Thursday, December 31, 2009

Interview With Buff Staysail

Thought you might like to read my recent interview with world-famed roving sailing reporter Buff Staysail. He caught me earlier today, not long after I had completed sailing a regatta in the online sailing simulator SailX.

How does it feel to win the gold medal at the last SailX Euro Regatta of 2009?

I'm very pleased with my overall result, and am looking forward to repeating on my success in the 2010 SailX season. Going into the event my goal was not make any fouls and hopefully to finish in the top ten, so the win exceeded my expectations. I've been training hard over the past couple of weeks by ignoring real sailing and practicing on my computer at least an hour a day so it feels rewarding to see all of my work pay off.

What were your strengths in this regatta? What were the keys to your success?

I think I did a good job of processing the conditions and making quick decisions. Some races the current was the major factor; some times it was the shifts; some times the gusts. Having good starts also helped me, as I had the freedom to go where I wanted. I aced the start in the first of the two Laser races and went on to win the race in spite of pressure all round the course from Spanked1. That gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the regatta... especially for the four races in cats and skiffs in which I'm less experienced.

What were your challenges?

Racing at 3pm was tough for me as my mind is usually much sharper in the morning. It was also stressful racing against such good sailors as 249, paulprotocol and Blackdog824 currently ranked 3rd, 16th and 23rd in the world respectively. The young Peruvian 249 won three of the six races... but he also had to count a 15th which hurt his overall score. Going into the final race in skiffs I knew I had to put two boats between me and the cat sailor from Colorado paulprotocol. I just did it, but only after a thrilling tussle on the last downwind leg with Blackdog24 from Toronto. I beat him by three pixels and took the regatta by one point.

How were the conditions in Lisboa?

Excellent. It was snowing outside at home but we had sunshine and winds between 10 and 20 knots in all the races, with none of the crazy strong stuff that always makes me capsize in skiffs.

Anything you would do differently?

Yes, I need to keep my head out of the computer and be more aware of what's going on in the house. Just as the regatta finished I heard the garage door open and assumed it was Tillerwoman going out to shovel snow off the drive, so I went out to help her. But I was wrong. It was Tillerwoman coming in after shoveling the whole drive on her own. Now I'm in the doghouse. What a way to start the new year!

Divers Do It Deeper

As I mentioned in Snorkelers Do It Through A Tube, the Bitter End Yacht Club is not just for sailors. If you want to "do it deeper" you can go scuba diving. You can learn to dive there and they run trips every day to "beautiful dive sites" and "exhilarating wrecks".

Hmmm. I'm tempted to make some off-color comment about "exhilarating wrecks" I have met... but I won't. This is a family blog.

Anyway, the BEYC website says you can go scuba diving there. And there is a Kilbrides Dive shop in the resort. But here's what's really weird: to the best of my knowledge, I have never met any divers in my four stays at BEYC.

I wonder why that is? Are divers naturally standoffish people? Don't they mingle with other guests in the bar and at meals? Are they so knackered from "doing it deeper" all day that they just crash out in the evenings? Or do they look down on us non-divers so much that they are too modest to talk about their diving even when you do meet them? It's a mystery.

I've never done any scuba diving. I tend to avoid pursuits like parachuting, or flying gliders, or scuba diving where one stupid clumsy mistake can kill you. In my other sports I make stupid clumsy mistakes quite often. When I'm sailing my Laser and make a stupid clumsy mistake it usually means I will get wet. My suspicion is that if you make a stupid clumsy mistake when you are diving you could quite easily end up dead.

I bet diving is fun... but probably not as much fun as sailing.

And that's all I have to say about diving.

Because Every Year Counts

At Bitter End Yacht Club (BEYC) earlier this month we saw a guy with a T-shirt that said


I think it was from some anniversary of BEYC's a few years back. I guess the commercial message of the slogan was "come to BEYC every year" but I thought it would be a good "thought for the day" as we look back on 2009 and look forward to 2010.

Because Every Year Counts. It really does. I become more aware of this the older I get. How many more years of good health and fitness are left to me to enjoy Laser sailing and travel and running and skiing and other active outdoor pursuits? What will I do to make the best of 2010?

Others may read a more altruistic message in the slogan. What did I do to make a difference in the life of others this year? What will I do to make my life count next year?

Don't blink. Life goes faster than you think.

What will you do to make 2010 count?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snorkelers Do It Through A Tube

Bitter End Yacht Club (where Tillerwoman and I recently vacationed) isn't just for sailors, despite what you might think from the name. We met many guests there who never set foot on a sailboat. One of the most popular activities for a lot of these folk was snorkeling. BEYC take snorkelers out to local spots for short trips every day, and they organize longer trips several times a week too.

So, on Monday the third day of our stay at BEYC, we decided to do something different and went on the seductively titled Best of Virgin Gorda trip on BEYC's 59 foot power catamaran, Corinthian. Best of Virgin Gorda (that day) turned out to be
  • snorkeling at Fallen Jerusalem
  • snorkeling at The Baths
  • hanging out at a bar in Spanish Town.
OK. BEYC aside, that probably is the best of Virgin Gorda.

I like snorkeling. Hanging out in the ocean, breathing through a tube, looking at all the pretty fishes and the pretty coral is very relaxing. I don't know much about fishes or coral but they sure are pretty. Hanging out at a bar afterwards can be relaxing too.

I like snorkeling... but it's not as much fun as sailing.

And that's all I have to say about snorkeling.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tillerman Beats Robert

On the second full day of our recent stay at Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda I won the Sunday Laser Regatta.

First regatta I had sailed since the New England Laser Masters in September 2008 (I think). First regatta I had won since my famous victory in July 2008 (I think). But it wasn't really a big deal. Come to think of it, none of my rare regatta wins are actually very big deals. This is how it went down...

I signed up for the Laser regatta the day before just to make sure I would get a boat. On my previous visits to BEYC there had always been a good turnout for the Sunday Laser races. You never know who will be there. Previous time I was at BEYC there was some dude who flew over in his helicopter from Tortola just to sail in the BEYC Laser regatta and beat Tillerman.

However, at the skippers' meeting it became apparent that there were going to be about ten boats sailing in the Hobie cat regatta (a mixture of Waves and Getaways) and just me and one other dude racing against each other in Lasers.

As the race officer explained the incredibly complicated "butterfly" course I sized up the other Laser dude. His name was Robert and he had an accent I couldn't quite place. A good 20 years younger than me. Suntanned. Fit. Looked like he spent a good amount of time each week in the gym. Definitely had that air of a fast Laser sailor. Hmmm. Wonder who he is?

