

Superfluidity is like the Taoist ideal of wu-wei, action without action. It's akin to what athletes call the "zone," their elusive source of effortless achievement. It's losing yourself, it's a state of grace, it's nirvana, the ultimate melding of thoughts, senses, abilities and actions into a perfect harmony of living.

Of course, the concept is familiar to racing sailors, and to most athletes I suspect. Some days you are just "in the zone". Everything on the racecourse seems to go perfectly without any conscious thought or effort. You break off the start line in clear air going to the favored side of the course. All your strategic decisions work out and sometimes you have no idea why. When you encounter other boats you automatically make the right tactical decisions and leave your competitors in your wake. You don't need to find the wind; it finds you.

It doesn't happen often. At least not for mid-fleet weekend warriors like me. I remember one regatta when I achieved superfluidity. In every race I seemed to work out to the front of the fleet without ever doing anything unusual to achieve it. It felt so strange that I actually apologized as I cruised past the local hotshot into first place. "I'm sorry Steve, I've no idea what I'm doing."

I just bought the latest version of a computer racing similar. It's the Sailing Tactics Simulator from Posey Yacht Design. In the introduction to the instructions, the software's author Dennis Posey makes this claim...

Success as a tactician and racing skipper requires quick effective decision making, ability to anticipate developing situations, and the experience to judge outcomes. The Sailing Tactics Simulator can provide you with valuable experience and condensed practice time equivalent to many hours on the water. In addition, the Coach will help you learn faster. If you stick with the simulator, you'll be impressed how clearly you perceive developments on the race course and how effectively you deal with them!

Wow! That's quite a claim. You can achieve that effortless ability to make to make correct decisions on the racecourse by playing a computer game? Superfluidity from Silicon?

Actually I do believe him. I bought an older version of this game a few years ago and played it obsessively through that winter. It was quite addictive. The next Spring I had my best racing results ever.

Of course a computer simulation doesn't even begin to recreate many of the physical sensations of sailing. But this one does do an excellent job of simulating the patterns of winds and currents and competitors on the racecourse. In a race we make dozens of decisions... shall I start here or head down the line for a better hole....uh oh the wind shifted, shall I head back up to the boat that boat to windward sheeting in early.... how was the start.. should I foot or pinch..... which side is favored....tack now or keep this guy or cross him......and so on and so on.

The simulator isolates all those strategic and tactical decisions from all the other aspects of sailing. In the same way that a chess player sees the patterns of pieces and develops an instinct for how different moves will work out, a racing sailor needs to be able to see the big picture of where his competitors are and what the wind is doing and be able to see how the game will develop in order to make his decisions.

It's only mental practice but sometimes it's easier to train the mind without the distractions of aching quads and waves splashing in your face. Like Outer Life my goals are survival and superfluidity. I'll let you know how I make out.


I ran out of steam in mid-September and fell victim to the dreaded "blogger's block". I've no idea why. I've still been sailing and have all sorts of ideas that would be good blog material buzzing around in my head.

The last post I wrote was a parody of another blog. At the time I thought it would be fun to write a regatta report in the style of the writer of Soulsailor. Maybe that's what screwed me up.

Perhaps I'm being punished by the great blogger in the sky for daring to make fun of another member of the small community of racing sailor bloggers.

Or maybe that post was the first symptom of blogger's block. Unable to find anything original to say in my own words I had to steal another blogger's style.

Or perchance that post was not a symptom but a cause. Having made a feeble attempt to imitate another blogger's voice, I lost my own voice.

Over a month has gone by. So, whatever the cause of my malady, I beg forgiveness from the heavenly blogger -- and from Soulsailor - and pray that the block will shatter.