Wait. Robert? Late 30's? Accent? Big fit dude? Oh no! It can't be him can it? As I said, you never know who will show up at BEYC.

Well it turned out that Robert must have been a pretty experienced sailor because he aced all the keelboat races on Sunday afternoon. But his accent wasn't Brazilian. It was Wisconsinite (aka Cheeseheadian). Easy to confuse the two, I know. And luckily for me it seemed he hadn't spent a whole lot of time sailing Lasers.

The first race was sailed in very light winds. About the only time in ten days at BEYC that it was light. I stood up in my boat and tried to look like I was checking out the breeze. Seemed to me that there was more pressure on the right side of the course but then my eyes aren't as good as they used to be so I could have been mistaken. All the cats and the two Lasers were starting together so I really wanted to have clear air too. I set up for a start near the starboard end of the line and, by some fluke, won that end of the line with good speed and clear air.

After a minute or two I was ahead and to windward of the whole fleet so I resisted the temptation to tack off for the possibly illusory stronger wind out in the right corner of the course. I just stayed between the opposition and the windward mark, arrived there with a healthy lead and extended it around the track. Race 1 to the Tillerman.

The first cat sailor across the finish line after me sailed up to congratulate me and asked where I had learned to sail so fast in light airs. "Oh, I spent about twenty years of summer Sunday mornings drifting around on inland lakes in New Jersey. Must have picked up the knack there," I said with what I hoped was the appropriate mix of modesty and casual confidence.

For the second race the conditions were totally different. The wind had strengthened considerably and had gone way left. Now the left end of the line was very favored. I watched how the fleet was setting up. All the cats and Robert seemed to be hanging out at the starboard end of the line so I thought, "What the hell. I'll try for a port tack start at the left end of the line."

Well, it turned out that everyone started on port tack because the wind had gone so far left that we were all laying the windward mark. But at least I was to windward of all the cats unlike poor Robert who was in the middle of a pack of cats and all their bad air. One Wave and one Getaway and I got away cleanly ahead of the fleet. The Wave was flying his windward hull and really motoring and he did beat me around the first mark.

At the second mark I gybed and headed up, only to discover one drawback I had forgotten about the Classic Laser. My traveler blocks weren't taped together and they collapsed and jammed. In my haste to free them I managed to detach them from each other. By the time I had connected them again the Getaway had passed me. And that's how we finished, me behind two cats but comfortably ahead of Robert.

So that's how I won the only Laser regatta I entered in 2009. Not a big deal really.

The Regatta Party and Prize-giving were scheduled for 5pm. Free beer was promised. The party would go on until all the beer was drunk, we were told.

Hmmm. Wonder what my prize will be?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tillerwoman's Rules

I may have given regular readers of this blog the impression that my lovely wife, aka Tillerwoman, is not very fond of sailing. The truth of the matter is that really she does like sailing. Just on her terms.

On the first full day, Saturday, of our recent stay at the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda I reacquainted myself with the Classic Laser in the morning. Then in the afternoon I took my bride sailing on a Hobie Wave.

As I said, my wife really does like sailing. But she does have certain rules...

  1. The air and water temperature must be around 80 degrees F, or warmer. This was not a problem in the BVI, even in December.

  2. She must not have to sit anywhere near the edge of the boat.

  3. She must not be required to perform any task whatsoever associated with actually sailing the boat.

  4. She must have absolute confidence in the person driving the boat. I discovered on this first sail with her at BEYC this year that comments such as, "I've never gybed one of these things before... I think I'll give it a shot," or "Have you ever thought what you would do if I fell off the boat right now?" are not very helpful in creating that absolute confidence.

The Hobie Wave was perfect for us. About the same length as a Laser, but of course much more stable being a catamaran. Roughly the same speed and just as wet a ride. My bride was quite happy sitting on the trampoline while I handled the steering and trimming the single fully-battened sail.

We rode up and down the waves all over North Sound. Spray was flying everywhere and Tillerwoman was laughing and whooping and hollering and generally giving an impression that sailing was her most favorite thing in the whole world.

She really does like sailing. I'm sure.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Here Comes Santa Claus

Bon Nadal
Feliz Natal
Feliz Navidad
Nollaig shona duit
Frohliche Weihnachten
Joyeux Noel et bonne annee
Roomsaid Joule ja Head Uut Aastat
Hyvaa joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta
Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau'oli Makahiki Hou
Wesolych swiat i szczesliwego nowego roku
Prettige kerstdagen en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Three Mince Pies

Captain JP has thrown down the challenge. He wants to have something to read on Xmas Day when he is is "stuffed full of mince pies" and asks, "What better than the cream of the crop of other blogs?" He suggests that others should list "their top blog entries of 2009." So for Captain JP, one of my favorite boating bloggers of all time, here are Tillerman's Top 3 Posts of 2009.

  1. Being basically a grumpy old geezer, I love a good rant. Ban Mommy Boats NOW is a good old rant at one of the greatest current threats to the spirit of Corinthian sailing, the grossly unfair and increasingly prevalent practice of sailors bringing surrogate "mommies" to wipe their noses and change their diapers at major regattas (metaphorically speaking of course.) "I'm mad as hell about Mommy Boats and I'm not going to take it any more."

  2. I haven't sailed much this year, mainly because I'm a wimp... and lazy to boot. 10 Reasons Why I (Almost) Gave Up Sailing This Year is the sad pathetic tale of my inadequacies in this area. But it did generate a lot of very helpful comments on how to overcome my sailing funk.

  3. Proper Course: The Laser Experience! was a response to another blogging challenge from Captain JP. It's all about how you can come and sail with me and learn the skills of mediocrity, laziness, ineptitude and procrastination that have made me the world-renowned Laser racing failure that I am today. Surprisingly nobody has yet taken me up on my offer. Maybe in 2010?

Bah! Humbug! And get off my lawn!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Classic Laser

I must be old school. Or, maybe just old. As a result of my recent trip to see the fat virgin, I've become all warm and fuzzy and nostalgic for the good old days of Laser sailing.

To explain why I will have to give you a history lesson. You see, there have been three eras in the evolution of Laser sail controls...

In the current "Modern Era" we racing Laser sailors are allowed to put pulleys and blocks and purchases in our vang and outhaul and cunningham so that we can adjust any of the controls at any time with a mere tweak of the line with our fingertips. We can constantly adjust the sail shape to optimize the boatspeed for every little change in wind or wave conditions. In fact we can spend so much time tweaking the sail controls that it is entirely possible to overlook a huge wind shift or, for that matter, a starboard tacker barreling down on us. Oops.

Prior to the Modern Era there was the "Silly Rope Tricks and Macrame Era". You were allowed to put some extra purchases in the control lines but the powers-that-be had ordained that you couldn't use any blocks for those purchases because that would be against the "Strict One-Design Principle of the Laser Class as Envisaged by the Original Designer", or something. So you bought slippery line and tied little bowlines in the control lines and looped the lines through the bowlines to achieve the necessary mechanical advantage and then had to replace the lines about every three weeks when the lines wore out. It was really very silly. Very silly indeed.

But in the beginning, when I raced my first Laser in the early 80's, it was still the "Classic Laser Era". 3:1 vang. Outhaul led to a cleat on the boom. Minimal purchase in the downhaul. It was pretty much a set-the-controls-and-go boat. It was very hard to adjust any of the controls while sailing, though we old-timers did eventually work out one or two tricks to help us....

You couldn't adjust the outhaul on any point of sail except close-hauled (couldn't reach that damn cleat on the boom); but sailing upwind if you used both hands, one either side of the cleat, you could just about tighten the outhaul. Likewise with the vang; there was a technique for standing up, bouncing your whole body weight on the middle of the boom with one hand and snugging up the vang line with the other hand. It was quite possible to capsize during either of these maneuvers but that was all part of the fun.

I was somewhat surprised to discover that the Lasers at the Bitter End Yacht Club (where I spent my recent vacation) were still essentially Classic Lasers. (I guess this is what is sold for recreational use even these days.) They also had un-battened sails with no windows made by UK-Halsey which presumably are more durable than the class-legal sails which are made from some material rejected as too flimsy by Victoria's Secret.

At first I was mildly perturbed by this. How would I be able to sail the boat without my 15:1 vang and 9:1 outhaul and 12:1 downhaul? (I have no idea if those are the actual numbers so please don't abuse me for being a weakling if you only have a 10:1 downhaul.)

But then I rationalized it. What the hell? I'm only on vacation. And if I race a Laser in the Sunday regatta it's just the same for everyone.

Then I went through the masochism stage. It's harder when I can't depower the sail in a big gust, but it's good for me to have to hike more. It's annoying that I can't put on enough vang for upwind sailing in heavy winds but what doesn't kill me makes me stronger.

And then after a few days I accepted it. It took me back to my youth. (Or comparative youth as I didn't start sailing a Laser until I was in my early 30's.) This was how the Laser was created by the Great Designer in the Sky. Never mind tweaking the control lines every few minutes, just sail the boat. Watch for the gusts and deal with them. Less is more. Simplicity is a virtue. I learned (again) to love the Classic Laser. I found myself tuning into the wind and the waves and hugely enjoying the experience of sailing the best little boat in the world in one of the best places to sail in the world. I recaptured my enthusiasm for Laser sailing that I almost lost this year.

I must be old school. Or, maybe just old.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dear Tillerwoman, what I want for Christmas is...

Yes, I know we said we wouldn't buy each other expensive gifts this Xmas, but I really think it's time I moved up to a boat that's a bit bigger than my Laser.

This Volvo Open 70, "Puma Avanti II" (Puma training boat and formerly "ABN AMRO 2") would be an ideal training boat for a future campaign, or maybe I could even use her for corporate work. She comes complete with a full VOR 70 sail inventory and containerized workshop. She gained the longest distance run in 24 hours by a monohull clocking 563 nautical miles, an average of 23.4 knots of speed! She
is listed at $845,538 and is currently just down the road at the Newport Shipyard. Maybe you could go and check her out when the snow stops?

Just a suggestion. Really, another diary would be just as much appreciated.

By the way, what would you like for Christmas dear?

Fleet Captain's Email

Due to the wind, snow and the general condition of the roads, Laser frostbiting is canceled for the day. See you all next Sunday, hopefully. Enjoy the snow and the holidays.

Damn. After racing last Sunday morning in sunshine, 80 degrees and 15 knots I was just longing for a blizzard sesh in zero visibility, 10 degrees F real feel, and 25 knots gusting 45.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Puffy Pants and Pulp Fiction

The votes are in. It's clear that you the readers overwhelmingly feel that the winner of our Love and Sailing group writing project should be Setting the Record Straight or Capt. Puffy Pants Eats Crow. I wholeheartedly concur. So, if Capt. Puffy Pants would like to email me his mailing address I will send him the prize.

I was very pleased that this entry won because, although the good captain has only been writing his blog Boat De Jour for a couple of months, I believe that he is setting a totally new direction in sailing blogs. Boat De Jour is, I suggest, the first truly "postmodern" sailing blog.

Let me first confess that, until five minutes ago, I had no idea what that term "postmodern" meant. But after extensive research using The Google and The Wikipedia I now consider myself an expert on the subject.

Actually The Wikipedia is not very enlightening on what "postmodern" really means. It just has a lot of twaddle such as saying that postmodernism is "a style and concept in the arts characterized by distrust of theories and ideologies and by the drawing of attention to conventions." Say what again?

However, I did discover that the 1994 Quentin Tarantino movie Pulp Fiction is considered by many critics as a "prime example of a postmodern film". Aaaah, now I get it. Tillerwoman and I watched Pulp Fiction for the first time a couple of weeks ago (we are a bit behind in catching up with recent movies) and right away I saw the similarity between Pulp Fiction and
Setting the Record Straight or Capt. Puffy Pants Eats Crow and why I loved so much the postmodern elements in both of them.

Pulp Fiction has a lot of swearing and killing people. I don't think that that makes it postmodern. And, in any case,
Setting the Record Straight or Capt. Puffy Pants Eats Crow doesn't have any killing people in it at all. On the other hand there is a bit of mildly foul language such as "bleep you".

Pulp Fiction has
John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis, but I don't think that this is why it is postmodern. Likewise John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis don't appear in Setting the Record Straight or Capt. Puffy Pants Eats Crow. Nor does Uma Thurman. (Which is a shame because I do have a bit of a thing for Uma Thurman.)

No. What I discovered from my minutes of research on The Google into postmodernism is that Pulp Fiction is considered postmodern because of the picture's "self-reflexivity, unconventional structure, and extensive use of homage and pastiche". Now do you see why I saw the similarity with
Setting the Record Straight or Capt. Puffy Pants Eats Crow?

Just like Pulp Fiction,
Setting the Record Straight or Capt. Puffy Pants Eats Crow has an unconventional structure. It is immediately apparent that there is a missing section from the story. The narrative abruptly jumps from Capt. Puffy taking the helm to the whole crew of the vessel swimming around in the lake. Classic postmodernism! (Can postmodernism be classic?) Thankfully the good captain posted the missing scenes a few days later in The Missing Transcripts of "Setting the Record Straight or Capt. Puffy Pants Eats Crow".

And how about that for self-reflexivity? Referring in his blog to the blog as if it were the record of some kind of court proceedings? "Missing Transcripts"! Delicious postmodernism.

But it's the "homage" that really makes this story truly postmodern. (I think that if you are in the know about postmodernism you are supposed to pronounce "homage" with a French accent.) Pulp Fiction is full of homages to other movies and television programs. I'm sure I only "got" 10% of them. Similarly
Setting the Record Straight or Capt. Puffy Pants Eats Crow is full of homages to films and TV. The blog's name Boat De Jour is clearly an homage to the 1967 Buñuel film Belle de jour; the name Puffy Pants itself must be a reference to the famous Puffy Shirt episode of Seinfeld; and the character Honey Bunny is clearly based on the character of the same name played by Amanda Plummer in Pulp Fiction!!! How spooky is that possum?

I could go on but I leave it to the reader to discover all the vast riches of postmodern elements in
Setting the Record Straight or Capt. Puffy Pants Eats Crow the worthy winner of our grand prize. The only thing that could have made it even better for me is if it had included a dance scene with Uma Thurman.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fat Virgin

I'm back... Tillerwoman and I have just returned from a wonderful 10 day vacation at the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.

Bitter End Yacht Club is not a yacht club. It is an all-inclusive water sports resort. But it does have some of the style and atmosphere associated with the better class of yacht clubs.

There is a lot to do at BEYC. There is sailing on dinghies and catamarans and keelboats. There is windsurfing and kiteboarding. There is kayaking. There is diving and snorkeling. There are blue-water excursions. There is an amazing variety of food. There is steel band music. There are painkillers. There is rum.

Virgin Gorda, as I am sure you know, means "fat virgin". It is not a fat virgin. It is an island. It was named Virgin Gorda by Columbus on his second voyage because he thought the shape of the island as seen from the sea looked like a fat virgin. It really doesn't. But I guess when you've been two months at sea with only hairy smelly male sailors for company then you start having fantasies about fat virgins and pretty much anything looks like a fat virgin, even a green hilly island.

It was our fourth visit to BEYC. We went a couple of times in the mid-90s with our then teenage sons. We all had a blast. Then Tillerwoman and I went by ourselves in 2001. I really can't recall why we haven't been back sooner. Maybe after the rum has totally worn off I will remember.

I am probably going to bore you over the next few days with some posts about our vacation at Bitter End. Other people's vacations are boring, I know. So come back after Christmas if you don't want to read any boring posts about my vacation. But some of the posts may surprise you. Some may be funny. Some may be rude. (I've discovered that rude posts tend to generate the most comments.) Some of the posts may even be about sailing. Some will probably be about rum.

So the story starts on Friday evening a couple of weeks ago as I sit on the deck of our rustic cottage at the north end of BEYC, sipping rum (of course) and looking across Eustatia Reef at Necker Island, the whole frigging island owned by some other Brit about my age called Richard Branson. Sir Richard is apparently busy this week somewhere in the world launching his new venture to sell rides in space to rich idiots. I am sitting on a veranda sipping rum and enjoying the view of Sir Richard's island and wondering what the next day, our first full day at Bitter End, will bring?
Will there be mimosas for breakfast? Will there be sailing? Will there be rum?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Love and Sailing... and the winner is...

Our Love and Sailing group writing project closed yesterday. Thanks to everyone who contributed. As there is a very valuable prize at stake, there will be a three stage process for selecting the winner.
  1. After an exhaustive and searching evaluation process, I have selected eight finalists A,B,D,N,O,P,S and Z who are eligible for the prize. See list below.

  2. You, my expert advisers, (i.e. anyone who has stumbled upon this post) are invited to read all of the finalists' entries and make comments on which ones you prefer. While you are doing this, the beautiful Tillerwoman and I will be enjoying a well-deserved (well she deserves it anyway) break in the Caribbean. There will be rum. There will be sun. There will be wind. There will be sailing. There will be more rum.

  3. When we return (whenever that will be) and have sobered up, I will peruse your comments and select the winner of the grand prize, a totally free, completely original, only-read-once (well twice actually), first trade paperback edition of the blockbuster smash hit "love and sailing" book of the century the Motion of the Ocean, 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers, and a Woman's Search for the Meaning of Wife by the world-famous love and sailing author Janna Cawrse Esarey!!! The book isn't signed by the author but it will be signed by the slightly famous Tillerman, once named as the writer of the "best sailing blog on the planet"!!!!! Decision of the judges (well judge actually) is final.

Grand Finalists

A. Danger Will Robinson! "Sailing has been a central pillar of our life together. I feel very lucky that we share this same passion and we have shared this since the start. It helped form the bond in the beginning, fixed the cracks later and now is creating a new foundation."

B. The Things We Do For Love "Her trust in me was implicit, that trust might have been a burden, but it wasn't, I just grew to love her all the more."

D. It's A Rock! "I learned that, when you least suspect it, your wife may very well be right."

N. Sailing - The Best Thing That Ever Happened "One day she told me that one of the main reasons she was attracted to me was that I was a sailor."

O. Who Do You Trust? "Learning these lessons and failing to learn them has resulted in some of the best times my wife and I have shared together. And in some of the worst."

P. Setting the Record Straight or Capt. Puffy Pants Eats Crow "For some reason my wife thinks this whole “story” is quite amusing."

S. Sailing Reminds Me Why it's Good to Be an Old Married Couple "Sailing brings out the arguing, which will later be followed by the apologizing and the making-up. Oh, the making-up."

Z. Love on the water, Physical, Mental, Emotional "Love and Sailing can bind a couple together better than a land bound couple’s bowling on Tues interest, or bingo on Friday."

Other very much appreciated and worthy entries that are not unfortunately considered quite good enough too be eligible for the grand prize. Better luck next time.

Atlantic Rally for Cruisers in which Cleo got shagged by the skipper.

A spat "He slipped a hand inside her blouse and she realized she wasn’t wearing a bra." Yikes!

The "Love and Sailing" non post by some English bloke who says it never happened.

Valentine's Day by some romantic fellow who bought his sailor wife a present that was much better than chocolate or flowers.

Tillerwoman by some pathetic character who apparently can't persuade his own wife to sail with him.

Con La Vela He Encontrado El Amor Verdadero! by some California dude who thinks you might need help in finding a date.

Thank you again for all your excellent posts on this topic and for sharing your stories about how love and sailing interact in your lives. Did I miss anybody?

And now it's over to you. Which of the finalists' stories do you like best? Who should win the prize? I really want to hear what you think.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


When I was a young man I had this fantasy.

I saw myself sailing with my beautiful bride... perhaps crewing a racing dinghy together on our home waters in England, and cruising the Mediterranean and the Caribbean on bareboat charters with our young sons for vacations.

I thought it would probably be a good step for us to learn to sail first. So we dumped our young sons on their grandparents for a couple of weeks and I took my beautiful bride off to Minorca Sailing in the Med.

It was warm. It was sunny. We took sailing lessons together in a little dinghy called a 350. Some afternoons she relaxed by the pool while I played on the 350 on my own. I made lots of mistakes. I learned a lot from my mistakes. At the end of the vacation my beautiful bride and I won the beginners' race in the 350s. We had tasted the rare pleasure of winning a sailboat race. (I did not yet know how rare it would be.) We enjoyed our prize, a bottle of champagne, at the post-race barbecue. Life was good. I was one step nearer to fulfilling my fantasy. Before returning to the UK I had my first sail in a Laser. It sent chills down my spine. That was almost 30 years ago and I still remember it.

We went home. We discovered that my parents had taught our youngest son (12 months old) to walk while we were away. Bastards! We missed his first steps. Aaah, but it would all be worth it for my sailing fantasy.

Then my beautiful bride announced that she had enjoyed our trip to Minorca but, on reflection, she had decided that she didn't like sailing. It was not for her. Had I shouted at her too much during that race we won? Not more than usual, she told me. She just "didn't know what she was doing" when we were sailing. She kept thinking about "all that water under us". It just wasn't her thing.


So I bought a Laser. I learned to sail it. I bought a wetsuit. I started racing year round on the local gravel pit. We went back to Minorca Sailing a couple of years later but this time I sailed Lasers and my beautiful bride painted pictures of boats and palm trees. I won a Laser race. One of my beautiful bride's paintings of boats and palm trees still hangs in our bathroom today.

We moved to Rutland and joined Rutland SC and I sailed my Laser on Rutland Water. My sons were old enough to learn to sail, so I bought them an Optimist. My sons took sailing lessons. I bought them a second Optimist. Every weekend my sons and I went sailing, and my beautiful bride came to the sailing club and happily acted as trolley dolly and brought us our lunches and generally looked after us. She said she didn't want to sail herself; she didn't like sailing.

We moved to America and lived near a lake in New Jersey. There was a Sunfish fleet on the lake. My sons and I raced Sunfish every Sunday in the summers. My beautiful bride sat on the beach and looked beautiful. She told us that she didn't like sailing.

But one year, after our sons had left home for college, she said she would like to try and learn to sail the Sunfish. I was pretty experienced by then at teaching people of all ages to sail Sunfish. I gave her a few lessons. She was progressing well. One Saturday morning she woke up and announced, "I would like to try a capsize drill this weekend." Great! We sailed my Sunfish out to the middle of our little lake. I gently capsized the boat. She swam around to the daggerboard and did a perfect capsize recovery. Then she decided once again that she didn't like sailing. It just wasn't her thing.

I've tried everything I could think of. I suggested that she go on one of those Womyn Only sailing courses where "nobody shouts". She wasn't interested. I suggested that we buy a bigger boat, one that doesn't tip over like a dinghy. She wasn't interested. She just doesn't like sailing.

However, from time to time when we are on vacation she will come sailing with me. We sailed a Hobie cat in St. Lucia and nearly sank one off the Florida Keys. We sailed Rhode 19's once together in Maine and more than once in the BVI. My beautiful bride's usual opening gambit is, "I'll come on the boat if I don't have to do anything." But once we are afloat I say, "Hold this rope for a minute," or, "Just hang on to the tiller while I get my camera out." There is a photo in a frame on my desk of her holding a tiller with sparkling Caribbean waters behind her and a huge smile on her face. Is she smiling because she enjoys sailing? Or is she laughing because once again I have tricked her into having a photo taken that makes it look as if she enjoys sailing?

On rare occasions she will even race. She has crewed for me and for friends we have made on vacation. She has won every race she has ever crewed in. She is the perfect crew. Yet she is adamant that she doesn't like sailing.

So I have adapted my sailing to cope with the inevitable fact that I am married to a wonderful woman who only has one real fault: she doesn't like sailing.

So I sail my Laser on my own. We travel together all over the world to satisfy my need for a Laser racing fix. Australia. Europe. South America. Caribbean. She goes for long walks and sits on the beach and looks beautiful and sips drinks with little umbrellas in, and is perfectly happy. When I come off the water she brings me my dolly - and a beer if I'm lucky - so I'm perfectly happy too.

So I sail my Laser on my own. It suits me. I'm not a great team player anyway. There's no me in team. If my beautiful bride and I had sailed together I expect we would have had constant disagreements brought on by the stress of dealing with all the minor crises that sailing a boat inevitably creates. It's better this way. I go sailing. I come home to her afterwards. We are both perfectly happy with the arrangement.

Building a successful marriage is not about following the wild fantasy of one partner. It is about learning and understanding each other's likes and dislikes, and forging a relationship that plays to each other's
strengths and weaknesses. My wife has many interests and skills; I can only marvel at the many fields in which she is so talented. On the other hand, I am fanatical about sailing but am not especially good at it.

Every morning, when I wake up, my first thought is how fortunate I am to have married this amazing woman beside me and how lucky I am that she is still with me. My second thought is to look out of the bedroom window at the wind on the waters of my bay and wonder if today will be a good day for sailing.

Marriage is not about a destination. It's about savoring every moment of the voyage. It's about give and take, ebb and flow. Or as Janna said... it's all about the motion of the ocean.

Life is good.

This post is my own contribution to our group writing project Love and Sailing.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Use It Or Lose It

On Saturday I ran in a 5k road race which, in keeping with the season, was named Trot Off Your Turkey. In my case it would have been more accurately titled Trot Off Your Turkey, Apple Pie, Cranberry Upside-Down Cake, Take-Away Chinese, Fish and Chips, and Way Too Much Alcohol. We did have a good time at Thanksgiving.

I used to run 5k and 10k races quite regularly. When I looked back in my diaries (see anal-retentive) I discovered that I hadn't run a 5k since 2001. Wow. That's a long time. In the meantime I took a year off running with a knee injury in 2002 and 2003, conceived the crazy idea that I could run marathons in 2004, actually ran marathons in 2005, 2006 and 2007, did a lot of sailing in 2008, and didn't do much of anything in 2009. How the years fly by when you're having fun.

So I wasn't all that surprised to discover that my 5k time is now slower than it was in 2001. A lot slower. About 2 minutes per mile slower. But it was fun. And I think I will start running 5k and 10k and 5 mile races again.

Use it or lose it.

On Sunday I sailed my Laser in the frostbite fleet in Newport. It was sunny. It was windy enough to hike and plane and ride some waves downwind.

I used to do frostbite racing quite regularly. When I looked back in my diaries (see anal-retentive) I discovered that I hadn't sailed a frostbite series since the winter of 2005/6. Wow. That's a long time. In the meantime I took off a year in 2006/7 because we were moving house, in 2007/8 I went to Australia for the Laser Masters Worlds, and in the winter of 2008/9 I didn't do much of anything. How the years fly by when you're having fun.

So I wasn't all that surprised to discover that I totally suck at the kind of large fleet, short course racing that is typical of frostbiting. My starts, my mark-roundings, my boat-handling, my tactics, my layline judgment, my decision-making all totally sucked. On the other hand I did stay upright, I did have some good battles with other bottom-half-of-fleeters, and it was fun. I think I will start frostbiting again every weekend I can.

Use it or lose it.

However... the beautiful Tillerwoman and I are off to the Caribbean later this week.
There will be sun. There will be rum. There will be sailing. There will be kayaking. There will be swimming and snorkeling. There may even be windsurfing and stand up paddle boarding. I'll probably do a bit of running. I will definitely do some Laser racing.

Use it or lose it.

Today I am quite tired.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Love and Sailing: Two More Posts Today

The entries for our Love and Sailing group writing project keep rolling in...

It's always good to receive a submission from a relatively new blogger, and this one's a real doozy. Setting the Record Straight or Capt. Puffy Pants Eats Crow is a tale about one of those "learning experiences" which seems to get more embellished every time it is told. For some reason Captain Puffy does gloss over the details of exactly what went wrong after he took the helm, so I would love to hear Honey Bunny's side of the story too.

And The Skipper of the Starboard Racing Vessel tell us that "Sailing Reminds Me Why it's Good to Be an Old Married Couple". She tells us that "sailing brings out the arguing, which will later be followed by the apologizing and the making-up. Oh, the making-up." I think all married couples would agree with her on that one. We also learn that there is something irresistible to her about "the smell of sun-warmed skin, sunscreen, and gel coat, on a handsome sailor." Hmmm. I never knew the the smell of gel coat on a man was an aphrodisiac. I must try it some time.

Keep them coming. The competition remains open until Tuesday. Don't forget we have a fantastic awesome stupendous prize for the best story this month. Full details on how to participate - including the prize - at Love and Sailing.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Love and Sailing: Another Three Posts

Three more stories for our Love and Sailing group writing project...

Norm has contributed Sailing - The Best Thing That Ever Happened, a touching tale about how his romance and sailing relationship with Joan progressed from Thistle racing in Connecticut - "one day she told me that one of the main reasons she was attracted to me was that I was a sailor"; to cruising the San Juan Islands in a C&C 35 with their daughters; to Star racing with Joan on Budd Inlet - "for me it was as much about being on the water sailing with her as it was racing"; to buying a Catalina 36 - "we made a vow that the boat was just for the two of us and we would never sail it without the other." I think this is the first time Norm has participated in one of our group writing project. I hope it's not the last.

The Things We Do For Love
is the love story of the Bursledon Blogger and Erica, of how she agreed to sail across the Atlantic and back with him even though she had never sailed more than 50 miles before, and of how their love blossomed on the voyage.

And Pat tells the tale of what he bought his wife for Valentine's Day, and in the comments she says the gift was Much Better than Chocolate or Flowers.

There's still time for you to write a post on this theme. Perhaps one of these three stories or the ones here and here will inspire you. Full details of how to participate - including the amazing prize that the best entry will win - at Love and Sailing.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Love and Sailing: Three More Entries

When I challenged you to write about Love and Sailing for this month's group writing project, I suppose I should have realized that this would be a tough one for some of you. There could be all sorts of reasons why you might not rush to tell the world about "how your love life and your sailing life interact."

Captain JP teased us for a while with a post about "skinny dipping and comfy bunks" and something else that was "rather steamy" but ultimately The "Love and Sailing" non post is about his choice not to reveal anything about this side of his life. That's OK. I respect his decision.

But then the following day he posted a tale of a couple sailing together in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers... with a surprise twist in the end. It's fiction... I think.

Adam Turinas seems to have had no qualms about taking on the challenge that I originally set with an excellent account of how he and his wife Alice share a passion for sailing, and the roles that sailing has played in their relationship: "
It helped form the bond in the beginning, fixed the cracks later and now is creating a new foundation." Check it out at Danger Will Robinson!

(I did warn you that I would rename your posts if you all chose "Love and Sailing" as the titles.)

There's still plenty of time for you to write a post on this theme. What can you do with it? Will you tell us something about your real life like Adam did? Or make up a fictional tale? Or tell us about someone you know? Maybe you will invent some whole new way to treat the topic? Full details of how to participate - including the amazing prize that the best entry will win - at Love and Sailing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

World's Smallest Schooner?

None of my many hundreds of highly knowledgeable and attentive readers seem to have picked up on what I thought was a glaring error of nautical terminology in Sunday's post which included the lyrics to Mr. Kenny Chesney's song "The Life".

Mr. Chesney claims that he met a gentleman called José who had a "12 foot Schooner".

Hmmm. I'm no expert on boats but according to Wikipedia (which is never wrong) a schooner is "a type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being shorter or the same height as the rear masts."

A 12 foot boat with at least two masts and fore-and-aft sails? Seems unlikely to me.

Was Mr. Chesney just groping for a word that sorta kinda rhymes with "cooler"?

Or do Mexican fisherman really use 12 foot boats with two masts? Or is the word "schooner" used to describe some other kind of boat in Playa del Carmen?

So how small could a schooner be? What is the world's smallest schooner?

According to the The Google (which contains all the knowledge in the universe) this photo on Flickr may be of the world's smallest schooner.

How long is that? 30 foot including the bowsprit? Certainly more than 12 foot. I haven't been able to discover any more information about this boat. Can anyone help? Or does anyone know of an even smaller schooner?

What about this boat?

I stumbled upon this picture on 70.8% yesterday, in a post in which Thomas Armstrong reviews A VOYAGE OF PLEASURE: the Log of Bernard Gilboy’s Transpacific Cruise in the Boat, “Pacific” 1882-1883. Armstrong describes the Pacific as an 18 foot schooner.

Hmmm. At first I was going to argue whether this strange looking craft (with only one mast apparently) was really a schooner, but then I read the text of the post and learned that Gilby was capsized by a wave 90 days out of San Francisco and that in this accident he lost "a mast". He subsequently contrived a jury rig which is shown in the "lead photograph" in the book. So now I'm confused. Is the drawing on the cover of the boat as built, or of the jury rig? Did the boat have one or two masts originally? And if only one, was it really a schooner? I have no compunction about challenging Mr. Chesney's nautical credentials but am very reluctant to second guess Mr. Armstrong on such a subject.

Can someone please help me to find a way out of this fog?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sail With a Friend

It's not that I'm paranoid, but there really are people out there trying to read my mind...

First of all it was the Wizard of Berkeley twice trying to guess the subjects of my group writing projects before I announced them...

Now the Old Man of Lake Eustis has attempted to guess the subject of the final instalment of my series on How Not to Die on Your Laser.

And the spooky thing is that both of them did accurately read my mind! Am I that predictable? Or do these two old geezers have supernatural powers?

So, yes, the fifth of Tillerman's Tips on How Not to Die on Your Laser is Sail With a Friend.

What? What's that he said? Tillerman said you should always sail in company, sail with other Lasers, sail with a friend? Is this the same Tillerman who actually boasted in Anti-Social Bastard that he sailed 50 times on his own last year? The same Tillerman who wrote posts about sailing alone early in the season on the Sakonnet River such as So Where the Bloody Hell Are You? and who also wrote about sailing alone in the dark days of December in posts such as Paint it Black? What a hypocrite.

You are right. I am a hypocrite. But it is true that if you want to play it really safe you should never go off Lasering on the sea on your own. Shit happens. Bad shit sometimes happens. Here are just a few of the things that could happen when you go Lasering. If any one of these things happened while you are on your own a mile from shore you might never get home...
  • injure yourself
  • break the mast
  • break the boom
  • break the rudder
  • break the mast-step
  • break the gooseneck
  • rip a fitting off the boom
  • have a heart-attack or a stroke
  • get run over by a ferry or powerboat
  • fall off the boat and lose contact with it
  • hit a rock and knock a huge hole in the hull...
OK. There's probably many more things I could list but that's scared me enough for now.

My son and I had a conversation about sailing a Laser alone on the day that the two of us went for a blast in the waves at the mouth of the Sakonnet River. I wrote about it in Fat Boy and Little Man.

"So is it really any safer with two of us? If one of us breaks a mast or a boom, say, in waves and wind like this, there's no way that the other one is going to be able to tow the damaged boat back to shore."

"True. We may have to abandon the broken boat. But with one good Laser we can make sure that the two of us make it alive back to the beach."


And that's the point. If you are sailing with at least one other friend in a Laser, he can help you in all sorts of ways. If you get separated from your boat, he can pick you up and sail you back to it. (Been there, done that.) If your boat breaks he can perhaps help you do some kind of jury-rig repair. Worst case, he can pick you up and take you back to safety even if you have to abandon your boat.

So, yes, it's a good rule never to sail alone.

Is that going to stop me from sailing alone? No. Absolutely not. I discovered last year that some of the most rewarding experiences on the water come from solitary sails. And there are things you can do to make sailing on your own somewhat less risky...

Oh no! I feel another series coming on. Tillerman's Top X Tips on How to Stay Safe When Sailing Alone on Your Laser.

Watch this space.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wouldn't That Be The Life?

It was early one morning

Playa del Carmen
That’s when I first met José.
He had a 12 foot Schooner
A 3 foot cooler
Full of the catch of the day
And he was wrinkled from grinning
From all of the sun he had been in.
He was barefoot, cerveza in hand.
He said, “Gracias Señor," when I paid him too much for
All of the snapper he had.
Now I told him, "My friend it ain’t nothing,"
In the best broken Spanish I knew.
I said, "I make a good living
Back home where I’m from."
He smiled and said, "Amigo, me too."

He said, "I fish and I play my guitar
I laugh at the bar with my friends
I go home to my wife
I pray every night
I can do it all over again."

Somewhere over Texas
I thought of my Lexus
And all the stuff I work so hard for
And all the things that I’ve gathered
From climbing that ladder
Didn’t make much sense anymore.
They say my nest egg ain’t ready to hatch yet.
They keep holding my feet to the fire.
They call it paying the price
So that one day in life
I’ll have what I need to retire

And just fish
And play my guitar
And laugh at the bar with my friends
And go home to my wife
And pray every night
I can do it all over again.

And to think that I thought for a while there
That I had it made

When the truth is I’m really just dying
To live like José

And just fish
Play my guitar
Laugh at the bar with my friends
Go home to my wife
Pray every night
I can do it all over again.

Wouldn’t that be the life?
Wouldn’t that be the life?

Love and Sailing: First Three Entries

I am frequently amazed by the inventiveness and creativity of the readers of this blog...

When I suggested Love and Sailing as a topic for another group writing project, I expected that I would see stories along the lines of the book that inspired the subject, The Motion of the Ocean, real life confessions of how sailing has impacted your relationships with your significant others and/or vice versa.

To be sure, O Docker in his premature contribution Who Do You Trust? did follow this model.

But Joe Rouse went off in a completely direction with Con La Vela He Encontrado El Amor Verdadero! which includes a very helpful link for lonely single sailors in our community.

And Carol Anne gave us A spat which she says is, "Purely fiction. Purely. Well, almost purely." Hmmm. Is it a dream? A fantasy? Or can you read between the lines of other posts in Carol Anne's blog to find the seeds of inspiration for this delightfully titillating bodice ripper?

So now it's your turn. What can you do with this topic? Full details of how to participate at Love and Sailing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Make Sure You Can Get Back in the Boat

It's time for #4 in Tillerman's Top Five Tips For Making Sure You Don't Die on Your Laser. In case you've forgotten, the first three tips were...
Tip #4 is Make Sure You Can Get Back in the Boat.

Actually for any boat that can capsize, like a Laser, the tip should really read Make Sure You Can Do a Capsize Recovery AND Get Back in the Boat but today I'm going to provide a public service for sailors of all kinds of boats, big and small, by having a bit of a rant on the general issue of getting back in the boat.

Start of rant...

As I am sure you recall, the incident that triggered me to start writing this series of posts was when Thorsten Cook fell off his boat during the Star North Americans. One of the factors that contributed to the seriousness of the situation was that, although Mr. Cook's crew did manage to sail the boat back to him, the two of them were unable to get him back into the boat.

How often do we hear of stories like this? Sometimes it's the classic "man and wife go for a day cruise in their yacht... man falls overboard... wife either cannot sail the boat back to man on her own or even if she does they cannot get him back on board." (Sorry to sound sexist but it's usually that way round.) It happened on the waters right in front of my house a year or two ago in weather conditions that weren't at all extreme. The husband fell overboard. The wife was unable to recover him. She called out the Coastguard but he drowned and his body was washed up in front of our favorite local restaurant a few days later.

I'm sorry but I can't understand the mentality of people who go sailing without any kind of clue as to how they are going to get back on board if they fall off. I know it's not as easy
on many kinds of boat as it would be on a Laser but I think you should have a plan for getting back on board... and practice it.

There's a great Yachting Magazine article on this issue, Man Overboard, which discusses what equipment to use to retrieve a crew member in the water, and why a swim platform is worse than useless in anything except calm conditions.

And, while I'm ranting, let me have a go at those sailing schools that purport to teach "man overboard" drills. A few years ago, my son and I did one of those fully certificated Bareboat Chartering Level courses with intensive three-hour emphasis on man-overboard recovery. We had a lot of fun learning how to turn a 40-foot yacht around in wind and waves and find our way back to the "man" in the water. Except it wasn't a man. It was a life jacket which we picked up with a boat hook. The instructor didn't even explain to us how one of us could magically pluck a 200 lb real person out of the water in heavy seas.

So do yourself a favor. Think it through. Worst case. If the most experienced member of your crew goes overboard, how will the rest of the crew (your wife, your kids, whatever) recover him or her? Then practice it. Make Sure You Can Get Back in the Boat.

End of rant...

So is this an issue on a little boat like a Laser or a Sunfish? It can be.

In my experience there are three reasons why a sailor of a small single-handed dinghy may be unable to do a capsize recovery and/or get back in the boat.
  1. The sailor is too light to do a capsize recovery. It takes a certain minimum weight of person on the daggerboard to right any given capsized boat. If the sailor (usually a child) is too light to achieve this they will not be able to do a capsize recovery. Simple physics. I've lost count of the times I've had to jump in the water and help some kid who has got themselves into this situation. That's one of the reasons why, when I was teaching sailing, I usually had the kids do capsize recoveries relatively early in the syllabus. I'm sorry but if you're too light for the boat, then find a more suitable boat.

  2. The sailor does not have the arm strength to pull themselves up on to the daggerboard to do a capsize recovery. Sorry to sound sexist again, but it's usually women who have this problem.

  3. The sailor is too heavy to be able to pull themselves on to the daggerboard and/or into the boat. I guess this is really the inverse of #2 but I have seen overweight people of all ages and both sexes who have had this problem. I remember one friend, a Sunfish sailor, who capsized during racing one day. He was unable to climb back into his own boat. When the safety boat, a small whaler, came over to help him he was unable to climb into that and the crew of the rescue boat couldn't pull him in either. There was much discussion afterwards as to what kind of rope tricks might have been employed to get this dude back into his own boat or the safety boat.
So you don't think this is an issue when you are racing and there are some rescue boats around? Well, I hope you are right. But, as happened with that incident at the Star North Americans, there may be all kinds of reasons why a safety boat may not be immediately aware of your predicament or may be too busy attending to other sailors to reach you quickly. Please take some responsibility and make sure that you can look after yourself if the boat capsizes or you fall off the boat.

Speaking for myself, I am not yet so old, so weak, or so fat that I can't usually do a capsize recovery and scramble back into my Laser. But I do confess that each such event does drain some of my strength and energy away. There have been some windy race days when, after doing way too many capsizes, my arms became so tired that I felt that I wouldn't have had the strength left to do even one more recovery. That's when it's time to head for the beach, the showers and the bar. You can always win the race to the bar!

Comments please. Want to pass on any tips or techniques for getting back in the boat? Are you sure you can do it on your boat?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Love and Sailing

Your challenge for this month's group writing project is to write a story on the topic of Love and Sailing. The idea is to tell your readers something about how your love life and your sailing life interact. (You do have both a love life and a sailing life, I hope? If you don't, I guess you could always write a fictional story on this theme.) You don't have to have a blog of your own to enter. And there will be a prize for the best entry!

I was inspired to choose this subject after writing my review of Janna Cawrse Esarey's book the Motion of the Ocean in which Janna writes about how she and her new husband Graeme came to terms with each other's strengths and weaknesses and forged a strong marriage while sailing across the Pacific on their honeymoon. They drove each other crazy in many ways but love conquered all in the end.

I suspect all of us with a passion for sailing have tales to tell of how our sailing has impacted our relationship with our significant other, or vice versa. Perhaps, like Janna and Graeme, you worked out how to love, live and sail together on a long voyage with your loved one. Or maybe sailing introduced you to the love of your life. Or sadly tore you apart from them. Perhaps you and your beloved fight like cats and dogs every time you go sailing together. Or it could be that you fell for someone who hates sailing and have had to adapt your sailing lifestyle to cope with that. We all have different tales to tell. Write about wherever love and sailing come together (or don't) in your life.

Over on the west coast of our great nation there is a wizard who can read my mind. O Docker actually entered this competition two weeks before I announced it, with a story about how he learned to build his wife's confidence in his sailing skills: Who Do You Trust? an excellent example of the Love and Sailing genre.

So now it's your turn. Here
is how to participate...

1. Write a post on the theme Love and Sailing (or Love and Some Other Kind of Boating if you prefer) on your blog. Please publish it before Tuesday December 1st.

2. Let me know about your post by sending an email to including a link to your post. If you don't have a blog of your own just email me your article and I will post it here.

3. Oh, do me a favor... please choose some title other than Love and Sailing for your post; I don't want to have to link to 20+ stories all with the same title. (If you don't select a unique title, I reserve the right to choose a new title for your post and you may not like my choice!)

4. Please put a link to this post in yours.

5. I will post here two links to your post. Every day or so I will write a post listing any new entries in the project. Then at the end of the project I will publish the complete list of Love and Sailing stories.

6. I will then allow a period for all my readers to comment on the Love and Sailing stories, and at the end of that I will choose a winner who will receive... a copy of Janna's book on our theme:
the Motion of the Ocean, 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers, and a Woman's Search for the Meaning of Wife.

Look forward to hearing from you...